Bike to dinner: St. Paul edition

The chariot of the dining bicyclist.
The chariot of the dining bicyclist.
Dawn Brodey

Dare we say it -- summer has finally arrived -- and as it does, increased numbers of weather-weary Twin Citians are taking to their bicycles and hitting the town. They pedal the Lakes, the Grand Rounds, the Greenway, or any of the many urban bike lanes. It is for good reason that we are regularly voted among the most bike-friendly cities in the country.

But bike-friendly isn't the only feather in our cap -- we are also regularly voted among the best cities for foodies. So why not combine the two?

A few weeks ago Hot Dish brought you a course for your courses -- a bike-friendly route with recommended stops for appetizers, dinner and dessert. Beginning and ending in Minneapolis, the 10-mile course was a big hit.

Now Hot Dish pedals East and presents a course for your courses in St. Paul. This seven-mile route hits some of Saint Paul's classic locations and new favorites -- and burns a lot of calories along the way.

Drinks and Appetizers
Heartland Restaurant
289 E. 5th Street

The Lounge at Heartland Restaurant.
The Lounge at Heartland Restaurant.

Lowertown is a lovely and logical place to start your course. Not only is it easily accessible from many bike paths, but there are also several Nice Ride stations in the area. This should accommodate those diners who are biking from home, those who are driving in from elsewhere with their bike in the car, and those who are jumping in bike-less.

Heartland Restaurant is a well-established Saint Paul culinary gem featuring an award-winning, farm-to-table dining experience, with an excellent wine list, a full bar, and a menu that changes daily depending on "what the farmers deliver." Heartland also boasts Chef Lenny Russo, a three-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in the Midwest.

For you, the discerning diner on two-wheels, Hot Dish suggests you and your helmet take a seat in The Lounge section of Heartland. This area of the restaurant is located in the Market House atrium and has a great view. Enjoy a local brew or a mixed drink which is -- like everything else they serve -- made in-house from local sources. As this is just the beginning of your journey, we recommend a small plate or two: spring panzanella or asparagus soup are great choices.

Pace yourself, though, your next stop is dinner, a 15-20 minute ride (about three miles) away.


Dinner The Happy Gnome
498 Selby Avenue

2.41 miles to The Happy Gnome.
2.41 miles to The Happy Gnome.
Google Maps

The Happy Gnome has been a St. Paul favorite for years and has everything necessary to reward your cardiovascular-driven mode of transportation... but 76 craft beers on tap, and over 300 selections of whiskey are just the beginning.

Although the atmosphere is casual, you and your fellow diners may find your 'active scent' more at home on their outdoor patio. Take this chance to re-carb with a pub pretzel while you peruse your options for dinner. Their chef-driven menu has a wide selection that changes regularly with something for everyone from pizza to gnocchi to steak.

The patio at The Happy Gnome.
The patio at The Happy Gnome.

Enjoy -- you've earned it! But save a little room -- you've got a couple of dessert options just around the corner.


Grand Ole Creamery or Cafe Latte
750/850 Grand Avenue

One mile to dessert central.
One mile to dessert central.
Google Maps

Two classic dessert options await you on Grand Avenue.

Grand Ole Creamery

is a much-loved and oft-visited destination for Saint Paul residents. Everyday they offer 31 flavors (of the 200 they manufacture) in their famous homemade, hand-rolled, malted waffle cones with a Whopper in the bottom. You'll often see a long line but know that it is deserved, fast-moving, and worth the wait.

Only a block away, Cafe Latte, will offer you oh-so-much-more than ice-cream. One part cafeteria, one part bakery, and one part pizza and wine bar. There may be a line here, too, but mostly because it takes time to decide if it will be their Turtle Cake, Fruit Tart, Cupcake... All three?

And then, you've done it! three courses along a beautiful bike course -- you ought be proud.

See the next page for your route back to home base, as well as a couple more options for those who want more.


Back to Lowertown

Three miles back to where you started.
Three miles back to where you started.
Google Maps

For those of you who find the heart-pumping ride left you wanting more, you will find you've got plenty of choices in and around Lowertown.

Mickey's Dining car, for example. Open 24 hours a day, the old-fashioned greasy spoon also has hot coffee and hashbrowns whenever you want 'em.

If another cocktail you're after, why not settle in and drink with the locals at Kelly's Depot. It's a bar. In St. Paul. Nothing flashy. You'll love it.

However you choose end the journey, you biked approximately 7 miles and 45-60 minutes. That means that -- depending on your size and your route -- you also burned around 500 calories tonight.

Good job.

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