Enjoy the view and the rice balls at Louis Ristorante's happy hour

A range of happy hour dining options
A range of happy hour dining options
Marsha Trainer

If you ever worry that you're missing out on the charms of downtown St. Paul, we're here to help. Let us remind you of things like the roof deck at Louis Ristorante, an amazing spot where you can admire both the Cathedral of St. Paul and the rice balls and still get a deal on your drink.

During these fleeting days of summer, don't you deserve a happy hour that gives you a buzz with a view? See also: Louis Ristorante aims to revive St. Paul

What an extra $1 will get you
What an extra $1 will get you
Marsha Trainer

Where: You can't miss the Cossetta's complex on 7th Street West just blocks from the Xcel Center. But don't get fully distracted by the gelato downstairs -- go to the back and take the stairs or elevator up to Louis Ristorante and Bar. Sure you can sit inside, but we recommend that you wait until there's a chill in the air to do that. The deck is the place to be and if rain threatens, you can always belly up to the (covered) bar.

When: There's a pair of them every day -- 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- unless they have a special event.

What's the vibe: Pick your day wisely! If you go on a calm weeknight early in the week when no big events are going on at the Xcel, you can sit where you like. On the weekend, you'll be with the in-crowd, but fighting for a prime seat.

What can I eat for $10 or less: All the food deals are under $10 and they offer enough that you can make a meal out of it. The hamburger alla griglia is $9 and comes with all the fixings including fries. The platter of fries comes with three delicious sauces (spicy aioli, horseradish aioli, and red pepper creme fraiche) and easily feeds at least a few snackers for $6. There's a range of authentic Italian options as well, from focaccia pugliese with rapini and sausage for $6, polpette al sugo (meatballs!) for $7, and tasty carpaccio with arugula and shaved grana padana for $9. But for us, they all take a back seat to the arancini tradizionali. These rice balls filled with a meat ragout, peas, and melty mozzarella, sit pretty on a puddle of arrabbiata sauce (red sauce with red chili peppers). Get all those comforting Southern Italian flavors you dream of in each bite.

What can I drink for $5 or less: Domestic taps, bellinis, house wines, and margaritas will run you a $5, or pay a buck more for a martini or Manhattan (at this price it comes with Canadian Club or E&J Brandy).

What's so good it's worth getting even though it's not on the happy hour menu: What can we say? We're obsessed with the arancini tradizionali (rice balls!) and they are on the happy hour menu. So it's a win-win situation. Frankly even if we came at some other time, we'd ordered those rice balls and pay the additional duckets. See you in downtown St. Paul.

Louis Ristorante and Bar 211 7th St. West, 3rd Floor, St. Paul

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