When the Hot Dish hangs in St. Paul, generally a visit to a few Lowertown haunts ensues. Whether on the search for a glass of wine or a decent nibble, the options are getting better in this 'hood every year. But our goal is beyond just good food and drink--we want a bargain too. So we went on a trek to find the best happy hour options in the center of the city, and we came up with five solid venues.
Here's our guide to planning your own Lowertown happy hour crawl:
[jump] 1. Pazzaluna
Daily, 4-6 p.m.
Monday through Saturday, 9-10 p.m.
Happy hour venues across the Cities should take a note from this downtown eatery with easy access to many of St. Paul's big events. Summit taps run $4, house wines are $5, and martinis, cosmos, and the Gina ginger press are $6. Its lauded upscale Italian nosh is on the cheap as well. The $5 to $7 menu includes eggplant fries, artichoke fonduta, risotto balls, bruschetta, pizzas, and calamari. Stop in before or after the show (the Ordway) or the game (Xcel Energy Center) and partake of the tasty deals.
Sunday through Thursday, 3-6 p.m. and 10-11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
Though the list of happy hour items is short, it covers the basics and happens daily. Who can resist the $4 homemade lime and sea salt chips or burgers on mini challah? You can wash it down with $3 wine, the featured tap, or a rail drink. Don't miss the chicken tulips, either, which are organic drumsticks with jerk spices and blue cheese drizzle. It's a good way to get a taste of Faces, without feeling any pinch.
Daily, 4-7 p.m.
Bin's happy hour is focused and small, with $4 house wines, $3 Grain Belts, and a buy 2, get 1 free special on amazing cheeses. The selection changes, but it always includes some delicious domestic lovelies like the Trumpter Meadow and several European choices. Plus, the $2 pour size means you can sample a little vino anytime without breaking the bank. Ready to kick back but retain some of your innate sophistication? This cheese and wine-centric happy hour is for you.
Monday though Saturday, 2-6 p.m.
Sunday through Thursday, 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
The St. Paul outpost of Barrio is no slouch when it comes to happy hour food, drink, and fun. Bring a crowd to enjoy $12 pitchers of Dos Equis Amber or Summit EPA, an $18 carafe of margaritas (serves six glasses) or a $10 can of wine (it serves four). Or quaff a $5 margarita, sangria, or what's known as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (tequila with tamarind cinnamon cola) by yourself. There are $5 tacos and small plates as well, so you won't get too tipsy from all that tequila. The atmosphere is dark, funky, and casual--a good place to let your hair down after work.
Daily, 4-7 p.m.
The coffeehouse stylings of Black Dog make for a relaxed happy hour, where the focus is on a good conversation and an artsy, informal atmosphere. Amble up to the counter to order your $4.75 house wine or $3 Summit and see what they've got today for the half-priced appetizer deal. If the special isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of inexpensive things to choose from as you sip your wine or beer--cookies, salads, and more. If you're looking for a light and creative space, Black Dog has the happy hour for you.