Restaurant Guide: Cathedral Hill & Grand Avenue

Updated 8/17/2012

What is "civilization"? Is it dozens of European beers on draft? Espresso and cappuccino? World-class clad cookware? Great local cheese? Thanks to eateries like the Happy Gnome and Cafe Latté and shops like the Cooks of Crocus Hill and Golden Fig, the Cathedral Hill/Grand Avenue/Summit area of St. Paul charts highly on the gastronomic evolution meter. The opening this year of a new Brasa outpost on Grand heralds good things. The layout of the area is conducive to walking, biking and general exploration, making it a perfect place for tourists to explore -- and for locals to cruise in search of good eats. And for those who care about local beer, it's worth knowing that a little brewery named Summit makes its home in this general neck of the woods.

  • James Norton
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Photo by Tom Wallace
Cafe Latté

Cafe Latté

  • Cuisine: American casual, bakery, coffee.
  • Price range: $$.

The popular upscale cafeteria, a Grand Avenue landmark for more than 20 years, is noted for its decadent chocolate layer cakes and other sweets. On the savory side, the large-scale sandwiches are made to order with house-baked breads, soups and salads. Pizza and bruschetta are the focus of the wine bar menu. An afternoon tea, served daily from noon to 5 p.m., is a pleasant respite, with a pot of tea, little cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches, scones, shortbread cookies and one of the bakery counter's desserts. --Rick Nelson

Photo by Jeff Wheeler
Moscow on the Hill

Moscow on the Hill

  • Cuisine: European, Russian.
  • Price range: $$.

Hearty, well-made Russian fare (blinis, pierogis, borscht, pelmeni, smoked fish and other standards) is on the menu at this Cathedral Hill sweetie, which also boasts what has to be the Twin Cities' largest selection of vodkas. Na zdorovye! --Rick Nelson

User picks

Photo by Tom Wallace
The Happy Gnome

The Happy Gnome

  • Cuisine: American casual.
  • Price range: $$.

The Happy Gnome is a cozy restaurant that combines a worthy lineup of draft beers with high-end dining-worthy gourmet food. I went there on Sunday morning to try their brunch. We settled in at the bar, and got a couple Surly Coffee Benders -- the perfect way to start a Sunday: rich, dark ale brewed with enough coffee that you can justify having one before noon. I ordered the build-your-own grilled cheese sandwich, with asparagus, caramelized onions, and tomato. We also got the veggie omelet, which was bursting with flavorful vegetables and herbed cream cheese. This is not your average bar food.--momoperry

The Muddy Pig

  • Cuisine: American casual.
  • Price range: $$.

This is shiznit for beer and ale in the Twin Cities metro area, period (no apologies to Bulldog, Williams, Happy Gnome, etc.). The bar fare is solid -- a rockin' Cubano! The single malt selection is better than most, too.--twisspat

La Grolla

  • Cuisine: Italian.
  • Price range: $$.

I have never been disappointed at La Grolla. I love the little cozy atmosphere and the way I am always treated as a friend, not just a customer. All of the food is good, including the simple stuff (puttanesca, penne alla vodka, fettuccine alfredo) and the specialty stuff (an amazing veal pasta dish never goes wrong). The bread that comes before the meal is crusty and delicious, and the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping are excellent. --raerae17

W.A. Frost

  • Cuisine: American fine dining.
  • Price range: $$$$.