The Blue Door Pub
1811 Selby Av., St Paul • 651-493-1865 • www.thebdp.com
It’s easy to see why throngs of hopefuls huddle in the doorway and waiting pen, tucked next to a couple of ancient video games, for a shot at a table at this wholly unpretentious, come-as-you-are pub. The Blue Door offers nothing more than the healing properties of cold beer and good beef patties done to perfection. Don’t let the “gourmet” Juicy Blucys fool you — this grub is all the way classic: squishy bun, spot-on temperatures and of course, gooey cheese. Mecca Bos
800 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul • 651-699-1154 • www.chatterboxpub.net
If you’re the sort of drinker not content with standard bar conversation, who needs a bit of entertainment with her zin, then the St. Paul outpost of the Minneapolis-bred Chatterbox may be for you. Scads of games, from the electronic version to dog-eared Monopoly boards, are the name of the, um, game here. They’ve got all the makings for a satisfying bar experience, including beer, wine, burgers and tattered old easy chairs. M.B.
2162 W. University Av., St. Paul • 651-646-5551 • www.thedublinerpub.com
The Twin Cities area needs more Irish bars like the Dubliner. This 30-year-old dive feels like the kind of place where you could catch an off-the-wagon Colin Farrell getting loaded on a Tuesday and punching a guy in the mouth (that’s a weird compliment). It’s actually a fairly friendly joint, but pre-digital dartboards and a gruff, knocked-around feel contrast with the metro’s more monied Irish flag fliers. Michael Rietmulder
1834 St. Clair Av., St. Paul • 651-699-5058 • www.grovelandtap.com
Plopped down in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood is this burger-bar endeavor from the Blue Plate restaurant empire. It can be a cramped place whose popularity only adds to this effect, but the Groveland is popular for a reason. Residents of all kinds flock here, from family types to nearby Macalester students. If a visiting friend is looking for a true Minnesota Nice experience, a burger and a beer, head on over. If that friend wants cocktails, go elsewhere. Spencer doar
492 S. Hamline Av., St. Paul • 651-698-4347 • www.crnook.com
For a study in what a St. Paul burger bar is supposed to be like, look no farther. You’ve gotta leave any pretense at home, because this is as solidly working-class, good-old-fashioned and real-deal Minnesota as they come. Order a beer and a burger, nothing more nothing less, and be joyous in your opportunity to imbibe in this independent, family-owned jewel. Plus: a vintage bowling alley in the basement, no less. M.B.
Tiffany Sports Lounge
2051 Ford Pkwy, St. Paul • 651-690-4747 • www.tiffanysports lounge.com
This Highland Park hideaway is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s a Packer bar. A Jayhawks bar. A neighborhood bar. And for college kids, it’s a place to pound cheap beer and dance. But somehow Tiff’s myriad constituencies live in harmony. Who knew an average sports bar could be so unifying? M.R.