The Bar Guide 2013: Downtown St. Paul

Updated 4/10/2013

Who says there’s nowhere to go in the St. Paul core? you just have to know where and when to look.

Lowertown gay bar Camp.

Camp Bar

490 N. Robert St. • 651-292-1844 • www.camp-bar.net

Camp isn’t your run-of-the-mill gay club — the Lowertown nightspot/theater has a lot going on. Hanging out in the snazzy main bar feels like you’re cocktailing inside an underwater castle, but instead of backstroking mermaids there are strapping dudes behind the bar pushing stiff drinks (and, oh hey, there’s a baby grand piano in the corner). Press onward and you’ll hit the sizable cabaret room, used for various shows (the boozy comedy “Bye Bye Liver” runs April 6-May 11) and dancing. Camp hosts karaoke twice a month and offers food from fellow Rossmor building tenants Black Sheep Pizza, Keys Cafe and Sawatdee. Downtown St. Paul might be a little sleepy past 10 p.m., but don’t blame Camp. Michael Rietmulder.

Patrick McGovern’s PUb

225 W. 7th St. • 651-224-5821 • www.patmcgoverns.com

The Irish pub that feels as though it’s been there since the beginning of time. The building dates to 1888, so you can imagine the original Irish immigrants, perhaps plunked right about where you sit today, sipping a much-needed Guinness, for strength. The charming yet working-class West 7th is the sort of neighborhood where pubs like this belong — in perfect context. Drink to that. 8Mecca Bos

Alary’s

139 E. 7th St. • 651-224-7717 • www.alarys.com

Founded by a former Chicago Bears player, Alary’s holds to its late owner’s football allegiances come winter. Don’t be surprised by the Hooters-esque quality of Alary’s: The female bartenders are all clad in cleavage- and midriff-exposing garb. For a sports bar, it has a large variety of beers, including some of the harder-to-find Surly varieties. Spencer Doar

Amsterdam Bar & Hall

6 W. 6th St. • 612-285-3112 • www.amsterdam barandhall.com

This Dutch-themed bar and music venue knows what you want. You want pot brownies. Why, sure, they’re only a tasty chocolate treat stuffed into a terra cotta vessel, but you know. Or, why don’t you try one of a couple dozen drafts, or the extensive selection of 30 gins, including Old Raj, one of the strongest gins available, along with some hash (eggs and potatoes, that is). Live music & DJs nightly. 8M.B.

Barrio St. Paul

235 E. 6th St. • 651-222-3250 • www.barriotequila.com

Take an authentic taqueria and a comprehensive tequila library, pump up the jams, add beautiful bartenders in baby Ts and matador-red everything, and what you get is the most ingenious bar invention of all time. Because everybody loves tacos — and they love them even more with elegant flights of tequila, and even more with throngs of hotties in every dark corner coming together to enjoy life, Latin style. 8M.B.

Burger Moe’s

242 W. 7th St. • 651-222-3100 • www.burgermoes.com

If only the Wild played in the summer, more people would have an excuse to hit this burger bar’s gated courtyard with regularity. But if you don’t land on this prime ivy-walled patio at least once between June and August, it’s your loss. Located blocks from the Xcel Energy Center, this meat-puck mecca is a savvy pre- or post-event destination. M.R.

Eagle Street Grille

174 W. 7th St. • 651-225-1382 • www.eagle streetgrille.net

If somebody built a modern sports bar, without an obtrusive number of TVs, inside a brownstone mansion, the interior might look something like Eagle Street Grille. Hardwood floors and exposed brick give the three-room main floor a rustic feel, gussied up with leather booths and sleek bar tops. Plus, the pub is so close to the Xcel Energy Center you could probably hear a slap shot. M.R.

Great Waters Brewing Co.

426 St. Peter St. • 651-224-2739 • www.great watersbc.com

Amid the Twin Cities beer bubble, St. Paul has been considerably outpaced by Minneapolis’ brewery pop-ups. But this downtown St. Paul brewpub is part of the old guard, getting yeasty with it for more than 15 years. Pace yourself if you feel like sampling. Great Waters boasts the most serious flight in town (our last came with 10 different beers, and they were out of a few). M.R.

The Liffey

175 W. 7th St. • 651-556-1420 • www.theliffey.com

This classic Irish pub is in good company with Minneapolis sister pubs Kieran’s and the Local. Something of an adult theme park, the Liffey twists and turns with odd labyrinthine rooms, corners for swilling, booths for canoodling and a vast rooftop for sunning and swilling. They’ve got a surprising bar menu, with the usual suspects, but then things like quinoa salads and gluten-free options. 8M.B.

St. Paul Grill

350 Market St. • 651-224-7455 • www. stpaulgrill.com

As knee-bucklingly deco, as dusky-mirrored and mahogany-walled as they come. There is only one thing to do: Order a scotch, whatever vintage your pocketbook can endure. They call their library of single-malts “countless,” and while that’s technically impossible, it might be fun to attempt a pour of each. Do so (not in one night, please) and that 1.5-ounce of Macallan 55 is on the house. 8M.B.

Ward 6

858 Payne Av. • 651-348-8181 • www.ward6 stpaul.com

In the relative food desert that is St. Paul’s East Side, along has come the sort of bar that other neighborhoods take for granted. The sort of bar in a restored vintage building with a hand-carved bar, where a can of Hamm’s and a solid burger is treated as the obvious right of a hard-working man. Where the menu is designed for drinking and the beer flows like water. 8M.B.