The best eats around the St. Paul RiverCentre for your MEA conference

Photo by Claire Noack

By Lianna Matt

As the children go off to enjoy the long fall weekend, it’s easy for them to forget that a break for them doesn’t mean a break for their teachers. For everyone who is going to the fall Minnesota Education Association (MEA) conference at the St. Paul RiverCentre this year, we know you’re working hard at your workshops, so here’s a list of good eats within five blocks from the RiverCentre to help you have a good time despite not having a day off this week.

For early mornings, grab a caffeine boost at nearby Dunn Brothers—the local Minnesota company has two locations within walking distance—or look at the surprisingly large amount of breakfast options at the Downtowner Wood Fire Grill, the American bistro with a Persian twist and, at least as far as its breakfasts, a Cajun past. Another spot to start your day is The Liffey Irish pub, which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night, and after more than a decade in the kitchen, they know their way around the griddle.

Lunch and dinner are full of flavorful possibilities at places like Sakura Restaurant & Bar, but you can’t go wrong with some American comfort food at Eagle Street Grille. For a taste of old St. Paul, head over to the dark green building on the corner of Chestnut and Exchange streets. Cossetta’s walls are lined with photographs and news clippings from when it first opened as a little grocery store in 1911. While Cossetta may be known for some intimidating lines, if you can swap their pasta for their pizza, the line virtually disappears. Just make sure to grab a cannoli or a treat from their patisserie!

If you want to treat yourself a little more for working so diligently while your students are off playing, check out one of the city’s standbys like the Meritage or The St. Paul Grill. (The word “grill” is in the latter for a reason, so think really hard before you pass up on its 28-day-aged steaks.) Forepaugh’s offers a picturesque setting in a Victorian mansion or, if you want to unwind a bit more, a more casual downstairs. The new kid on the block is perhaps Gray Duck Tavern. Depending on which food news source you look at it, you may think it’s mainly happy hour, but a look at the menu and a bite of its scallops and romesco or its duck schnitzel will tell you otherwise.

To unwind over happy hour, you need only pick a direction and start walking before you run into something. Immediately in the vicinity is Herbie’s On the Park, with all of the tavern food, cocktails and Miracle on Ice love you could want. Wild hockey spirit pervades the bar, but if you’re not quite feeling it, we recommend the Lonely Zamboni drink: Knob Creek bourbon, cherries, mint and lemon juice. A little ways north is the Great Waters Brewing Company and Vieux Carré Cocktail Bar & Jazz Lounge, so if you want an evening on the patio or some music to your evening, head up that way. To the west near Cossetta is the dual draw and ownership of Seventh Street Food Truck Park and New Bohemia. The first will give you fun drinks and an a la carte pick of eats, food truck style—see our full review here—and the second will give you a ridiculously low-priced happy hour, delicious bratwurst and a giant pretzel that can be shared five ways.


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