The Happy Gnome

Not Rated.
The Happy GnomeThe Happy Gnome
BA SCORE
97
world-class

88 Reviews
Reviews: 88
Visits: 132
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: n/a
Taps: 76
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

498 Selby Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55102-1727
United States
phone: (651) 287-2018

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @thehappygnomemn

Notes:
Place added by: tavernjef on 12-10-2005

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 88 | Visits: 132
Photo of olympuszymurgus
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I stopped in in he early afternoon and posted on the bar for a few hours reading a book and surfing the web. Good brews, wide range of styles, friendly staff too.

The best part was the steak tartare. Truffle oil and a barely cooked quail egg in a hefty pile of raw beef. I paired it with a Sofie, which may have been the best decision of my life.

If I didn't live halfway across the city I would be spending a lot of money here on raw beef and good beer.

My only, and this is a tiny critique- I would like to see more Belgian and Belgian style brews. It may have been just my stop in, and the season, but a few more would have been cool. (642 characters)

Photo of Draughtsman
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

GREAT beer selection (bottles and draughts), great food, great liquor list, great atmosphere. It's a Sunday morning staple for me. Amazing brunch menu, bloody mary bar, live music, friendly staff. Always a good selection of beer varieties, they try to have something for everyone, and a number of choices for everyone. A good mix of commercial and local, light and heavy, pale and dark. Really, what more could you ask for?! Too good for words, just make a point to stop there if you ever find yourself in the greater Twin Cities area. It's a little pricey, but definitely good value. (584 characters)

Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Had been in MN on business trip/beer safari, and had been told to check out the Happy Gnome by a local. It was a great place. People and food were just as excellent as beer choice. Beers were first choice and matched well with glassware and serving temp. Surly Smoke and Surly 3 on tap. Nice! GI Nightstalker, Leinie's Big Eddie ("Awesome" surprise), Tyranena Rocky's Revenge, Fulton Sweet Child, RR Double Bubble...all matched up with very creative and tasty appetizers and main dishes. Sat at bar and had extra personal attention, a few extra tastes, decent conversation despite very busy Friday night crowd. Great neighborhood, but parking can be typically "in town" tight. Place is busy. But don't let anything put you off. This place is great with a great passion for beer and beer people. A+. (798 characters)

Photo of Soilworker
4.95/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Visited this place for the first time over Thanksgiving break. First of all I was very impressed with their selection of beer. Be sure to check what they have on-tap behind the bar by looking at the tap handles. A lot of beer wasn't even listed on the draft menu as an option; I would have missed Unibroue Maudite on tap if I hadn't checked. Overall I had an amazing time. The food was great but a bit pricey. The bar menu is a bit more reasonable than their regular dinner menu but you will still pay around $10 for a burger (I had the MN Game Burger which was pretty good).

I had a total of 2 beers while I was there. I had Goose Island Matilda which was served in the Matilda glass and was amazing. I also had Unibroue Maudite which was rightly served in the proper style glass.

Overall this establishment has an amazing selection of beers on tap that you are unlikely to find on tap anywhere else in the metro area and the food and service is very good. The bartender I had would personally walk out from behind the bar and talk with us...I was very impressed. It was a bit pricey (then again I'm a college student) but not unreasonable for the beers you are getting on tap. More classy than a regular restaurant/pub-you could definitely go here for an nicer date. (1,270 characters)

Photo of JoRado
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Oh wow, where to begin! This place is the place to go if you love food or beer...OR BOTH! There tap/bottle selection is almost unmatched in the Twin Cities (and I say almost because you will find the Muddy Pig not far down the road, but that's another review).

The food can be paired with a lot of their beer and the bartenders will give some great recommendations. The bartenders also know their stuff when it comes to beer. Even though they have a vast list of beers to try you can explain what kind of tastes you are in the mood for and they well give a very narrowed down list of options from their sometimes overwhelming menu.

If you are looking to have a few beers with dinner don't expect to drop anything less than $50. It's a very expensive place, but worth it. (773 characters)

Photo of Cyclone8
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

75 beers on tap, several hundred more in bottles. The tap beer list (which you can take home to peruse) changes (and is printed up) DAILY! Incredibly diverse selection, and several things I've been dying to try. They do flights of 5 beers, 5 oz. pours of each.

Tap beer examples:
Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela Pumpkin Ale
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Summit Oatmeal StoutNew Holland Dragon's Milk
Odell Cutthroat Nitro Porter
New Belgium La Folie
Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout
11 different winter/holiday ales, including Alaskan Winter

I will consider moving my belongings there. (593 characters)

Photo of LittleBug31
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Probably my favorite restaurant of all time- the food is delicious, the beer selection is amazing and the place is cozy and relaxing.

My first trip there my fiance and I had exceptional service. Our waitress was one of the best. She even gave us each a free beer because a couple of our first selections weren't available anymore. I've had a couple visits where the service was so-so, but the experience of the Happy Gnome as a whole is always worth it.

They also host several beer dinners each month featuring different breweries and menus, as well as the occasional event. I attended Firkin Fest this past year, and it was very well run.

For an overall, well-rounded awesome place to spend an afternoon to eat and drink- the Happy Gnome is definitely the place. (768 characters)

Photo of aaronh
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

The Happy Gnome has 2 levels - taps on both levels. I don't recall the upstairs taps on previous visits, so perhaps the recently (within the last year?) added those. Service is fantastic - I can't think of another beer place off the top of my head with better service. Selection was fantastic. I always struggle to decide what to get when I visit - here and the Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh. Food is always good - but not exceptional. Price is reasonable for the selection. Highly recommend a visit to the Happy Gnome. (514 characters)

Photo of pitweasel
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Wow.

BeerAdvocate, thank you for bringing this place to my attention.

A: perfect. I've been working long hours indoors every day for over three weeks, and this was my first outdoor venture since then. Warm summer evening on a deck reminiscent of someone's back yard. Seated in the shade of an ash tree growing straight through the deck. Great music playing, and only loud enough that you could hear it if no one was talking to you. No having to shout to be heard over it.

Q: Terrific. Pints were coming with a little missing off the top, but not enough to complain about. Everything came out from the bar at a decent temperature and in a non-frozen glass. Seems like an obvious way to serve beer, but sadly, I've been to a lot of places recently that think frozen = better.

Ser: Outstanding. Our server (wish I could remember her name) was great. Super friendly, always smiling, and very helpful with recommendations for both food and beer. Took a friend's somewhat obnoxious question in stride, which I was very thankful for.

Sel: self explanatory. Way too many beers to choose from. Good problem to have.

F: Delicious. It didn't quite hit the spot - almost seemed a little too nice. But everything did taste great, and I was feeling pretty fat and happy when the time came to leave.

V: flights felt a bit pricey - $17 for 5x 5oz pours. In comparison, two pints of most mid-range ABV offerings would be $12-14. But I guess you do pay a premium for being able to sample the offerings, and it does take more time to pour five tiny glasses than just fill a pint. Food was a touch on the expensive side as well - $13 for a single serving pizza. It was delicious, don't get me wrong. Just more expensive than I'm used to.

Overall, I would absolutely visit this place again if I'm ever back in the area. I just wish I hadn't flown into town literally one hour after the 2008 Darkness kicked! (1,897 characters)

Photo of GopherNut
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Have been here a couple of times now and have always found a beer that I have never had or sometimes never heard of when I go back. The staff is always friendly and knowledgable. Was able to try some darkness that they had apparently just pulled out a while back. Was a little dissappointed that I got to Firkin Fest late and the majority of the beer had run out. Will have to make sure I get there earlier next year. With the weather turning I am excitd to be able to sit out on the patio in the near future. Overall one of my favorite places in the cities. (558 characters)

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Disclaimer: I am biased about this place because I used to work there, love the people, love the restaurant, and pretty much think it might be the best place in the world.

You cannot argue with the selection here. Over 70 taps and 200-400 bottles (depending on who you ask) with NO MACROS! This isn't like Old Chicago with all the BMC junk. The list here is well sourced and well presented. If it is in the Midwest, it is at the Gnome.

The staff here are like a family and it shows. There are people who have been there 5+ years and may never leave. They are truly happy to be a part of a place like this. Smiles and good beer knowledge.

The food is always great. When Matt Hinman left to head up the Hanger Room, Scott Brink stepped in as Exec. Chef and has filled the role brilliantly. I very fondly recall a whole John Dory served as a family style appetizer to our party of 4. We left nothing but bones. Great burgers, apps, and really interesting dishes including game and American takes on global favorites. All scratch kitchen!

Like I said, I think this is my favorite restaurant in the world (and named one of the top 96 places in the WORLD to have a beer). A true craft beer lover's destination! (1,209 characters)

Photo of Ungertaker
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

As far as bars go, The Happy Gnome has become a staple for me. I mostly drink beer at home, but this is one of very few exceptions. Their beer selection is rivaled by only one other restaurant in the Twin Cities (and that place is clear across town).

The service at the bar is phenomenal. Ryan, one of the evening bartenders, is on point every time I sit at the bar. The others are good, too.

The food may seem a little pricey until you try it. It is definitely a "you get what you pay for"-type situation. The portions are not huge, but the taste and quality are off the charts. Also, Minnesota Public Radio members get a 15% discount on food, Sunday through Wednesday.

The beer selection is what originally brought me here (and never fails to bring me back). There are 73 beers on tap, with a great rotation so something new is always available. The beer list is updated frequently, which makes for few disappointments due to ordering something that is no longer available.

Overall, the only downside to The Gnome is winter parking. There are other businesses in the area that sometimes usurp parking, which can make it a little difficult to find a spot. If you are meeting people there, my recommendation is to meet somewhere beforehand and carpool in. Or, better yet, find a designated driver to bring the whole group to alleviate the hassle of parking and allow everyone else to enjoy as much beer as they (or their bank account) can handle. (1,454 characters)

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

They have 77 rotating craft beer taps and their turn over is fast enough that the taps remain fresh. They back the taps up with 30 or 40 bottled beers. I am in a rut and have been eating their angus cheese burger every month or so for the past three years - it is that good. The crowd can get loud but not oppressively so. Their charcuterie plate makes a nice after work snack to wash down with a few craft beers. If you stay long enough, try their dinner menu - its excellent. (478 characters)

Photo of TheDudeRules
4.68/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I'll start off by saying that if I had one bar to pick to go based on beer selection for the rest of my life, this is it. Seventy five taps of craft beer. They get the rarest of things too. Literally mind blowing at times. Even better is that it is constantly rotating. The staff is very knowledgeable. They host beer themed dinners and have a great event call Firkin Fest. A must stop if you ever come to the Twin Cities.

With all the great things I can say about the beer, it is not going to be your every day hangout. Your getting the rarest of the rare but expect to pay for it.

The menu is brisk but the quality and taste are very good. I mainly concentrate on drinking my supper there.

A true can't miss. (714 characters)

Photo of Lukaduke612
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

This place is a must-stop! Great whiskey and beer lists. They always have a few (good) taps on nitro. Plus... their duck burger is by far the best burger I have ever had in my entire life! By far. Make sure to not skimp on the cherry aioli, either. (248 characters)

Photo of Penguins66
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

We stopped here during a long weekend in the Twin Cities. We liked it so much we went back for a second try. The beer selection is out of this world--literally. They advertise over 75 taps and that is exactly what we found. Every style under the sun is represented, including some very unique brews.

Our first visit was on a Friday evening. The place was packed but we managed to find a couple seats at the question-mark shaped bar. Before that we had gone to the hostess stand to inquire about a table. While the girl at the stand was polite, she talked so quiet that I could barely hear her over the sound of the bar patrons. Despite that, and the somewhat surly bartender, we enjoyed our beers and meat pizza.

Our second visit was on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The same bartender served us but he was much more amiable. Once again, food and drink left us very satisfied. Make no mistake--their food menu is rather exotic and not for everyone. We never made it past the appetizer menu on either visit, but everything we had was delicious. One other caution--it can get a bit pricey, but that is to be expected once you see the extensive food and beer menu. (1,161 characters)

Photo of tconboy
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Gnome, as it was where I first got introduced to the wide world of great beer. Fantastic selection, walls of various quality beers on tap and an extensive bottle menu. There's a bartender at this place that is a really good guy, and he's made every trip I've had to the Gnome an enjoyable one. The food is decent, but I don't go to the Gnome for the food. A little spendy, but given the atmosphere of the place and the quality of the product you're getting, it's pretty much expected. All in all, I love the Gnome for it's selection and more importantly, introducing me to great beer. (623 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

The Happy Gnome is a really cool place with great atmosphere. The front of the building looks great, and is nearly covered in Virginia Creeper vine. The inside is large, clean, and attractive. Lots of wood, leather, a slat wood floor, various beer signage, a marble/wood bar, and great natural lighting. Current specials and beer events posted on a chalkboard. The beer garden out back looked pretty dope, but we didn't check it out. Apparently frequented by both brewers and those about to embark on the pedal pub that was parked out front.

Huge draft list with a very heavy emphasis on locals and Midwest regionals, maybe about half the selection, arranged roughly along broad style lines. Very diverse and seasonal, no filler here. Also a few nice Belgian and extra-regional choices. Taps lined up on both sides of the L shaped bar. The Brau Brothers Rubus was intense and served appropriately.

After an initial bump most likely due to a short busy surge, service was great. The waitress was really nice and just did a good job all around. No problem obtaining samples.

The menu was full of appealing items - but we were scheduled for an early dinner so it was best to take it easy. I went with a simple bowl of the wild rice soup, which was quite good. The small sliver of Mr. Lou's duck burger sampled was pretty tasty as well, and the accompanying fries didn't last long. Nice presentation, too. (1,404 characters)

Photo of brow1901
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Visited The Happy Gnome for the first time ever last night. I went to get dinner with a friend. The first thing you see as you walk in is the massive row of taps. I must say the beer selection is top notch. I really love when places have a beer menu. Beer menu includes a short blurb about each beer, ABV and price. The menu also includes 302 bottles of beer and some staff recomendations. I ended up getting Dark Horse Crooked Tree and Tyranena 'Devil made me do it'.

I was a little disapointed in with the food, the plates were a bit too fancy and expensive for what is mostly a bar. However my lamb shank was delicious as was the turkey tenderloin. It was generally around $20 for an dinner plate.

The dinning room was small and a little to noisy but I can get over that.

The service was excellent, she was able to answer every question about beer and food that I could throw at her. And the manager even took the time to figure out what beer I was drinking to ask me how the crooked tree tasted.

Over all the place was great I would go there again in a heartbeat maybe next I would eat at the bar though. (1,113 characters)

Photo of camp0474
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Have made a few trips here. Good overall atmosphere, small and a kind of classic pub vibe in what looks to be an old firehouse.
Great selection of beers on tap, for which there tap beer menu which can change daily. Good rotation of beers. Many more choices in bottles.
Overall good service, friendly and knowledgeable about the many beer choices.
The large selection of beers is paired with good to upscale unique food; from twists on pub classics to full out formal dinner.
Attended the Surly Beer Dinner here in the Firehouse Room upstairs, great setting for an event like this. The head chef understood the complexities of the beers and did a great job on pairing food with each different beer.

I will definitely be heading back again. Hopefully sooner than later. (769 characters)

Photo of ghamr
4.61/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5

We stopped in on a Sunday afternoon after a reccomendation by a brew club member. It lived up to our expectations! I drooled over the many desirable beers on tap, some I was not familiar with. I decided to check out the banquet room upstairs & met the owner, John Mills. Nice guy & trying hard to have special events: St Patrick's weekend tent & Beer Dinners(hoping to attend one). Back down stairs a jazz duo was playing at just the right volume. Hated to leave. Since we're over an hour away, we will have to make a road trip plan for St Patrick's Tent to try some of the fify firkens from area brewers! (605 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.61/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

This place is awesome. When I travel with my in-laws I always have a dilemma. They want fabulous, high class food in a classy atmosphere and I want awesome beer. This is a pairing that rarely works. It does at the Happy Gnome. My father in law said the charcuterrie plate was the best he ever had. He loved the wines and the meal. The beer choices had my head spinning. So many awesome brews that I can't get in Missouri. The staff was knowledgeable and helpful with my questions. If there is any negative, it's that it was a little loud. I didn't mind but the in-laws are getting up there in age and the background noise bothers them. Otherwise, it's one of the best beer places in the country. (695 characters)

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.6/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

This was my first visit to the Gnome. I've heard great things about this establishment for some time and decided to check it out. The backround music is at the perfect volume. It doesn't drown out conversations and it's not too quiet where it can't be heard. It's a busy place, and I can understand if it takes a few moments for the server to arrive. The upstairs dining room is very nice. It's like i never left my own dinner table. When I saw the beer, wine, and sprits menu I was amazed. The Happy Gnome has a great selection of draft and bottled choices. Domestic crafts and Belgian ales are the highlight of the menu, along with a great selection of single malt Scotch whiskies.

Met a few friends and sat upstairs at a table. The servers were there within minutes to take our orders. I had a few glasses of Surly Darkness, and it was poured for me in the proper glass and at a reasonable volume. I didn't have a chance to try the food, but the two people I was with were both very enthusiastic about it. For the beers available, the prices were very reasonable, depending on the size of the serving and the availability. This place for me was a great experience, and I plan on going back many times in the future. (1,220 characters)

Photo of herman77
4.6/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Been here a couple times now. Great atmosphere, very nice style in a cool looking old firehouse building. I have not been out on the patio, but I have heard it is one of the best outdoor areas for a restaurant/bar in the Twin Cities area. Kegs get switched out quite frequently and there is always something new on tap. Went here for the Surly Beer Dinner last Tuesday and the food was amazing! Great pairings, the head chef really knows his stuff. Ordered a Copper ale from Boulder Brewing Company before the dinner and right when I got my pint the bartender came over and said they literally just changed the keg, so I actually got their Mojo Risin' IPA... He still charged me the price for the Copper Ale so that was pretty cool of him and it was a pint instead of a 10oz pour. (780 characters)

Photo of recoveringmormon
4.6/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

By far my favorite bar ever. My handle is no exaggeration, I am literally recovering from Mormonism, just started drinking in the last 3 years, and 95% of what I have learned about beer I learned as a regular at the Happy Gnome. Bartending is a little hit or miss, but the beer selection is constantly changing, and with 76 craft beers on draft there is always something for everyone. Food is always great to outstanding, with an emphasis on house-cured and smoked charcuterie; this is reflected in the pricing, however. Get there early or call for a reservation, because there is typically a wait after about 5:30. (615 characters)

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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
97 out of 100 based on 88 ratings.