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The Happy Gnome


91 Reviews
The Happy GnomeThe Happy Gnome

Type: Bar, Eatery

498 Selby Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55102-1727
United States

(651) 287-2018 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by tavernjef on 12-10-2005

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Reviews: 91 | Ratings: 142
Photo of Sludgeman
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Visited on a Wednesday for a late lunch. No one in the restaurant. The bar booths were about half full.

Great food, better beer with some rarities and vintages on the bottle menu. I will definitely be back.

V – Feels like a beer place. Could be too dark at night. Friendly. Loud at times in the bar.

Q – Correct glasses for both my stout and flanders red.

S – Bartender was very attentive but not overbearing. Knowledgeable about beer.

S – 40+ taps and another 40+ bottles. Great selection. I had the Fulton War & Peace and the Rodenbach Grand Cru – Yum!

F – I had the meatloaf sandwich. Fantastic! Fries were excellent as well.

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Photo of beersnoop
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Ah, the Happy Gnome is my second favorite beer bar in North America (see Bar Volo in Toronto), and what a terrific selection of beer -- and awesome food, stay for dinner if you can get a table -- and a gem in St Paul's Cathedral Hill. When in town, you must go.

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Photo of MNBeerGeek
4.01/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Overall, I do enjoy the Happy Gnome. The whole bar area is quite nice, if a bit lacking in service. However, when sitting at the bar, the bartenders are usually very attentive and friendly. The only thing I was disappointed to see this visit (the first in awhile) is that it seems their prices have risen while almost all taps are 10oz pours (no 12s that I saw, an very few actual pints).

Regardless, world class selection of domestic and import taps for the Twin Cities.

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Photo of recoveringmormon
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

My wife and I visited some good friends and this was a fun stop during our visit. The place was a little smaller than I expected, but they made the most of the space they had. Kind of newer version of a rustic colonial look on the inside, not with the furniture, but the structure itself. Dark wood floors and walls, a cool fire place in the back corner (with a hook that I hung my hat on!), and beer memorabilia all over the place. Big "L" shaped bar that is the center of the place. Everything was good looking, clean and well kept.

A pretty busy afternoon but we were well attended to, friendly wait staff.

The selection was very good. A lot of regional stuff that I was not familiar with and happy to try. The menu was VERY organized and had everything separated by category. Nice for the beer enthusiast in everyone or the new comers. It was broken down to things like "Looking for something hoppy" and listed beers, then "Looking for something Double hoppy?" 70 taps and according to the menu about 300 bottles. Also a very good whiskey/scotch selection according to my buddy, not my forte, but he was impressed with the list.

Food all looked pretty good, but we only got a few appetizers which were very tasty. I think we got a fried vegetable special, some pretzels and it was all really good. The food coming out of the kitchen all looked really good, looked like stuff you'd see on one of those competition cooking shows. Everything seemed very high quality yet reasonably priced. I'd visit again for sure if I were visiting again.

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Photo of zeff80
4.61/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of pitweasel
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5


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!

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Photo of Penguins66
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of JoRado
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A great beer bar and a staple of craft beer in Minnesota. The atmosphere is OK, kind of a cross between a suburban living room and a regular bar/restaurant. Not the most cool or fun atmosphere, but it does the job just fine. Has more of a restaurant feel rather than a bar feel.

The selection and quality of beer in this place is just stellar. A wide variety of taps from local and international breweries with great selections. I find things that I never expect to see on tap (Great Divide Titan IPA and two year old Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine) to interesting themes like having six different SouthernTier imperial stouts on at once. Didn't pay too much attention to the bottle list but from I remember it was pretty extensive.

The food is pretty good, I have only eaten their once and it was some sort of burger and I remember liking it.

Service is fine, nothing unusual, but I have never really sat and chatted so they might really know their stuff.

My only complaint is that the prices are a bit steep.

Overall, a great place.

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Photo of Cyclone8
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of davey
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Stopped in yesterday (Friday)around 2pm. Easy to find, and easy parking. Large bar area, and a couple tables. Really laid back, and quiet. Almost too quiet. Only 3 people at the bar.
The taps were really good and fresh. Surly, new belgium, bells, great lakes, and locals. Had a couple seasonals on as well. Didn't check the bottle list.
Service was good. Bar tender was helpful with telling me about other bars in the area.
The food was incredible! Had foie gras stuffed quail, with acorn squash and chestnuts. Food is seasonal. Menu is small, but everything is interesting.
A little bit pricey, but with the quality of everything its expected.
Being new to the Twin Cities, this was a great place to discover. I'll be coming back frequently.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Went to the Happy Gnome after several recommendations while at Darkness Day as many people said it had the best beer selection in the Twin Cities. It kind of has a dual atmosphere, the bar area is much more low key and definitely a hang out place whereas the dining room is a bit more formal. The first thing you notice is the ridiculous beer list, something like 70 taps and over 200 bottles...it takes a while to get through it all and settle on the beers you will be imbibing with that night, but there are tons of goodies on there, too many to list. The wait staff is friendly but our server was a little pushy and kind of had a fake excited-ness about himself. The food was phenomenal, I had a bison and elk burger that was pretty killer. I thought it was most fun to just enjoy my girlfriend's company and sip on some awesome beers. I'd recommend going on the weekends when the atmosphere it a little more upbeat. Definitely a must stop for any beer advocates while in the Twin Cities.

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Photo of Draughtsman
5/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
5/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Photo of bobbypaulson
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 5

This place is Great!!!! I’ve been there three times and it is my wife and I’s date place everytime we go down to the twin cities. The beer slection is great and if they don’t have something you like on tap they have a ton of bottles to choose from. I had my first and second bottle of Ivan the Terrible here (AMAZING both times)!!! The food is equally as great (I recommend the steak tartare). It’s hard not to drop over $100 dollar at this place, but it is so worth it. The servers are extremely nice and knowledgable.
I recommend this place to everyone in the area!!!

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A: Classy, clean, very nice overall. Pay attention to what you're wearing. Lots of room, great patio, nice and new interior.

Q: The beers on tap are not uniformly great, but there are enough greats for this to be an awesome beer list. Excellent variety.

S: Service is slow, servers obviously are trained on food and the menu, not so much the beers. Still, a little water every hour or so would be nice.

S: Excellent variety of beers on tap and in bottles. Long list with a focus on quality beers.

F: Classy, a bit pricey, and not very vegetarian friendly. Your mileage may vary.

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Photo of colt45n
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Stopped in while visiting the Minneapolis area this past weekend, next to the town hall this was a must visit for me.

Was extremely impressed with the tap list. Well organized, and many different options to choose from.

Food menu looked fantastic, but on the pricier end. Higher-end foodie options like elk, venison, etc. The food was more like a fine dinning than a typical beer bar, however the $14 burger was of the best, so at least you get great quality for the price which is always a good thing.

I am starting to think it may have something to do with the Minneapolis area but once again the service wasn't the best, had to wait quite some time to even talk to someone and once we did they were very short, tried to ask the server about anything specail they had on tap and all I got was "their all on the list"

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.36/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

The Happy Gnome is an awesome bar in St. Paul just around the corner from another fav bar of mine called The Muddy Pig, and one of the best places to get a beer in the Twin Cities. The selection of beers on tap is probably the best in the cities. I didn't eat there, but more upscale than what I usually want when I’m out drinking a couple beers. It is a bit pricey, but I think you get what you pay for in this case. If you avoid the food, it is much more reasonable. The service seems to be generally good. On the inside the place looks like many other upscale bars, but gets lots of points for the awesome deck area outside. They also hold some great events, tastings, beer dinners etc. Highly recommended. I had a KBS on tap and a bunch of good Odell beers! Score!

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Photo of ritter57
4.58/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I visited the Happy Gnome on a Sunday night during a short business trip to the Twin Cities. This is a very good beer bar. The focus is definitely on local beer and the staff knows local beer very well. They did one thing I really like - match the size of the pour to the strength of the beer. This bothers some BA's but to me it is just good sense. I was able to try more beers without getting loaded. The atmosphere is very comfortable. the beer list is exceptional, diverse and well rounded. Interesting note - the neighborhood is really cool too - lots of old, classic architecture. It's a "gastropub" so the food menu is strange but nice - still kind of expensive. If you have time to only try one good beer bar in the area this is a good place to go. Easy to get to, good neighborhood, great local selection of beer.

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Photo of emquilxy
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

Stopped in while visiting the Twin Cities--was looking for a place to try a few regional drafts that I can't find back home (Pittsburgh). We showed up around 4pm on a Friday and grabbed a booth by the bar--within 15 minutes all of the spots were filled.

Was extremely impressed with the tap list. Well organized, pertinent information, and plentiful. Found out that the drafts were $1 off for happy hour, which is always pleasing.

Food menu looked fantastic, but on the pricier end. Higher-end foodie options like elk, venison, etc. The food was more fine dining than bar snacks.

Even with happy hour, drafts were $6/each, and the server didn't have any beer knowlege/advice/reccos to share. So I will continue to swing by for 1-2 beers when I'm visiting to try out some interesting upper midwest brews, but it's certainly not a place where I would want to (or be able to afford!) settling in for a whole evening.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of corcoranjc
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Great place, and like the bar it shares the neighborhood with - The Muddy Pig, The Happy Gnome has arguably the best beer selection in the Twin Cities. However, for my money, the Gnome wins everytime, and it doesn't really have anything to do with the beer.

I really like the feel of this place...it's very upscale looking but it feels comfortable, and it's roomy enough that you don't feel like you're in a subway.

the patio is awesome if you can get a spot there, and the service is always good. i don't get there often because i end up spending too much money and it's not in my hood, but when I'm there I'm always happy I made the trip.

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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
96 out of 100 based on 91 ratings.
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