The Happy Gnome

BA SCORE
96
world-class

143 Ratings
The Happy GnomeThe Happy Gnome
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

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

(651) 287-2018 | map
thehappygnome.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by tavernjef on 12-10-2005

PLACE STATS
Score:
96
Ratings:
143
Reviews:
93
Avg:
4.37
pDev:
6.41%
 
 
Taps:
76
Bottles/Cans:
300
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
N
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 143 |  Reviews: 93
Photo of paintedwall
4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I was upstairs, so that might have something to do with my overall impression of the place.

As far as atmosphere is concerned, this place really didn't do it for me. I felt like I was in a hotel banquet hall when I was seated upstairs. The place seemed entirely too expansive for my taste. It was also very dark, but that's to be expected of places like this, I think.

The overall quality of the beer and service was excellent. The selection can't be beaten in the Twin Cities, that I know of, but I'm still looking.

The prices are a bit high for certain beers, but reasonable for others. I don't really understand the scale.

Overall, a joint worthy of a special occasion, but not an every day haunt.

 704 characters

Photo of mdwalsh
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

First stop on our tour de beer in the twin cities. Two had beer flights, two had pints. Great selection nicely laid out in the menu. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. There's obviously good turnover in beers based on the difference between the menu that I printed off their website (another bonus) from the 30th and the one they had there from the 4th. One beer was a little flat, but that isn't automatically their fault. We were there at noon on a Saturday and there wasn't much for atmostphere, but nothing to create atmosphere either.

 546 characters

Photo of Soilworker
4.95/5  rDev +13.3%
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 jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

First visit to The Happy Gnome today. Have wanted to go for a long time. We sat out on the rather large patio. Very cool atmosphere. Large wood fence makes it private from the parking lot and any streets. Huge trees for shade and ambiance. A lot of lights strung up for night time. Huge outdoor fireplace and a fair amount of seating. Indoor looked cool too. Older and rustic. I counted 68 beers on tap and well over the same number in bottles. Endless selection and a nice variety of beers with at least a dozen MN/WI beers on tap. Didn't have any food, but everyone seemed to be ordering burgers which looked and smelled fantastic. Some beers were a bit pricey where others looked to be about average. Service was pretty good despite there being a pretty good crowd. I will be back again for sure.

 799 characters

Photo of slyke
4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

My first trip to the Happy Gnome was a good one on 8/27/2009. We sat in the bar and made an evening of it with friends. Lively atmosphere, but not loud or echoey. Service was attentive, but a little slow. Our waiter was quick to get you what you needed, once he came by the table. My glass sat empty for a few minutes between each round.

Beer selection was superb with 70 or so tap lines and a long list of bottles. All beers were fresh - no off flavors or evidence of neglected tap lines.

Food on the bar menu was good, but more expensive than you might pay elsewhere. We started with the antipasti plate followed by a chicken sandwich, pear and gorganzola pizza, and a couple of game burgers. All were well executed.

The prices will keep this place from being a regular stop, but it is a fine place and a good time was had by all in my group. Definitely worth a try, especially if you're a foodie.

 904 characters

Photo of Buebie
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

I've attended many events and long nights at this establishment. Yesterday I stopped by for a pint and thought...why not review the place?

Located in a somewhat historic St. Paul neighborhood with much to look at. Also not far from I94, downtown St. Paul and the cathedral.
Parking is cinch here with a large lot in back. Somtimes it does fill up though in the evening, as they share the lot with the St. Paul Curling club. So a street spot will have to do. In this area there are no parking meters, so leave your quarters at home.

Walking in there is a split level, staircase going up, to the banquet room and the door straight ahead leading to the bar and dinning area.
The bar itself is gorgeous with great detailed wood work, brass rail to rest your feet on and lavish seating arrangements. Big tall windows line the place, although they are tinted and vines hanging outside mask the sunlight. The windows also point to the north so no sunset blinding light penetrates the place.
The taps are endless wrapping around the 90 degree angle wall, the bar also wraps with the wall, if that makes sense. Wood panels also line the ceiling.
If you dont sit at the bar, there are more booths surrounding the bar area, as well as a back formal dining booth area, with square wood tables and comfy booth seats on one side, with wood chairs on the other.

The bathrooms have all been tiled and are quite clean and fancy. Only one stall and 2 urinals, there is usually a line on busy nights.

Reasons to go;
Many great beers ontap, bottle form, cask beers and a decent happy hour.
There are many food options, cooked to culinary perfection. The food is mostly of smaller portions. There are actual chef's on hand, this is no typical bar food establishment.
The beer list itself is pretty large, hand written on a giant chalk board in all sorts of different colored chalk.

My only complaint is the prices. Its a bit more spendy. The food is pretty pricey and the beer is also a bit expensive. You can go to several other places in the area buy the same beer and pay $3 or more less for the same beer.
However those places dont serve the beer in the correct glassware.

 2,166 characters

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

I love this place. I was in MSP on business and had to check it out. It was a Sunday night that was mild and breezy. We sat on the nice deck. The place in a nice neighborhood and has a huge parking lot. A great selection of beers including many locals. The waiter brought samples of Surly because we were from out of town. I had a Matilda, a Rare Vox (in a RV glass), and a Bourbon County Stout. All were on tap. The food was great. I had a nice salad followed by a bison steak. If I lived in SP, I would be there all of the time. I can not say enough about it.

 561 characters

Photo of Larrytown
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Okay, so to start with, this is the best beer bar in the Twin Cities. The Muddy Pig is a respectable choice and it's hard to argue with a coney and brew at the Bulldog, but for variety in beer, it's just about impossible to top the Gnome.

The second thing that raises it high above the norm is that patio. It's surrounded by wood walls that keep out any traffic noise and covered in tall trees to prevent the summer sun from burning too brightly. All in all, you're not going to have a better May afternoon than sitting on the patio behind the Happy Gnome.

As mentioned in other reviews, the food is perhaps trying a bit too hard, but I don't mind. The Muddy Pig (just down the street) already has the market cornered on great beer and bar food, so the upscale menu helps fill a niche. Plus it always makes it easier to get the ladies to come with if you can offer some classy food.

If you're in the Twin Cities, you've gotta find your way here. It's that simple.

 966 characters

Photo of brow1901
4.63/5  rDev +5.9%
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 guitarman
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Ah, my first post - to lose one's virginity writing about such a noble establishment, but I digress.

I was in the Twin Cities on business this week and was lucky enough to tag along with a fine bunch of gentlemen to a place they heartily recommended. Being from Colorado with such fine hangouts as Trinity Brewing Company and the Falling Rock Tap Room under my belt, I was very anxious to see what The Gnome was all about. I was impressed with their draft beers, bottles, as well as their fine single malts. (The malts were not sampled on this evening - next time.)

Following the advice of an Englishman friend to never "fly on one wing," I sampled two brews I had not had on tap before: Surly Furious and Bell's Hopslam. Both were excellent. I tasted a third--hey, I was driving--a Brew Dog Hardcore IPA, which was not my favorite.

The food was awesome - I had the Murphy's Irish Stout Lamb shank, some of the tastiest lamb ever.

The Gnome is a place I would recommend to anyone who loves good beer and food in a great pub atmosphere.

 1,040 characters

Photo of kbaker91
4.14/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I have been to The Gnome a few times in the last few months, and each visit has been fairly consistant. I generally arrive in the early evening, which means that the front bar is busy. The general vibe of the place each of my visits is that it is more of a restaurant than a bar. I usually am able to find a space upstairs at a second bar. The beer selection is very good, not quite as extensive as the Muddy Pig down the street, but good nonetheless. The service has been good, actually better than expected given how busy this place is every time I have been there. I have never eaten here, but from glancing at the menu it looks to have both standard pub fare with exotic extras such as elk. A bonus is a good scotch selection upstairs.

Overall, pretty good beer selection, always busy. Seems more of a restaurant that happens to have a bar, as opposed to the Muddy Pig which is a bar that happens to serve food.

 917 characters

Photo of Greggy
3.8/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

We pulled into the Gnome at 2 on a Saturday. It looked like they only had 2 people on staff (1 at bar, 1 on floor). It took us a while to get a menu, and then even a bit longer to order. I hate to complain about the wait as I can empathized with the waitress from under staffing. The beer selection was good but definitely not great. Although there is a bunch of taps, there wasn't really anything overly impressive. I grabbed a Lienenkugel's big Eddy which was quite tasty and served in a new Belgium globe glass. Our food came up in a timely fashion, was tasty, and filling. After having our beers and finishing our food, we got our bill, which was definitely much pricier than other joints in town, but I had a gift card to burn. This place would be great if they got a little more adventurous on the taps, lowered the prices, and up'd the staff. As it is, I'll probably swing in sometime.

 892 characters

Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

A very nice little place in St. Paul that had a very large selection of on-tap beers, including many that are hard to find, as well as a large number of bottled beers. It had a very comfortable atmosphere with a very laid-back feel. Service was great and promoted the laid-back atmosphere. The food was very good, we got a pizza and some cheese with bread (Rogue's blue cheese was amazing). Overall its the best place I've been to so far, although I haven't gotten around too much. Highly recommended!

 501 characters

Photo of lhaqq
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The times I've been here they've usually had a good jazz trio playing in the background. Not too loud--allows for conversation yet offering some good music--over adds to a pleasant ambiance. Lots of windows also gives it a good vibe. Granted not the dark, dim-lit pub feeling, but still great in its own respect. They have a huge selection of good beers on tap and a fair amount in bottle as well. I had some food--a burger, I think--which was good but don't remember too much about their food. Usually when I've been there its been pretty busy but haven't had trouble getting a table. It's a decent size so shouldn't be the type of place that runs out of room easily.

 668 characters

Photo of Packforever1976
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Stopped in today after shopping at MOA.

A: Was very nice inside. We sat in the bar area, as we wanted to eat off the bar menu. The decor was nice. If I lived closer I could see myself going thee quite often.

Q: The quality was great. My one complaint would be my Big Eddy being served too cold for my liking. Our food was very delicious.

Service: Our bartender was great. Very polite and prompt. The food came quickly, and the beers as well. Very impressed.

S: A crazy amount of quality brews on tap, and a very nice selection of bottles as well. The food menu had a pretty good variety as well. I finally got to enjoy Two Hearted on tap, and also had my first Big Eddy.

F: I had the Black Angus Cheeseburger, and my wife had the Chicken Artichoke Pizza. We both really enjoyed our choices. The fries that came with the burger were fantastic as well.

V: The food prices were higher than we typically like to pay, but the quality was there.
Getting to try Big Eddy for $^ was a bargain in my book. I'll be going back for sure.

 1,032 characters

Photo of tconboy
4.63/5  rDev +5.9%
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 Philly82785
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I went to the Gnome for the first time about 3 months back. I just wanted to see what a real beer bar was like. It turns out that 95% of the time if I'm heading to the bar I'm going to the Gnome for their great beer selection and fantastic food. They will always have a beer on tap for you. They have some where around 30 different taps, and about 200+ bottles. Its just a great place to sit back relax and have a nice brew with a few pals. The only down side to the Gnome is that they are a bit pricey but just like everything else you get what you pay for.

 558 characters

Photo of Nightfalke
3.58/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

I am not impressed by the Happy Gnome.

The beer selection is great, albeit pricey. The ambiance reminds me more of an overcrowded college bar than it does the hipster bar that it claims to be. Service was average at best, mainly because of the tight quarters that the waitresses had to deal with. Perhaps it was just where I was seated, but tables were packed too closely together, with little to no room to maneuver inside. The food seemed overthought and overdone. Can I get a normal burger, not a bison burger with arugala and chipotle mayo?

The things the Gnome has going for it are the beer selection, and the patio. Amazing beer selection that changes often. The patio is beautiful and a welcome relief to the overcrowded inside. I highly reccomend the patio.

Overall, if I was invited to Happy Hour at the Gnome, I would go. If I was planning a Happy Hour, I would choose a different place to host it at.

 915 characters

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
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 GilGarp
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I went to the Happy Gnome about a year ago and had never heard of it prior. The place was suggested by some friends and my girlfriend was all about it. Not because she likes beer but because she loves gnomes!

It was a rainy Friday evening and the place was packed. It's located in a beautiful historic building that I believe was once a firehouse. The front bar has a very high ceiling with nice big windows. There's lots of dark wood and a warm cozy atmosphere. The back area is a little more intimate with tables and chairs set up like a restaurant. Overall pretty dark but lots to look at.

The beer selection was impressive and I went for a Surly Furious. Again, at the time I had never heard of the bar or the Surly brewery - I only picked it because it was local. I was very pleased to have "stumbled" upon it.

We had some appetizers to share and the food was very good if not a little expensive.

A great place for a beer and I hope to go back soon.

 958 characters

Photo of supercolter
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I love this place, great place to chill. A nice and relaxed bar with nice people and good beer. There is quite a well chosen selection of beers from wee heavy to tripels to IPA's, you will not be disappointed. The stock rotates quite frequently, which is good but the menu doesn't always keep up with what's available. The food is also very good, teryaki wings are phenominal. Our bartender was very nice, but seemed a bit lacking in his ability to recommend on taste. He knew what he thought was good but he didn't know how to sell that to us. Oh well, he was a great guy and tended to our needs.

 597 characters

Photo of Ben4881
4.08/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Outstanding selection of local, regional, domestic, and foreign brews on tap. The service was exceptional and the server who served us was very knowledgeable about their beer menu. The people sitting at the table next to us were not familiar with most of the beers on the menu. One of the guys was looking for a particular beer they did not have. Our server made impressively appropriate recommendations. The food seemed to be pretty standard, but I only had a BLT and fries. There was a list of gourmet cheeses on the menu, but I did not have a chance to sample any of them. Therefore, my food score is slightly skewed in that way. The bar area is encompassed with dark rich tones and quality woodwork. The enclosed split-level wood patio in the back is also very nice. There is a large tree in the middle of the patio creating excellent shade and atmosphere. Overall, I had a great experience at this bar. I will certainly return to this establishment on my next trip to the Twin Cities.

 989 characters

Photo of ghamr
4.61/5  rDev +5.5%
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 Gump
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 2

Formerly Chang O'Haras, the Happy Gnome on Selby has a spacious outdoor patio.

I've been here several times, but have stopped coming for lunch. The food was less than spectacular. Everyone at the table had something negative to say about their meal. From "this isn't walley" to "my bun is stale".

But the beer selection makes up for the food. Nearly 70 taps by my count and all good beer. They aren't filling the line with endless macro beers.

Service is always good and if you can sit outside in the summer evenings you will definitely have a nice time.

The parking lot can get full, so you might be parking on side-streets.

 629 characters

Photo of mnfinnkidd
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

The Gnome is the location of our homebrew club meetings. The beer selection is great. Usually 15+ American craft brews on tap and an addition 5+ Belgian brews on tap. They use specific glassware with some brews. Kwak being the coolest. The food of the Gnome is deliciously. My favorite being the 4 cheese macaroni. They also have a great selection of scotches and mixed drinks. They have a nice patio that I've never experienced and they are currently updating there upstairs which has a second complete bar. The only thing that is frustration with the Gnome is sometimes it's hard to find a parking space. Otherwise the gnome is a Twin Cities beer destination that you should add to your list.

 694 characters

The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
4.37 out of 5 based on 143 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More