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

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Added by tavernjef on 12-10-2005

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Reviews: 91 | Ratings: 142
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 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'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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Photo of LittleBug31
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of blackie
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

stopped in the Happy Gnome for lunch on a Saturday - the bar was steady but not busy and there were clearly some local brewers in, though i can't remember who.

The exterior of the building is beautiful - nice ivy walls and a really cool sign. The interior is open with a large bar and an outdoor terrace.

Service was spotty at first but she warmed up - samples were given and there was decent music being played.

The selection was quite nice - lots of locals (4-5 Surly taps, Brau Bros, Lift Bridge, Flat Earth), Rush River DIPA, strong seasonals from Victory, Great Divide, Deschutes, Goose Island, Boulevard, Rogue and on. I settled on the Brau Brothers Black Rubus but there was plenty of other stuff that i would have been more than happy to quaff. There was perhaps 70 total and the bottle specials on the board were close to store-prices.

The menu was strong - the duck burger with fries was massive and the fries were salted to the max. There were lots of other attractive items on the lunch menu.

The list of past beer dinners was quite impressive - i'm sure those would be pretty great at this place.

Definitely the best drinking venue in our recent trip to MSP - ahead of town hall.

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Photo of Phocion
3.3/5  rDev -24.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I went here a week and a half ago after the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest. We ducked out about an hour early to avoid the rush and decided to grab dinner at the Happy Gnome.

After sitting outside on the very large, spacious patio I was delighted to see the beer list. The bottled selection was incredible and a decent tap list too, which included, to my understanding, one dedicated cask at all times.

I finally decided on a Two Brothers Domaine DuPage as well as the Minnesota Game Burger, a bison-elk burger with bacon among other things.

After about ten minutes, the waitress came back to double-check that I ordered it without horseradish or blue cheese. I assured her I did.

After another ten minutes, our beers finally showed up. Another twenty and then came the burger.

The burger was incredible except that... well, it had blue cheese and for whatever reason, the bacon described on the menu was nowhere to be seen. Generally speaking I'm not too picky so I ate it, but when I pay $14 for a burger and wait 40 minutes for it, I like to assume it will come out the way I ordered it.

In short, the food was great, the atmosphere was incredible, and the beer selection was definitely excellent. However, I've regularly had better service at McDonald's than here. There was definitely quite a rush of people having just left the beer festival, but for the most part it wasn't busy until after the food had already come; when we arrived there were about as many servers as there were occupied tables.

I've worked as a server before, so I know that I'm not being unfair to our waitress. Perhaps the food order wasn't her fault, but the horrible waiting time (even for a beer or a refill of water) was ridiculous. Of course, as a former server I'd be willing to accept that perhaps she was new, having a bad day, or whatever the case may have been and would be more than willing to give The Happy Gnome a second shot.

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Photo of caskstrength
4/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Been there many times. Great tap list. Good location.

Website could be better. Could keeep a taplist more current online.

A bit too trendy. Prices pretty bad. Not going there as much because of that. Going to the Muddy pig more than the Gnome these days, mainly because of price and more of a "beer bar" atmosphere at the Pig.

Anyway... Happy Gnome does have great beer, really good food, and a great location. If you're taking a girl out for dinner, it's the place to go in St. Paul if you care about beer and she doesn't.

If you're going out with the guys (or a girl who knows her beer)...check the taplist, grab a favorite if it's pouring, then go somewhere else for the rest of the night.

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Photo of mwagner1018
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

A- Great bar, situated in a great up and coming beer hot spot in the Twin Cities. Nice L shaped bar (the best place to hang out here is definitely at the bar), good indoor seating, with tables to accommodate groups of people. Really great outdoor area, (although it was closed without any service the night I was there for this review).

Q- Great selection of monthly specials, revolving taps, local options, craft, and import, great prices on special items. A real solid joint.

S- Pretty knowledgeable staff, good respect for the beer.

F- NA (have heard mixed reviews, but can't review at this time, friends say some of the deserts are spectacular).

V- The value seems good to me, the specials, or beers of the month are the way to go, although some of the more obscure beers are higher in price, they do have a great selection. Great beer scene.

Every time I go to this bar, I wish that it was closer to me, but the location is certainly part of its charm...still doesn't mean that I wouldn't want it down the street from me...Cathedral Hill here I come...haha...

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Photo of GopherNut
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +14.7%
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+.

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Photo of camp0474
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of herman77
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
4.36 out of 5 based on 142 ratings.
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