The Happy Gnome

The Happy GnomeThe Happy Gnome
Liked This Place
4.43 w/ 144 ratings
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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Ratings: 144 |  Reviews: 94
Photo of poypoyking
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

One of the best beer venues I have been to. The draft selection is amazing and the bottled beer list is overwhelming. If you are into Scotch they have a very good selection of single malts and blended. The food is top notch as well. A little pricier but worth the expense.

 277 characters

Photo of Dwarven_Ale
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of Chudem
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of deniserat
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of Jimandhisbeerd
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of olympuszymurgus
5/5  rDev +12.9%
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 Draughtsman
5/5  rDev +12.9%
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 AmandaSchaefer
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of MattMorin
5/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +12.9%
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 mattmarka1
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of Soilworker
4.95/5  rDev +11.7%
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 952melvin
4.9/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Great vibe, good quality, great service and unbeatable selection in the area. This place has it all, the only problem is it gets expensive trying the foreign beer, but, its so much fun! This is a must visit place!

 214 characters

Photo of JoRado
4.88/5  rDev +10.2%
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 Cyclone8
4.88/5  rDev +10.2%
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 +10.2%
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 will1256
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Some of the best food and beer available in St. Paul, but spendy!

65 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.85/5  rDev +9.5%
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 Chucker17
4.83/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Neat place. Good selection of beers of which most were local but that worked great for a visitor like me. Ate lunch and it was excellent. Definitely will go back next time in St. Paul.

 187 characters

Photo of pitweasel
4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
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!

 1,897 characters

Photo of GopherNut
4.78/5  rDev +7.9%
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 +7.9%
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 +7.9%
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 TooGood
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of ja09
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%

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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
Place rating: 95.8% out of 100 with 144 ratings
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