The Happy Gnome

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The Happy GnomeThe Happy Gnome
145 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: 145 |  Reviews: 94
Photo of slander
4.3/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

Apparently, Minneapolis keeps a back up city just out of town, you know, just in case they have to reboot their primary. We could have driven it, I suppose, but it's been a long day so why not, not? The taxi driver was suspiciously amazingly friendly & helpful but did drop us doorside and Heather met us promptly there. A known Gnome hangout, they can be happy too, you know. Guess that this must be the place...

Long crazy hockey skate key shaped bar hooking the corner; wood, with white marble pieces inlayed and a copper foot rail. Seating for 2 dozen down and all around, a bar overhang piece tracing with sunken spots & track action where need be. 24 taps in a row on the barback on one side; glassware below & tiered booze above. 6 taps on a bar tower to the left of me, another 24 on a panel around the bend with booze above shelved and bottled selections coolered down below, another 6 on the barback to the right with tiered booze and glassware, more booze above, plus 8 taps on the bar, and a single handpump below. Too many taps to easily tally without taking off my shoes and counting on my toes, I'm glad there's a printed list 'cause it's tap sensory overload. Garden gnomes in corners and on the barback framing. Don't be fooled, there's always one ready to jack you not if but when you get unruly. A TV in the corner and another one around the other side.

Large windows up front with neons & signage in between, and shelves above with glassware random & bottles. 6 booths run the wall below offering something in the way of views of the street. There's a big old fireplace cut into the wall at the end of the bar with 3 hightop tables around it. A large framed mirror sits above, and what looks like pillars to both sides but they're really painted on the wall. And 2 bar counter tables on the other end below a massive blackboard listing tap selections. Green walls over wood panel lowers and slat floorings; green totems to both sides of the door. Potted plants dot the sills and the tables, lamp lit. It's a pleasant décor.

Back room holds a dozen and a half tables, divvied into 3 sections by high backed shared bench play. Pale green walls with good b/w landscape prints over brown panel lowers and a mounted big board listing cheese specials & desserts. Slat wood ceilings with cool wrought iron piece wrapped cone chandelier lamp lighting, tracks & spots, and spinny fans. The bathrooms there, I've noted "stand in the hole and pee", something about an absurd dip in the floor if foggy memory recalls. Through to the back, a snoot full of wafting smoke first from the fireplace. 2 dozen+ tables of different sizes and shapes sectioned amidst tree cover and strung lighting, and a small 6 seat straight marble topped bar with a big tap selection there. And there's an event space of some sort upstairs.

My notes read "Am having a late night chicken sandwich", but I'm looking at this description: Chicken Sandwich, Widmer Cellars 1 year cheddar, bacon, braised leeks, stone ground mustard dijonaise, house cut fries, and I'm thinking I would have remembered that so apparently, not. I think "Am going to mull it over a good bit while the kitchen closes and will have no chicken sandwich" is more like it.

Beerwise, fuck! There are 70 taps including the root beer (Sprecher) and hand pump (Lagunitas IPA), more than ½ of them from the midwesty central and mountain time states. A dozen from Minnesota (Summit, Surly, Schell's, Lift Bridge, St Croix, Lake Superior), and another 2 dozen+ from the surrounding states (Capital, Rush River, South Shore, Furthermore, Tyranena, Bells, New Holland, Founders, Dark Horse, Goose Island, 2 Brothers, New Belgium, Left Hand, Great Divide, Boulder, Avery, Steamworks, Boulevard). Another dozen+ from one coast or the other, and another dozen+ imports Belgians, Germs & 3 UK. Started with the Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill (big brown of badassness) and then a Dark Horse Rod (red on herb). Beer was fresh, they do good movement.

But 70 taps is not enough, no; you need an absurd bottle list, too. A dozen or two shy of 300 by my count and recount. Nearly ½ the list are US micros, with a focus on the regional goods. The other ½ of the list holds 5 dozen or so Belgians ($8 for an Orval, hooray!) another 6 dozen other imports mostly German & UK, and another 2 dozen macros, ciders, gluten frees and N/A's. The bottle list broken out by style, with rare & limited mixed in throughout. So you wouldn't be surprised then if I mention the very extensive single & blended malt list. Okay, they've got wines, too.

Good comfortable house, I could do some time here. Lots of acoustic stuff tonight, probs from cities97, really good play. Service served, gave me a bit of this, a bit of that when I asked although I did take a "no chicken sandwich for you beat down". Beer selection was, how does one say, amazing, if you're looking for the regional wares, um, yeah. Seriously.

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Photo of Billolick
4.45/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Large n classy spot with some real nice out door seating options...great selection of quality brews and enticing and tasty food options...must visit spot if in the area...quality staff took care of our mid sized group with skill..they know what they are doing here...well worth a visit

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Photo of woodychandler
4.14/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

TavernJef was kind enough to come out and meet me at Great Waters B.C. and afterwards, we stopped off at this place before parting company. The entryway was through the parking lot and there was an angular vestibule with the bar directly through the door and a stairwell leading to the second floor off to the left. The bar was a zigzag affair with a combination of dark, stained wood and granite. All of the way forward, in the building, was a fireplace with booths along the right wall. To the left, past the bar, were tables and chairs followed by a doorway onto an outside patio with its own bar. They featured several blackboards that utilized colored chalk to advertise their current beers. This was important not only from the eye-catching aspect of the colored chalk, but also because they routinely offer a selection of twenty-four (24) taps and seventy-five (75) bottles. I also noted a couple of interesting pseudo-totem poles flanking the interior doorway. When I asked, I was escorted up to the second floor, where they had a huge separate banquet facility with its own bar, available for rent for a mere $150. That’s it?!? OMFG, I was ready to move to the Midwest on the spot and I still contemplate the idea on a daily basis. Finally, their name and logo … was this a nod to Travelocity?

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Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Lots of good and mostly local taps. wifi not great. Good service and ambiance.

78 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

 1,198 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.61/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

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

 695 characters

Photo of 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 TheSevenDuffs
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Sludgeman
4.45/5  rDev +0.5%
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 mattmarka1
5/5  rDev +12.9%

Photo of jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
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 blackie
4.63/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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

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

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

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

 1,404 characters

Photo of shivtim
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

In a very cool (if maybe slightly gentrified) St.Paul neighborhood just up the street from the huge cathedral. Inside there is the tiny namesake gnome hiding above the bar, placed almost as an afterthought. I love it. The bar kind of wraps around the corner near the entrance, and divides the place into two sections. One is larger and more open, the other is an intimate space with just a row of cool window-side booths. The front doors are framed by interesting totem poles. There's also a shady outdoor seating area. The selection is outstanding, with 24 micros on tap (an excellent selection from around the country) and a crapload of bottles from around the world.
All-in-all, it's an excellent place to have a drink or two or three.

 739 characters

Photo of gatornation
3.68/5  rDev -16.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

plenty of parking in a nice street setting building is cool looking from the outside and kind of cool on the inside hugh selection of brews both on tap and in the bottle lots of limited bottles and taps , the service was just average as the waiter was a bit off putting like it was our pleasure just to be here , food was good and served well but way to pricey so Happy Gnome has great brews but lousy uncaring service with inflated prices on beer and food

 456 characters

Photo of chrisjws
4.08/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of SlightlyGrey
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of socon67
4.46/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Little pub in St. Paul right off the highway. Incredible selection of taps and a killer food list. I had the jerk chicken tacos, and on another visit the grilled cheese (smoked mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes). You will find local options and mainstays (Toppling Goliath). A must visit.

 292 characters

Photo of XmnwildX12
4.29/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of TheRealPour
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of mothman
3/5  rDev -32.3%

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.48/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Photo of Taybeh
4.2/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of KarlHungus
3.45/5  rDev -22.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

I've been to the Happy Gnome a couple times now, most recently yesterday. The atmosphere seems very polished, and sterile. There is a long winding bar and a lot o wood around, but nothing that really sets it apart from other establishments. On top of that the classic rock/bring back the 80's music playing loudly in the background was enough to make me want to bash my head into the bar. I don't plan on drinking the same beer everyday for the rest of my life, why would I want to listen to the same music everyday too. The service has been alright on my visits. The bartenders seem to know the beer well which is nice. However, I would rather have a friendly server who is good at what they do, then a guy who know a lot about beer but is unfriendly and kind of creepy. The beer selection is top notch both on tap and in bottle. The taps are full of oddities from local are regionaly miros and a few rare imports. The bottle list doesn't have as many rare beers as the tap list, but it is still very complete with very solid beer in all styles. The food is quite a bit better than you standard pub fare, but not so good that it is worth the price they are charging for it. Overall, I wont be coming back to the Happy Gnome. The food is subpar, and overpriced. The beer selection is good, but there isn't anything that can't be found at the Blue Nile, Acadia, or Bryant Lake Bowl, and at all those places the service is a lot better.

 1,434 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
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!

 770 characters

Photo of eawolff99
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

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The Happy Gnome in Saint Paul, MN
Place rating: 4.43 out of 5 with 145 ratings
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