St. Paul: Neither thrifty nor hip?


by Jay Gabler •

My friend just introduced me to, which I suppose as a thrifty hipster who spends even more time online than the average thrifty hipster I should already have been acquainted with. I appreciated the site’s easy navigation and unusual color scheme (pink and blue, suggested hues for the garb of the babies you’ll stumblingly conceive after enjoying the drink specials the site makes it all too easy to find), but was taken aback to see the second-rate status to which my hometown is consigned.

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The neighborhood listings across the site’s header read as follows: Uptown, Downtown, Northeast, South, University, GLBT, St. Paul. So not only does the entire Capital City count as a single neighborhood, it’s appended to the end of the list as a seeming afterthought following GLBT—which, though a significant demographic group, is not a neighborhood. It’s as though the site is saying, “Welcome to! Let us help you find delicious and affordable comestibles. We’re here to help you if you live in Uptown! Downtown! Northeast! South Minneapolis! Dinkytown! If you’re gay! Or even if you live in St. Paul! Believe it, thrifty hipsters, it’s true.”

When you go to the St. Paul page, the backhanded compliments continue. “St. Paul is less of a late night club spot,” the page reads, “and more an area for dining and chilling with friend’s on different patios.” (Either there’s a misplaced apostrophe there or the site editors neglected to mention specifically which parts of your friend you might be seeking to chill with.) “St. Paul is a beautiful and quiet city that offers many upscale attractions like the theater and gourmet dining.”

The site’s specific recommendations for thrifty and hip St. Paul watering holes, though, lead me to question just how familiar with the Capital City the site’s editors are. The two venues spotlighted as staff picks are Alary’s Bar, where the site indicates you’ll find 20 new 50″ plasma TVs and one alarmingly tanned man, and the Happy Gnome. Are those two bars truly the thriftiest, hippest selections from a list that includes the Artists’ Quarter, Big V’s, and Station 4? If you want to really roll up your sleeves and get thrifty, there are a few Rice Street establishments you could take into consideration. As for hip, there’s West St. Paul, the next Northeast. The site’s list even misses some obvious choices that fall well within the hipster’s gentrified safe zone: the Blue Door Pub, the Groveland Tap, the Chatterbox Pub.

Seriously, check that town out sometime. It’s real easy to find: you just get on Lake Street and turn like you were going to the Town Talk Diner, but then just keep going straight. If you hit Wisconsin, you know you’ve gone too far.

Published on 12/3/08. Photo: Marty’s Bar in West St. Paul. Photo by Nick Busse (Creative Commons).