Kelly's Depot Bar & Grill
In evolving Lowertown, this dive keeps its character
The burger, chicken wings, and a Bloody Mary
Photos by terry brennan
Jason: Lowertown St. Paul is changing, with craft breweries and high-end restaurants joining the beautiful new Saints ballpark and plenty of just-built condos. Which is why it’s so cool to see a classic dive bar like Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill still thriving.
Joy: Kelly’s Depot Bar was opened in 1989 by John Kelly Sr., and it’s still run by the Kelly family. It’s been in place long enough to see the vast change in the neighborhood, from the restoration of the nearby depot to the light rail line that runs past.
Jason: When we pulled up, my 12-year-old sarcastically remarked, “This is gonna be good,” because the place truly looks and feels like a dive. I mean that with affection.
Joy: When I was his age, my folks would take us kids to places like this, and it’s where I grew to understand the importance of a small-town community bar. Regulars are greeted with their usual drink order, placed at their usual seat before their butts even hit the barstool. Even though St. Paul is hardly a small town, the hometown feeling is just the same.
Jason: Surprisingly, I actually liked Kelly’s “deep fried pork” even better than their burger. Yes, the name could use a little work, but a simple breaded and fried pork cutlet sandwich was a massive throwback to something my mom used to make us for dinner. Kelly’s version was full of flavor—and a shocking value at just $6, served with potato chips.
Joy: I can’t help but always order the burger with crinkle fries. All the bar-food favorites are here, including jalapeño poppers and thin, crusty, breaded onion rings. The bar taps are domestic with a few interesting selections mixed in, and I would challenge you to find a cheaper cocktail price in all of Lowertown.
Jason: This is a great place to watch a Wild or Vikings game, and you can’t beat a pint of Summit and their crispy/juicy dry-rubbed original chicken wings.
Kelly's Depot Bar & Grill Quick Tips
Parking: Yes! There’s a free lot right behind the building
Wine List: Are you kidding? Don’t even ask
Beer for Breakfast: Kelly’s is known for its killer Bloody Mary
Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill
241 E. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, 651-298-0099, kellysdepot.com