Ward 6, in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood, is a convivial place with about a dozen tidy little tables Tetrised into its small dining room. But it’s already bringing more attention to the largely restaurant-starved area staked out by the Strip Club Meat and Fish.
As a reimagined neighborhood pub, Ward 6 proves a worthy heir of the working-class bars that have occupied the space off and on since the late 1800s. Here you can hoist a Hamm’s in toast to the brewery that was once down the block, or choose one of a dozen more modern and still-local brews. But you might have to wait, as I have, even several months after the restaurant’s opening, wedged into the tiny entryway with six other groups of diners.
Most of the food is of the familiar sort meant for a relaxed, belt-loosening evening: burgers and patty melts and fish and chips (these are all recommended) and chicken-salad sandwiches (these, not so much). When beer and cocktails (mixed strong) are more the focus of the evening, the meatball special, a plate of wings, and an order of Health Food (deep-fried vegetables) are the way to go.
But the highlight of several visits was, hands down, the Reuben: thick slabs of corned beef on soft Russian rye with a just-sloppy-enough mix of sauerkraut and tangy sauce. It’s certainly one of the best Reubens in town.
Breakfast at Ward 6 is hearty and a little unexpected: a thick, soft cube of savory bread pudding; a sizzling hot, eggy Dutch baby (a popover-pancake hybrid); and a bloody Mary—rich with roasted garlic and spicy enough to require its accompanying beer back—all set themselves apart. And they’re all worth a little time spent waiting in line.
858 Payne Ave., St. Paul