Since he took over Madison Restaurant Group late last year, Iron Chef America winner and Minnesota native Justin Sutherland has transformed Ox Cart Ale House into Ox Cart Arcade. True to its title, the reset revolves around restored pinball machines (everything from Star Wars to The Sopranos), classic video game cabinets (Big Buck HD Wild, Terminator Salvation, Jurassic Park), and masochistic claw machines. Tying it all together is a totally ’90s theme with tasteful nods to Tiger Beat, Blockbuster, and Saved by the Bell.
Sutherland’s menu reads like a greatest-hits album: soft pretzels slathered in garlic butter and cheese fondue; dill pickles cloaked in corned beef and cream cheese (a.k.a. “Minnesota sushi”); and a trademark-be-damned Pop Tart that’s as flaky and fresh as guilty pleasures get. Also of note: cocktail-drenched snow cones and cameos by Capri Sun and Tang.
“Nostalgia is great,” explains Sutherland, “but it has to be done in a way that is respectful to what it was…You don’t want it to be a parody.”
Ox Cart’s prime St. Paul location is right around the corner from CHS Field and Sutherland’s own Handsome Hog. Like its neighbors, this spot has rooftop cred. Loudspeakers blare “California Love,” “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and more than enough Mötley Crüe throughout a makeshift living room, reminding us that the dream of the ’90s is alive in Lowertown.
Ox Cart Arcade & Rooftop
255 Sixth St. E., St. Paul