Restaurant Rumble: Dark Horse

Downtown cool vs. Lowertown vibe: Jason and Joy decide which restaurant wins

Meet our new food critics: Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers

January’s “Restaurant Rumble” pits the Downtown cool of Eastside against the Lowertown vibes of Dark Horse. Find out who Jason and Joy will choose. 

Dark Horse: A stunning bar and an inspired menu

Dark Horse, St. Paul
Dark Horse. Photo by TJ Turner.

JD: Dark Horse on the edge of Lowertown St. Paul has one of the strangest menus I’ve seen. Baba ganoush, Singapore street noodles, and an elk burger?

JS: I love what Lowertown has grown up to become, and the worldly inspired menu, beautifully stocked bar, and the historic building elements fit right in.

JD: I liked the baba ganoush. Creamy, flavorful eggplant with a lovely selection of vegetables and pita.

Dark Horse, St. Paul
Baba Ganoush at Dark Horse. Photo by TJ Turner.

JS: I appreciate a vegetable—those buttery Brussels are enough to get the kids to eat their greens. You know, I hear “Singapore street noodles,” and I expect something that’s going to stave off a hangover. To me, that’s the origin of the dish.

JD: The noodle bowls have a lot of potential. The Singapore street noodles had a lovely citrus soy broth, but the braised pork belly was overcooked—a danger of it sitting too long in the hot broth.

JS: What I got was a pile of limp, glass noodles that we had to hunt for beneath all the veggies. The bam-boom-pow flavor was a welcome relief. It was just around the corner from being awesome.

JD: The bar is going to be a highlight of Dark Horse. It’s gorgeous and huge. I love how it juts out in the middle, different from the typical straight-line bar.

JS: It’s a perfect spot to drink your way through the affordable cocktail list or tuck into the taps. It’s so St. Paul—on both of my visits I ran into friends who were bellied up.

JD: The simpler items are the best: Pizzas are thin crust, more like a Heggie’s than the Neapolitan or flatbread pizzas we’re seeing everywhere. The $14 Dark Horse pizza would be a smart appetizer for a group.

JS: I’d start my crew with an order of the wings. They’re meaty and come in a variety of flavors. The chimichurri was bright, snappy, and spicy. I just adore what Lowertown has become and Dark Horse is a welcome addition to St. Paul’s coolest neighborhood. Finally, we’re staying up past 8 o’clock.

Dark Horse, St. Paul
The Last Word, Brooklyn, and Basque in the Sun cocktails. Photo by TJ Turner.

Dark Horse Quick Tips:

When to go: Dark hours 3-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-2 a.m.

Don’t miss dish: Dark Horse burger and Yukon JoJos with ranch dressing

Where to sit: At the exquisite bar with views of the room


Dark Horse • 250 E. 7th St., Saint Paul, MN 55101 • (651) 313-7960,

Restaurant Rumble Eastside CTA