Along St. Paul’s Mississippi River bluffs, the West Seventh neighborhood has given us a lot to get excited about recently. Much of it is food-related: Keg and Case Market opened in 2018, in Schmidt Brewery’s former keg house, and was named the best new food hall in the nation by USA Today. A few minutes north, Seventh Street Truck Park had already claimed food-hall real estate in 2017—aligning Minnesota with a nationwide dining trend and, together with Keg and Case, bringing in more than 25 food and drink vendors.
Even before that, West Seventh had established itself as a restaurant-and-bar hotspot. St. Paul’s first European settler built his tavern here, in the mid-1800s. Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant was almost the city’s namesake, but he ended up with an eponymous liquor store instead, plus an island along the Mississippi River. The store is near the Spot Bar, a dive claiming the title of oldest saloon in Minnesota, and the island is about 10 miles away, with a heron rookery on it.
Nearby, beloved restaurants include Mancini’s Char House & Lounge for steaks; Cossetta, Mucci’s and DeGidio’s for Italian; Parlour for one of the best burgers in the Twin Cities; Pajarito for elevated Mexican; Mojo Monkey for doughnuts; and a lot more in this Czech-settled region known as Little Bohemia.
Along with the many pubs, hit up Bad Weather Brewing Co. and Summit Brewing Co.—the latter now the state’s biggest craft brewer. Beforehand, catch a concert by a big-name musician or take in a Wild hockey game at the Xcel Energy Center, on the north end of the neighborhood. Next door, the Saint Paul RiverCentre hosts community events, such as the Festival of Nations in spring, where international food and music represent the area’s immigrant roots.
West Seventh’s attractions hold up to the downtown amenities nearby: The hands-on, kid-friendly Science Museum of Minnesota sits across from the idyllic Raspberry Island. Guided tours through the Alexander Ramsey House and James J. Hill House show off lavish “Downton Abbey”-esque living, reflective of the area’s historic homes. And plenty of hole-in-the-wall stores make shopping adventurous, spanning the artisanal wares at Artista Bottega and the J.W. Hulme leather-goods shop to rare finds at the Bearded Mermaid Bazaar, Sophie Joe’s Emporium and the Center for Lost Objects.
The wide-ranging perks have drawn in families, artists and young professionals. The old Schmidt Brewery serves as artist lofts. Apartments attract those who want to live near—but not in—downtown. And townhomes and rehabbed single-family units let families live close enough to Crosby Farm Park to take advantage of the 6.7 miles of trails and picnic areas.
Crosby sits at the south end, along the river. Most amenities feel accessible thanks to Metro Transit buses and several light rail stops. With a new streetcar in the planning stages, to run along West Seventh Street, the neighborhood could link up with Mall of America within the next decade, too. Not that you’ll have much reason to leave.
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Condos and single-family Tudor-style homes, dating from the 1920s and ’30s, line the streets of Highland Park while, around the corner, the 1940s Highland Theater shows modern releases. Situated between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Highland Park sits near the river trails and spring-fed falls of Hidden Falls Regional Park; boasts a community center with zones for kids and teens; and features food favorites such as Joan’s in the Park and Casper’s and Runyon’s Nook.