It’s funny what the addition of a few bivalves can do for your reputation. With the opening of the oyster bar, and the ensuing raucous Oyster Fest street festival, Meritage has unleashed a boisterous side unto downtown St. Paul. Fear not, you can still have your moules frites and cassoulet, but now if you so choose, there are gorgeous libations and all manner of raw delicacies for your luxe fun.
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stpaul.com
Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market
The evolution of Lenny Russo’s vision for Heartland is as nourishing to the community as his plates are to the eater. His restaurant continues to create imaginative food from local ingredients while the farm market offers tricks of the chef’s trade in the form of stocks, cured meats, lard from heritage pigs, and canned goods straight from the kitchen. Don’t forget the bar, as if you could.
289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, heartlandrestaurant.com
It’s the eastern outpost for the North Loop standard, and it’s the newest and shiniest. Maybe you thought there’d be a side of soot with your coal-fired pizza? Nope, all you get is a perfectly balanced crust with a nice chew, fresh and interesting toppings, plus a farmers’ market salad that changes daily. The meatball ricotta pie is iconic.
512 N. Robert St., St. Paul, 651-227-4337; 600 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-342-2625, blacksheeppizza.com
6 Nearby Notables
A cafeteria only by definition, its salads, soups, and hunks of cake are worth the line. The pizza/wine bar is full service after 5 pm and Saturdays.
850 Grand Ave., St. Paul
It’s had a tumultuous year with changing chefs and owners, but word on the street is that it’s back up to snuff.
1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Ribs aren’t what you’d expect from this cute basement eatery, but ribs are what you should get. Stunning.
128 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul
St. Paul Grill
You can’t go wrong sitting at the bar, staring at a giant collection of scotch and bourbon. Old school, baby.
350 Market St., St. Paul
This new music bar has fun Dutch-influenced food—eat diminutive broodjes sandwiches (get two) and drink from the well-curated Belgian beer list.
6 W. 6th St., St. Paul
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A Japanese noodle house for your soba, udon, and ramen cravings.
6 W. 6th St., St. Paul