R.T. Rybak, Big Fan of St. Paul

The outgoing mayor takes a break from talking Minneapolis to dish on his St. Paul favorites.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
Photo by Cameron Wittig
For more than a decade Mayor R.T. Rybak has been all-things-Minneapolis. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t heeded the siren’s call of its cross-river brother, St. Paul. Even Mr. Minneapolis can’t resist Cossetta’s slices or Heimie’s shirts. Says Rybak, “I actually love St. Paul”. . . specifically this stuff:
Favorite St. Paul…
Pizza place: Cossetta’s. I like their pizza so much that whenever I’m there, I also buy some dough to bring home.
Bar: The Lexington. It’s just classic.  
Deli: Cecil’s. No question.
Burger joint: Snuffy’s, with a malt.
Street: University Avenue
Italian place: Ristorante Luci
Coffee shop: Trotter’s. When I’m going from here to the Capitol and back, I always stop at Trotter’s for a coffee or one of their homemade energy bars
Quirkiest night out: Curling Club
Clothing store: Heimie’s
Place to end the night: The Turf Club with The 4onthefloor.
Let’s say you had a free afternoon and had a hankering for some culture. Would you choose the Minnesota History Center or the Science Museum?
History Center, partly because my wife and I did the marketing when they came into their new building. I love the Science Museum, but we played a small role in the [History Center’s] opening, and we just love going there.
If you had a full day to spend in St. Paul, what would be on the itinerary?   
I would ride a bike at dawn from my house down Shepard Road into Vento Park and then stop at Swede Hollow restaurant for breakfast . . . Then we’d go over and get produce at the Farmer’s Market. Then we’d grab a little something to eat and dangle our feet in the fountain at Mears Park. I wonder if that’s legal? That would give me just enough energy to ride past one of the greatest public squares in any city, which is Rice Park, and then head up the hill — this is where the energy comes in — to the University Club . . . My wife is coming along on all of this, so then I would go into the University Club, and then I would kiss my wife at the place where we got married, the University Club, and overlook the skyline there . . .
Oh, before we go up the hill, we’d go down 7th to the Glockenspiel Restaurant to get something to eat because A) it’s a great restaurant and B) it’s where my great uncle’s store was and where my dad worked . . .
Then [we’d] go over to W.A. Frost and have a drink. I don’t care what time of the day it is, having a drink at W.A. Frost is great . . . And then [we’d] have dinner at DeGidio’s — DeGidio’s or Cossetta’s, depending on what mood I’m in. Before riding up Shepard’s Road, stop at the Summit Brewery.
If you could steal one aesthetic trait of St. Paul and bring it to Minneapolis, what would it be?
I’ve tried for years to subtly annex Mac Groveland, but I failed.
Subtle annexation?
Mac Groveland and Highland. I think Highland is in there too because you have to have Highland with Mac Groveland. I’d be happy to take them both. It didn’t work.
Quick—three things that St. Paul has that Minneapolis doesn’t.
There’s only one Summit Avenue/Crocus Hill. They have the best single Farmers’ Market, and Como Conservatory, especially in the winter . . . Can I sneak Como Zoo in there too?
What haven’t you done on your St. Paul bucket list?
Gone to every single school, but I’m in the process of starting that. I want to hit them all in a few years.
Describe St. Paul in one sentence.
A classic, historic hometown in the midst of developing a hip vibe.

Read Mpls.St.Paul Magazine senior writer Steve Marsh's full R.T. Rybak exit interview