The morning begins at a corner coffee shop with brick exposed walls, the deep set couches are always full with women knitting or writing the next great American novel. Tables, they’re drowning in laptops and headphones, trying to mask the sound pulsing around them. Espresso machine is always hissing, doors are being slammed and the slight hint of Aveda wafts through the vents. We begin this bounding crawl at Nina’s Cafe (165 Western Ave N), where the coffee and conversation are strong and blissful. Pastries shine from the display case and pages are always flipping. To begin a day at Nina’s is a day that will surely follow in the appropriate footsteps.
Following this caffeine buzz comes a jaunt to Great Harvest (534 Selby Ave) for a fresh baked loaf, as well as some samples to soften the coffee induced palette and we check into the shops lining Selby. Ten Thousand Villages (520 Selby Ave) for a fair trade gift for that aunt who’s always desperate to make our world better or Solo Vino (517 Selby Ave) for a couple bottles of Old World wine for tomorrows dinner. Maybe going as far as to buying a new dress at Primp (618 Selby Ave) because we forgot to grab that bulk granola that’s on sale when we shopped yesterday at Mississippi Market (622 Selby Ave). All of this before delving into culinary wonder back at the vast corners of foodie goodness.
Afternoon and evening on Cathedral Hill
Let’s begin at Revival (525 Selby Ave). It’s the afternoon, perfect time for lunch and a rest from perusing what the west side of the neighborhood has to offer. We’re talking the best fried chicken, a burger that includes pork belly and some of the best bartenders I’ve encountered. The space is classic southern with light pastels shining throughout and the cocktail menu will only enhance this.
After a lunch of grease and goodness we saunter to the Happy Gnome (498 Selby Ave) for one of their 89 beers on tap. We conclude our lunchtime mile at La Grolla (452 Selby Ave), because by this time it’s happy hour, and you simply cannot beat the happy hour at this Italian masterpiece with $6 antipasti paired with their house red.
Venturing back to Western and Selby we are brought to Fitzgerald’s (173 Western Ave N) for a light beer and a little look around. The old Salt Cellar turned into this beer and burger joint last winter and is doing great, it’s what the neighborhood needed as another fine dining establishment wasn’t going to survive the corners dominated by already known fine dining institutions.
After this we head to Estetica (165 Western Ave N), the salon across the street that houses professionals ready for anything to bask you in physical glory. Haircuts, massages, nails, these folks are the pros of the pros. Settle in with some Aveda tea and let the staff pamper you with a scalp massage, invigorating shampoo and the luxurious haircut you’ve always dreamt about.
Now it’s time for champagne cocktails, handmade dumplings and maybe some borscht if we’re feeling wild. This of course, is only served at the infamous Moscow on the Hill (371 Selby Ave). The carpet is always the same shade with the curtains to match. Parking on a lounge couch and relaxing, spending hours slowly sipping what Moscow has to offer.
Finally, it’s time for the final production, the concluding show to this day in Cathedral Hill.
Walking into W.A. Frost (374 Selby Ave) is like entering the time capsule that hasn’t been opened. The portraiture, the shag, the chaise lounges, the dark corners, the romance. Enjoy yourself at the bar to begin then venture downstairs to the basement lounge if intimacy is what you’re looking for. The patio is a never ending parade of wine and old school dishes ranging from Wild Acres Duck to a 12oz Peterson Limousin Grass Fed Ribeye. The clientele has been coming here since before Cathedral Hill is what it is now and that’s what makes it special and well deserving of the last spot of this boundless tour through the classic St. Paul neighborhood.
To explore a different Twin Cities neighborhood, read this next: An afternoon spent on St. Anthony Main