I’m almost embarrassed to say this was my first time eating at The Nook in Saint Paul considering for 3 years I lived a mere 5 blocks away. In my defense, I was a regular at Shamrocks on West 7th, which is owned by the same people and has most of the same menu items! My favorite coworker happy hours started at Shamrocks and proceeded up Randolph. Literally, the best happy hour route there is in Saint Paul.
I’m happy to have finally corrected this wrong and luckily, because we went on a Thursday night, the wait (which was my previous deterrent, since it has a reputation for being pretty long) was only 20 minutes!
Date nights have become our cheat nights. However, when we decided to pick out a burger spot, I was still optimistic that I would stick to keto and order my go-to bunless burger with a side salad…my plans were derailed when we saw fried pickles on the menu. I don’t think I’m physically capable of turning these down anywhere haha.
Pub Pickles: Pickle planks, beer battered and deep fried. Served with horseradish mayo dipping sauce.
Unlike most of the other places where the fried part tends to just come off the pickle, the Nook batter to fry ratio is like 80% batter 20% pickle, so it actually is a heartier breading that has the hint of pickle as the aftertaste. It is absolutely delightful and so worth the cheat haha.
Stuffed Philly: Stuffed cheeseburger with green pepper, onion, mushroom and swiss cheese.
The Nook is known for their stuffed burgers (other places refer to them as Juicy Lucy’s). The Nook makes theirs with an exclusive butcher cut black angus chuck that really does make the world of difference.
I knew I was going to be ordering the stuffed burger and while I originally planned to go for the classic “Juicy Nookie Burger” I made a game time decision and changed my order to the Stuffed Philly. I am so glad I did, because it still had all the delicious characteristics of the stuffed burgers I remembered from Shamrocks, yet had a whole different element to it with the philly cheesesteak component. I would order it again hands down.
Tom had the Spanish Fly which is a chorizo burger with a 50/50 blend of spanish-spiced pork and filled with queso blanco. His notes are that the burger balanced out the spice of the chorizo so while he was concerned it would be too spicy it was actually perfection.
He also upgraded to the bacon beer cheese dipping sauce for his waffle fries. I am not a beer cheese person, but watching him devour it I was surprised he was able to stop himself from licking the last out of it out of the cup haha. I would safely say if you like beer cheese, you should not miss out on the dip.
Truly Hard Seltzer
Besides the bowling alley (which we’ll get to) the main difference between the Nook and Shamrocks is that Shamrocks has a full bar and the Nook does not. They have a good selection of taps, bottles, cans, and a couple other things like wine and hard selzers as well.
Like I mentioned, the wait can be pretty long, because it’s a smaller place, however, they do have a downstairs bar/dining area that they also seat, which is where we ended up being located.
The story of The Nook is printed on their menu, but here are the cliff notes: The Nook has been around since 1938. First as Wally’s Nook then renamed to The Nook, then Mickey’s Nook, and since 2000 has been Casper’s & Runyan’s Nook. A literal piece of Saint Paul’s history and integral part of the neighborhood.
The Nook has a big personality starting with the RanHam Bowling Center that is also owned by Casper & Runyan. The bowling center is open daily from 11am – 1am and is located in the basement.
Next to the RanHam Bowling Center is another bar and Nook dining area. This area is decorated with dollar bills and has a little arcade nook complete with a couple throwback games.
We loved our experience from the food and service all the way to the one of a kind atmosphere. I would definitely recommend adding this place to your list if you’re like me and one of the 2 people in the Twin Cities who isn’t a regular at The Nook.
Casper’s & Runyan’s The Nook
492 Hamline Ave. S
Saint Paul, MN 55116
Sunday – Thursday: 11AM – 1AM
Friday – Saturday: 11AM – 2AM