Before we kick off the list the Best Minnesota Wild Pregame Bars, I want to preface that I’m 25 years old. It was not that long ago that I used to go out drinking with the sole intention of throwing up. I’m at that awkward post-college pre-“real adult” age. Just so you know, in the last year I have acquired a cordless drill, so I’m learning.The reason I say this is because some of you may be older than me. You may be offended I didn’t include that tucked away spot off the main strip you have been going to since before my parents started dating. And to that I say, don’t blame me for not listing it. Blame Father Time. That guy is a real asshole sometimes.
Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite bars to attend in St. Paul before watching the Wild kick someone’s ass in the best arena in America:
10. Herbies On the ParkWhile I can’t say I’ve ever had a a single drink at Herbies on the Park before a Minnesota Wild game, I have been in the same building. In fact, the Minnesota Wild’s Headquarters are right above Herbies. We basically had to walk through Herbies when we sat down with General Manager of the Year (per us), Bill Guerin on a historic episode of the It’s a Bit Podcast.
While I can’t personally attest to Herbies, I’ve heard nothing but good things. One such testimony is from Billy Gambles himself. There’s gotta be nothing like walking downstairs after a hard day of working with a crunched cap and sipping on a crisp Bud Light. And you know the state of Minnesota wouldn’t legally allow a bar to operate under the name of one of the greatest hockey coaches of all time if it was a shit establishment. SWAT would kick down the door of that place if the beers weren’t feeding the Wolves.Herbies (From Drinking) Herbies (On Ice Punishment)
A dimly lit Irish Pub off West 7th street is extremely fitting before going to a hockey game. And what better timing with St. Patrick’s Day being less than a month away. I have only been to Shamrocks once, but from what I remember I walked into this establishment and inhaled what I thought was the best burger on the east side of the Mississippi in 6 minutes flat. Because a picture says a thousand words, I’m just going to show you this image, which should obviously indicate why this is a place you should go before puck drop:
Experiencing a trip on The Paddywagon sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday. Or a Tuesday, if you’re into that. That looks like the kind of bus I’m going to enter sober and exit initiated entirely. The 5% Irish I have in me would be proud.
8. Bad Weather Brewing CompanyBecause I was born in 1997, I technically fall under generation Z. And because of that, I had to throw in a brewery. Breweries are awesome because they offer a wide assortment of beers, food, and allow people to bring their dogs. As random as that is, there’s nothing like petting dogs after a few IPAs. Doing such activities scream it’s going to be a good night and the Wild aren’t going to lose to the Yotes at home.
Also if you are really looking to save money on those $13 beers at the game, load up on a few of these Bad Weather Brewing 7.5 ABV peanut butter infused beers before the game:
Read that description of this beverage and try not to tell me you almost came after your brain comprehended that 3 of the best things (Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and 7.5 ABV Beer) could all exist in the same concoction. What a world we live in.
My final point on this place is that they have an outdoor patio with bonfire pits (seen above). Seems like a really good place to hang out with your pals after a playoff win in April👀
7. Burger Moe’s
Burger Moe’s is just an overall solid spot to go really anytime you are in St.Paul. While it may not get the hype that some other places get before a Wild puck drop, it certainly delivers when trying to pack in as much hungry and liquor feening Wild fans in their 4 walls as possible. The reason I said that? I was at the St. Louis Blues game a month ago (When former Wild Center Ryan O’Reilly and the stupid Blues shut us out on the sabbath), and we couldn’t find a place to eat and drink 2 HOURS before puck drop.
Right when we thought Burger Moe’s was at capacity, a manager who I can only describe as a national hero brought all of us wandering sober fans to the back room which they typically only use for events. On top of having an additional 50 seats and a massive flat screen in that back room, we got to enjoy the feeling of being exclusive.
Part of the cool kids club, secluded from the degenerates ripping tequila shots at 5:30 PM on a Saturday. I don’t know much about Burger Moe’s, but I do know that is an establishment that is 100% FOR the people top down in that organization.
6. Patrick McGovern’s Pub and Restaurant
McGovern’s is front and center on “Wild Pregame” row and might take the cake for most actual bar tops per restaurant. Want to know what’s Wild (see what I did there) about this Wild pregame spot? It’s not just a bar, it’s a megabar. These guys decided they wanted to buy out the entire building a turn it into a spot for the best fans in the NHL and fine residents of St. Paul to get after it.
McGovern’s stans can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this establishment has a record setting 4 (sometimes 5) different bartops in one building. The first one is at the main doors when you walk in. The second one is on the back patio which can turn into an absolute GONG SHOW in the summer. The third one is in the back of that patio in an event center like room by the Bathrooms. The fourth one is upstairs which gives off serious second-floor apartment vibes.
The fifth one is temporary, but during the great LuckyPalooza St.Patties Day Bar Crawl in Downtown St. Paul. The McGovern’s Beer tent is LOADED with an additional plethora of places to buy liquor. I also know Kirill and the rest of the team were seen having some cocktails in that famous tent last year. They sure earned em for that record setting regular season performance.
5. Cossetta’s Italian Market & Pizzeria
Mama Mia! As the famous
fictional NASCAR Driver, Ricky Bobby, once said: “If you don’t like Cossetta’s, then fuck you”.
If you are stuck between “I didn’t show up to West 7th early enough to get a table somewhere” and “I really don’t want to wolf down a chicken finger basket during the 1st period”, then get your ass in this vintage Italian restaurant.
One of the best parts about Cossetta’s? They let YOU decide who you want to be that day thanks to their wide variety of options. You can be the responsible guy/gal who gets a salad (Boo), or you can be the absolute #HockeyGuy who gets Mataschoili, a slice of pepperoni pizza, and two bud light bottles. If I had to depict what the average Minnesota Wild fan looks like, I would choose the ladder.
And finally, the feel of Cossetta’s is unmatched. On top of eating great food, it just has an old-time Italian restaurant feel like you are a member of the mob. On top of the decorations, the music, and the outfits the staff wear, there are no TVs in the entire restaurant. Which actually makes you talk to the people you are enjoying the experience with. Because God knows we need a little more human connection these days.
4. Eagle Street Grille
While this might not be the best photo, it is the right one (Herb Brooks).
Do you want to know why? Because it’s the only one I could find that features both the bar and the Xcel Energy Center. They are that close to one another. I don’t know about you, but the closer I can get a few goldies to the stadium I’m going to attend, the better.
Eagle Street may look like an average-sized building from the street, but like McGovern’s, it’s got a real ass to it. There’s a bar area, a dining area, a back bar, a basement with another bar, and a patio. Talk about having options when you want to apply the liquor blanket for a 7 PM January game when the high is -1.
Eagle street is also a great place because they get you started for the game the right way, and they sure wait for you when the game is over. Someone can correct me on this, but I’m about 92% sure that they have live music after EVERY Wild home game. The team could get shutout by a tanking Anheim Ducks team on a Monday and the house will still be ROCKING at Eagle Street.
3. The Xcel Energy Center
This one is by far the biggest dark horse on the list, but let me explain why. The X knows that they share a street with plenty of other bars, and trust me when I say they reward you for walking right past those bars and showing up to the game a little early.
They have a great list of bars and restaurants (click here to follow WildBites and see everything the X has to offer). But best of all is the Tap House (pictured above) and the UNREAL wing selection they have . Let’s just say peanut butter and jelly wings might be the best thing you’ve had in your life and no I’m not chopped when I say that:
Little does ANYONE know, you can show up when the doors open and take a nice stroll to your seat without playing rush hour in a crowd of fans. Regardless of where you are sitting for the game, you can head down to the glass and enjoy team warmups from up close. Just don’t be a dick and take away a spot from a kid who’s trying to get a puck. Because chances are likely that a buckeltess Marcus Foligno WILL NOT spend a minute of his warmup flicking a puck to a 45 year old man.
But that’s not all, here is the best part about showing up to the game a little early:
The X knows EXACTLY what they are doing with this menu. If you want to load up before the game but not pay stadium prices, you must show up early. And let’s be honest, if I have an opportunity to avoid standing outside waiting for the security line to slowly poke along when the wind chill is so cold I could lose my fingers, I’m going to take it.
2. 7th Street Truck Park
Speaking of throwing up at a bar, I’ve almost done it here multiple times. But how could anyone leave Truck Park outside of the Top 3? I would literally be banned from the city of St. Paul if I did that. Truck Park is so great because of its open design that can house the maximum number of drunk Wild fans. It also features a big ass garage door that opens up to the outside world. This place is essentially the closest thing you can experience to drinking outdoors at an actual park. Just don’t stand too close to the garage door or you will catch secondhand smoke from all of the people ripping darts outside.
When they call it “Truck Park”, they aren’t kidding. There are quite literally 3 vehicles parked in this building (We can classify vans as trucks for now, I don’t have time to die on that hill). Two of them serve food and the other is made into a stage so you can rock out while you have a taco in one hand and a 40 in the other.
And you heard that right.
THEY SERVE 40’s AT TRUCK PARK!!
All you need to bring is the duct tape and they’ll cover the rest. If you want to take a trip in a time machine back to your college days, duct tape a few of those bad boys to your hands and admire the replica van from Billy Murray’s movie, Stripes:
As you can see a lot of the seating includes actual picnic tables. And if you look closely, you’ll see are the bathrooms carved out porta potties. It’s illegal to get wasted at most parks, but not at Truck Park. Truck Park will take care of you before and after a successful night at the X. Hell, if the Wild win (or lose) by enough, you can head back to Truck Park and walk next door to New Bohemia and absolutely embarrass yourself by singing Karaoke after another one of those 40’s.
1 – Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub
If Tom Reid’s isn’t your number 1 on this list, you aren’t a true Minnesota Wild fan. Not only is Tom Reid a legend from our former North Stars team (obligatory Fuck Norm Green), and the color analyst for the Wild radio network, but he also happens to own the greatest bar in St. Paul (In the opinion of a true #HockeyGuy). The man is synonymous with Minnesota Hockey, and Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub is an ode to his mythology.
Let’s start with the walls. Like a shrine of your favorite team, the right side wall has EVERY Minnesota Wild roster on it since the conception of the team:
There’s other hockey memorabilia scattered across the bar including hanging jerseys above every walkway. On top of that, they have a full set of OG North Star goalie pads, which makes my pants extremely tight:
Not to keep harping on it, but the number of things on this wall I would KILL to have in my own house is far too many to count. The place also has enough TVs to ensure there won’t be a single place where you won’t be able to see the Wild game. The rule is there isn’t allowed to be a single blind spot in a true sports bar. This may be why my vision is slowly deteriorating at 25. I don’t give a shit because I’m maximizing my viewing experience.
But Tom Reid’s is #1 because it’s so much more than a memorabilia joint!
The bar also has an awesome food menu including Poutine for all of you Canadian wannabes. Best of all? They serve 2 for 1’s during the entire Wild game. If you find yourself crushing 4 MichGoldens by the end of the 1st period, the Men’s bathroom features the late and great troph system, bringing you back to the days of the Metrodome. And if you’re lucky enough, you can take a picture with the life size Wild-themed Captain Morgan statue on your way to the back bar.
Side note, I could NOT for the life of me find an image of this thing on Google. That is absolutely criminal. Next time you go, take a pic and send it to me on Twitter.
But on top of the best decorations, TV placement, food, drinks, and service. This bar has the best ownership. The only person we should trust to run a hockey pub is a tried and true hockey lifer.
During an away game that Tom had off, he was in the bar the same night as me and my friends when the Wild lost to the Florida panthers 5-2. At the end of the 3rd, Tom got up from his famous corner seat, walked up to my table filled with drunk, sad Wild fans in our jerseys, and said one line before walking away:
“Well boys that was an absolute horse shit performance wasn’t it?”
Founder & CEO of 10,000 Takes, featured on 100.3 KFAN, leaky goalie