Ever since Julian entered (upended?) our lives, Team Minnevangelist has been on the hunt for family-friendly restaurants that don’t feel like a Friday’s in the ’burbs. We’ve had great experiences at French Hen Cafe in St. Paul, Bricksworth Beer Co. in Burnsville, and Kyatchi in South Minneapolis, where the kids’ menu includes onigiri and tsukune donburi. But our new fave is Frank’s Levee Tavern at Cossetta’s in St. Paul.
Tucked into the second floor of a century-old building that already houses its popular white-tablecloth restaurant, pizzeria, pasticceria, and Italian market, Frank’s is something of an overlooked lil’ brother. It opened amid minimal fanfare in summer 2021, serving Italian street food and what it has deemed the “world’s coldest beer.”
The beer is really cold, but we loved it more for the food, friendly and attentive waitstaff, and delightfully chill atmosphere. Despite being a hockey game at the nearby arena, we were the only diners when we stopped by a few Sundays ago. (The wait to get into the parking lot still took 100 years, but that’s just part of the Cossetta’s experience — without it, you might as well be at Olive Garden.)
Our order included spicy, fried arancini (stuffed risotto balls); a delicious stromboli layered with mortadella, salami, pepperoni, and capicola; and this epic porchetta sandwich. Julian rejected the arancini (huh, why?!) but gobbled down the stromboli and porchetta. Our server kept the cold beer flowing and the tavern’s myriad TVs proved sufficiently distracting for a 1-year-old with no attention span.
With creamy gelato awaiting us post-lunch in the sweets shop downstairs, it was one of those new-parent outings that reminded us that, yes, life after children does exist and no, it needn’t involve creepy animatronics at Chuck E. Cheese.
Frank’s Levee Tavern
310 N. Chestnut St., St. Paul, MN; 651-222-3476.