LoTo weekend 2/4/12

The firetrucks and cap guns made a racket Saturday night for the Winter Carnival’s Torchlight parade. My neighbor Denis and I observed participants lining up at the starting point near Black Dog Cafe. I was going to have a coffee with Denis, but couldn’t pass up a happy hour $3 Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, the best price I’ve seen for the beer anywhere in the Twin Cities. I think Black Dog’s happy hour is 4-7 every day of the week and includes Summit EPA and discounted wine as well.

Friday night was spent at Faces, Bin Wine Bar and eventually back home at Black Sheep Pizza (don’t even think about trying to oust me as Black Sheep Foursquare mayor). Something’s to be said about the Black Sheep salads. The spinach is always pillowy, the dressings sharp and tangy. Whatever salad I’ve ordered there always seem to complement the pizza nicely. Service is friendly enough where you can ask them what salads might go best with what pizzas. The management is also big into allowing beer drinkers to sample guest taps. Don’t be shy, you can try one or two before making a decision, as long as you buy a pint. No matter how fine the keg, all taps are $5 normally and $3 at happy hour. I was drinking $3 Surly Darkness last fall while beer geeks were dropping $37 for a 750ml bottle at Surdyk’s.

Let me ramble about Black Sheep a tad more. It’s the place to grab a pint right now in LoTo. Immediate service, friendly faces and a minimalist, non-judgmental ambiance gravitates me there over some other more-discovered by the suburbs establishments.

A note about Bin on Friday: Sounds like owner Rebecca Illingworth’s planned Chilango Cantina isn’t happening anytime soon. An employee said Illingworth’s around town these days (she also keeps a house in Chicago, I believe), but didn’t mention whether she’s still working to open the cantina. It was supposed to have cheap beer and cheap tacos. The alt-Barrio?

One more thing, what’s the St. Paul equivalent of ordering a half pint of cider in a Glaswegian bar? I immediately thought of asking for a Zima at Gopher Bar, an action that, as my friend Michael observed so astutely, would likely get a man killed.

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