Welcome to Payne-Phalen
Payne-Phalen is the largest of 17 designated neighborhoods of St. Paul and is very close to Downtown. It is a historic neighborhood, rich with diversity and a communal atmosphere. They have plenty to offer cuisine-wise, ranging from Mexican to Chinese, and everything in between. They are known for the beauty of Lake Phalen and the serene outdoorsy nature of Swede Hollow, which has been made famous in song. There is plenty to attract a nature lover in Payne-Phalen, including parks and trails.
The people range from working class to middle class, and they are dedicated to the community. They are eager to welcome anyone and everyone to their neighborhood and to show them what makes Payne-Phalen special.
Then and Now
Historically, Payne-Phalen has been the home to new immigrants. When the Irish, Germans, Swedes, and Italians came to Minnesota, many of them made the East Side their home. In fact, Swede Hollow was a valley so named because of the Swedish immigrants who settled there.
During the industrial age, this neighborhood became a locus for several important industrial companies such as Hamm's brewery, Whirlpool, 3M, and Seeger Refrigerator Company. The local economy was bolstered by the presence of such companies as they employed thousands of residents. However, they all closed their doors in Payne-Phalen in the 1970s, symbolizing the ups and downs that this neighborhood has experienced since it was established.
Today, due to much renovation and overhaul, the Payne-Phalen has now added gastropubs, arts, and organic farming to the mix, and they have become a much stronger community as a result. They are still welcoming to immigrants, however, and they never forget their roots as they continue to show off their East Side pride.
Larpenteur Avenue to the north, Bruce Vento Regional Trail to the east, Grove Street/Phalen Boulevard to the south, and 35E to the west.
Lowertown, Parkway-Greenbrier, Frost Lake, Prosperity Heights, Gloster, North of Maryland, South of Maryland, and Mt. Airy.
Here are some crime statistics for Payne-Phalen.
Ames Lake Park (1380 Magnolia Ave. E, 651-266-6400) is a small neighborhood park built around Ames Lake. There is a walking pier designed for the lake, and there are benches if you want a moment of respite from your daily life.
Arlington Arkwright Park (400 Arlington Ave. E, 651-632-5111) is known for its roughly 5-acre off-leash dog park. The other 15 acres include a skate park, a baseball field, an outdoor basketball court, two tennis courts, a soccer field, and a picnic area. It's one of the few parks where dogs can truly run free in an open area or under the plentiful trees.
Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (265 Commercial St., 651-266-6400) is near downtown and the Mississippi River. It has sandstone bluffs and limestone that are 450 million years old, spring-fed wetlands, a rich Native American history, plenty of bird-watching spots, and breathtaking vistas. It also has hiking trails and an educational apiary.
Eastside Heritage Park (735 Phalen Blvd., 651-266-6400) has 9 acres of open greens, a picnic shelter, and a fire pit, so it's perfect for a family outing on a sunny Saturday. It connects to the Bruce Vento Regional Trail if you're in the mood for some hiking.
Lockwood Park (901 Cook Ave. E, 651-266-6400) went through renovation in 2016, and the improvements include new swings, picnic tables, benches, shade trees, and open areas for kids of all ages. It also participates in Roaming Rec, a free outdoor summer youth program that happens in parks all around Saint Paul.
Phalen Poetry Park (Phalen Regional Park, 1000 Wheelock Pkwy., 651-774-5422) is dedicated to the beauty of the written word. There is a Poets' Post that has poetry posted to it, and next to it are marimba benches on which you can either rest of release some joyous music. There is a walkway of words that circles the post on which you can walk as you meditate on what you are reading. It leads to the Dragon Garden, which has book benches and so much more. Contact the East Side Arts Council if you want to submit a poem for the Poets' Post.
Phalen Regional Park (1600 Phalen Dr., 651-266-6400) is a popular community spot cram-packed with activities for everyone to enjoy. They have an 18-hole golf course, beaches/Lake Phalen for swimming, fishing, and boating, picnic areas including an amphitheater, and so much more. They have sporting fields such as a beach volleyball court, a hockey rink, a skating rink, a softball field, and a soccer field. They have cross-country ski trails, sailing lessons, and participate in Fitness in the Parks. No matter what your outdoor interest, you will find it here.
Swede Hollow Park (603 North St., 651-266-6400) had been the focal point of generations of new immigrants until the late 1950s. It laid fallow for some time, but now, it's an untouched piece of wilderness surrounded by an urban setting. It has biking trails, hiking trails, and benches.
Weida Park (637 Burr St., 651-266-6400) is a rectangular park that is perfect for soccer or lacrosse or other sporting endeavors. It also has a basketball court, a BBQ grill, a playground, and a picnic area. It's a great place to visit with the family if you just want to have some fun on a summer day. It also participates in the Roaming Rec program which is a free summer outdoor youth program that occurs in many parks around Saint Paul.
Cajun Life (1193 Payne St., 651-772-0101) is a relaxed and casual restaurant that serves authentic Cajun food. They have a friendly staff and while their menu is limited, everything is flavorful and tasty. If you'd like a taste of the South, try their shrimp po'boy, wings, crab legs, or one of their boils. You won't be disappointed, and you'll be going back for more.
COOK (1124 Payne Ave., 651-756-1787) is a relaxed and casual American diner with Korean fare as well. The food is locally sourced, and everything is made with care. They take classic American dishes such as French toast, burgers, and omelettes, and elevate them to their finest. Try their curried sticky buns, shakshouka, or Korean omelet if you want to be more adventurous. The staff is friendly and helpful, and you'll certainly want to visit several times.
Cora's Best Chicken Wings (1143 Payne Ave., 612-643-0020) had its grand opening on Cinco De Mayo in 1987. It's a casual fusion restaurant, American and Filipino, with a focus on wings, of course. They have grown to the point of being mobile as well as stationary, and the mobile version focuses more on Filipino dishes.
Eastside Pizzeria (1050 Payne Ave., 651-776-7499) is a pizza joint with an old-timey atmosphere, but a modern and friendly staff. They believe that square-cut pizza is the best pizza, and they quote the great Huey Lewis, "It's hip to be square" as the source of this wisdom. Try any of their pizzas such as the East Sider, or one of their specials such as a half rack or full rack of BBQ ribs, a supreme burrito, or deep-fried tacos. It's a neighborhood favorite, and a great place to hang out with your friends.
Eastside Thai (879 Payne Ave., 651-776-6599) is a colorful and airy Thai restaurant with a friendly staff and a modern atmosphere. They have traditional fare such as fried tofu, Thai green papaya salad, and tom yam soup. They have pho, fried crispy pork belly, and pad Thai. They have plenty of curry dishes such as pineapple red curry and fried rice dishes, too. They offer several gluten-free options, which are denoted in the menu, as are peanut dishes and dishes with raw or under-cooked meat.
Fruti Landia (990 Payne Ave., 763-528-3216) is a casual Mexican restaurant known for its mangonadas, a popular Mexican drink and a fruit salad with ice cream. It also has chili and other dishes such as mango con chamoy. The staff is friendly, and the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere.
Great Dragon Restaurant (887 Arcade St., 651-774-3853, 651-774-3856) is a casual Chinese restaurant with all your favorites. They have a friendly staff, and you can eat in, take out, or have it delivered. Fried rice, chow mein, lo mein, and spare ribs are all available, just to name a few.
I Heart Pho (850 Maryland Ave., 651-600-3724) is a neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in all your Vietnamese favorites ranging from pho to bun to broken rice dishes. They also have banh mi, fried rice, and stir-fried noodles. You can dine in or order it to-go.
JJ's Steak Mexican Grill (990 Payne Ave., 651-399-1826) is a colorful and bright restaurant with a friendly staff and a buffet. They have burritos, steaks, and fish. They also proffer 5 taco Tuesdays, huevos rancheros, and flautas. If you're in the mood for some traditional Mexican fare, this is the place to visit.
Karen Thai Food (300 Larpenteur Ave. E, 651-771-2078) is a Thai/Burmese restaurant (Burmese people are called Karen) that has a cozy and casual atmosphere. Start with the chicken satay as an appetizer, then try the pad Thai or fried rice as an entree. Or, try the rare steak and meatballs from the Burmese menu.
Magnolias Restaurant (1081 Payne Ave., 651-774-3333) is a casual family restaurant that opened in 1984 and have been serving the community ever since. If you like steak, they've got steak! Jumbo sirloin steak, T-bone steak, and country fried steak, to name a few. They also have walleye, a fish fry, and a smothered chicken breast. It's comforting American food, and there are several dishes to try.
MR Pete's Pizza Pasta Grill (821 Maryland Ave. E, 651-444-8308) is a casual and cozy restaurant that serves all your comfort food favorites. They have pizza and pasta, of course, and also wings, salads, burgers, dogs, and more. It's a great place to grab a quick bite.
Palace's Pizza (1373 Maryland Ave. E, 651-771-3535) despite it's name is not a pizza place at all, nor is it a palace. It's a family-owned Vietnamese/Thai restaurant that is cozy and has friendly service. They serve pho and laab with plenty of fresh veggies on the side. You can wash it all down with a nice cold can of Coca-Cola.
Saigon Express (1098 Arcade St., 651-774-0379) is a cozy Vietnamese restaurant with friendly service in a casual atmosphere. They have all your favorites such as pho and banh mi, and they have so much more. They have bun, platters, and Vietnamese iced coffee to drink. They have plenty of Chinese options, too, including fried rice, egg fu young, Hunan beef, and more.
Sui Yep Cafe (1010 Payne Ave., 651-776-9179) is a casual Chinese restaurant with a friendly staff and an informal atmosphere. They serve all the favorites such as appetizers like egg rolls and steamed dumplings, fried rice, lo mein, chow mein, and pan-fried noodles. They have soups and egg fu young as well. Their chef suggestions include Szechuan-style beef, curry fish, and Korean-style beef ribs. Have some almond cookies or fortune cookies for dessert. They have takeout and delivery.
Tongue in Cheek (989 Payne Ave., 651-888-6148) has a contemporary yet retro feel to the decor, and they are passionate about only serving animal products that are result of humane raising. They believe it produces more delicious-tasting dishes. They serve a variety of foods including smoked duck breast, ramen, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. They have a chocolate pot de creme with pineapple for dessert that sounds absolutely decadent.
Wong's Kitchen (1191 Earl St., 651-776-2522) is a cozy neighborhood Chinese restaurant that believes in using only the highest quality ingredients. They have egg fu young, lo mein, and fried rice. They have Mongolian chicken, Szechuan pork, and shrimp with cashews, plus a lot more. You can dine in or do takeout, ordering online first to save you time.
Yarusso-Bros Italian Restaurant (635 Payne Ave., 651-776-4848) is an old-school family-owned restaurant that has been serving Italian fare to the neighborhood since 1933. The staff is friendly and ready to welcome you into the family. They have all the classics such as antipasta salad, garlic cheese toast, and spaghetti. They also have sandwiches like the sausage hoagie and pizza. For dessert, you have your choice of tiramisu or spumoni. They also do catering, have a banquet menu, and have sauce and meatballs to go. They have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options as well.
Acme Tattoo (1045 Arcade St., 651-771-0471) is a tattoo shop with several decades of experience. It's been around since the eighties, and they have set the bar high when it comes to hygienic standards. They will work with each person on an individual person in order to create a piece of art that lives up to each person's expectations. They have an ASL interpreter for their hard-of-hearing clients, and they want every client to walk out of their shop fully satisfied.
Betta World (1047 Arcade St., 651-442-4570) is a small and friendly tropical fish store with great customer service and a staff that is knowledgeable about bettas. If you're looking for a tropical fish or two to brighten your life, this is a good place to start
Caydence Records & Coffee (900 Payne Ave., 651-207-6856) is a record store/coffee shop with a friendly, airy, and cheerful atmosphere. They were established in 2016. You can browse among the vinyls at your leisure, then further relax with a cup of Caramel Creme Brulee, hot cocoa, or that Minnesota favorite, Gray Duck Chai.
Port & Starboard Tattoo and Piercing (1084 Payne Ave., 651-774-0533) is a tattoo and piercing shop named for left and right in sailors' terms. They are professional, friendly, and eager to provide you for the body art you desire. They will work with you to produce the right tattoo/piercing for you.
St. Paul Floral (960 Payne Ave., 651-778-1661) is a full-service florist who provides arrangements for all occasions. Whether you need a bouquet expressing your love or your sympathy, they will have the perfect arrangement for you. You can even customize an arrangement so you can choose exactly what you want. Order online and have it delivered or stop by in person.
Brunson's Pub (956 Payne Ave., 651-447-2483) is a casual and comfortable neighborhood pub with friendly service and tasty gastropub fare. They make their food from scratch, and their menu includes bacon mac & cheese, BBQ brisket burger, and a chocolate pot de creme. Their drinks include Pisco Kid is a Friend of Mine (cocktail), East Side Lemonade (cocktail), and several craft beers.
Checkerbar Food and Liquor (992 Arcade St., 651-772-1020) is a Hmong bar that serves standard bar fare along with more traditional Hmong food. Laab, chicken feet, Hmong sausage, and papaya salad to name a few. The service is great, and the atmosphere is open and airy. It has a real community feel to it.
Minnesota Music Cafe (501 Payne Ave., 651-776-4699) is a live music venue with a chill atmosphere and tons of live music including blues, R&B, and rock. They also have food and drinks to go along with the music. They serve your typical bar fare such as chicken baskets, nachos, and fries.
Porky's Bar (1080 Payne Ave., 651-774-7273) is a neighborhood bar that is a good place to have a couple beers with your friends. The service is great, and you'll meet many friendly people in a bar with a relaxed atmosphere.
Vogel's Lounge (112 Arcade St., 651-772-3355) is a neighborhood waterhole where the drinks keep flowing and the staff is friendly. It's a low-key and overlooked bar that is content to serve their satisfied customers under the radar.
Community Arts & Recreation
Arlington Hills Community Center (1200 Payne Ave., 651-632-3862) is jointly run by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Saint Paul Public Library. It opened in 2014, and it offers many amenities, such as a createch studio, a gym and fitness room, and a library. It has open spaces available for meetings, private parties, and other events. They also are the host of Belong Together, a public art installation, put in place by the City of Saint Paul's Percent for Art Program.
East Side Arts Council (977 Payne Ave., 651-774-5422) was established in 1991 to revitalize the East Side, addressing socioeconomic concerns in the area. They embrace the diversity of the neighborhoods within the East Side--Hmong people, Latinos, Italians, and Africans, to name a few--and encourage artists of all kinds to participate. They provide art programs that address the socioeconomic concerns and art programs that focus on educational and cultural issues. They place a high priority on nurturing young artists and encouraging a lifelong love of arts in young people.
Phalen Recreation Center (1000 E Wheelock Pkwy., 651-793-6600) is located in Phalen Regional Park, and it offers plenty of events for everyone in the family. They have educational programs, open gym for adults and kids, and after-school activities. They offer activities such as pickleball, adult volleyball, and beading & jewelry, plus so many more. They have a baseball field, 2 hockey rinks, 3 soccer fields, 3 softball fields, and a skating rink.
Studio Payne Art Gallery & Oddities Shop (1129 Payne Ave., 651-230-7767) is the place to go if you're into skulls. They have a large collection of a variety of skulls, and they are excited to share their knowledge with you. They have other curiosities as well, so if you're in the mood for something different, this is the place to visit. They also have an art gallery and art workshops.
Wilder Recreation Center (958 Jessie St., 651-298-5727) has plenty of programs and amenities, including tae kwon do, henna art tattoo, and hip hop dance. They have a gym, a football field, a playground, a picnic table, and a softball field. They have free summer meals for kids under 18 and for people over 19 who are in public or a nonprofit private school program for people with disabilities.
Art in the Hollow (Swede Hollow Park, 603 E North St., 651-776-0550) is an annual art event that calls for artists to come and participate in creating art in nature. They have artists of several different media participate every year, and the art they create reflects the nature around them. This year was their fourth year the Friends of Swede Hollow have hosted this event, and it's already become a rousing success. They also have a booth with Swede Hollow history, a teen gallery, and a sculpture installation competition judged by the audience.
Dragon Festival (Lake Phalen, 1600 Phalen Dr., no phone number) has been an annual event in the neighborhood for eighteen years. The aim is to bring together members of the pan-Asian community in hopes of fostering a trusting and diverse community. There is food, (lion) dancing, and martial artists. The highlight of the event, however, is the dragon boat racing. Enjoy the spectacle of dragon boats being pulled swiftly across Lake Phalen while drums are being pounded and the crowd is cheering them on.
Payne Arcade Harvest Festival (Payne Arcade Business Association, 965 Payne Ave., 651-468-7708) is an annual festival that in over a century old. It's steeped in tradition with plenty of fun activities for everyone in the family. The events include and awards dinner, a hot dog eating contest, a car show, live music, and baseball. There is a chicken & ribs fest and a treasure hunt as well. There is also a parade at the end of the festival.
WaterFest (Lake Phalen, 1600 Phalen Dr., 651-792-7957) is a free event that celebrates the clean waters in the neighborhood. It's a family-friendly event, and there's plenty to do for everyone who attends. There's canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing. They also have games such as archery and mini-golf. They also have crafts, live animals, exhibitions, and so much more. Don't forget to check out the Water Parade.
There are many ways to get around in Payne-Phalen. One is by bus, including routes 64 and 71. Here is a list of all stops with the amenities each has. You can also take the METRO green line for a portion of your ride, depending on where you're coming from.
Bruce Vento Elementary School (409 Case Ave., 651-293-8685) is an elementary school for students in pre-K through 5th grade. They have a strong belief that college is the goal for every student, and each class 'adopts' a college or university and learns about it throughout the year. In return, the colleges and universities provide educational opportunities for the students. The staff celebrates all the accomplishments of their students, and they have a Family Resource Center that supports the families.
City Academy (958 Jessie St., 651-298-4624) is a public charter school, and it was the first charter school in the nation, established in 1992. They serve non-traditional students in grades 9-12, typically aged 17-21, helping them prepare for higher education. They have been a Youthbuild program since 1993, and the aim of such program is to nurture at-risk students who wouldn't otherwise succeed.
Community of Peace Academy (471 Magnolia Ave., 651-776-4841) is a public charter school that is committed to academic excellence, strong relationships, and promoting peace through positive regard. It was founded in 1995, and it provides education to students in grades K-12. The staff believes in the unity of mind, body, and soul, and they strive to nurture all these areas within each student.
Farnsworth Aerospace PreK-4 Campus (1290 Arcade St., 651-293-8675) believes in nurturing a love for aerospace at an early age. Their motto is "The Home of Future Leaders", and they provide their students with the tools they need to succeed. They have enrichment classes in art, music, physical education, and aerospace. They go by the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) principle, integrating all the fields to provide a cohesive worldview for their students. Of course, aerospace is infused in everything they teach.
Farnsworth Aerospace 5-8 Campus (1000 Walsh St., 651-293-8880) believes in interdisciplinary education and includes aerospace in every aspect of their teaching. Their motto is "The Home of Future Leaders" , and they provide their students with the tools they need to succeed. They take their students out in the field, and each student has the opportunity to try the flight simulator in the flight lab. They also have a well-respected marching band and a string orchestra.
Frost Lake Elementary School (1505 E Hoyt Ave., 651-293-8930) is an elementary school that serves students in grades pre-K through 5. They believe in individualized education and racial equality, and they use all technology available as part of their teaching repertoire. They also believe in engaging members of the community around them. The staff sets clear expectations for their students and do whatever they can to help their students succeed.
HOPE Community Academy (720 Payne Ave., 651-796-4500) is a charter school serving students K-8 that has a focus on Hmong language and culture. They believe in giving all their students the tools needed to survive. To that end, they have an English Language Development (ELD) program, Special Education Services (SES), and Positive Behavior Management Strategies (PBMS). The last includes Positive Behavioral Intervention Support (PBIS) which they implement school-wide.
John A. Johnson Achievement Plus (740 York Ave., 651-793-7300) is an elementary school for students from pre-K through 5th grade, and they emphasize the academic success of each of their students. They are an "Achievement Plus" school, which means they have resources (mental health and medical, for example) and recreation as well as education all in one place. The resources also including tutoring, legal guidance, and housing help. They believe that providing their students with guidance in several areas and strong relationships with members of the community in addition to a well-rounded education will help their students thrive.
Johnson Aerospace & Engineering High School (1349 Arcade St., 651-293-8890) is the home to the Aerospace & Engineering Academy that is renown across the state. They are a certified "Project Lead the Way" school, and they offer six pre-engineering classes to their students that give them college credit. They have plenty of AP classes and many clubs to satisfy the diverse interests of their students.
Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet (1089 Cypress St., 651-293-8935) is a public magnet school that serves students from grades K-5. They believe in celebrating the richness of diversity, and they prepare their students to participate in a multicultural world. They focus on Hmong language and culture, but they also provide education about an assortment of cultures, especially of the people living in the community around them.
Places of Worship