Nintendo, Atari, and retro couches…oh my!

By Kristin Riegel

When I first stepped into Chatterbox, I couldn’t decide if I was stepping into a restaurant or a friend’s basement. The main dining room was filled with retro couches, classic gaming systems, and loud but not obnoxious music. As I took my seat in one of the large, black booths that were fit more for a party of six than my party of two, I knew I was at the perfect place for a late afternoon lunch.Chatterbox Pub, located on Cleveland Avenue behind Blockbuster offers more than just a meal, it offers an atmosphere that makes you want to stay long after you’ve devoured food from their delicious menu of gourmet sandwiches, pizza and burgers.

Voted the “Best Neighborhood Bar, Minneapolis” from 2003 to 2006 in City Pages’ Reader’s Choice Awards, the St. Paul location offers the same energy and entertainment as the Minneapolis location, but conveniently closer to campus.

The restaurant’s décor of colored walls, random pieces of art and fun lamps add to its relaxed mood, bringing the eccentric and classic together under one roof.

After being seated, my dining partner and I decided to take advantage of the full line of classic board games Chatterbox offers free of charge to their customers. After a quick go at “Operation,” our server, who was dressed more like a hipster heading to a concert than someone working in the food industry, took our order.

While waiting for our order to arrive, we continued with the board game theme, opting this time for checkers. Other patrons choose to take advantage of the Sega Genesis, Nintendo and Atari systems by renting games such as Super Mario Bros and Frogger for one to two dollars per game.

If board games and gaming systems aren’t enough, five widescreen televisions fill the bar and restaurant, broadcasting sports games and more.

Besides the provided entertainment, this restaurant offers a great place to people watch. Biker guys with sequined ball caps, families out for a lunch with their kids, and people wearing clothing that makes you want to do a double-take all inhabit this local bar.

But enough about the restaurant and on to why I went there in the first place-the food.

The first thing that impressed me about the Chatterbox’s menu was the sheer volume of it. From gourmet pizzas to a full menu of breakfast foods, Chatterbox has it all. In addition to a large selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, Chatterbox offers a large assortment of beers (some of which they brew themselves), wines, and drinks for those in need of a little pick-me-up.

Having just woken up an hour before my lunch adventure, I opted to stick with the breakfast menu, ordering a Grilled Breakfast Burrito ($7.25). The Burrito, filled with black beans, fresh tomato, and cheddar cheese scrambled eggs came in a tomato tortilla. Pico de gallo, guacamole and red pepper sour cream were also included in this dish that puts Café Mac’s breakfasts to shame.

The burrito was a perfect late breakfast/early lunch option. Its combination of eggs with fresh vegetables, beans, and delicious toppings hit the spot. The size of the burrito was large enough for me to feel full after eating just over half of it. However, it was tasty enough that I continued to enjoy my south-of-the-border inspired dish.

My dining partner decided to pass on the breakfast options and move onto their lunch menu by choosing an Italian Hoagie ($8.95). The hoagie included smoked ham topped with crispy pepperoni, mozzarella, roasted green olives, tomato, Bermuda onions, oregano and marinara sauce served on handmade foccacia bread.

This hearty sandwich was accompanied by seasoned fries and fried pickles. Although I was a little turned off by the sight of these green things sitting alongside my friend’s sandwich, he assured me that there was no need to be alarmed, because as he said, it added flair to the dish.

Although I only tried the fries, my friend gave the sandwich a good review, stating that it was flavorful and filling. Similarly to the burrito, the sandwich and fries were served in large portions.

Overall, Chatterbox Pub offers a place to eat good food, relive childhood infatuations with Nintendo and relax in an atmosphere that makes you want to stay “just five minutes longer.” With its proximity to campus and its large variety of options, this restaurant is a must do for anyone looking for a unique dining experience complete with delicious food.

Chatterbox Pub
800 Cleveland Ave S
St. Paul, MN 55116
651-699-1154