Best Suburban Drinking Streets Power Rankings

When it comes to assessing the drinks scene in Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul often suck the oxygen out of the room. And not without good reason, considering the wealth of mixological talent and the seemingly limitless number of beer taps behind Twin Cities bars.

But, like a magician’s sleight of hand, while we’re distracted looking at the shiny cocktail glasses in MSP, the bars and restaurants outside major metropolitan centers have been spinning a bit of beverage magic on the suburban main streets.

With recommendations from readers, editorial staff, and local beverage luminaries, we have surveyed the main drags in dozens of towns in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and judged across nine criteria, here are the six finalists for Best Suburban Drinking Street (in alphabetical order):

2nd Street, Hudson, WI
Jackson Street, Anoka
Lake Street Wayzata
Mainstreet, Hopkins
Main Street, Stillwater
Water Street, Excelsior

Now it’s time to put them to the test category by category to find out which rises to the top of our Power Rankings.   

Number of Bars & Restaurants

(1 point per)

  1. Main Street, Stillwater – 21
  2. 2nd Street, Hudson, WI – 17
  3. Lake Street, Wayzata – 14
  4. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 11
  5. Jackson Street, Anoka – 9
  6. Water Street, Excelsior – 8

Number of Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries

(1.25 pts per)

  1. Main Street, Stillwater – 2.5
  2. 2nd Street, Hudson, WI – 1.25
  3. Lake Street, Wayzata – 1.25
  4. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 1.25
  5. Jackson Street, Anoka – 1.25
  6. Water Street, Excelsior – 1.25

Average price of a signature cocktail

$7–$7.50 = 10 pts • $7.50–$8 = 9pts • $8–$8.50 = 8pts • $8.50–$9 = 7pts • $9–$9.50 = 6 pts • $9.50–$10 = 5 pts • $10–$10.50 = 4 pts • $10.50–$11 = 3 pts • $11–$11.50 = 2 pts • $11.50–$12 = 1 pts • $12+ = 0 pts

  1. Jackson Street, Anoka – $7.00 – 10
  2. Mainstreet, Hopkins – $8.17 – 8
  3. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – $8.35 – 8
  4. Main Street in Stillwater – $9.5 – 6
  5. Water Street in Excelsior – $10.43 – 4
  6. Lake Street in Wayzata – $13.09 – 0

Average price for a craft beer

$5–$5.25 = 10 pts • $5.25–$5.50 = 9 pts • $5.50–$5.75 = 8 pts • $5.75–$6 = 7 pts • $6–$6.25 = 6 pts • $6.25–$6.50 = 5 pts • $6.50–$6.75 = 4 pts • $6.75–$7 = 3 pts • $7–$7.25 = 2 pts • More than $7.25 = 1 pt

  1. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – $5.59 – 8
  2. Jackson Street, Anoka – $5.61 – 8
  3. Mainstreet, Hopkins – $5.77 – 7
  4. Main Street, Stillwater – $5.93 – 7
  5. Lake Street, Wayzata – $6.29 – 5
  6. Water Street, Excelsior – $7.25 – 2

Creative:Standard Cocktail Program Quotient

Top = 15 pts, Bottom = 0 pts

  1. Lake Street, Wayzata – 80% – 15
  2. Water Street, Excelsior – 60% – 12
  3. Main Street, Stillwater – 45% – 9
  4. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – 38% – 6
  5. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 33% – 3 
  6. Jackson Street, Anoka – 0% – 0 

Independent:Chain Originality Quotient

Top = 6 pts, Bottom = 1 pt

  1. Jackson Street, Anoka – 6
  2. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 5
  3. Lake Street, Wayzata – 4
  4. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – 3
  5. Water Street, Excelsior – 2
  6. Main Street, Stillwater – 1

Breadth of Experience / Atmosphere

1 pt per establishment genre

  1. Main Street, Stillwater – 11
  2. Lake Street, Wayzata – 9
  3. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – 7
  4. Jackson Street, Anoka – 6
  5. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 6
  6. Water Street, Excelsior – 6

Walkability – Average Distance Between Establishments in Feet

Top = 6 pts, Bottom = 1 pt

  1. Main Street, Stillwater – 68.87’ – 6
  2. Jackson Street, Anoka – 70.6’ – 5
  3. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 118.33’ – 4
  4. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – 129.17’ – 3
  5. Water Street, Excelsior – 145.56’ – 2
  6. Lake Street, Wayzata – 216.13’ – 1

Rideshare Costs – Miles to Downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul

Closest = 6 pts, Farthest = 1 pt

  1. Mainstreet, Hopkins – 10.8 mi – 6
  2. Lake Street, Wayzata – 12.6 mi – 5
  3. Water Street, Excelsior – 16.9 mi – 4
  4. Jackson Street, Anoka – 21 mi – 3
  5. Main Street, Stillwater – 22 mi – 2
  6. 2nd Street in Hudson, WI – 27 mi – 1

Best Suburban Drinking Street Power Rankings 

6.  Water Street, Excelsior – 41.25 pts

5.  Jackson Street, Anoka – 48.25 pts

4.  Mainstreet, Hopkins – 51.25 pts

T. 2  Lake Street, Wayzata – 54.25 pts

T. 2  2nd Street, Hudson, WI – 54.25 pts

1.  Main Street, Stillwater – 65.5 pts

The vast whiskey collection at MatchStick Restaurant in Stillwater, Minnesota // Photo by Becca Dilley

With an astounding number of locations to grab a drink, an eclectic mix of experiences from the diviest dive bar to the swankiest basement cocktail speakeasy, and supreme walkability, the once sleepy town of Stillwater has exploded onto the drink scene in a major way in the last year and a half.

Newcomer MatchStick Restaurant boasts one of the most impressive rare whiskey lists in all of Minnesota and serious cocktail lovers will be wowed with the creativity happening behind the bars of Lolo, Lolito, and The Velveteen. At the same time, old standbys such as No Neck Tony’s and Whitey’s bring a great value prospect to the table.

The next time you’re thinking about a night out, head to Stillwater.


The streets on the power rankings list were culled from an initial list of 15 suburban drinking streets recommended by our readers, editorial staff, and beverage luminaries. After researching each of the 15 streets, the editorial staff winnowed down the list to six streets that had at least 8 or more drinking establishments on and within a block of the main street.

The Growler editorial staff then ranked each street based on nine different criteria meant to assess quantity, quality, creativity, and accessibility of the drinking establishments on the street.

Information about average pricing of signature cocktails and beer was gleaned from menus and from establishments directly when menus were unavailable. Due to the variability, we excluded wine pricing from the criteria. 

For this Power Rankings, signature cocktails were defined as drinks made with two or more liquors that were specifically listed on a drinks menu or highlighted by the establishment’s bar staff or signage. Craft beer was defined using the Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer.

Creative versus standard cocktail programs were determined by the editorial staff and based on whether or not the establishment’s program displayed creativity and originality in its offerings. 

Genres that made up the Breadth of Experience / Atmosphere criteria included: Dive bar, Sports Bar, Craft Beer Bar, Cocktail Lounge / Speakeasy, Wine Bar, Tiki Bar, Irish Bar, Live Music Bar, German Restaurant, Cafe / Coffee Shop, Italian Restaurant, French Restaurant, Japanese Restaurant, Chinese Restaurant, Mexican / Latin American Restaurant, Barbecue Restaurant, Hotel Bar / Restaurant, Supper Club, Seafood Restaurant, Brewery, Distillery, and Winery.