Revisiting Our Favorite Restaurants in White Bear Lake

by | Jul 2019

Braised Beeler's Farm pork shank from Acqua

Braised Beeler’s Farm pork shank from Acqua.

Make your summer even more delicious with some of our favorites from the past year.

Located just 20 minutes from St. Paul and Minneapolis, White Bear Lake offers the best of both worlds—a community with big city attractions and small town charm. Celebrate the taste of summer with a cheeseburger, a scoop of ice cream or an intimate evening with a craft cocktail overlooking the lake. White Bear Lake is sure to have whatever your heart—or belly—desires!

Located on the western shore of White Bear Lake, Acqua offers an ideal setting for families, friends or any kind of get-together. With three dining rooms and patio seating offering beautiful views, guests can enjoy a memorable cocktail or dinner while gazing out at the lake. Acqua’s focus on fresh, high-quality local ingredients and an attentive and knowledgeable staff ensure an elegant evening of dining.

The menu features small plates, salads and entrees. Start your experience with beef tartare or fried tiger shrimp. Follow that with a duck salad, and for the third course choose between dishes like the braised Beeler’s Farm pork shank (pictured above), seared fresh salmon or the parmesan risotto. Don’t pass up a superb ending to the meal—the espresso martini. Its mix of vodka, Kahlua, Godiva white chocolate liqueur and freshly brewed espresso delivers a smooth and creamy caffeinated kick. Definitely shaken and not stirred, this dessert martini is the stuff of legends.

4453 Lake Ave. S.

Coffee cocktail from Acqua.

Photo: Chris Emeott

Inspired by the beloved Cup and Cone in White Bear Lake, Ingredients owners Len and Ben Pratt decided to open up a little spot of their own—Burger Bar. Whereas Ingredients is conducive to a long post-yoga conversation over wine and appetizers or a multicourse anniversary meal, Burger Bar is meant to cater to baseball teams or parents who want to sip a beer while their teens grab a malt. With an arbor and patio that dwarf the indoor seating, it’s as much an outdoor gathering space as a restaurant, as much high-tech as low-key and it’s about serving a totally different clientele.

“We’re meeting an age-old need to gather, have fun, socially connect and hear what’s going on,” says Len Pratt. With a straightforward, industrial look, including fir plank tables made by a Wisconsin-based firm, a plain wood bar and floors in epoxy-coated natural concrete, the space features a dineresque pass window that keeps the bustling kitchen visible to guests. In addition to affordable and delicious food, the Pratts serve local beers—think Big Wood and Fulton—as well as easy-drinking Mexican and bigger domestic names available on-tap, in bottles and cans.

Ben Pratt, who spent months scouring Twin Cities bakeries in search of the perfect bun, describes the Burger Bar as “chef-driven fast food.”
“An awesome cheeseburger with a good bun? That’s America,” says Ben. The Pratts have developed a standout cheeseburger incorporating house-made American cheese. Though simple, attention is paid to every ingredient. The menu also offers a garden veggie burger, which Ben has been perfecting for years. “It’s the little sleeper nobody expected,” Ben says. “It has the mouthfeel of a burger—it’s seriously meaty.”

At the top of the list for kids is the fry boat—French fries topped with sauces, zingy jardinière or beef as a stand-in for a full meal.

2125 Fourth St.

The Alchemist is a cool cocktail bar located in downtown White Bear Lake. Whether you are stopping in for brunch, sipping on a craft cocktail, enjoying a beer from Big Wood Brewery or grazing from the menu, The Alchemist offers delicious menu items all day. Cocktails are made with unique recipes and have names like Anywhere in Wonderland gin—a combination of lemongrass shrub, lime juice, mint and soda. Also on the menu—Hot Pants made with Rieger’s gin, Pimm’s No. 1, black currant, basil, lime and ghost pepper bitters.

In February 2019, The Alchemist introduced Sunday hours, featuring new brunch cocktails and a special limited brunch menu until 3 p.m. If waffles served with honey, whipped cream cheese, bananas Foster sauce with toasted walnuts and vanilla whipped cream sounds good, stop in! Or choose from their small plates that can be ordered all day. If you’re looking for a place to go to late in the afternoon, the regular menu is available after 3 p.m.

2222 Fourth St.

Cup and Cone is a summer staple for White Bear Lake. Started by Glen Johnstone, owned by Keith Johnstone and purchased by Rick Johnstone in 2009, Cup and Cone is a third-generation business celebrating over 40 years. Rick works hard at making Cup and Cone a joyful and inexpensive experience for everyone in the community. It is his goal for everyone—customers, employees and families—to walk away with a smile on their face.

One of Rick’s favorite things about the shop is getting involved with the community, especially working with youth. “I usually hire teenagers. It’s great helping them develop to be good people,” Johnstone says, adding that seeing customers returning time after time and getting to know them is another part of the job he loves.

Cup and Cone offers a wide variety of ice cream treats to keep you cool this summer. Along with the traditional vanilla and chocolate, there’s a new flavor every four days. There are plenty of shake, sundae and slush choices as well. Dairy sensitive? There is always a lactose-free or dairy-free option. Chocolate mint is one of the popular lactose-free options, and there are dairy-free fruity Dole Whips, including lemon, pineapple and raspberry. Over 35 years ago, original owner Keith Johnstone envisioned “making kids and their families smile every time they come to Cup and Cone.” Rick continues this practice today.

2126 Fourth St.

Ice cream with sprinkles from Cup and Cone.

Photo: Tate Carlson


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