It’s Your Birthday: Free Desserts in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Lori Writer / Heavy Table

It may be true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but if it is your birthday — and you live in the Twin Cities — it’s remarkably easy to find a free dessert, and even the odd cocktail if you look for it.

Actually, what’s true is this: If you are willing to join a loyalty club and like a good chain once and a while, it’s possible to get all sorts of comestibles for free at places like Red Robin, Noodles & Co., and Famous Dave’s. Hell, you might even get that lunch. However, we narrowed our scope to the locally grown eateries and found, to our great delight, a surprising number of freebies, though their generosity be limited to desserts.

So here, for your birthday pleasure, is a short yet diverse selection of restaurants where you can follow up a good — and sometimes even fantastic — meal with a dessert that is not only free but likely quite tasty.

Boca Chica: This nearly 50-year-old Mexican restaurant regularly makes the Cities “best of” lists, most notably for its margaritas. On your birthday, you can expect a free ice cream sundae and a snapshot of your party.

Craftsman: Chef Mike Philips, who recently won our 2009 Silver Whisk Award for Best Chef, is best known for artisan approach to food — specifically, charcuterie. Follow up a plate of duck bolognese or rabbit confit with your choice of any dessert on the menu, which changes with the seasons.

Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter: If it is songs, smiles, and schnitzels you’re after, this is the place. Well, we can’t promise songs, but the Stillwater restaurant serves authentic Bavarian cooking — and celebrates birthdays with a free dessert of your choice.

Happy Gnome: Chef Mathew Hinman cooked under both Dennis Marron and Russell Klein, so while it proclaims to be a neighborhood pub, it also serves pheasant tartlet… and a free dessert of your choice, if it’s your birthday.

Highland Grill: From turkey burgers to the famous Steak Salad Murphy (medallions of beef and goat cheese!) this is a good, low key birthday option and it comes with a free dessert of your choice.

I Nonni: Although we wish I Nonni would go local, it is still an award winning Italian restaurant and a truly pleasant place to spend an evening. Plus, if it’s your birthday they’ll bring you a free dessert, your choice. Che sera, sera!

The Lexington: Its wood paneling and chandeliers belie a supper club that loves nothing more than a birthday party — after all, it has celebrated 80 of them. Finish off a classic seafood or steak dinner with a piece of free triple-layer chocolate cake.

The Loring Pasta Bar: A romantic atmosphere, eclectic menu and live music — what more could you want? Free dessert, your choice of any on the menu!

Mancini’s Char House & Lounge: St. Paul’s most famous steakhouse does it right: If it’s your birthday, everyone at your table will get a free piece of white cake, including a candle!

Manny’s Steakhouse: Hey, it’s your birthday, you’re worth a $50 steak or, if you’re not, perhaps a nice Oysters Rockefeller. Either way, it may hurt less if you follow it up with a free piece of chocolate cake.

Meritage: Russell and Desta Klein’s French brasserie has taken the Cities by storm, winning accolades — including best restaurant — from nearly every paper in town. Go there on your birthday, eat the moules and pomme frites, and then enjoy a free glass of champagne or dessert of your choice.

Moscow on the Hill: It claims to be the only Russian restaurant in St. Paul and it is most certainly the only restaurant period offering a free shot of house-made cherry vodka for birthday boys and girls (of a certain age).

Muddy Pig: This sweet little pub, famous for its expansive beer list, is the only venue on our list that celebrates birthdays with a free rail drink or tap or domestic beer. Huzzah!

Punch Neapolitan Pizza: What could be more traditional for a birthday party? Punch serves it up crispy hot from a wood-fired oven. Say it’s your birthday and you’ll get a free bread pudding or tiramisu.

Saji-ya: Reports from the blog-o-sphere say this is where the hipsters go to get their sushi and teppanyaki. If it’s your birthday, you can choose between a free bowl of green tea ice cream or mango cheesecake.

Oceanaire Seafood Room: Well, it is national, but it continuously wins “best seafood” awards from Zagat and the like. Among other dishes, the restaurant offers the day’s fresh catch prepared with a variety of sauces, from blue cheese to wakame. Plus, who can turn down a free baked Alaska?

OM Contemporary Indian Cuisine: The menu is the brainchild of award winning chef and cookbook writer, Rhagavan Iyer and showcases flavors found throughout India. The restaurant celebrates birthdays with a free dessert called Enlightenment, which was described to us as a combination of mango and puff pastry.

A final word: If you plan to ask for a free dessert, bring your I.D. Oh yeah, and happy birthday!


  1. Rachel

    Great list in time for my own B-Day this month!I would add Poncho Villa across from Azia-folks celebrating a b-day get free Tres Leche Cake and if you bring 6 or more guests, the person celebrating gets their drinks free! And you get to spin their prize wheel too. (On one visit they were out of cake so they gave my friend a coupon good for a whole cake from the Mexican bakery across the street.)

  2. nick

    Hey, it’s my 30th birthday today – how’d you know? Thanks Heavy Table! Shout out to the Capricorns, woot woot!

  3. Laura

    You failed to mention one of the BEST birthday specials I’ve ever heard about, at Pazzaluna in DT St. Paul. It has a good value (at least $21 maybe way more) and is flexible as they let you redeem within a week of your actual birthday. Here are the details from their website:

    “Dine with us the week of your birthday and we’ll give you a complimentary* bottle of wine priced at your age.

    *Purchase of two (2) entrees required. Offer valid for in-store consumption only. Equivalent credit of person’s age can be applied to a higher priced bottle of wine. Proof of age and birthday required. Must be 21 years or older. Offer good for one birthday per table. Cannot be combined with other offers and/or promotions. Please ask your server for details.”

  4. Aaron Landry


    Susan Pagani, who originally wrote and fact-checked this story followed up with one of the owners of the Muddy Pig and they verified they do give a free birthday drink. They definitely want to make good on their promise and you should get an email from Susan connecting you with the Muddy Pig. Happy Birthday!

  5. Caitlin

    No way. I went to Muddy Pig a month after this was published and the waiter just laughed and said ‘you wish’ to the free drink. Honestly? haven’t been back.

  6. BirthdayGirl

    Please grammar-check these articles. I’m crazy with worry over your English usage. You need to use the correct you’re here. It’s really awful that people think that proper English is totally unnecessary these days.

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