May 20—This year's patio guide contains a dozen newly minted outdoor spaces we've visited this past year and can't wait to tell you about.
Our annual guide also includes our perennial list of favorites in categories such as along-the-water haunts, neighborhood classics and current hotspots.
We also give you the lowdown on changed or improved patios, such as a backyard courtyard addition to Nico's Tacos in St. Paul and new furnishings on the still-amazing patio at The Butcher's Tale, in the former Butcher & The Boar space. (— = changed or improved patio).
Where you can get one, we recommend a reservation, especially this year when people are still more comfortable dining outside than in. And because of the pandemic, some restaurants require them.
We also want to encourage you to be patient as restaurants get their groove back, especially outdoors. In some cases, menus and hours might be limited, and there is a staffing shortage, so you might have to wait a little longer for food and drinks.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
EMBER & ICE, Omni Viking Lakes Hotel, 2611 Nordic Way, Eagan; 651-689-9800; omnihotels.com/hotels/viking-lakes-minnesota: The contemporary Ember & Ice, the Omni Vikings Lakes Hotel second-floor patio connected to Ember & Ice lounge, boasts several seating areas, firepits, its own bar and a great view overlooking the Vikings practice field. All this while being able to enjoy a great cocktail and food list. The vibe in the lounge takes on Icelandic culture of the North, and that philosophy extends onto the patio. Note that patio season starts June 1 here.
ESTELLE, 1806 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-9648; estellestp.com: The new hotspot serving excellent cocktails and Italian-, Spanish- and Portuguese-inspired dishes is ready for its first full-fledged patio season. In addition to sidewalk seating in front of the eatery, there's a wood deck in the back. It's decked out with wrought-iron furniture, vertical planters on the walls filled with herbs and string lights for just the right ambiance.
HANDSOME HOG, 173 N. Western Ave., St. Paul; 651.219.4013; handsomehog.com: It's hard to believe that this new patio was once a pass-through with a few parking spots. Handsome Hog recently relocated from Lowertown to the former space of The Fitz on Cathedral Hill. The space has been transformed, including the addition of a 120-seat fenced-in patio decked out with a wrap-around bar, pergola, multiple seating areas, umbrellas, potted plants and flowers. And the food is great — you can't go wrong with anything you order at this contemporary Southern restaurant.
THE GNOME CRAFT PUB, 498 Selby Ave., St. Paul; thegnomepub.com: The Gnome, which replaced the Happy Gnome last year, has undergone a revamp, including an expansion of the patio that is now three times the size of the previous outdoor dining area. What's more, the new 200-seat expansive wood deck dotted with tables and chairs takes advantage of shaded trees on the deck by adding hanging hammock swings — how fun is that? Enjoy pretty spring, summer and fall days here while dining on the menu of things such as cheese, charcuterie, relish trays, poutine, duck wings, hand-carved sandwiches and raclette, the Swiss dish with melted cheese. There's even a "Milwaukee Pretzel," a giant 30-ounce braided pretzel with shaved raclette. It's go big or go home here.
HOPE BREAKFAST BAR, 1 S. Leech St.; St. Paul; hopebreakfast.com: Because of dining restrictions amid the coronavirus, cities have worked with restaurants to help drive up business. Creative alternatives have come from it, including St. Paul allowing a section of Leech Street to be closed so restaurants such as Hope Breakfast Bar, along with Cafe Astoria across the street, can spill their small patios onto the street, resulting in more seating on top of existing patios. Live music gives out a block party vibe. While here, consider Cafe Astoria across the street, which also has patio tables on Leech Street and where you can grab coffees, smoothie bowls, oatmeal bowls, crepes and salads.
IRON RANGER, 1085 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-487-1913; ironrangermn.com: This neighborhood favorite expanded its patio to include an outdoor bar and ornate fencing. It's already caught on, so if you're looking for a seat, best to arrive early. And definitely order a porketta sandwich when you're there.
LUCI ANCORA, 2060 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-698-6889; luciancora.com: During the pandemic, Luci Ancora was allowed to add tables last summer on the property along the concrete sidewalk right next to the building facing the parking lot. This year, they're amping it up by repairing the parking lot and sidewalk that includes brick pavers, planters, colorful umbrellas and rechargeable lights illuminating each table. The result: a quaint, charming patio with a country European/Italian feel, a perfect complement to the menu.
MANCINI'S CHAR HOUSE, 531 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-224-7345; mancinis.com: Before, the patio area at this longtime institution was just an afterthought, functioning more as a smoking den than anything. That all changed during the pandemic when Mancini's went all out and created a pretty, landscaped patio with brick flooring, tented areas for shade and flower beds.
NINA'S COFFEE CAFE, 165 Western Ave., St. Paul; 651-292-9816; ninascoffeecafe.com: Nina's may be a longtime institution on Cathedra Hill, but it seems this spot is always up to something new. And this year, that includes a new sidewalk patio. It's all thanks to supporters stepping up during the pandemic, in which Nina's received an up-to-$5,000 match from an anonymous customer. Some of the money raised goes toward creating a 30-seat patio with umbrellas, planters and more.
SHAMROCK'S PUB AND GRILL, 995 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-228-9925; crshamrocks.com: A bright spot of the pandemic is that places that are usually so busy they barely have time to catch their breath have finally tackled their patio projects. Shamrock's has added a sweet little space with pavers, built-in wooden booths, picnic tables and a new bar that opens to the outside, with a separate indoor lounge in case of inclement weather. There's a flowering tree planted in the corner of the space, and overall, it's one of our favorite 2021 additions.
WOODFIRED CANTINA, 928 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; woodfiredcantina.com: This new fast-casual Mexican spot in Keg and Case West 7th Market has plum patio space along bustling West Seventh Street. Includes an outdoor bar, plenty of seating and towers of pour-your-own margaritas.
YUMI JAPANESE RESTAURANT + BAR, 400 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-207-6810; yumisushibar.com: Pssst ... this new patio is so cute and the food so delicious that we almost don't want to tell you about one of St. Paul's best-kept al fresco dining secrets. In addition to a sizable indoor dining room, this Cathedral Hill spot features a more-than-30-seat outdoor dining space with bamboo and teak accents. A private, fenced-in patio offers some privacy from Selby Avenue. The space is just the right backdrop for dining on sushi rolls, sashimi plates, noodle dishes and teriyaki and tempura platters. Opens at 4 p.m. daily.
IN THE WORKS
Gloria's To Go, 131 S. Main St., Stillwater; 651-351-3943; leosgrill.com: The renovated patio at Leo's in downtown Stillwater is slated for a late-May debut. Following the renovation, look for a new outdoor food concept serving soft-serve ice cream and hot dogs to roll out in June. This will be in addition to Leo's current offerings such as burgers and malts.
DeGidio's Restaurant & Bar, 651-291-7105; degidios.com: The longtime St. Paul institution just opened a new 60-seat patio with pavers and patio decor and landscaping. Reservations are available Friday and Saturday for now.
ALONG THE WATER/SCENIC
6SMITH (Boat Works Building), 294 E. Grove Lane, Wayzata, 952-698-7900; 6smith.com: Pull up to one of the patio seats off the main floor or head to the rooftop patio. Either way, this sleek, contemporary spot on Lake Minnetonka's Wayzata Bay is a place to watch the waves and boats docking.
ACQUA, 4453 Lake Ave. S., White Bear Lake, 651-407-7317; acqua-restaurants.com: Nab a seat on one of the quaint patios on either floor of this duplex restaurant overlooking White Bear Lake, or cross the street and enjoy the restaurant's more spacious lakeside patio. Italian fare served here is top notch.
ADMIRAL D'S WATERFRONT TAVERN, 4424 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake, 651-330-3101; admiraldswbl.com: The casual, come-one, come-all vibe makes this popular dockside patio a welcoming spot for enjoying views of White Bear Lake. Under new ownership, the menu of things like burgers has expanded to include seafood baskets and tacos.
BIRCH'S ON THE LAKE, 1310 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake, 952-473-7373; birchsonthelake.com: Brew house and supper club with an expansive wood deck on a hill offers pristine views of Long Lake. Or, walk to the bottom of the hill where a fire pit surrounded by chairs sits right next to the lake. It's also a place to grab a decent brew and gastro-pub fare.
BRICK & BOURBON, 215 Main St. S., Stillwater; 651-342-0777; brickandbourbon.com: Bird's-eye views of the St. Croix River and historic Lift Bridge make scoring a seat on this small rooftop deck worth your while. Craft drinks and spins on comfort food are the lay of the land.
CHARLIE'S RESTAURANT AND IRISH PUB/ PAPA'S ROOFTOP AT WATER STREET INN, 101 S. Water St., Stillwater, 651-439-6000; waterstreetinn.us: The riverside hotel and restaurant underwent a big expansion and, as part of it, created downtown Stillwater's most expansive rooftop restaurant patio. The new 160-seat rooftop patio features six gas fire pits and bird's-eye views of the St. Croix River Valley. The new rooftop restaurant also has its own bar and kitchen and a menu different from the first-floor pub and restaurant. The popular first-floor patio now can be enclosed or open, so it's rain or shine. While each patio has a different vibe, they have one thing in common: spectacular vistas of the St. Croix River Valley and lift bridge.
COV, Cov Edina, 3155 Galleria, Edina; 952-999-4011, covedina.com. Cov Wayzata, 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952-473-5253, covwayzata.com: The spot with a Nantucket feel extends to the gorgeous patio that immediately transports you. The menu of oysters and plenty of seafood adds to the coastal vibe. Cov's location in downtown Wayzata also has lake views.
CURRENT, the Afton House Inn Hotel, 3291 St. Croix Trail S., Afton, 651-436-8883; currentrestaurant.com: Restaurant with a patio a few hundred yards from the St. Croix River offers views of the majestic waters and marina. The area's charming small-town vibe makes you feel like you're on a staycation.
DOCK CAFE, 425 Nelson St., Stillwater, 651-430-3770; dockcafe.com: Grown-up restaurant with a patio on the water's edge offers direct views of the St. Croix River, Lift Bridge and river valley. The restaurant has been closed since the pandemic but there's good news on the horizon. The restaurant is looking at a May reopening, according to a post on its Facebook page.
FELLER, Lora Hotel, 402 Main St. S., Stillwater; 651-571-3501; fellerrestaurant.com: The patio at this gorgeous boutique hotel in downtown Stillwater is a way to take in the city's historic charm, plus the bluffs, the St. Croix River, and the action on Main Street. Order from the hunter-and-gatherer menu or enjoy happy hour.
FREIGHT HOUSE, 305 Water St. S., Stillwater, 651-439-5718; thefreighthouse.com: One of downtown Stillwater's most popular and sizable patios boasts seating on the main patio, gazebo with wrap-around bar or beer garden. Take in vistas of the St. Croix River and historic Lift Bridge. Challenge your dining mate to a game of bocce ball. And dine on burgers and local tap beer.
GIANNI'S STEAKHOUSE, 635 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952-404-1100; giannis-steakhouse.com: Take in views of Lake Minnetonka while dining in style at one of Gianni's white-linen-covered tables with hand-woven bistro chairs. An overhang allows for a shaded area on the patio for those who don't want to soak up the sun.
MALLORY'S RESTAURANT AND ROOFTOP BAR, 609 Second St.; Hudson, Wis.; 715-531-4101; mallorysrooftop.com: Sit at one of the high tops offering glimpses of the St. Croix River, head to a lounge area with fire pits or belly up to the long bar at this downtown restaurant with a rooftop patio and bar. Food is as casual or fancy as you want it to be, from burgers to knife-and-fork entrees.
MUDDY WATERS BAR & GRILL, 231 Broad St., Prescott, Wis., 715-262-5999; muddywatersbarandgrill.biz: Outdoor hot spot has become a destination for its expansive, multi-tiered patio. Its primo views of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers make it one of the prettiest riverfront restaurants around. The patio has an outdoor bar and a covered deck area to keep patrons dry when there's rain.
PIER 500, 500 First St., Hudson, Wis., 715-386-5504; pierfivehundred.com: Contemporary dining spot, with great views of the pier and St. Croix River, offers one of the best decks in downtown Hudson.
PSYCHO SUZI'S, 1900 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-788-9069; psychosuzis.com: Tiki-themed deck and Polynesian cocktails at this spot overlooking the Mississippi River inspire rest and relaxation.
SANDCASTLE, 4955 Lake Nokomis Parkway W., Minneapolis, 612-722-5550; sandcastlempls.com: The outdoor dining action is in full swing at this bright-blue lakeside walk-up eatery. Bar stools face Lake Nokomis, and a picnic-bench area easily accommodates groups.
SEA SALT EATERY, 4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, 612-721-8990; seasalteatery.com: Legions line up at this pavilion restaurant inside Minnehaha Park, and it's easy to see why. The spot not only dishes up some of the best seafood around, but it also has a seating area to take in the picturesque parkland and nearby roaring waterfall.
B-52 BURGERS AND BREW, 5639 Bishop Ave., Inver Grove Heights; 651-451-3838; b52burgersandbrew.com: B-52's patio has several seating options, such as a long marble-top bar and a lounge area. Fireplaces and television screens add to the vibe.
BARBETTE, 1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-827-5710; barbette.com: Nabbing a seat on this bustling 46-seat Uptown patio and having a glass of rose and pommes frites — in our opinion, the best around town — is a favorite pastime.
BOCA CHICA, 11 Cesar Chavez St.; St. Paul; 651-222-8499; bocachicarestaurant.com: One of St. Paul's staples for authentic Mexican fare boasts a stone terrace with a few umbrella-laden tables looking out onto Cesar Chavez Street.
BRIT'S PUB, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-332-3908; britspub.com: Multi-tiered expansive rooftop patio accommodates large groups that come to lawn bowl and eat fish and chips. Others can pull up to the sidewalk cafe in front and catch the Nicollet Mall street action.
BRUNSON'S PUB, 956 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-447-2483; brunsonspub.com: The dozen or so tables with blue umbrellas on the two-tiered, landscaped deck fill fast. Probably because it's a great place to soak in some sun. The reliable sandwiches, burgers and salads with Southern flair and down-to-earth prices don't hurt either.
BURGER MOE'S, 242 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-222-3100; facebook.com/burgermoes: Thanks to the canopies and flower beds, this playful, casual spot is bursting with colorful decor. The vibe is casual and, as the name implies, burgers take center stage on the menu.
COZZIE'S TAVERN AND GRILL, 11154 60th St. N.; Stillwater; 651-342-0447; cozziestavern.com: Spacious roadside spot off Minnesota 36 sports a multifaceted backyard oasis. There's a stone patio (designated nonsmoking), a wood deck, lawn area with bean-bag toss and even a small spot for volleyball during the warm-weather months and boot hockey during the chilly season. The mini-Coney dogs from the casual menu are not to be missed.
DARK HORSE BAR & EATERY, 250 E. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-313-7960; darkhorsebarandeatery.com: Charming 110-seat patio offers a retreat from busy East Seventh Street. The patio here includes bar seating, barrel-top high-tables for large groups, low-tops, fire pits, strings of lights and colorful flower beds. Food and drink offerings include pizzas, dozens of beers on tap and a whiskey wall.
DAY BY DAY CAFE, 477 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-227-0654; daybyday.com: Breakfast and lunch spot offers a fenced-in, multi-tiered patio that makes for a serene retreat in the middle of the city. Landscaping touches such as potted flowers, fish pond and waterfall add to its restfulness.
DOCK & PADDLE, 1360 Lexington Parkway N., St. Paul; dockandpaddle.com: Formerly Spring Cafe, the space is under new ownership again and has a menu of salads, sandwiches, tacos and burgers. But one thing has stayed the same — its reputation as a prime spot for eating outside, thanks to a spacious pavilion and bench and lawn areas overlooking Lake Como.
EL BURRITO MERCADO, 175 Concord St., St. Paul; 651-227-2192; elburritomercado.com: This beloved Mexican spot now offers a 36-seat, festive patio that even comes with weekend entertainment.
FRENCH MEADOW BAKERY & CAFE, 1662 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-789-8870; frenchmeadowcafe.com: Nab a sidewalk table in front of the restaurant. Or, head to the back of the restaurant, where a fenced-in patio with wood benches, wrought-iron tables, draped lights and colorful flower beds offers an escape from the city hustle and bustle. Enjoy the health-conscious eating options while there.
GRAND CATCH, 1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-348-8541; grandcatchmn.com: This Cajun seafood boil spot offers two patios: a colorful, sidewalk seating area out front as well as a back seating area with wooden benches. Both are perfect for peeling jumbo shrimp or cracking into that lobster tail.
HAI HAI, 2121 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis; 612-223-8640; haihaimpls.com: The spot serves up Southeast Asian street food and has a colorful, 80-seat patio that transports you to another place. Colorful stools and floral cloths bring tropical notes to the decor. If full sun is not your thing, half of the patio is covered and can be enclosed for those wanting shade or protection against bad weather. There's even a service window for ordering drinks.
HERBIE'S ON THE PARK, 317 Washington St.; St. Paul; 651-726-1700; herbiesonthepark.com: The 60-seat downtown patio near the Ordway on Washington Street is a bit hidden from the street. And if you nab the right seat, you can catch the sidewalk action and views of Rice Park while dining on tavern fare cranked up a notch.
HOLMAN'S TABLE, Holman Field, 644 Bayfield St., St. Paul, 612-800-5298, holmanstable.com: You're practically on the tarmac when sitting on the patio at this St. Paul Downtown Airport (also known as Holman Field) eatery. Sink into one of the dark, wicker chairs on the 36-seat, elevated patio and, if your timing is right, watch planes fly in and out of the reliever airport.
JAX CAFE, 1928 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-789-7297; jaxcafe.com: Classic steakhouse with a zen-like garden and koi pond in the back is a place to get your "om" and filet mignon on.
KENDALL'S TAVERN & CHOPHOUSE, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road N.W., Coon Rapids, 763-755-1234; kendallstc.com: Restaurant at Bunker Hills Golf Club includes a sizable deck looking out onto sprawling greenery.
LA GROLLA, 452 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-221-1061; lagrollastpaul.com: Friendly neighborhood Cathedral Hill spot is a place to eat pasta while sitting on a patio lined with flower beds. Flowering trees add to the vibrant colors.
MERITAGE, 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-222-5670; meritage-stpaul.com: Bustling sidewalk terrace with brasserie charm aims to whisk you away. French dishes and wine list at this spot in the heart of downtown are also buzzworthy.
MOSCOW ON THE HILL, 371 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-291-1236; moscowonthehill.com: Neighborhood spot with wood deck with tents, string lights and colorful cushions attracts regulars from Cathedral Hill and beyond. Russian fare such as perogies and house-infused vodkas are also a draw.
— NICO'S TACOS ON COMO, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-450-8848; nicostacobar.com: This Mexican restaurant in St. Anthony Park continues the reputation of its predecessor, Muffuletta, in having a front patio that quickly attracts a crowd on warm weather days. After all, the open-air patio is still a great place to catch some rays, and greenery still fills the landscape — this time tropical-themed accents such as banana leaf, birds of paradise and agave plants . And bonus: did you know that, in addition to the popular patio in the front, there's also a quaint backyard courtyard that you can now dine on? It's a hidden gem and a best-kept patio secret — until now. It's safe to say the charming courtyard in Milton Square transports you to Europe.
OSTERIA I NONNI, 981 Sibley Memorial Highway, Lilydale; 651-905-1081; osteriainonni.com: Spacious back patio with luscious planters and stylish furnishings overlooks a pretty pond, and the recent addition of heaters makes it more accessible on chilly evenings. Great wine list and happy hour, too.
PATRICK McGOVERN'S, 225 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-224-5821; patmcgoverns.com: A retractable roof is part of this pretty, three-tiered, landscaped patio, making the casual hangout a place to come rain or shine.
RED RABBIT, two locations, 788 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-444-5995 and 201 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-767-8855; redrabbitmn.com: The centrally located Red Rabbit in St. Paul sports a quaint patio with a fireplace where you can take in the action along Grand Avenue while sipping on Aperol spritzes and negronis and dining on menu items ranging from oysters to rustic Italian fare in the form of pizzas, pastas and more. The original Red Rabbit, in Minneapolis' North Loop, is also a hot spot for dining al fresco with its spacious patio with plenty of tables and lounge areas with, of course, red cushions.
REVIVAL, 525 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-340-2355; revivalfriedchicken.com: A fenced-in patio out back with umbrellas, flower beds and lamppost lighting provides plenty of charm. It's just the ticket for gathering on a nice weather day and enjoying Revival's famous fried chicken and more.
POTLUCK FOOD HALL, Rosedale Center, 1595 Minnesota 36, Roseville; 651-330-3064; potluckmn.com: Rosedale Center's food hall includes a 60-seat patio. That way, you can order from one of the eight food and beverage concepts inside, and then take it outside.
RUDY'S REDEYE GRILL, 4940 U.S. 61 N., White Bear Lake, 651-653-6718; rudysredeye.com: Rooftop terrace with colorful tents, comfy wicker chairs and banana-leaf palm trees make snowbirds feel like they never left Florida. On top of that, the menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish, steaks and chops should have something for everyone.
SMACK SHACK, 603 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-259-7288; smack-shack.com/minneapolis: Grab a seat on the long, 150-seat patio at this popular North Loop seafood spot and make sure oysters and lobster rolls are part of your group's order. Retractable coverings can be adjusted according to whether you want sun or shade. Water-tight overhangs also make the patio a reliable option for dining al fresco even if it starts to drizzle.
ST. PAUL TAP, 825 Jefferson Ave., St. Paul; 651-227-6315; stpaultapmn.com: The 2,000-square-foot patio includes a full-service bar along with booth-and-table seating that accommodates shaded or sunny areas. Catch a Twins game under the stars on one of the many televisions.
THE 'WICK PUB & GRILL, 9555 Wedgewood Drive, Woodbury, 651-294-3160; thewickpubgrill.com: Prestwick Golf Club restaurant spotlights from-scratch pub fare. The stone deck with its signature orange umbrellas and views of the golf course greenery are as popular as ever. Potted plants, flower beds and a stream also make for a picturesque setting.
THE HOWE, 3675 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-729-3663; howempls.com: Two patios — a sidewalk and back deck — offer plenty of choices for enjoying nice weather. The spot is also a draw as a dog-friendly patio, complete with yoga mats for your furry friend to lounge on and a dog menu to order from.
THE TAVERN GRILL, several metro locations, including 772 Bielenberg Drive, Woodbury, 651-578-3000; 10950 Club West Parkway, Blaine, 763-398-8100; 3561 Lexington Ave., Arden Hills, 651-478-4450 and 15435 Founders Lane, Apple Valley,952-683-1222; thetaverngrill.com: Tavern Grill draws regulars not only for its wide-ranging menu — casual burgers and pizzas as well as fancy steak and seafood — but also for its elaborate, landscaped patios. Fireplaces, lounge areas, waterfalls and wrap-around bars are part of dining al fresco at Tavern Grill, depending on the restaurant location.
THE TILTED TIKI, 324 Main St. S., Stillwater, 651-342-2545; thetiltedtiki.com: Tiki-themed spot in the Grand Garage Building includes a patio with palm trees and thatched decor, with Polynesian cocktails and food to match. The spot along downtown's Main Street lets you take in sidewalk and street action.
TINY DINER, 1024 38th St. E., Minneapolis, 612-767-3322; tinydiner.com: A charming little patio inspires in big ways. Its solar roof, edible gardens and rainwater-catch system are a show-and-tell of sustainable and urban farming practices. And then there are the pretty plates emphasizing local ingredients. Currently serving breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m.
TRIA, 5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks, 651-426-9222; triarestaurant.com: Take in nature at this popular dinner and Sunday-brunch spot on the former farm of railroad mogul James J. Hill. The menu changes seasonally. The addition of Edison bulbs strung across the entire patio means it is no longer pitch black when the sun sets, so patrons will get some extra patio time each night.
WASHINGTON SQUARE BAR AND GRILL, 4736 Washington Ave., White Bear Lake; 651-407-7162; washingtonsquareonline.net: This patio regularly makes the list in our annual readers' patio picks and it's easy to see why. This spacious deck in the heart of downtown White Bear Lake sports a fun vibe and a delicious menu of American- and Mexican-influenced fare at affordable prices.
SEE AND BE SEEN/HOTSPOTS
BAR LURCAT, 1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, 612-486-5500; cafelurcat.com: The elegant establishment features a patio with gorgeous views of Loring Park. For something more quiet and private, we'll let you in on a secret: Lurcat also has a few outdoor seats in the back.
— BETTY DANGER'S ANIMAL FARM, 2501 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-315-4997; bettydangers.com: The former Betty Danger's Country Club has been revamped, with a new name that comes with those changes. But some things remain the same, including its whimsical nature and being a destination for outdoor hangs. Take a ride on the big Ferris wheel. Then grab one of the outdoor seats, sit back and relax.
BOROUGH RESTAURANT AND PARLOUR BAR, 730 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-354-3135; boroughmpls.com: Be a part of the North Loop action at this contemporary restaurant with a spacious dockside patio with a bar. Or, grab one of the sidewalk seats out front.
— BUTCHER'S TALE, 1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-236-4075; butcherstale.com: The home of downtown Minneapolis' most magical outdoor space has reopened with a new owner and new name, but the original butcher (chef Peter Botcher) from Butcher & The Boar is back, this time helming the kitchen. The meat-centric menu is as good as ever, and the stunning, sprawling patio has new furnishings that more easily accommodate socially distant seating.
COLITA, 5400 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-886-1606; colitampls.com: Colita serves some of the best contemporary Mexican fare and cocktails around, and the hot spot comes with two patios. A few tables on the sidewalk are available, but the majority of the restaurant's 46 patio seats can be found in an enclosed space on the east side of the building. Plants, wood accents and a pergola for shade add to the charm. Garage doors adjoin the indoor and outdoor dining areas.
HEWING HOTEL ROOFTOP BAR AND LOUNGE, 300 Washington Ave. N. Minneapolis; 651-468-0400; hewinghotel.com: Contemporary rooftop bar and lounge at the Hewing Hotel has a spectacular view of the city. And the food and drinks are always reliable.
THE LEXINGTON, 1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-289-4990; thelexmn.com: The 80-seat rooftop retreat offers plenty of choices for sun or shade. A bar and kitchen guarantee that drinks and food come out at just the right pace. A second-floor private event space seating up to 120 people is also available. Current hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to close.
LOUIS RISTORANTE & BAR, 211 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476; cossettas.com: Located off the third-floor sit-down Italian restaurant, the large terrace has its own bar, pretty Italian villa accents and flower beds. And then there's the gorgeous view of the Cathedral of St. Paul. For something more low-key, the second-floor wrap-around patio is part of the more casual Cossetta restaurant.
MONELLO CUCINA, 115 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-353-6207; monellompls.com: Escape from the urban hustle and bustle at this quaint patio with plenty of Italian villa-esque charm at this fine restaurant establishment in Hotel Ivy. Order a drink at the outdoor bar and order from the more casual patio menu to further wind down from your day.
SALUT BAR AMERICAIN, 917 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-917-2345; salutbaramericain.com: French-American brasserie boasts one of the largest patios along Grand Avenue, making it a primo spot for people-watching on a warm day.
SEVEN STEAKHOUSE SUSHI AND ROOFTOP, 700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-238-7770; 7mpls.com: Expansive rooftop patio, luxurious and mod decor, fancy dining menu and one of the best skyline views in downtown.
STELLA'S FISH CAFE, 1400 Lake St. W., Minneapolis, 612-824-8862; stellasfishcafe.com: The unique rooftop patio with built-in bar at this seafood spot continues to be trendy. It's the only two-tiered rooftop restaurant deck in Uptown.
UNION RESTAURANT & BAR, 731 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-455-6690; unionmpls.com: Thanks to a retractable roof, it's patio season year-round at this trendy downtown dining spot. Suit up, because this is the place where the pretty people like to come dressed to impress.
W.A. FROST, 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5715; wafrost.com: This perennial favorite on Cathedral Hill has long been a crowd-pleaser for its classy vibe, fancy stonework and abundant gardens. The spot is even more breathtaking when lit up at night, making it one of the most romantic spots around.
BREWERIES, DISTILLERIES AND WINERIES
ALEXIS BAILLY VINEYARD, 18200 Kirby Ave. S., Hastings, 651-437-1413; abvwines.com: Wine connoisseurs, picnic lovers and those looking for a place to chill amid a sprawling estate will find a trip to this vineyard right up their alley. Create your own picnic basket with local artisan cheeses, grab a bottle of Alexis Bailly vino from the on-site shop and find a place to sit on the lawn or patio. Stroll the sculpture garden or play a game of bocce ball while you're at it. In July and August, live jazz is featured on Sunday afternoons.
BAD WEATHER BREWING, 414 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-207-6627; badweatherbrewery.com: Newly spruced-up patio includes pergola, planters and a fire table for chilly days. A food truck can usually be found on the premises, too.
BAUHAUS BREW LABS, 1315 Tyler St. N.E., Minneapolis; bauhausbrewlabs.com: Large outdoor area includes plenty of picnic tables to enjoy a Bauhaus brew. Look for artsy murals and poppy colors on everything from the building to the furniture and you'll know you've arrived at this brewery just steps away from the Northeast Minneapolis arts district.
BELLE VINEZ WINERY, W10829 875th Ave., River Falls, Wis.; 715-426-9463; bellevinez.com: Sprawling winery with plenty of greenery offers a retreat for those wanting some rest and relaxation while sipping on the house wine and dining from the menu of charcuterie plates, brick-oven pizzas and more.
DAY BLOCK BREWING COMPANY, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; 612-617-7793; dayblockbrewing.com: The spacious patio within walking distance of U.S. Bank Stadium makes it an ideal spot to pre- and post-game or just gather on nice days.
LAKE MONSTER BREWING, 550 S. Vandalia St., No. 160, St. Paul, 612-964-6288; lakemonsterbrewing.com: This sizable brewery off the Cretin-Vandalia exit on Interstate 94 seems to be always hopping, and the patio is no exception. The expansive sidewalk patio in front of the brewery has plenty of seating and includes fire pits for cold days. Patrons can sip a beer and dine from the featured food truck parked outside.
— ST. PAUL BREWING, 688 Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-1945; stpaulbrewing.com: Best described as an art park with tables that happens to serve really good beer and wood-fired pizzas, made in an oven that's planted in the bed of a sunny yellow actual running 1976 Ford F250 (which actually runs). Themed seating areas and copious greenery, surrounded by historic walls of the former Hamm's brewery add to the charm.
SURLY BREWING COMPANY, 520 Malcolm Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, 763-999-4040; surlybrewing.com: Beer drinkers and foodies have a giant campus near the University of Minnesota to do their thing. The 1 1/2 -acre beer garden with views of the Witch's Hat Water Tower offers a sizable outdoor space for hanging out. Grab one of the bench seats or a spot around one of the fire pits. Reopening June 1.
TATTERSALL DISTILLING, 1620 Central Ave. N.E., Mpls.; 612-584-4152; tattersalldistilling.com: This spot is always bustling, so it's nice to know that during warm weather months there are more seats to be had, thanks to a spacious, 75-seat patio with signature yellow umbrellas. Food trucks regularly pull up in front of the patio, so you don't have to work hard to grab a meal to accompany your cocktail. This year, a garden — with herbs and plants used in Tattersall cocktails — is expected to be added. Oh, and did we mention the patio is dog-friendly?
WALDMANN BREWERY, 445 Smith Ave., St. Paul; 651-222-1857; waldmannbrewery.com: This German-style lager house has a sizable beer garden, where you can enjoy your beer and house-made wurst. Nab a seat at one of the tables or bench seats perfect for groups. There's even a fire pit and a walk-up window.