Sun! Sip! Sup!
24 Great Places to Eat and Drink Outdoors
(page 3 of 5)
Black Forest Inn
1 E. 26th St., Mpls.
THE VIEW: It’s what you can’t see at the Black Forest that makes it extra special—namely the hectic city
just outside the well-
THE VIBE: Munich biergarten, with none (or very few) of the drunks.
THE VITAL TIP: Try one of three German beer samplers—five small glasses for $6.75.
You’re about halfway through the weiner schnitzel, kicking back with a cold Späten beer on the Black Forest’s patio, when you realize how simple your needs really are. You’d been drawn away for a few years from this venerable garden, lured by the sushi and fizzy cocktails in the neon neighborhood just outside, and now you’re back. Back among the checkered tablecloths, the cuckoo clock, and the trickling fountain. A bearded gentleman reads at his table, his nose in a pile of books, his hand gripping a velvety beer. A cadre of thespians celebrates the end of a run. A couple of European women drape themselves in spare tablecloths to stave off the evening chill. No one minds, of course. Because for 45 years now, the patio of the Black Forest has been a refuge, and bohemian in more ways than one. You repeat the strange names on the menu like a mantra—Gewürztraminer, Spätburgunder, Franziskaner—and the world outside all but disappears. —TIM GIHRING
452 Selby Ave., St. Paul
THE VIEW: A bi-level patio with umbrella-covered tables nestled amid blooming plants and lush greenery. You won’t know you’re sitting on Selby.
THE VIBE: Romantic and upscale, but not exclusive or stuffy.
THE VITAL TIP: Patio space is first come, first served.
Oh, the rapture: eating velvety beet carpaccio topped with gorgonzola fondue and arugula, perched at a table among blooming plants, shielded from Selby by a wall of ivy. La Grolla’s patio feels like Shangri-la, if we can assume Shangri-la has fine vino and heaping bowls of pasta topped with irresistibly rich sauces. Sit among a stately crowd: cross-generational book-club members, couples on double dates, guys freshly tanned from a round on the links, execs wooing potential clients, or young couples on a night out. You’ll never overdress, and yet only minimal consideration of your wardrobe beforehand ensures you fit in. Viva Selby Italia! —Katie Dohman
Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern
17516 Dodd Blvd., Lakeville
THE VIEW: They paved paradise, put up a parking lot, and then built paradise again. The lovely landscaping around this 60-seat patio almost totally conceals the strip-mall surroundings.
THE VIBE: You’ll feel like you’re looking into an aquarium, as a window cut into the restaurant reveals the sea of diners who prefer climate-control.
THE VITAL TIP: Go Wednesday where 15 bottles of wine are just $15 or Thursday where there’s live music from 7 to 10 p.m.
This place hops on any night when the temps hit the high 70s or more. The service is as warm as a summer night here at Molly Cool’s, where just about everyone is smiling. And why wouldn’t you smile, when you can have a fresh, juicy piece of mahi-mahi (we ordered ours blackened) with a summer-y side of pineapple salsa for just $20? The Prince Edward mussels are perfect for sharing: they swim in an incredibly addictive champagne-cream sauce with shallots ($11.95). Plus, fried oyster po boys with house-pickled onions and tomatoes? I’ll see you outside. —JASON DERUSHA
2940 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.
THE VIEW: If you can snare a seat on the outer edge of the patio, you’ll have an unbeatable view of the Minneapolis skyline and the busy Lake-Lyndale intersection three stories below.
THE VIBE: Moto-i is a haven for the young and beautiful, but even if you’re neither, you’ll feel right at home after your first sake.
THE VITAL TIP: Order up the home-brewed sake not just for the novelty, but for the free dish of spicy house peanuts that accompany the drink.
Moto-i has made a name for itself as the first sake brewery restaurant outside of Japan. Combine it with the most spectacular rooftop in Uptown and a worthy happy hour, and you’ve got an unbeatable combination for a post-work gathering. Sake novices can start with the minty Good Luck Sake Cocktail or the light and sweet Junmai Tokubetsu Nama. Pick out a few small plates—a half-dozen pillowy steamed buns with chicken, pork, or mock duck, or the lovely chicken–green curry dumplings. Unwinding after a long day just got a whole lot easier. —ERIN PETERSON
498 Selby Ave., St. Paul
THE VIEW: Like your fancy neighbor’s patio that you secretly covet: wooden privacy fencing, a ginormous fireplace, tree cover.
THE VIBE: Where the beer snobs and beards are.
THE VITAL TIP: There’s a lower-priced bar menu from Sunday through Wednesday that’s equally tasty as the dinner menu.
If you’re waaaaay into beer, you’re in luck, because so is the Happy Gnome. If you are only kinda into beer, you can look waaay into beer: The list is broken out by taste, so order with feigned indifference alongside the snobbiest of hops snobs. Here’s another awesome thing: If you’re way into whiskey, you’re also in luck. Or cider! Or food! The seasonal, local menu is chock-full of tasty belly fillers. AND! If you were waaaay into beer Saturday night, but on Sunday maybe not so much, the Gnome’s got the save: The Late Rizer, which contains poached eggs, bacon, avocado, tomato, chipotle hollandaise, an English muffin, and American fries. Wear plaid and listen to the wind ruffle the leaf canopy above your head. Better than Excedrin and a day on the couch. —KATIE DOHMAN