Sun! Sip! Sup!
24 Great Places to Eat and Drink Outdoors
(page 4 of 5)
2260 Como Ave., St. Paul
THE VIEW: Downtown St. Anthony Park, in all its stately cozy glory, with leafy bowing trees and genteel Tudor buildings holding old-fashioned businesses, like Micawber’s, a bookstore staffed by real live passionate readers.
THE VIBE: Comfortable and cozy as a top-of-the-line hammock, this isn’t a see-and-be-seen patio. It’s a comfortable-in-your-own-skin, isn’t-life-grand patio.
THE VITAL TIP: Skip the dozy options that Muffaletta’s oldest regulars won’t let them pull off the menu (unless you want to know what iconic beer-cheese soup tastes like—it’s a Jimmy Carter–era classic!). Instead, beeline for anything name-checking a real live farmer.
Chef Jason Schellin had his work cut out for him, rescuing Muffaletta from its own success: How do you do good work in a restaurant in which you can’t remove the 1977 Beer Cheese Soup, lest the regulars riot? But he’s doing it, by showcasing some of the best local farmers and letting their beautiful Midwestern products make his contemporary-cooking arguments for him. For instance, consider his rare-seared Wild Acres duck breast, an exquisite rare and tender pan-roasted preparation perfectly paired with roast carrot dumplings and seared rapini. Pair that perfectly cooked duck with a glass of Pinot Noir and your taste buds will never let you give it a miss again. Of course, there always will be Muffaletta partisans who insist on a nice pitcher of sangria and the lovely, lemony grilled-chicken caesar salad for dinner. And who can fault them, if that’s what you want? Muffaletta delivers the inarguable best in town. Still, all hail Schellin for delivering so much more than he needs to. —DARA MOSKOWITZ GRUMDAHL
294 E. Grove LN., Wayzata
THE VIEW: Peerless vista of Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay.
THE VIBE: Decidedly mixed. Pinstriped financial consultants mingle with old-money Wayzata by day; prosperous, lake-loving couples emerge by night.
THE VITAL TIP: Stop in for happy hour, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and all day Monday, for $1 off specialty cocktails and $2 off bar plates (that means a pair of crispy, scrumptious, walleye sliders are just $5), $3 domestic tap beers, $5 premium tap beers, and $4 wine specials.
Almost everything in Wayzata is oriented toward the lake, but nothing more so than NorthCoast’s dual patios. The upper deck exudes a more laid-back vibe, partly because it’s removed from the parade of townies and tourists strolling the bayside walk. The broad lower-level patio is the place to see and be seen. It spans nearly the full length of the Boat Works building off Lake Street, and is framed by gardens ablaze with roses, delphiniums, and zinnias, and docks with dozens of boats bobbing in their slips. You won’t even be tempted to pause in NorthCoast’s oddly contemporary dining room. Proceed directly to one of the outdoor wrought-iron tables to be immediately enveloped in a perfect summer fusion of water, sun, and breeze. —CHRIS LEE
3001 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
THE VIEW: Rooftop views of downtown Minneapolis and the leafy copses that surround Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.
THE VIBE: The new Uptown—less goth, more glam. Popular with the iPhone-therefore-iAm crowd.
THE VITAL TIP: Order the walleye–sweet corn fritters, along with a cold Dark & Stormy (authentically made with dark Jamaican rum) for some delicious cultural whiplash.
Retro or rooftop? That’s first choice that confronts the Converse-wearing, cocktail-craving crowd at the new Uptown Cafeteria, the über-popular new eatery in Minneapolis’s hippest neighborhood. Downstairs, the scene is all updated mid-century diner, replete with counter service and a rotating cake display. The menu ranges from eye-openers to nightcaps, French toast to hot Italian beef to Key lime pie—and you can wash down the vittles with a wide selection of draught beers, wines by the glass, and martinis (the “Blue Lagoon” and the “Joan Collins” are among the sloshers that cost just $5 all day long). But if the weather’s good, zip upstairs to Sky Bar, the rooftop patio—it’s this summer’s “it” spot for urban hipsters. The menu’s the same as down below, and there’s no better place in Uptown to snap pics of the sunset—not to mention the crowd—on your new 4G. —JOEL HOEKSTRA
818 S. Second St., Mpls.
THE VIEW: The soaring silos of neighboring Mill City Museum at the front patio, the whole panorama of the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge at the back.
THE VIBE: Equal parts gourmet fish lovers who have sought out the restaurant, and Guthrie patrons who may or may not realize how good they have it.
THE VITAL TIP: This place is always packed 70 minutes before a Guthrie show. Otherwise it’s the easiest reservation in town. Arrive any night 10 minutes after the show begins and you’ll have your pick of the best tables in the house, and a crack staff waiting to cook only for you.
Conventional wisdom runs that restaurants with a view have no food to speak of—and Sea Change is the restaurant that upends that thought. The food, led by Tim McKee, the James Beard Award–winning chef famous for La Belle Vie, but cooked by chef de cuisine Erik Andersen (French Laundry, Porter & Frye) and Adam Vickerman (opening chef of Tosca), is often delicate to the point of heartbreaking: Raw langoustines quivering like jelly and enhanced simply with olive oil, lemon, and scatterings of tiny flowering herbs, are so fresh, sumptuous, and ethereal they’re the best seafood in town. Cooked pink shrimp (so sustainable, like everything here, that McKee was recently flown to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to receive an award) are not just the best shrimp cocktail in town, they redefine the dish: They’re arranged like sculptures, each shrimp anchored to the plate with a tiny, fiery little spot of just-grated horseradish. And the view! Giant old grain silos, circling gulls, the lush trees that surround the Mississippi. Walk off dessert (the ice-cream sandwich, by rising star Niki Francioli, is just one standout) with a little stroll across the Stone Arch bridge. You’ll never think of dinner with a view in the same way again. —DARA MOSKOWITZ GRUMDAHL