16 Twin Cities Favorites for Al Fresco Dining

Go for the skyline view or the waterfront close-up; either way, you can’t go wrong with these dining spots
Brit’s Pub

Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

When the temperatures rise and the grass turns green again, we make the most of the sunny, golden days at restaurants with outdoor patios and rooftops in our neighborhoods and along our waterfronts. Here are 16 of our top picks in Minneapolis and St. Paul (plus some extras). This list isn’t exhaustive—we narrowed it down from a list of more than 50 favorites—but whether you want to look out over the skyline of downtown Minneapolis or bring your dog along for happy hour in St. Paul, we’ve got you covered.

Minneapolis

4 Bells
Minnesota may be landlocked, but we still know our seafood. 4 Bells serves up dishes like crab cakes, Oysters Rockefeller, whole fried snapper and more (along with non-fish protein entrees). When the weather is good, you can choose between eating on the sidewalk patio or a secluded back alley on ground level. If you want to eat on the second floor, you can pick a patio with views of Loring Park or a four-season atrium with a bar and fireplace. More casual bites and meals are available on the rooftop, including the best ice cream sandwich you’ll ever have—made of strawberry shrub ice cream and graham cracker cookies. 4bells.com

Betty Danger’s Country Club

Courtesy Betty Danger's Country Club

Betty Danger’s Country Club
It’s impossible to miss Betty Danger’s when you’re driving around. Why? Because it has a Ferris wheel out front. They call it a vertically rotating patio and have dubbed it “The Danger.” For more amusement in the pink, preppy and tartan-loving “country club,” you can try the 8.5-hole mini golf course. When the weather warms up enough, the glass-paneled garage sides of the building go up, so everywhere you sit gets a breeze. This bar is a little wacky, but I’m sure Betty would tell you you’re good to go with a little makeup and a strand of pearls (especially when you order up some Tex-Mex cuisine and strong cocktails). bettydangers.com

Brit’s Pub
Brit’s Pub has both a rooftop and a patio, and as a bonus, the rooftop has a 10,000-square-foot lawn for barefoot bocce ball (or as they call it, lawn bowling). Depending on where you sit outside, you’ll get either a bird’s-eye view of the city or a ground-level look at Nicollet, Minneapolis’ 12-block stretch of shopping, dining and entertainment. Fans of soccer or rugby might get treated to a televised game on the rooftop, too (if they time their visit right). Grab some mac and cheese bites, bangers and mash, or my personal favorite, chips and curry. britspub.com

Fig + Farro
When Fig + Farro opened up in 2018, most of its press centered around how it’s not only a plant-based eatery but serves up a healthy side of climate change advocacy, too. The restaurant serves globally inspired dishes such as the F+F Bennie (with Frank’s Red Hot hollandaise and plant-based sausage), jackfruit barbacoa for supper, and Fig’s Beignets with sweet black sesame, orange and cardamom. Once you discover how delicious and filling the food is, you can appreciate the eatery even more for its other perks, like the shady, dog-friendly patio. Water bowls and homemade dog treats are available upon request. figandfarro.com

The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar

Courtesy the Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar

The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar
Make your way to The Howe’s flower-bordered patio, and if you have dogs, you can bring them, too. The restaurant offers dog yoga mats for your four-footed friend to lie down on as well as a separate dog menu. On it, there’s options like the NE Pup Burger and Izzy’s Peanut Butter Banana Pupcream Sundae, and there’s even Salmon Cakes for cats. Water is always free, and all dogs get a homemade Nilla Woofer. On the human side of things, you can choose from items like the jalapeño biscuits and gravy bowl, the Thai curry bowl, or the all-American Impossible vegan burger. As an insider tip, happy hour is at the same time as “yappy hour.” howempls.com

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
Since 2003, Psycho Suzi’s laid claim to one of the best Mississippi riverfront spots in Minneapolis. With unabashed tiki decorations and three bars, the spot is a weekend and happy hour favorite for drinks and food. Rest assured, though, even if you get there a little later than planned, there is no bad view of the Mississippi on its dog-friendly patio. As you peruse the cocktail menu, you’ll notice the alcohol content is rated from weak to strong. For instance, the Cannibal and the Miserable Bastard pack more of a punch than the Coconaut. You can also opt for extra special drinks like Leilani’s Fire Bowl, a flaming liquor bowl made with mango, hibiscus, pineapple, orange and citrus bitters for two to four people. psychosuzis.com

Sea Salt Eatery
Nestled inside Minnehaha Regional Park (about a two minutes’ walk from the 55-foot Minnehaha Falls) is the seasonal Sea Salt Eatery. To make sure you have as much time as possible to stroll through the park, know this: There are three lines to pick from—food, drinks or ice cream. If you bring along your pets, you can keep them leashed on the patio, just not inside. Try one of Sea Salt’s seafood choices, grab an alcoholic or nonalcoholic drink to sip and let yourself relax in the green haven of the park. seasalteatery.wordpress.com

Tiny Diner
The Tiny Diner’s 16-kilowatt solar panels take up about as much space as the restaurant itself, and their reflectors make it look like a blue-sky day when you’re underneath them. The solar panels are just part of the restaurant’s sustainability focus. Other aspects include an on-site and off-site garden for both education and produce, and a rainwater collector. Locally sourced diner fare is on the menu, and every month, a different U.S. city inspires the specials. Check out Cheap Date Night on Monday evenings, where you can get two entrees plus a bottle of wine or a few beers for $28. tinydiner.com

Union
As the only glass-enclosed, year-round rooftop in Minnesota, Union’s rooftop is always buzzing, and on Sundays, they make it even livelier with themed drag brunches. No matter when you visit, you can enjoy American cuisine, cocktails, beer and wine. In its convenient downtown Minneapolis location (in the middle of the Hennepin Theater District on Hennepin Avenue) you’re a quick walk from a multitude of shops, nightlife venues and Target Field, which plays host to concerts and other events when the Twins aren’t playing ball. unionmpls.com

For more options in Minneapolis, check out Cafe and Bar Lurcat, Lola’s on the Lake (on the beach of Lake Bde Maka Ska), Moto-I, Seven, and Stella’s Fish Cafe.

St. Paul

Day by Day Cafe
Believe it or not, Day by Day lets people bring their dogs inside the café, but you can also kick it outside on the spacious patio; just don’t let your dog get too gung ho with the beautiful koi fish pond they have there. Besides the pond and its artistic fountains and greenery, trees are scattered in and around the patio as well, making for a perfect summer afternoon outing. For food, the menu is stocked full with more than two dozen breakfast options, almost as many sandwich and burger options, salads, desserts, soup and more. daybyday.com

The Happy Gnome

Courtesy the Happy Gnome

The Happy Gnome
People already love The Happy Gnome for its New American food and 89 craft draft beers, so when the patio opens up for the season, it’s just one more incentive to stop by. Trees provide gentle shade for those not underneath umbrella-clad tables, and the wooden patio has plenty of seating, cafe lights and a stone fireplace. thehappygnome.com

Cosetta Alimentari
Cossetta Alimentari is a staple of downtown St. Paul, and within its three-story historic green building are a few different dining options. There’s the more casual eatery and pizzeria (with its own wrap-around balcony), the pasticceria and the Italian market, and Louis Ristorante & Bar, a restaurant with the city’s largest rooftop bar that offers a great view of the Cathedral of St. Paul. For some, Cossetta’s is the traditional meal spot before a nearby show (or game) at the Xcel Energy Center, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul RiverCentre or Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. In that case, I would recommend the Eatery: pasta if you have time, pizza if you need a line that’s a third of the wait time, and always, always a cannoli. cossettas.com

Red River Kitchen
You can find Red River Kitchen in a few different places (e.g., at Edina’s Braemer Golf Course or on the streets as a food truck), but its seasonal home at City House is a favorite. The restored grain elevator is right along the Mississippi River and near the bike trails, so swing by and grab their award-winning Cubano while looking out over downtown, the river and Harriet Island. The menu changes, but you can always expect some gluten-free and vegetarian options along with local craft beer, cider and wine on tap. redriverkitchen.com

Spring Cafe
The pavilion at Como Park is made up of simple details such as the columns surrounding its large water-facing patio, its mint-trimmed windows and its interior coffered ceiling. Everything is spacious, but you can just as easily take your grab-and-go salads and sandwiches and sit on the grassy lawn or down by the lake. (You probably want to finish your meal before renting one of the kayaks or paddle boats they have at the nearby dock, but that’s just us.) There is also a made-to-order menu and various drinks, which are an ideal pairing for the live music performances they host. springcafestp.com

Sweeney’s
Pick from long picnic tables, benches and small tables at this sectional patio. Wherever you sit, you’ll be under cafe lights and tree leaves, and surrounded by one of the colorful murals, too. On chillier evenings, the staff will bring out heaters, but you can also try to snag a spot closer to the stone fireplace. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on leashes, and a full bar outside keeps everyone happy. Enjoy the menu’s shareable plates, burgers, “other really good food” and salads, plus its mix of permanent and rotating beers. sweeneyssaloon.com

W.A. Frost and Co.

W.A. Frost and Co.
Some words that come to mind when describing W.A. Frost’s patio are “lush” and “romantic.” However, you definitely don’t have to be a couple to spend a meal surrounded by the flourishing plants and trees. The Richardson Romanesque architecture was first built in 1889 and originally operated as an apartment building, ladies’ bath and manicure salon, and pharmacy. Today, you can take in the atmosphere with lunch, brunch or dinner and a large selection of wine and beautifully crafted cocktails. wafrost.com

For more St. Paul options, check out Billy’s on Grand, The Liffey Irish Pub, Meritage, and Salut Bar Americain.

More Metro Area Hotspots

Check out these places for waterfront restaurants nestled among chic shopping and quaint waterfront districts.

Lake Minnetonka: 6Smith, Birch’s on the Lake, Gianni’s Steakhouse, Maynard’s, The Wharf at Lord Fletcher’s

Stillwater and the St. Croix River: Charlie’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, Dock Cafe, Freight House, LoLo American Kitchen and Craft Bar, P D Pappy’s, Portside

White Bear Lake: Acqua, Admiral D’s Waterfront Tavern, MIZU Japanese, Tally’s Dockside & C.G. Hooks BBQ at the Lake

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