Best Outdoor Dining in the Twin Cities and Around Minnesota

It’s too nice to eat inside! Get out to the waterfront, up to the roofdecks, and onto the patios to enjoy every possible moment of shirtsleeve weather
A table displaying fruity cocktails alongside a cheeseburger at 6Smith in Wayzata.
6Smith in Wayzata. Photo by Josh Grubbs.


BEST ROOFDECKS

Libertine

Uptown Minneapolis

The Scene: This serene setting overlooking the hustle and bustle of Uptown is ideal for a fancy happy hour.
The Must-orderAnything meaty—Libertine takes full advantage of less-common cuts of meats, including bacon chops, point steak, and bone marrow.

Brit’s

Downtown Minneapolis

The Scene: The lawn-bowling green is as neatly manicured as the Target HQ staffers who treat Brit’s as their outdoor cafeteria—the regulars offer more to look at than the view.
The Must-order: British beer (Old Speckled Hen on tap!) and Scotch eggs.

The lawn-bowling green on the rooftop at Brit's in downtown Minneapolis.
Brits. Photo by Todd Buchanan.

Moto-I

Lyn-Lake Minneapolis

The Scene: Afternoon and late-night happy hours draw young Uptown scenesters, sake lovers, and ramen devotees. Play shuffleboard as you admire the views of Lyn-Lake.
The Must-orderMiso popcorn and house-brewed sake.

The rooftop at night at Moto-I in downtown Minneapolis.
Moto-I. Photo by Todd Buchanan.

Louis Ristorante & Bar

West Seventh, St. Paul

The Scene: This glorious patio atop Cossetta has stunning views of the St. Paul Cathedral and a come-as-you-are, easy elegance that St. Paul has mastered. The outdoor space has a dedicated bar and a refined Italian menu, making it a perfect pre-event stop.
The Must-order: The arancini: fried, cheese-filled rice balls served in spicy tomato sauce.

An exterior shot of Louis Ristorante and Bar on West Seventh Street in St. Paul.
Louis Ristorante & Bar. Photo by Erica Loeks.

Rudy’s Redeye Grill

White Bear Lake

The Scene: OK, the view is largely of Highway 61, not the lake itself, but the party vibe thrives on the rooftop of Rudy’s as banana-leaf palm trees conceal the generic suburban surroundings.
The Must-orderPick between the elderflower-and-grapefruit Summertini or the sangria and then complete your escape with the breaded shrimp kissed with coconut rum.

Grandma’s Canal Park

Duluth

The Scene: Sit in the shadow of the Aerial Lift Bridge and watch the giant ore ships heading out to sea. (Cover your ears for the clanging each time the bridge is drawn up.) This classic eatery has been in Canal Park since before it was a bustling tourist destination.
The Must-order: The Godfather, a roast beef sandwich served with a side of jus, will make you an offer you can’t refuse.

B-52 Burgers and Brew

Inver Grove Heights

The Scene: Rooftop patios are scarce in the suburbs, and the new one B-52’s is building is Inver Grove Heights’ first, complete with a fire pit and live music—there’s seating for 100.
The Must-orderThe B-52 burger with roasted jalapeños and chipotle mayo, plus a side of poutine.

4 Bells

Loring Park, Minneapolis

The Scene: Chic views of downtown Minneapolis and the Basilica of St. Mary make this rooftop as much a hotspot for Sunday Funday brunch as twilight cocktails. A four-season sky-lit rooftop makes this a stop year round.
The Must-order:  Peel-and-eat shrimp and Southern-fried chicken.

Two cocktails sitting on a tail next to a plate of shrimp on ice.
4 Bells. Photo by Ashley Sullivan.

Union

Downtown Minneapolis

The Scene: The biggest rooftop party in Minneapolis is beneath downtown’s only all-glass retractable roof. Between its pounding music for late-night weekend fun to wild Sunday brunches with a DJ spinning, Union can feel like a taste of Miami in Minneapolis.
The Must-order: Hash browns topped with a fried egg, bacon, and scallions washed down with a hot-pink pomegranate-gin cocktail called the Persian Pussy Cat.

BEST PATIOS

Jax Cafe

Northeast Minneapolis

The Scene:  You always get an extra-generous “Northeast” pour when you order a glass of wine or cocktail at this longtime family-run institution. Jax has one of the most beautiful patios in the state, complete with a rocky creek stocked with Rainbow Trout. Catch your own and have the kitchen cook the whole fish!
The Must-order: Patio happy-hour specials, including $5 pierogi and an $8 Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich.

Pittsburgh Blue

Maple Grove

The Scene: A stone column and a cascade of water provide both beauty and functionality—the waterfall helps cover the traffic noise from I-94 and Hemlock Lane. There’s lounge and dinner-table seating to accommodate both a quick glass of wine or dinner from either the full menu or the lower-priced, casual tavern menu.
The Must-order: The sliced-to-order prime-rib French dip and fries with béarnaise sauce.

Butcher & The Boar

Downtown Minneapolis

The Scene: Bourbon-swilling, beer-drinking, sausage-eating fun: the four-season, tented Beer Garden can be heated or air-conditioned, depending on the weather. Inside the restaurant, you’ll find lawyers and other corporate types, but outside it’s the shorts and t-shirt crowd enjoying the limited food menu and full bar.
The Must-orderBeer + Brat + Shot: a Summit, brat, and bump of Jim Beam Black for $12.

People dining and enjoying drinks on the patio at Buther & the Boar in downtown Minneapolis.
Butcher & The Boar. Photo by Allen Brisson-Smith.

Day By Day Cafe

West Seventh, St. Paul

The Scene: The backyard patio is a sanctuary in the middle of the city, an unexpected garden paradise with its own koi pond.
The Must-orderBreakfast is the name of the game: Grab eggs your way paired with hash browns ordered extra crispy.

Black Forest Inn

Eat Street, Minneapolis

The Scene: Inhabiting the serene surrounds of one of the Twin Cities’ first licensed patios—complete with tranquil fountain, modern art, and beautiful landscaped pergolas—you won’t believe you’re just feet from Nicollet Avenue.
The Must-order: The sausage sampler, hausplatte combo plate, a side of spaetzel, and a pint of Hacker-Pschorr.

W.A. Frost

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

The Scene: Shaded by stunning old trees that create the feel of a magical secret garden, Frost’s is the granddaddy of grand patios. It’s consistently full from the day they open until late fall, so make a reservation for a guaranteed seat, or look for one of the first-come, first-served spots near the back bar.
The Must-order: Most of the food is date-night fancy, but the sticky, spicy-sweet chicken wings are worth the mess.

The lush, green patio at W.A. Frost at Cathedral Hill in St. Paul.
W.A. Frost. Photo by TJ Turner.

O’Brien’s Public House

Shakopee

The Scene: This huge deck wrapping around a beautiful Irish pub doesn’t offer much in terms of scenery (it’s just down the road from Valleyfair), but three giant outdoor TVs make it a perfect spot to watch the Twins.
The Must-order: Hummus trio and the PBR-battered fish and chips.

Sea Salt

Longfellow, Minneapolis

The Scene: This seasonal concession stand in Minnehaha Park is near enough to the falls that you can enjoy your seafood while listening to the sound of rushing water.
The Must-order: Bring a few friends and share the oil pan: fresh oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, pickled herring, and a pitcher of beer.

Patrick McGovern’s

West Seventh, St. Paul

The Scene: This extraordinary outdoor space isn’t what you’d expect from a sports bar. It’s enclosed by glass in the colder months and sports a gurgling fountain and flowers everywhere.
The Must-order: It’s bar food, and you shouldn’t be above appreciating a chicken finger or two.

Hola Arepa

Eat Street, Minneapolis

The Scene: Even in the winter months, this lively restaurant feels like a tropical vacation, but summer brunch on the busy patio is the best time to visit.
The Must-order: An arepa and a cocktail—the crisp and fruity Wrecking Ball tastes as bright and full of promise as a sun-filled morning.

Two fruity cocktails along with a side of guacamole and chips on a table on the patio at Hola Arepa located on Eat Street in Minneapolis.
Hola Arepa. Photo by Ashley Sullivan.

Moscow on the Hill

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

The Scene: This secluded spot behind the restaurant, with a multi-level wooden deck and ivy-covered brick walls, lets you imagine you’ve been transported to Russia’s capital city.
The Must-orderHand-made pelmeni (Siberian dumplings) with a shot of horseradish-infused vodka.

Tiny Diner

Powderhorn, Minneapolis

The Scene: This former gas station has gone green with solar panels and a garden right there in the parking lot (plus its own urban “farm” in an adjacent neighborhood). Fairy garden touches make this patio a delight for children and pups, too.
The Must-order: Every month the menu features different diner specialties from around the country, so you can try Cincinnati chili, Chicago-style hot dogs—whatever the special of the moment might be.

Solar panels cover the rooftop over the patio at Tiny Diner in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Tiny Diner. Photo by TJ Turner.

Barley John’s Brew Pub

New Brighton

The Scene: Barley John’s predates the whole craft-beer boom, from the era when producers could sell their brews on site only if they also ran a restaurant. Barley’s patio overlooks an array of solar panels, which power the brewery, and a large garden. Befitting the brewery’s built-from-the-ground-up nature, the plastic patio furniture and landscaping feels like your buddy put it  together. And by the end of your visit, these guys will feel like your buddies.
The Must-orderSteak sandwich topped with fried red and green peppers and a pint of Little Barley Bitter English Pale Ale.

Revival St. Paul

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

The Scene: The house that fried chicken built has expanded into St. Paul with a new luxurious patio tucked off of Selby Avenue.
The Must-order: The brisket is king, although the Tennessee hot chicken is as tempting as ever.

Betty Danger’s Country Club

Northeast Minneapolis

The Scene: It’s a twisted country club for the tattooed set. Take a twirl on the mobile patio that looks a lot like a Ferris Wheel or do mini-golf battle in the shade of the giant gorilla.
The Must-order: The cuisine is Mexi-Hamptons—Tex-Mex fare with country club polish—and pairs well with the delightfully pink prickly pear spiked slushie.

A taco bowl and fruity cocktail at Betty Danger's Country Club in Northeast Minneapolis.
Betty Danger’s Country Club. Photo by TJ Turner.

La Grolla

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

The Scene: This Italian gem has a bi-level secret garden that has stayed under the radar.
The Must-order: The capesante: fat diver scallops wrapped in angel-hair pasta and deep fried, then served atop rich, creamy lobster sauce and bright, grassy basil oil.

Muffuletta

St. Anthony Park, St. Paul

The Scene: This beautiful landscaped patio has flowers everywhere. It’s not a party spot; it’s a pretty, comfortable gathering place for families in the neighborhood.
The Must-orderBeer-cheese soup and the eponymous sandwich, of course.

Surly Beer Hall

Prospect Park, Minneapolis

The Scene: Beards and flannel abound at Surly’s massive destination brewery. The deck has a modern, clean vibe thanks to the recycled-plastic Loll furniture, plus there are plenty of fireplaces to gather around to talk about ABVs and IBUs late into the evening.
The Must-order: Balance the gut-busting hog frites (poutine with smoked pork and pepperjack cheese) with the farro salad (trust us) and a pint of Todd the Axe Man.

People drinking and dining on the patio at Surly Beer Hall in Minneapolis' Prospect Park neighborhood.
Surly Beer Hall. Photo by Laura Jean Gilleland.

At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe

Duluth

The Scene: A quaint neighborhood cafe, perched on the hill high above Lake Superior with sweeping views.
The Must-order: The locally sourced menu changes with some frequency, but the GLBT—a BLT with guacamole on fresh-baked bread—is a major upgrade on the classic.

Sweeney’s

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

The Scene: There’s a sports bar vibe inside and what feels like a neighborhood block party out back. When the nights are cool, grab a coveted seat by the roaring fireplace.
The Must-order: The hot Buffalo wings, a local craft beer, and a stack of napkins.

A top-down view of the patio at Sweeney's.
Sweeney’s. Photo by Alexander Zoltai.

 

BEST WATERFRONT

The Pickled Loon

Grand Rapids

The Scene: Tucked into a quiet hamlet off Pokegama Lake, the patio has gorgeous views and supper club–style fare.The Must-order: Get the corn flake–crusted walleye sandwich as you compete in a Sunday evening meat raffle.
The Must-order: Get the corn flake–crusted walleye sandwich as you compete in a Sunday evening meat raffle.

Acqua

White Bear Lake

The Scene: The restaurant, in a converted two-story home, is tiny, but the sprawling lakeside patio more than doubles the seating capacity.
The Must-order: The tasting menu offers your choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert for just $40—always pick anything with fresh pasta or foraged mushrooms.

The storefront of Acqua in White Bear Lake.
Acqua. Photo by TJ Turner.

Como Dockside

Como, St. Paul

The Scene: A grand, historic pavilion on the edge of Como Lake was converted to the Twin Cities newest park concession—the first with a full liquor license—and the huge patio offers a beautiful waterfront view.
The Must-order: The New Orleans–inspired menu means a rare opportunity for hush puppies, gumbo, and Sazeracs.

Sandcastle

Nokomis, Minneapolis

The Scene: At this mod-looking concession stand at lively Nokomis beach, fine-dining chef Doug Flicker does casual, summery eats. The best seats are under the big orange awning.
The Must-order: The creamy, dream horchata and the Nokomis dog, topped with coleslaw and sweet pickled peppers.

Psycho Suzi’s

Northeast Minneapolis

The Scene: It’s tiki-tastic! Psycho Suzi’s is one of the only places in Minneapolis to dine with a view of the Mississippi River, and its patio is a rollicking party all the time. Giant stone tiki men, tiki torches, and straw-covered umbrellas have made this a Nordeast classic since 2003.
The Must-orderWant a one-and-done? Order the Psycho Zombie or the Paralyzed Polynesian, featuring four different rums. Pair with potluck pickle roll-ups and a pizza made with Surly Furious sausage, garlic confit, and foraged mushrooms.

Cocktail drinks in tiki mugs sitting on a table on the patio at Psycho Suzi's.
Psycho Suzi’s. Photo by Todd Buchanan.

The Wharf

Crosslake

The Scene: You can boat right up to this giant, barn-shaped bar and restaurant with a double-decker patio.
The Must-order: The famous sirloin steak sandwich, served on fat Texas toast and loaded with rich, earthy mushrooms.

Red River Kitchen at City House

West Seventh, St. Paul

The Scene: Situated practically on the rolling waters of the Mississippi River, this is the ideal setting to take in the slow-moving barges while you challenge your crew to a friendly game of bags.
The Must-order: The Cubano: a handheld wonder of soft, toasted bread, tender pork, gooey cheese, tart mustard, and pickles.

Angry Trout Cafe

Grand Marais

The Scene: Crisp breezes from the majesty of Lake Superior blow onto this former commercial fishing shanty at the edge of Grand Marais harbor. The seasonal restaurant has a sustainability focus and dishes worth planning a road trip around.
The Must-orderThe lake is right there, so get that heavenly whitefish just pulled from the water.

A portrait of the patio and dock at Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais.
Angry Trout Cafe. Photo by Ackerman + Gruber.

Pier 500

Hudson, WI

The Scene: Watch the yachts roll down the St. Croix and the historic Hudson pier from this large, gorgeous deck in downtown Hudson. The crowd ranges from families enjoying Sunday brunch to motorcyclists rolling through town on a weekend ride.
The Must-order: The rich and creamy Brie cheese curds, Szechuan green beans, and rotisserie-chicken-topped smoked Gouda nachos.

Harbor Bar

Hager City, WI

The Scene: A back roads Wisconsin dive bar staffed by Jamaicans with a river view of Red Wing and several hammocks.
The Must-order: Anything jerk—red snapper, chicken, pork, you name it—tastes like a trip to the Caribbean.

Bar Harbor

Nisswa

The Scene: Elegant supper club with a large outdoor dining space tucked between the cattails of Upper Gull Lake.
The Must-order: Steak, of course, or the Double Up Burger, a towering, beefy beauty with thick-cut bacon.

6Smith

Wayzata

The Scene: You can smell the money and the Lake Minnetonka bass from your seat on the patio; old money is eating dinner at the ground-floor outdoor tables while new money is tossing back drinks and partying on the roof. Urban-feeling architecture and décor pairs with absolutely unparalleled views.
The Must-order: Share the lobster guac, dry rub chicken wings, and tuna poke and then compare an old-school cocktail with one of its new-school variations.

A shot of a table at 6Smith overlooking Lake Minnetonka that has a cheeseburger and beer alongside a fruity cocktail and other food offerings.
6Smith. Photo by Josh Grubbs.

Boat House

Winona

The Scene: Watch Old Man River roll past, carrying the occasional paddleboat at this little seasonal spot in Levee Park.
The Must-order: A tall glass of sake-spiked lemonade and the half-pound, cheese curd–stuffed Lucy burger.

Lord Fletcher’s

Spring Park

The Scene: They call it “The Wharf,” and it is something to behold. The size of a football field with seating for 400, there are three huge bars, three sand volleyball courts, and 100 boat slips. Lord Fletcher’s is the place to be on Lake Minnetonka: Ricky Rubio, Chad Greenway, Bill Murray, and Cambria CEO/Sun Country chairman Marty Davis have been known to park their boats there.
The Must-order: Start with the buffalo shrimp, then pair Fletcher’s famous walleye sandwich with a basket of sweet-potato fries.

BEST SIDEWALK

Lake Avenue Restaurant

Duluth

The Scene: This hidden gem is on the backside of the historic DeWitt-Seitz building in Canal Park, sheltered from the moody winds of Lake Superior. Prime real estate is the comfy couch, but there are a few tables available for traditionalists.
The Must-order: The fresh, seasonal menu changes often, but pastas are always outstanding. And be certain to sample a cocktail made with locally produced booze (Vikre Distillery makes spectacular spirits just a few blocks away).

Meritage

Downtown St. Paul

The Scene: No spot feels more like the streets of a European capital city than a sidewalk seat in the heart of downtown St. Paul. Meritage’s outdoor tables are nestled within beautiful wrought iron fencing and surrounded by incredible architecture (the restaurant is in the historic Hamm Building, across from the Landmark Center).
The Must-order: Oysters! Meritage has the widest selection in town. Add a side of house-cut French fries with decadent béarnaise sauce, and a glass of rosé, and imagine you’re in Paris.

Bachelor Farmer Cafe

North Loop, Minneapolis

The Scene: Secluded enough that it’s a reprieve from the bustle of the North Loop, but public enough that you can still be seen eating at one of the coolest spots in town, this outdoor space is technically in the alley between the restaurant and sister store Askov Finlayson.
The Must-order: A specialty sandwich—look for either the smoked salmon and mizuna or Comté cheese and vegetable.

A sandwich and cocktail on a table on the patio at Bachelor Farmer Cafe in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.
Bachelor Farmer Cafe. Photo by TJ Turner.

Jake O’Connors

Excelsior

The Scene: Just two blocks from Lake Minnetonka, the seats outside Jake O’Connor’s Irish pub provide the best view of the real show in cute, bustling downtown Excelsior: the fantastic people-watching. Who’s headed to Licks for ice cream? Did that soaking-wet guy fall off the pier?
The Must-order: Cork corned beef sandwich on a pretzel roll, with a side of sweet chili chicken wings.

CC Club

Lyn-Lake, Minneapolis

The Scene: This beloved rock-and-roll dive bar immortalized in a Replacements song actually has a tiny, super sweet, shaded back patio. It’s heated in the winter and a year-round haven for smokers.
The Must-order: Several pitchers of cheap beer and a basket of fried goodness.

Smack Shack

North Loop, Minneapolis

The Scene: Suburban devotees of the legendary lobster roll collide with the upscale Millennials inhabiting the North Loop’s many new condos and apartments. Smack feels like an urban sidewalk patio, up on a raised concrete slab overlooking a partially brick-paved street. But the energy of the hurricane-swilling, seafood-eating crowd easily matches the din of the nearby traffic.
The Must-order: The original food truck lobster roll is still a showstopper and, while you’re at it, why not start with the lobster guacamole?

A plate consisting of a full lobster with an ear of corn on a table at Smack Shack's patio.
Smack Shack. Photo by TJ Turner.

Spoonriver

Downtown East, Minneapolis

The Scene: The sunny, super-chill sidewalk seats next to the Mill City Farmer’s Market and the Mississippi River are an appropriate setting for Brenda Langton’s farm-fresh, organic-focused fare.
The Must-order: The Vietnamese-style shrimp-and-noodle bowl explodes with flavor and, yes, the chef who made her name cooking vegetarian food can also make a mean lamb burger.

Cafe & Bar Lurcat

Loring Park, Minneapolis

The Scene: This sophisticated urban getaway shaded by greenery on the edge of Loring Park doesn’t feel like it’s just a short walk from downtown Minneapolis.
The Must-order: All great meals begin with a selection of oysters and end with the cinnamon-sugar doughnuts.

Facebook Comments