Hit the Decks

The Cities’ best restaurant patios

Wags may say Minnesota’s two seasons are winter and road construction, but restaurant people know differently: The Cities’ two seasons are actually comfort food and patio dining. Which is why we present this handy-dandy checklist—a baker’s dozen of the metro area’s must-visit patios. 


» Moto-i

America’s first sake brewpub also boasts the first rooftop bar in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of Minneapolis. Be the first person you know to have sake under the stars. 2940 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-821-6262, moto-i.com

» Solera

J. P. Samuelson, of the late jP American Bistro, took over Solera in April. Now, as summer dawns, a city slowly realizes, “Holy cow, there’s world-class food on the hippest roof in town.” 900 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-338-0062, solera-restaurant.com

» The Local

Your mission, should you accept it, is to get half your friends to meet you on the patio at the Local for pints of Guinness and some of the best fish and chips in town. 931 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-904-1000, the-local.com

» Barrio Tequila Bar

If half your friends are on the patio at the Local (see above), the other half should be on the patio next door, at Barrio, the chef-driven Latin American restaurant with the killer cocktails. Now, scamper back and forth between the two spots. Who needs a vacation when you’ve got Nicollet Mall in the summertime? 925 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-333-9953, barriotequila.com

» Sea Salt Eatery

It wouldn’t be summer without a trip to Minnehaha Park, a pitcher of beer, and a table piled high with some of the freshest seafood in town. Go right after a thunderstorm to avoid the lines and to see the falls in its surging glory. 4825 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-8990, seasalteatery.com

» Smalley’s

Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar Pirates, rapscallions, rogues, and lovers of true Jamaican pimento wood–smoked barbecue are urged to report to the back deck at Smalley’s in Stillwater for rum, chicken, and general good times. 423 Main St., Stillwater, 651-439-5375, smalleysbbq.com

» Spoonriver

Brunch at Spoonriver, shopping at the Mill City Farmers’ Market, and a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge is a must for every lover of city life. And please note that the Spoonriver French toast paired with a passion-fruit Bellini is in fact the perfect birthday breakfast. 750 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-436-2236, spoonriverrestaurant.com

» Meritage

Go at night, snag a table outside Meritage for Russell Klein’s acclaimed French-influenced food, and admire the way the artfully lit Landmark Center across the street resembles a castle. St. Paul suddenly looks like a city in Europe you’ve never been to. 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stpaul.com

» Stella’s Fish Café

A beer and a catfish po’boy on the roof of Stella’s some sunny Saturday is a perfect summer vacation. Pack some zinc oxide if you haven’t been out a lot this year—it gets hot when you’re that close to the sun. 1400 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-824-8862, stellasfishcafe.com

» Nick and Eddie

Steven Brown, formerly of Restaurant Levain and Porter & Frye, is now cooking at Nick and Eddie with his old colleague, Landon Schoenfeld (the creator of the Bulldog NE’s famous burgers). Get the nightly $8 bar plate and a
table overlooking Loring Park for haute fine dining on a budget. 1612 Harmon Pl., Mpls., 612-486-5800, nickand­eddie.com

» Lola’s Lakehouse

Fish and chips on this deck on the water in Waconia allows you to enjoy the best parts of easy summer living—and the best parts of pretending you live on Ireland’s Atlantic Coast. Don’t mock it until you try it. 318 E. Lake St., Waconia, 952-442-4954, lolaslakehouse.com

» W. A. Frost

An oldie but a classic, W. A. Frost is making the lushest, most romantic patio in the city even more appealing with prix-fixe bargain meals this summer: $17 gets you a three-course lunch ($25 with paired wines), and $30 gets you a three-course dinner ($45 with wine). 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5715, wafrost.com

» Coffee Connection

Ever been to Osceola? It’s about an hour north of Hudson, Wisconsin, on the east side of the St. Croix River, a charming tiny town with a good antique store and a sweet little coffee shop—one with jaw-dropping views of Cascade Falls. Birds flit, hawks soar, and ice cream is scooped. Make a day of it by stopping in Hudson or Stillwater, and if you don’t get to this until autumn, that’s okay. It’s just as pretty in fall-color season. 99 N. Cascade St., Osceola, Wisconsin, 715-755-3833, coffeeconnectiononline.com