Summer Entertaining

After being indoors for so many months, patios and backyards really come alive on balmy summer days and nights.

Who doesn’t appreciate a warm breeze while enjoying a cool drink? The next time you celebrate, consider making reservations at one of these patios, or—if you’re feeling up to the task—throw a memorable soiree right in your own backyard.



Lola’s Lakehouse, Lake Waconia 

You’ll feel like you’re on vacation when you dine on the patio at Lola’s Lakehouse, overlooking Lake Waconia. “It has a very cool vibe in a beautiful setting,” says Dermot Cowley, owner (Cowley also owns Jake O’Connor’s, O’Donovan’s, and JJ Murphy’s Pub).  And while bands do sometimes play on a barge across from the patio, it’s not as much of a wild party atmosphere as some waterfront decks.  

If you choose to sit indoors—out of the direct sunlight—you can still enjoy the natural elements when the large glass garage doors are open, letting the breeze in. Popular summer items include the cast-iron seafood stew pot, seafood lasagna, and stone-fired pizza (boaters especially love the pizza as a convenient “to-go” option).   

318 East Lake St., Waconia,


Psycho Suzi’s, Northeast Minneapolis, Mississippi River

It’s a tiki bar, yes, but it’s also home to one of the most amazing patios in town. If you like the idea of sipping a fun, fruity, boozy cocktail out of a kitschy tiki totem glass out on a 7,000-foot patio overlooking the Mississippi, this is your place. Feel free to bring fido. Dogs are welcome on the patio. Dining at night is also divine; gas-powered tiki torches help take the chill out of the air.  

1900 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis,


The Bluefin Grille, Lake Superior

This is definitely one patio with a view, overlooking the dramatic moods of Lake Superior. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is sophisticated yet casual. The Grille is open to the public, not just exclusively to resort guests (although if you’re staying at Bluefin, you’ll want to check it out).

7192 West Highway 61, Tofte,



O’Donovan’s Irish Pub, downtown Minneapolis

Before heading to a show at First Ave. or a Twins game at Target Field, enjoy a perfectly poured pint of Smithwick’s, Guinness, or Harp on one of the largest outdoor patios in downtown Minneapolis. “We can seat 180 people outside,” says owner Dermot Cowley. “People are surprised to hear that number, but on the Target Center side of our building, the pavement is almost 40-feet wide so we get to utilize a lot of that space.” When the weather permits, the patio offers prime people watching.  

700 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis, 55403,


Solera, downtown Minneapolis

On a summer evening, nothing beats chilling out on the Solera rooftop. Enjoy Movies on the Rooftop Sunday and Tuesday nights during the summer. This Spanish-inspired restaurant, located in the heart of the Minneapolis Theater District, attracts a hip, high-energy crowd dining on traditional and innovative tapas (small plates) and an excellent selection of beer and wine (try the sangria).

900 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis,


Cheeky Monkey Deli, Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

Brunch, lunch, dinner, or a nice glass of wine just taste better when enjoyed outside on a nice summer day, something that regulars at Cheeky Monkey Deli—a “deli by day; bistro by night” in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood—know all too well. The environment is nice without being pretentious and the food is fresh, local, and seasonal. Try the pot roast sandwich, shrimp salad, or coconut cream pie.

525 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 55102,



JJ Murphy’s Irish Pub, Blaine

The new kid on the Blaine block (JJ Murphy’s just opened in March), this restaurant does not have an outdoor patio yet, says Dermot Cowley, owner, but it will by summer 2013. “We intend to build an outdoor bar and fireplace,” he says. By the time it’s fully remodeled, the patio will seat 150 people. “It’s going to be one of the nicer patios around when it’s done,” Cowley comments.

10400 Baltimore St. NE, Blaine,


Jake O’Connor’s Public House, Excelsior  

The outdoor patio at Jake O’Connor’s is the place to be during sandal season. If you want to watch the action on the street, sit on one side; if you want to have a private dining experience, sit on the other. Jake O’Connor’s is known for excellent summer salads and an impressive wine selection.

200 Water St., Excelsior,




Host an outdoor party that will leave a lasting impression on guests by following our experts’ tips:

  • “Utilize natural light whenever you can,” says Katie Lenz, sales coordinator, Event Lab. “If it’s a daytime party, host it in an area that gets a lot of sunshine—but make sure to have patio umbrellas so guests can escape the sun if they want.” Lenz suggests creating “seating pods” by staking patio umbrellas in the ground (like you’re at the beach), and placing chairs and end tables underneath. “Your guests will flock to these spots.”
  •  Bring an extra table or teacart outdoors. (You always need more table surface than you realize.)
  • To keep pesky bugs at bay, surround your patio with catnip, rosemary, mint, scented geraniums, or lavender, says Susie Bachman, director of perishable procurement at Bachman’s.
  • Create an eclectic mix-and-match trendy lounge look (while offering comfortable seating rather than those hard-as-rock plastic lawn chairs) by bringing armchairs and pillows outdoors. You can even cover up patches of unattractive lawn with a carefully placed rug.
  • For a unique way to serve adult beverages, fill a wheelbarrow with ice and add bottles of beer, white wine, or water. Drape a towel over the handle of the wheelbarrow to wipe away the condensation. Make sure there’s a bottle opener or corkscrew nearby.
  • If kids are invited to the party, find a large plastic tub and fill it with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls, and jump ropes. The kids will appreciate the gesture, and so will their parents. If the kids are over past sundown, supply them with flashlights for a game of night tag.
  • Illuminate your evening soiree with citronella candles (a must-have for warding off mosquitoes and flies), or add a little elegance by stringing lights in your trees or on your patio. Uplight your trees, shrubs, and gardens with battery-operated LED lights, or hang a funky chandelier or antique lantern from a tree, says Shereé Bochenek, creative director, Aprés Party and Tent Rental. Don’t forget to make sure your pathway is well-lit, too, especially if there’s a change in elevation.
  • Consider adding a water feature to your landscape. “There is nothing like the sound of water, it is so relaxing,” says Doug Geesaman, landscape manager, Otten Bros. Garden Center and Landscape. “Sitting by a stream with your friends and family, it just doesn’t get any better than that.” Water features need motion, he says, and the experienced Otten Bros. staff can create waterfalls, streams, pondless waterfalls, boulders drilled out for water, even simple overflowing ceramic pots.
  • When it comes to décor, less can be more. According to the design team at Festivities, it’s those little touches that help to define your backyard bash. They suggest extravagant damask linens to go with your collection of mismatched flatware and vases, or a detail as simple as a button at each place setting to tack the napkin to the tablecloth prior to the meal.
  • Lenz says pops of neon color (orange or pink) are hot this year, but warns hosts not to over-do for fear of coming off as an 80s-themed party. Other fun backyard themes include a lobster boil, Arabian nights, retro-beach, Cuban, or “Summer in the Hamptons.”
  • Some popular theme ideas, according to Bochenek, include Mad Men (with 50s and 60s-influenced music and mod styles), natural-looking forest effects, made popular by The Hunger Games, and “anything birds” (ranging from specific birds to feathers and nests).  “I’m also seeing something called ‘farm bling or farm chic,’” she says. “People are combining the rustic look of a wood bench with crystal, or using a linen that looks like burlap laced with metallic thread.”
  • Spice up your backyard party with creative containers in colorful glazed pots (annuals, perennials, even blooming plants), outdoor fire pits (don’t forget the s’mores), a DIY mojito bar, and lawn games like bocce, croquet, or—if you’re limited on lawn space—a deck of cards or old-fashioned board game.  
  • Whether you’re gathering with friends for dinner or drinks on a patio or hosting a fabulous backyard bash, these ideas are sure to make your summer get-together an event to remember.


Your guests will love these frosty tropical cocktails on a hot summer day.

Blue Hawaiian

1 ounce white rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce blue curaçao liqueur
1 ounce cream of coconut
1 slice pineapple
1 cup of ice
1 cherry

In an electric blender, blend at high speed white rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and one cup of ice. Pour contents into a highball glass. Garnish with pineapple and cherry.

Hemingway Daquiri

2 ounces white rum
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
Juice from half a lime
1 ounce grapefruit juice

Squeeze lime juice into a shaker, add remaining ingredients and shake briefly with a glassful of crushed ice. Strain into a frosted cocktail glass.


8 ounces tequila
8 ounces mango nectar
2 ounces Cointreau
2 ounces coconut nectar
3 cups crushed ice
fresh mango wedges

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Fill tall glasses with crushed ice, strain the mix over the ice. Garnish with fresh mango.

Mint Lemonade

1 ½ ounces vodka
1 ½ ounces fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce honey syrup
½ ounce simple syrup
1 mint sprig

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, lemon juice, honey syrup and simple syrup and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with mint.


We’re serving up some grilling tips to help your next get-together sizzle. Since cooking is an art and not an exact science, these tips are offered as loose guidelines:

  • To preheat charcoal—let it burn until a thin layer of gray ash coats the surface. For gas grills, preheat on high for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If your grill has a cover, keep it closed as much as possible, especially for large cuts of meat and whole chicken. You can add 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time every time you lift the lid.
  • Use tongs or a spatula rather than a large fork when turning the meat. If you pierce the meat, you may lose some of the juices.

Cooking Time/Temp

Grilling time can vary according to grill temperatures and thickness of meat, so the best way to achieve “doneness” is with a thermometer.

Beef: Rare: 140°F; medium rare, 145°-150°F; medium, 160°F; medium well, 165°F, and well done, 170°. Hamburgers should be 160°F or until middle is no longer pink and juices run clear. Chicken: bone-in breasts, 170°F; boneless breasts, 160°F. Legs quarters, 170°F.

Thighs, 170°. Pork can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145°F, followed by a three-minute rest time. Ground pork should be cooked to 160°F.


  • Bamboo skewers should be soaked in water prior to use.
  • Cook meat and veggies on separate skewers for best results.