Open-Air Options

Defy the dog days of summer on one of these charming--or just cheap--patios

Beers are best when ordered by the pitcher and served in plastic cups in true outdoor tradition. Though the drink selection from the outdoor bar isn't very challenging, it is consistent and solid: From the on-tap list you can choose from no-brainers like Leinenkugel's, Summit, and Schell. There are other varieties that are popular but not necessarily a common tap-pour: Blue Moon White Ale, Woodchuck Amber Cider, and Newcastle. As for food, the standout appetizer on the menu is the nachos, a giant mound of chips with a protective outer shell of cheddar. Also not to be missed is the Hour of Power, which, thankfully, isn't a restaurant binge-drinking game but a daily happy hour from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., when drinks and appetizers are $1 off and super-yummy burgers become more affordable than a ham sandwich from Super America (usually in the scandalously low $1.54 to $3.65 range). SWEENEY'S SALOON AND CAFÉ ; 96 N. Dale St., St. Paul; 651.221.9157; www.sweeneyssaloon.com

 

BILLY'S ON GRAND
Billy's is quite possibly the princess of patio dining on St. Paul's Grand Avenue drag. It's so much an outdoor hot spot that many people I know have never actually been inside the restaurant. The outdoor patio is casual and has all of the amenities one would expect: plastic chairs and tables topped with umbrellas, little white lights strung from the roof and treetops, friendly clusters of people who probably walked from their homes about three blocks away. The patio itself is concrete and open-air, and lined with potted plants in large holders no taller than the average five-year-old. This means that the view of Grand Avenue is unobstructed, making it ideal for people-watching--both those cruising and walking through the casual nightlife-friendly Victorian Village.

Not quite Polynesia, but close enough: Happy hour at Psycho Suzi's
Kathy Easthagen
Not quite Polynesia, but close enough: Happy hour at Psycho Suzi's

Location Info

Map

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge

1900 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Northeast Minneapolis

The Liffey

175 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Sweeney's Saloon and Cafe

96 N. Dale St.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Billy's On Grand

857 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Macalester/Groveland

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The food is standard patio-dining fare--nothing too dodgy or freaky. If you like burgers, buffalo wings, salads, bar sandwiches, and beer, you'll be leaving sated. There is some sort of happy hour every day. There are drinks specials and half-off selected appetizers from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Billy's on Grand; 857 Grand Ave, St. Paul; 651.292.1316; www.billysongrand.com

 

SOLERA
Solera features two lovely outdoor patios--one on the second level and another on the rooftop. Both maintain the colorful Spanish decor of this funky tapas restaurant's inside dining rooms, albeit more subdued. The menu features a huge list of both warm and cold small plates in the $5 to $10 range, making ordering a handful and sharing them with friends ideal. The goat cheese fritters with honey, fried calamari, and Spanish olives in Cava vinegar are all tasty selections--though you could probably order five items a day for a week and still have others to try that sound good.

The drink menu includes an alarmingly wide selection of sherry, wine, beer, and sangria (be sure to ask them to be light on the ice to get your money's worth). Since Solera is located in the theater hub of downtown Minneapolis, it's great for those in search of a light snack before a show, though certainly it's more versatile than simply a side mission to a main event. The rooftop is open until 2:00 a.m. nightly and sports a sound system and movie screen, so it's easy to make an evening out of the place alone. Generally there are live DJs Tuesday through Saturday, and movie screenings this summer are free and take place at dusk Sundays and Mondays. Related drink specials accompany the movie: This coming Sunday, July 31, Amaretto sours will accompany a screening of High Fidelity. Monday, August 1, Newcastle beer will be poured during Love Actually. SOLERA; 900 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.338.0062; www.solera-restaurant.com

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