The best outdoor dining in the Twin Cities

Your guide to the premier patios in the metro

The best outdoor dining in the Twin Cities

We won't mince words: Last winter was a frozen hellscape like nothing we'd ever experienced before. So when the first hints of spring appeared — the warm sun between cool breezes, the first flecks of verdure — we knew we'd once again be skin-baring, sun-basking inhabitants of the great outdoors, the kind of folks who relish every opportunity to drink and dine al fresco. Here is a list of some of our favorite places to do just that.

W.A. Frost

Enchanting is really the only way to describe the slightly sunken, mossy, fountain-focused patio, located behind W.A. Frost, easily the most fancy-lady-approved spot on our list. The cushioned patio furniture and plentiful heat lamps make it a comfortable and cozy choice for picky guests, like your perpetually cold mother. Pacific Coast oysters and a nice dry rosé would be the proper things to order for light, pre-dinner schmoozing, but Frost also makes some less "pinkies up" items that are well worth checking out. We love the slightly gamey lamb burger and the achiote-heavy pulled pork sandwich.

Moto-i

The Lyn-Lake neighborhood is full of sidewalk seating and parking-lot patios, but drinkers mostly flock to this area to get high — as in the top tier of the building. Along with Uptown Cafeteria's cheery and colorful Sky Bar (slated to stay open while Tim McKee overhauls the rest of the restaurant), Lyn-Lake's favorite rooftop spot is undoubtedly Moto-i. Why? It's hip, but tends to draw a slightly less rowdy crowd than say, Stella's on a Saturday. Plus the food is several notches above the average bar fare: chewy, pillowy steamed buns stuffed with various meats and pickled things always hit the spot; Japanese-style crispy fried chicken is only improved by a dip into miso bearnaise; and the five-spice sugar donuts rival Chef Shack's. The primo view and late-night drink specials, including house-brewed sake, make Moto-i an easy pick for a tough-to-please group.

Sea Salt Eatery

The lush W.A. Frost patio
Alma Guzman for City Pages
The lush W.A. Frost patio

Location Info

Map

W.A. Frost and Company

374 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Moto-i

2940 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Sea Salt Eatery

4825 Minnehaha Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55417

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Nokomis

The Liffey

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

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Black Forest Inn

1 E. 26th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge

1900 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Northeast Minneapolis

Swede Hollow Cafe

725 E. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55106

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Phalen

The Happy Gnome

498 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Aster Cafe

125 SE Main St.
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: University

Butcher & the Boar

1121 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Clubhouse Jager

923 Washington Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

More About

Once the falls have unfrozen at Minnehaha Park, it's a sure sign that fish tacos will soon be frying at Sea Salt. There's some contingency seating under the pavilion, but this entire restaurant is essentially one big patio, with umbrella-topped rounds scattered on the front and sides of the building, as well as the multi-level seating area near the park's outdoor stage. Take your po'boy, crema and cotija-slathered elote, and perfect crab cakes to any old spot on the grass or try your luck securing one of the tables. Be sure to get a nice crisp glass of white when the lines are long, as you'll want something to ease your wait time before food arrives.

The Liffey

This Irish pub can get a little crazy and thus should be avoided during the following events: the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, Winter Carnival, and for some reason, a Toby Keith concert. But at really any other time, the Liffey's rooftop bar is a stunner, offering great views of West Seventh, a long happy hour (daily from 2 to 6 p.m.), and rather excellent corned beef. Like any good Irish bar, the Liffey's whiskey selection is extensive, but in the summer months we like to keep it light with a bubbly Big Ginger — 2 Gingers whiskey and ginger ale — or a cider on ice.

Black Forest Inn

If you're looking for somewhere romantic to dine with your date al fresco or just want to change up the scenery on your usual post-work beer with colleagues, you may not immediately think of this Teutonic Eat Street gem. But the intimate pergola-perimetered patio at Black Forest Inn, with its checkered tablecloths, climbing greenery, and extensive European beer list, is both impressive and ridiculously charming. Come for a pretzel and a pint or share some schnitzel and sausage with your schatz under the twinkle lights. Black Forest's kill-the-keg events and annual Spargelfest, a fete entirely devoted to asparagus, are good introductions.

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge

There's really nowhere cooler than Psycho Suzi's for drinking along the banks of the Mississippi, particularly if you're a fan of rum. Noted for its flaming, high-octane tiki drinks, Suzi's patio is roomy and well-suited to big, sprawling groups, as groups so often are after a few flaming tiki drinks. The scene is usually a classic Northeast mix: dudes who biked there straight from band practice, pedal pub bachelorette crews, the stylist who talked you into an asymmetrical cut at Hair Police, and four middle-aged guys who still haven't realized this place is no longer Gabby's. The pizza has a committed following, but we never leave here without getting the perfectly greasy cheese curds.

Swede Hollow Cafe

Of all the patios on our list, this one might be the most Secret Garden-esque. The flowing stone fountain and ivy-covered surfaces make this backyard space feel like your own little retreat, but the view of Swede Hollow Park reminds you there's lots out there to explore. This long-running cafe is mostly a coffee and pastry spot, though they do have some items for light lunch and on Saturdays they serve an expanded breakfast menu featuring gorgeous Mediterranean quiche, potato cheddar pie, and fresh fruit cobbler. Bring your biggest book of crossword puzzles, turn off your cell phone, and settle in for a lazy afternoon of you versus a block of bread pudding.

The Happy Gnome

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27 comments
City Pages Minneapolis
City Pages Minneapolis

Club Jager and B & B are both there on the Locations widget on the left-hand side! :)

eatereater
eatereater

I would never have put Loser Suzi's or Moto-i on this list.  One has nothing but crap Sysco food and over sweetened, over priced drinks and hideous service.  With the added bonus of the festering smell of the Mississloppi river.     The other place is dull, with pedestrian at best food fare and you're stuck in uptown.  Pass. 

Pedro J Sanchez-Arocha
Pedro J Sanchez-Arocha

Probably best patio in town(s).worked there one summer,it got so so busy one afternoon i had like 17 tables for hours until finally got behind and ended up slicing finger while cutting bread we were so understaffed it was REDICULOUS!

Vikram Wadkar
Vikram Wadkar

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Katerina Rappos
Katerina Rappos

Greta - I thought about your last post….for the future :)

Maggie Heisterkamp
Maggie Heisterkamp

Addresses missing! I knew them all except for the last two - Clubhouse Jaeger and Butcher Boar (something like that - I am not about to stop typing this comment to make sure I got it right). Where are they?

ajfeldshon
ajfeldshon

I'm glad I've never heard of these, so I can check them all out!! But Lord Fletcher's on Lake Minnetonka should definitely be on there.

rj0766
rj0766

You forgot about Jax Cafe in Northeast Minneapolis.  Best place to forget you're in the city.  


eatereater
eatereater

lol.  seriously?  Butcher Boar is on Hennepin and Jaeger is on Washington. 

 
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