Get outside: Sea Salt, Sandcastle, and many more seasonal favorites are now open

Sandcastle on Lake Nokomis: bring your dog, get a dog (or two).

Sandcastle on Lake Nokomis: bring your dog, get a dog (or two). Facebook: sandcastlempls

After a few false starts, we think it’s safe to say spring is finally here to stay. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and—enough about all that—the Twin Cities’ seasonal restaurants are open for business.

A park concession stand that serves calamari, piña colada soft serve, a burger with a side of spaghetti—here are the restaurants we were waiting for all winter long. All those listed are open for the season unless noted otherwise.

Located on the shore of Lake Nokomis, chef Doug Flicker’s cheffy concession stand opened for the season last week, with its inspired scratch twists on fast-food favorites: a beef hot dog topped with kimchi and a fried egg, house-made tortilla chips, and a frozen chocolate-dipped banana rolled in pine nut brittle. Beverages include craft beer, wine, and some stellar non-alcoholic options, like horchata and seasonally flavored aguas. 4955 W. Nokomis Parkway, Minneapolis; 612-722-5550,

Sea Salt Eatery
It’s worth braving the legendary lines at this Minnehaha Park concession stand. The menu features seafood in every delectable iteration imaginable, from overflowing baskets of calamari and scallop-loaded tacos to catfish po’boys and crabcakes. For drinks, there’s beer, wine, and kombucha on tap. (Pro tip: have your dining companion grab the beverages while you wait in the food line.) 4825 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612-721-8990,

Conny’s Creamy Cone
As you would guess from the giant ice cream cone adorning the roof, this nostalgic neighborhood spot specializes in soft serve. The two dozen flavors range from kid-friendly cotton candy and tutti frutti to booze-inspired Irish cream and pina colada. Food includes fast-food classics like burgers, hot dogs, fries, and cheese curds. 1197 Dale St. N., St. Paul; 651-488-4150,

Bread & Pickle
Bread & Pickle feels more like a friendly local cafe than a park concession stand, with dog treats made in-house, lakeside seating, and ingredients sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible. There’s a dedicated breakfast menu for early risers, with breakfast sandwiches, granola, and scones. Once lunchtime rolls around, there are wraps (try the hummus one, whether or not you’re a vegetarian), salads, burgers, and craft beer and wine. Don’t forget the popcorn—you won’t regret dropping a couple extra bucks for the large bag of Red Stag truffle corn. Opening Thursday, May 17. 4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis; 612-767-9009,

Adele’s Frozen Custard
Don’t mistake it for ice cream—according to the folks at Adele’s, their custard’s rich, velvety texture comes from egg yolks and the air that’s whipped out during the custard-making process. There’s a roster of over 80 flavors, with vanilla, chocolate, and one or two rotating sweets available daily (check the online custard calendar for details, and head over immediately if cookie dough is on the schedule). Besides custard treats, the menu offers deli sandwiches, hot dogs, and brats. 800 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952-470-0035,

Lexington Plaza Dairy Queen
Okay, so it’s a Dairy Queen in a strip-mall parking lot. But it’s the oldest DQ in the state, serving up soft serve from a fabulously retro facade since 1947. The treats-only location offers the chain’s standard menu of Blizzards, cones, sundaes, and Dilly Bars. 1720 Lexington Ave. N., Roseville; 651-489-4182,

Facebook: Dari-ette Drive-In

Facebook: Dari-ette Drive-In

Dari-ette Drive In
For more than 60 years, the Darie-ette Drive In has been serving its unique mashup of American diner fare—think burgers, fried chicken, and malts—and Italian favorites like spaghetti with meatballs and pasta fagioli soup. For the best of both worlds, order the pizza burger basket: a meat patty topped with Italian seasoning, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese, with a side of coleslaw and your choice of fries or spaghetti. Our take? Go with the pasta—the house-made spaghetti sauce is so popular you can buy it by the gallon. 1440 Minnehaha Ave. E., St. Paul; 651-776-3470, facebook

Peppermint Twist Drive In
With food made to order, a cheery pink paint scheme, and no small dose of nostalgia, the Peppermint Twist Drive In is worth the trek out to Delano. The menu includes an extensive selection of burgers, chicken breast sandwiches, and sides, ranging from bacon cheeseburgers to a sriracha fries. Pair your meal with one of the famously thick, whipped cream-topped shakes: The raspberries are fresh and the butterscotch is homemade, but for our money, you’ve got to go with the namesake peppermint. Speaking of money, bring cash—they don’t accept credit cards. 115 Babcock Blvd., Delano; 763-972-2572,

Minnetonka Drive In
Founded in 1961, the Minnetonka Drive In is still in the Bennyhoff family—current owner Dave Bennyhoff started out washing root beer jugs at age nine. While the menu features fast food standards, where the drive in stands out is their attention to detail: house-made sloppy joe sauce, hand-cut and breaded onion rings, and chicken that’s brined for hours before it’s fried to perfection. Be sure to try the handmade root beer, available by the glass, quart, or gallon. 4658 Shoreline Dr., Spring Park; 952-471-9383,