With temperatures already in the 90s, it's time to get out your summer whites and book a game of lawn bowling at Brit's. Or at least quaff a few pints of Boddington's and munch a few of those devilish little Scotch eggs. Here's our annotated version of the Pi Press's top 25 picks for outdoor dining in the Twin Cities.
ROOFTOP/TERRACE -Brit's Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-332-3908; britspub.com -Joe's Garage, 1610 Harmon Place, Minneapolis; 612-904-1163; joes-garage.com -The Liffey (Holiday Inn), 175 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-556-1420; www.theliffey.com: -Seven Sky Bar (Seven Sushi Ultra Lounge), 700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-238-7777; 7mpls.com -Stella's Fish Cafe, 1400 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-824-8862; stellasfishcafe.com: -20.21 (Walker Art Center), 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-253-3410; wolfgangpuck.com
**We're a big fan of the rooftop/terrace digs. To this list I'd add the roofdeck at Chambers, though its hours are limited, and, the one across the street at Solera. My new favorite rooftop digs are at Lyn-Lake's Moto-i--the view is as good as Stella's, but since not a lot of people now about it, it's not overcrowded. Also, Moto-i has a great local tap beer selection and Lift Bridge's Farm Girl is a perfect sunny-day sipper.
PICTURESQUE -Dock Cafe, 425 Nelson St., Stillwater; 651-430-3770; dockcafe.com -I Nonni, 981 Sibley Memorial Highway, Lilydale; 651-905-1080; inonnirestaurant.com: -Lake House, 8241 North Shore Trail, Forest Lake; 651-464-3111; thelakehousemn.com: -Lord Fletcher's, 3746 Sunset Drive, Spring Park; 612-471-8513; lordfletchers.com: -Pier 500, 500 First St., Hudson, Wis.; 715-386-550; pierfivehundred.com
** Solid picks, except Fletcher's moneyed boater scene can get a little much at times. Lake House offers dockside service to boaters, which is pretty cool, though I haven't been since Joan Ida went to Porter & Frye, so I'm not sure how the kitchen is faring. I'd also add the parkside cafes, Tin Fish and Sea Salt Eatery, to this list, as well as the patios at NorthCoast and Smalley's--be sure to order The Kingston.
CLASSIC -Moscow on the Hill, 371 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-291-1236; moscowonthehill.com -Muffuletta, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-644-9116; muffuletta.com -Nicollet Island Inn, 95 Merriam St., Minneapolis; 612-331-3035; nicolletislandinn.com: -Jax Cafe, 1928 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis; 612-789-7297; jaxcafe.com: -W.A. Frost, 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-224-5715; wafrost.com **Put "catching a trout at Jax pond" on your Essential Minnesota To-Do List.
NEIGHBORHOOD -Day by Day Cafe, 477 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-227-0654; daybyday.com: -Grumpy's, 2801 Snelling Ave., Roseville; 651-379-1180; grumpys-bar.com: -Happy Gnome, 498 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-290-2338; thehappygnome.com: -Il Vesco Vino, 242 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-222-7000; ilvescovino.com: -La Grolla, 452 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-221-1061; lagrollastpaul.com: I -Patrick McGovern's, 225 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-224-5821; patmcgoverns.com: -Psycho Suzi's, 2519 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis; 612-788-9069; psychosuzis.com: -San Pedro Cafe, 426 Second St., Hudson, Wis.; 715-386-4003; sanpedrocafe.com: -Sweeney's Saloon, 96 N. Dale St., St. Paul; 651-221-9157; sweeneyssaloon.com:
**Last time I went to St. Paul to meet friends for a few beers, I got some seriously inhospitable vibes from the bars I tried to patronize. When a group of 6 of us met at the Happy Gnome, the waitress snipped "you're never going to find a table for all of you here." Ok, fine, but how about phrasing that information a little more nicely ("we're not able to accommodate you, but you might try ..."). So we went over to Sweeney's, where we waited at the bar for nearly 15 minutes to order beers only to find ourselves relegated to the patio, where it was so cold you could see your breath. Next time I'm in St. Paul, I think I'll hit the new sidewalk dining at Meritage--or stay in Minneapolis for some sparkling sake on the chill-out patio at Obento-Ya.
This month's MnMo features Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl's best patio picks. She likes the Nicollet Mall sidewalk faves, The Local and Barrio, as well as Spoonriver, Nick and Eddie, Lola's Lakehouse in Waconia, which I'd substitute for Fletcher's if in the western suburbs. She also names the Coffee Connection in Osceola--the only one I've never hit. Has anyone been there?