As the summer sun dips low on the horizon, there is no better place to be than a beautiful patio, surrounded by friends, a goblet of wine in hand and plates of delicious food dotting the table. Lucky for us diners, there have been several new spots that have opened since last year, plus some favorite restaurants who have added outdoor dining to the repertoire. Whether the occasion calls for an intimate setting, big beers, a bevy of hipster man top-knots, killer french fries, craft cocktails, boisterous noise, or the quiet hum of the cicadas, there is a new outdoor dining spot perfectly suited.
It’s the granddaddy of all beer halls and there is no wonder it took so long to get this brewery from the original Robbinsdale adjacent location to the Minneapolis monolith that stands today. Surly is many things, but subtle has never been the case — for the brewery or the beers. Inside the lower level, there’s a wall that opens up to communal seating, a fire pit, and plenty of brews for everybody. The menu is created to complement all the beer, so it’s hearty, with powerful flavors packed on plates built to share. Upstairs at the newly opened Brewer’s Table, there are small plates more artfully presented with incredible flavors served on a balcony that overlooks the outdoor space below. Downstairs, do not miss the hog fries. Upstairs, the octopus is possibly the best in town.
Joan’s in the Park
We’ve been enamored with Joan Schmitt and Susan Dunlop since they first opened their Highland Park restaurant. Dunlop’s food draws on classic steakhouse fare with a light, elegant touch. (The dish of the summer is the lobster salad with crispy pig ears.) Schmitt’s hospitality is warm and polished without ever feeling overly formal. The patio space next door to the restaurant is set comfortably back from Snelling Avenue with deliciously comfortable chairs and an airy, light setting.
Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse
What was once a first floor hotel dwelling has blossomed into a welcome neighborhood dining destination — with a glorious patio. Bradstreet now occupies the old Rye Deli space (before that Auriga) on Hennepin Avenue. The interior bar is sleek and dimly lit. The gorgeous makeover provides plenty of nooks and crannies for canoodling or catching up with old friends. However, the star of the summer is the outdoor space that affords skyline views of downtown Minneapolis. Begin with an order of the togarashi spiced french fries and an expertly crafted cocktail, and enjoy the glory of this fleeting season.
What was once just a little lakeside commissary has become a neighborhood gathering spot. With each year the space has blossomed. Skip the indomitable lines at that other park restaurant spot and hang out with the cool kids here instead. You’ll have much shorter wait times for your Dog Flicker (named for co-owner, chef Doug Flicker) or an order of the fried chicken (served only on Friday). The horchata is always a treat, but the newly finished adjacent seating area allows for grownup beer and wine pours for sipping as well. Plus, they serve breakfast beginning at 10:00 a.m. on the weekends.
Landon Schoenefeld’s new diner on the hopping Nicollet Avenue affords space outside to catch the goings on and wrap a couple of hands around the enormous pastrami sandwich. Settle into the bright orange chairs and give a wave to neighboring Five Watt Coffee’s patio dwellers. The neighborhood gets friendlier by the minute.
Grab a little taste of New Orleans on the shores of Como Lake in St. Paul. The owners of the 331 Club and Amsterdam have branched out and taken over this little eatery. Grab a massive shrimp po’ boy and let the good times roll. Be certain to check the schedule for a little live musical accompaniment.
Spoon and Stable
Because it just isn’t a Minneapolis restaurant roundup without mentioning Gavin Kaysen’s little slice of pretty in the North Loop. The menu has continued to evolve and now that the temperatures have traveled upwards, the front garage door is flung open. The bar staff is at the top of their game, pouring perfectly balanced twists on classic cocktails. Snag one of the coveted seats for the new brunch service, order the best Tom Collins around, and dig into the hearty, elegant, early day menu.
The patio outside of this restaurant location has always been lovely, but now that the globally inspired menu from Pilgrimage is served here, it’s even better. Mussels swimming in a creamy curry bath accompanied by a crisp, cool white wine makes any good summer evening great.
Teeny tacos taste better outside and the patio space at this Lake Street eatery which is a perfect setting to sample these bites served on house-made tortillas. Even seated inside, it still feels like you’re out in the summer air (without the bugs). Cradle a margarita and order a few more rounds of small plates to share with friends, these nights don’t last forever.