Oftentimes in summer we're not just looking for a patio, but the patio.
The one that suits the time of day, the part of town and the type of dining desired. Our first patio guide looks deep into the crystal ball of best reasons to dine outside in the summer and predicts the best place to grab a bite and take in warm-weather views. Whether you're looking for a lakeside sunset view, an urban oasis or a place to settle in for a night of revelry, the Twin Cities metro area has a spot for you.
The hottest, hippest, hot spot
With wood-fired pizza and continental vibes, Riva Terrace is the new rooftop (actually, the fourth-floor) patio at the Four Seasons Minneapolis. Chef Martín Morelli delves into Italian cuisine with crusty, crispy eggplant on an herbaceous sauce, or perfectly poppable arancini with a soft, cheesy center. Take advantage of the valet and head downtown for the views and the newest scene to be seen.
245 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-895-5700, fourseasons.com/minneapolis
Live like the star of a magazine spread
This is the first full season to soak in the stunning patio outside the buzzy Khâluna. It's best enjoyed in your finest flowing garb, and possibly posing until someone takes a hint and shares to Instagram. Even the food and cocktails are vying for a close-up with fresh flower garnishes and handmade plates, making chef/owner Ann Ahmed's dishes almost too gorgeous to eat. Start the meal with the artful rainbow rice that's gluten-free, dairy-free and can be made vegan upon request. Or revisit an old friend with the basil wings, on the menu at each of Ahmed's restaurants.
4000 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-345-5199, khaluna.com
Take in tropical vibes
The patio at Hai Hai in northeast Minneapolis has the oil cloth-covered tables, indoor-outdoor bar and a prevalence of their signature turquoise blue — and it's a gorgeous vacation from everyday life. Don't miss the fresh herb, shrimp and pork belly-stuffed banh xeo or the banana blossom salad that's a riot of herbs, bright citrus and spice. Signature cocktails and slushies include house-made ingredients like rhubarb shrubs and Viet cinnamon grenadine.
2121 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612- 223-8640, haihaimpls.com
Sidewalk jungle in Uptown
Sooki & Mimi has a whole teak and palm vibe happening outside. Giant potted trees loll over the lounge seating and the bar menu is served out here. The city's fanciest totchos taste better under the sun. Even better? They're now open seven days a week.
1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-540-2554, sookiandmimi.com
Old school in the North Loop
Not only does the menu at Monte Carlo read like an old-school throwback, this expansive patio harks back to the old days of the neighborhood, when it was just at the edge of some cool old warehouses. Sit back by the fountain and order a tall, cold Pimm's Cup, and go all in on the throwback theme and get a shrimp cocktail, too.
219 3rd Av. N., Mpls,. 612-333-5900, montecarlomn.com
When the weather's not entirely trustworthy
Butcher's Tale just opened its newly remodeled year-round beer garden — complete with a glass roof and retractable walls — that brings all the summer vibes and roasty meat smells without leaving anyone scrambling if the temperamental weather turns. Sausages, all made by chef Peter Botcher, are the star of the show out here, and pair perfectly with a long list of beers on the menu. But don't miss the new menu items — or the fact that it's now dog-friendly.
1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls, 612-236-4075, butcherstale.com
Just outside downtown happy hour
All Saints opened at the tail end of patio season last summer and this is the year to schedule some time on this beautiful space. Take advantage of dipping a toe back into office life by tacking on a happy hour here as reward for making it through the day. Try the exceptional cheeseburger or charred halloumi alongside the modernized Gibson.
222 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-259-7507, allsaintsmpls.com
Barbecue, beer and your best friend
Bauhaus Brew Labs leveled up this summer when Animales Barbeque Co. moved in with its main trailer. The large patio stretched out into the parking lot and overlooks the train tracks — in a cool, tucked away in Northeast's arts district kind of way. Order a Short Pants shandy or the zingy pineapple lemonade and tepache at the Animales cart to complement the jalapeño syrup-dressed ribs. Perhaps best of all — the patio is pooch-friendly.
1315 NE. Tyler St., Mpls., 612-276-6911, bauhausbrewlabs.com
Pastabilities in the city
The patio at Broder's Pasta Bar, just off the parking lot and 50th Street, is peak neighborhood dining. The front sidewalk patio feels like an Italian vacation with a trellis and fantastic fresh-made pasta pouring out of the kitchen. Try the linguine vongole, a tumble of egg pasta studded with popped-open button clams bathed in a white-wine sauce seasoned with pancetta — and a glass of wine, of course.
5000 Penn Av. S., Mpls., 612-925-9202, broderspastabar.com
Indoor potted cactus and the giant living wall behind the bar have always made Colita feel more like a warm weather-destination than Armatage neighborhood eatery. On warm days, the glass walls fold back and the giant plants come out. It's almost like a little slice of Los Angeles inside Minneapolis. Order an ornate cocktail alongside the savory mushroom tacos.
5400 Penn Av. S., Mpls., 612-886-1606, colitampls.com
We don't deserve dogs
All Craft and Crew restaurants treat canine guests like the valued members of the dining crew that they are. Check out the "pawtio" menu at Duke's on 7, Stanley's Northeast Bar Room, the Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar, the Block or Pub 819 — it includes a full menu for dogs, and all get a free peanut butter nilla "woofer" just for showing up.
Duke's on 7, 15600 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; Stanley's, 2500 University Av. NE., Mpls.; the Howe, 3675 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls.; the Block, 7007 Walker St., St Louis Park; Pub 819, 819 Mainstreet, Hopkins; craftncrew.com
Respite from mall life, but also close to retail
Restoration Hardware outside Southdale has the grandest patio restaurant inside a retail establishment — at least locally. Browse your way through the shop and up the stairs to dine. Surrounded by glass and chandeliers, the restaurant overlooks ... well, the parking lot. But you're on the top floor, so it's easy to look beyond the concrete and into the lush green Edina treetops. It's a gorgeous space to sip Champagne at sunset.
6801 France Av. S., Edina, 952-206-6307, rh.com/minneapolis
Lakeside drinks with friends
Grocer's Table in Wayzata recently added a full bar to its already lovely lineup. A fresh, spiked Bootleg just a few steps away from Lake Minnetonka is just the excuse to spend an afternoon tooling around town. Grab a group of friends who appreciate fine aesthetics and order the prettiest veggie tray and charcuterie boards out on the sidewalk patio.
326 Broadway Av. S., Wayzata, 952-466-6100, thegrocerstablemn.com
Adobo in the afternoon
Kalsada, the new modern Filipino cafe on St. Paul's Selby Avenue, serves all day from early morning until evening, starting with coffee and ending with cocktails. Play hooky on the next beautiful day and sit outside the restaurant, bask in the midday sun and feast on truffled chicken adobo served as a juicy, rich sandwich that demands slow savoring.
1668 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-340-0496, kalsada-stpaul.com
A date night worth savoring
A great spot if you've finally found a sitter or if it's a first-time meetup with someone promising, the ivy-covered patio at the Bungalow Club is always the right choice for date-night dining. The cover and ivy afford most tables a little extra privacy even on busy nights, and the Italian cuisine from chef/owner Andrew Kraft offers plenty to rave over or savor quietly — depending on your flavor of date.
4300 E. Lake St., Mpls., thebungalowclubmpls.com
Dive bar, but make it nice
Brunson's Pub on St. Paul's East Side is no doubt the neighborhood spot where people stop in after a softball game or gather with friends to nurse a beer and catch the ballgame on TV. However, it's also a fantastic spot to tuck into a green shrouded patio and order some crispy fried chicken thighs coated in a sweet and spicy rub or sip a rhubarb-spiked cocktail.
956 Payne Av., St. Paul, 651-447-2483, brunsonspub.com
Red sauce Italian heaven
Mucci's in St. Paul's West 7th neighborhood has a new patio, tucked off Randolph Avenue into the residential neighborhood, that was built over the colder months. It's a gorgeous setting for enjoying the piles of fresh pasta, which is made and assembled into all manner of hearty dishes, including a lasagna that's billed as "layers of love." There's also prosecco on tap.
786 Randolph Av., St. Paul, 651-330-2245, muccisitalian.com
The ultimate outdoor date night
Pull out the stops for major romance at the patio at Joan's in the Park. The tasting menu is a progressive evening of elegance and outstanding service. There are choices for each course, from bread to mains, but don't miss out on the sumptuous beef tenderloin. The sheltered patio is located along Snelling Avenue, but feels intimate and special with just the right amount of fancy furniture and bistro lights.
631 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-690-3297, joansinthepark.com
Idyllic neighborhood vibes — with tacos
Nico's Tacos on Como Avenue sports a beautiful patio that overlooks the giant tree-shaded street and adds to the incredible charm of the neighborhood. Order a flight of salsas and any kind of taco that your warm-weather loving heart desires, from camarones to de abrol.
2260 Como Av., St. Paul, 651-450-8848, nicostacobar.com
If you're still looking for options, here are 66 metro area patios — and 66 more. Now there's no excuse not to go play outside. What's your favorite metro-area patio? Tell us in the comments for our next installment later this summer.