Restaurant Patio Picks: the Pioneer Press’ Favorites

By Nancy Ngo

Posted: 05/23/2012

Patio weather arrived early this year, but who’s complaining? All the more time to dine al fresco. And there are plenty of restaurants where you can do just that.

Patio competition is fiercer than ever. Rooftop and terrace patios continue to be all the rage. And newer, fancier ones keep popping up, prompting longstanding favorites to step up their game.

From classic to contemporary, here are our 25 picks for the best in outdoor dining. (* New or improved.)


BRIT’S PUB, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-332-3908; Between the bustling sidewalk cafe and three-tiered rooftop patio with lawn bowling, there are many outside options at this casual hot spot.

CAFETERIA (Calhoun Square), 3001 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-877-7263; Uptown’s sexiest rooftop patio comes with mod furniture, a skyline view and pretty people.

*CRAVE, 825 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-332-1133; Trendsetters are flocking to the newest addition to the downtown rooftop scene with its wrap-around bar, sleek lounge chairs and state-of-the-art sound system.

THE LIFFEY (Holiday Inn), 175 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-556-1420; The lively crowd likes this Irish pub for its large, second-story deck and bird’s-eye view of the Cathedral of St. Paul and State Capitol.

*RUDY’S REDEYE GRILL, 4940 N. U.S. 61, White Bear Lake; 651-653-6718. White Bear Lake’s patio competition just got stiffer with the addition of this rooftop terrace and bar. Colorful tents, comfy wicker chairs and banana palms give off a tropical vibe that makes snowbirds feel like they never left Florida.

SEVEN SKYBAR (Seven Sushi Ultra Lounge), 700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-238-7777; If you want to dress and impress, head to this fancy steak and sushi spot. The expansive rooftop patio has high-tops and lounge seats to accommodate large crowds.

STELLA’S FISH CAFE, 1400 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-824-8862; Thanks to a recent addition of a second story, this seafood spot still has bragging rights as the tallest patio in Uptown — and the best view of the downtown skyline.


ADMIRAL D’S WATERFRONT TAVERN, 4424 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake; 651-330-3101; The main draw is the lakeside location. The tropical plants, casual menu (Wednesday is grill night) and the eagles nesting in front add to the attraction.

CHARLIE’S RESTAURANT AT WATER STREET INN, 101 S. Water St., Stillwater; 651-439-6000; The patio is long and narrow, but it offers a quaint setting for catching picturesque views of the St. Croix River. The menu of pub fare cranked up a notch is always reliable.

PSYCHO SUZI’S, 1900 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis; 612-788-9069; Getting a table at this tiki-themed patio overlooking the Mississippi River is one of the longest waits in town. Polynesian cocktails and giant pizzas add to the charm.

PIER 500, 500 First St., Hudson, Wis.; 715-386-5504; This sprawling deck overlooking the St. Croix River is the most popular patio in Hudson.

SEA CHANGE (Guthrie Theater), 806 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612-225-6499; Sleek and contemporary, this upscale restaurant offers a patio view of the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge.


*BURGER MOE’S, 242 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-222-3100; From bright canopies to colorful flowers, the outdoor dining area at this West Seventh Street burger joint pops with energy.

*BUTCHER AND THE BOAR, 1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 238-8888; This downtown restaurant specializing in cured meats just debuted a large, two-tiered deck with potted flowers, fireplace, patio bar and plenty of seating options.

DAY BY DAY CAFE, 477 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-227-0654; The multi-tiered backyard deck with potted flowers, fish pond and a waterfall is a popular breakfast and lunch retreat.

ENJOY!, 15435 Founders Lane, Apple Valley; 952-891-6569; No great views, but the handsome long and winding stone patio has a variety of seating areas, fire pits and reliable food.

LA GROLLA, 452 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-221-1061; The pasta and pretty flowerbeds are the main attractions at this quaint, romantic Cathedral Hill spot.

MUFFULETTA, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-644-9116; The front, flower-filled patio at this neighborhood restaurant is still as popular as it was the day it opened 35 years ago.

*PATRICK McGOVERN’S, 225 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-224-5821; With the new addition of a retractable roof, it’s now open come rain or shine at this three-tiered, landscaped patio.

SALUT BAR AMERICAIN, 917 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-917-2345; Bustling and charming with umbrellas and flowers, the patio at this popular French-American brasserie along busy Grand Avenue makes it easy to pretend you’re in Paris.

SEA SALT EATERY, 4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612-721-8990; A fast-casual spot known for its oyster bar and seafood menu. Located in Minnehaha Falls Park, it puts you in the middle of nature with nearby parkland, trails and roaring waterfall.

SHANGHAI BISTRO, 324 S. Main St., Stillwater; 651-430-9000: This colorful, expansive stone patio with hanging Chinese paper lanterns is the perfect place to eat sushi and sip mai tais.

TAVERN GRILL, 10950 Club West Parkway, Blaine; 763-398-8100; An outdoor fireplace, waterfall and bar make this spot a summer destination. The wide-ranging menu, from casual burgers and pizzas to fancy seafood and steaks, adds to the grill’s wide appeal.

TRIA, 5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks; 651-426-9222; The brick-lined dining area and country setting attract nature lovers to this upscale spot serving regional and seasonal fare.

W.A. FROST, 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-224-5715; A perennial favorite, the fancy Frost patio packs a crowd for its garden landscapes and classy vibe.

Nancy Ngo can be reached at 651-228-5172. Follow her at

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