Is it just me, or was this winter kind of an a-wad? Every time we considered packing away the wooly wardrobe, another bracing round of weather would land another crotch shot. It got to the point where I was willing to repent for any number of sins, both committed and imagined. I would do anything to get out of this depressing barrage of frigid weather. Now, it’s finally time to spend every single moment outside, basking in the sun. There is no better cure for the ills of a long workday than to install yourself on a patio with a cocktail in hand. While there will likely be long lines at the old standby favorite patios, we have got all the new hot spots right here for you.
Cossetta’s and Louis
211 West 7th St., St. Paul
The new Cossetta Alimentari complex has got it all. There are cream puffs, truffles, gelato, cake, cannoli, and that is just the pastry case! There’s the pizza we’ve all grown to know and love, with that crisp, yeasty crust and gobs of gooey cheese. There are stacks of fat subs, piles of pasta and parmigana. There is even a new supper club with an elegant space for a nice night out. The Italian market, bakery, and multi-floored dining experience is a little like a labyrinth of Italian food treasures. The crown jewel of this multi-million dollar expansion is the upstairs patio. With sweeping vistas of downtown St. Paul and a gorgeous view of the Cathedral, there is no better spot for outdoor dining on the east side of the metro area. There are two levels of outdoor dining. For a more casual experience, diners can grab food downstairs and head up to the second level for an outdoor seat.
1900 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis
Since their inception, Psycho Suzi’s has always been a great spot to grab a coconut full of booze and bask in the sun. As they’ve matured as a restaurant and changed locations, the patio has only grown. This summer, they have added another level to their expansive space overlooking the Mississippi River. The new space is called the Forbidden Cove Bar, with 39 additional seats. In addition to rum-centric tiki drinks, they also have a selection of adult soft-serve ice cream. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any summer day tour, 3-hour or otherwise.
Eat Shop Kitchen/Bar
16605 County Road 24, Plymouth
For once, you won’t hear any griping about driving too far out of my way for a suburban restaurant experience…as long as we’re heading to Plymouth. The patio outside this chef-owned restaurant has the hypnotic draw of a late-night, midsummer bonfire. Part of the allure might be the elegant fire pit with the controlled blue flame surrounded by comfortable, plush chairs. The food available is perfect for sharing with friends while relaxing with a couple of glasses of wine. Be certain to try the bacon and giardiniera-topped fries or the tender, succulent white tuna sashimi. An added bonus of dining outdoors at Eat Shop isn’t just that the scratch-made food is delicious, but from here, it’s easy to see the stars.
Butcher & the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
When Jack Riebel opened his sausage- and bourbon-fueled hot spot on Hennepin Avenue, it was an instant success. Over a year later, the reservation list is still packed–good luck getting in at prime time for a Saturday night dinner without planning weeks in advance. Shockingly, it’s easy to breeze into the back beer garden and set up shop with one–or a dozen–of your closest friends. Somehow, the secret of this beautiful spot hasn’t spilled. So, let’s keep this between you and me. The space has evolved from a few seats and a sparse menu into a beer and brown booze paradise. They just received approval to expand to a full menu, so they’ll be cooking some of their handcrafted sausages and delicious vegetable sides outside on gas and charcoal grills. The full outdoor bar is stocked with an enormous selection of craft brews with excellent representation of local beauties. Also, if for some ungodly reason, this jerkface cold weather decides to return, Butcher & the Boar has a huge tent to shelter us all from the rain and cold. Inside or out, it’s a beautiful spot to spend this brief Minnesotan season. I’m already counting down their annual Pride Sausagefest party.
603 Washington Ave North, Minneapolis
It hasn’t been long, but already the Smack Shack has become a gathering spot for pre-game Twins fans and downtown workers not quite ready to flee the city. The checked tablecloths and boiling, toiling vats of seasoned water waiting for fat lobsters to drop are plenty inviting. However, nothing says, “Bring on the plastic bib!” like their new outdoor space. It’s big enough to host a Mini Cooper rally. Surrounded by old, industrial buildings and condos, but with plenty of room for sun, the patio at the new Smack Shack is the perfect place to tuck into one of their ultra-buttery, shellfish-stuffed lobster rolls. Although, it’s a bit of a sandwich extravagance at $15.95, it continues to be one of the best bites of food available in this city at any price.