Top 5 under-the-radar patios in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Categories: Top 5

Mill City patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mill-City-Cafe/104091750284?ref=ts
The Mill City Cafe's patio is a lush oasis
The last of winter's snow finally melted in St. Paul yesterday (really), and the tropical heat wave of the past few days seems to have abated, leaving us in a perfect window of patio-enjoying temps. The problem is that Minnesotans are so determined to savor our few brief weeks of summer that the big, popular restaurant patios across town fill up faster than a tea cup in a monsoon.

After standing dejectedly at the Psycho Suzi's patio host stand and hearing the words "two-hour wait for a table" for the second time in a week, we knew it was time to broaden our horizons. So long, Crave. Peace out, Seven. Catch ya later, Stella's Fish Cafe, Uptown Cafeteria, Brit's, Sweeney's, and W.A. Frost. Here are the top 5 under-the-radar restaurant patios in Minneapolis and St. Paul--ambient retreats that beat out a few tables on a sidewalk but are usually accessible without a half day's wait.

Keegan's patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Keegans-Irish-Pub
Sleep while you can, patio
5. Keegan's Irish Pub
This Nordeast pub's patio is so under the radar we didn't actually know it existed, even after eating at the restaurant several times. Lurking behind the building, Keegan's patio is the perfect spot to hide out with a tasty brew and a corned beef sandwich while the real world hustles by outside. Turn off your GPS device and hunker down--those subpoena papers will never find you here.
ngon patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ngon-Vietnamese-Bistro
Fresh farmer's market produce is delivered right to Ngon Bistro by bike
4. Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
With its whimsical fountain and cheerful green patio umbrellas, the cozy, enclosed patio at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro is enough to make bustling University Avenue feel like a tropical holiday destination. Open from brunch through happy hour to dinner, this garden patio is the perfect spot to enjoy everything from eggs Benedict to seared Minnesotan elk medallions.
aster patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/aster-cafe
Chillaxed riverside dining
3. Aster Cafe
When the wait at Psycho Suzi's has you down, just skip a couple miles downriver, where you'll find a more relaxed and spacious refuge to lay anchor at the Aster Cafe. This patio fills up quickly during such events as the Stone Arch Arts Festival, but for most of patio season a table is easy to come by, as is a tasty flatbread pizza and cold beverage to enjoy as you watch the Segway tours putter by.
happy gnome patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Happy-Gnome/
A charming Selby Ave. retreat
2. The Happy Gnome
We debated whether the Happy Gnome's back patio truly qualified as under the radar, but compared to other St. Paul list-toppers such as W.A. Frost or Sweeney's, we thought this hidden gem deserved a spot on our list. Table availability waxes and wanes, but with its ample seating (it accommodates up to 80 people when all sections are open), the wait for a table is never long. The strings of lights, large trees, and high walls give this patio a charmed, tucked-away feeling, and the food is worthy of the hungriest, choosiest locavore.
Mill City patio.jpg
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mill-City-Cafe/104091750284
An eclectic, exuberant patio in the Nordeast arts district
1. Mill City Cafe
Located in the California building in the Northeast Minneapolis arts district, Mill City Cafe is one of the neighborhood's best kept secrets. It's a small, unassuming space that exudes simplicity, warmth, and a bright effervescence. The small patio offers only a handful of tables under a wooden pergola, up which vines and flowers creep and bloom. The lushness is so thorough, it's easy to forget you're in the upper Midwest. The menu, likewise, is small but excellent, and the obvious community spirit and creative exuberance of the artists whose galleries surround the restaurant leave guests feeling nourished mind, body, and soul.


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13 comments
Daniel Ortiz
Daniel Ortiz

Thanks for your blog. I just landed up in your blog and I really appreciate your blog. It is full of resourceful information and images. gold coast patios

June
June

Swede Hollow Cafe, on Dayton's Bluff, has my vote for best outdoor luncheon. But now that you know my secret I guess my table will be taken  :)

Johnny
Johnny

Now that we've got slightly more liberal Brewery laws, I do believe that Summit has plans to open up a special-events patio on their hillside.

Ad2think
Ad2think

El Norteno on East Lake Street has a small, but beautiful patio, and the food is completely amazing!  

Erik Hess
Erik Hess

Obento-Ya just north of Dinkytown and the new Republic in Seven Corners have been getting my patio time lately, as has the Aster.

Bonus: If you're into beer, Republic's got craft/Belgian beers cheap, too. The Tripel Karmeliet's currently like $6 there compared to $8-9 at places like Tilia and Happy Gnome and since the bar's so new their fancy, official glasses haven't all been stolen yet.

Sparky
Sparky

Have to get out of Minneapolis.......  Day by Day Cafe and Burger Moes, both in Saint Paul, have wonderful patios.......

Julie
Julie

But you can't have Pho on Ngon's patio. Huge fail! 

Mo
Mo

Keep the suggestions coming, people!  It's so good to have lesser-known alternatives to the big guys on a beautiful afternoon.  Tomorrow I'll be doing another post on 5 suburban options.

Guest
Guest

The Sunshine Factory has an awesome patio.  42nd and Quebec, New Hope.

juan
juan

Republic

Melissa Summers
Melissa Summers

Sweeney's has a really nice patio too.  A little unknown gem is the patio at Bagu Sushi on 48th & Chicago.  Another underappreciated patio is also the one at the NE Palace on 4th & Lowry.  Looks like a dive bar on the outside, but the patio's lovely.  The interior is recently redecorated and they have a surprisingly good kitchen.

Dave Gangler
Dave Gangler

I can't believe I've gone this long living in the Twin Cities and still haven't ever been to the Happy Gnome.  Now that I know about the patio... a little happy hour is a moral imperative.

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