5 Restaurants for Patio & Rooftop Dining in Minnesota
By Lisa Havelka
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As the days start getting longer, temperatures start to rise and patio furniture makes its first appearance of the season, it can only mean one thing: patio season has arrived in Minnesota.
There’s nothing like the smell of the barbeque grill in the air to get you outdoors for good food, friends and conversation. And this year, of course, patio and rooftop dining is more appealing than ever thanks to low outdoor transmission rates of COVID-19.
So with table legs clanking, glasses clinking and outdoor lights illuminating, enjoy the view at these outdoor patios, rooftops and lakeside decks across Minnesota.
W.A. Frost & Company, St. Paul
When it comes to outdoor dining in the Twin Cities, few restaurants can compete with the picturesque, tree-lined patio at W.A. Frost. A staple of St. Paul’s historic Cathedral Hill neighborhood for over 40 years, W.A. Frost pairs fine dining with an award-winning wine list and one of Minnesota’s most charming patios.
The expansive back patio is surrounded by a combination of leafy trees and the Dacotah Building’s ivy-covered, 100-year-old brick walls. Fire pits, string lighting and perfectly placed flowerpots add to the dreamy, fairytale-like atmosphere. If you’re looking to celebrate in style, it’s one of our favorite upscale bars in the Twin Cities.
To find alfresco dining in Rochester, you should look up. Rochester’s rooftop restaurants, including The Tap House, Crave and Kathy’s Pub, are just a few that have popped up in the southern city’s skyline. The Tap House, as its name suggests, offers 50 beers on tap and a rooftop patio with a large fireplace and patio heaters. For locally sourced food and delicious mixed drinks with a view of the bustling downtown Rochester streetscape, head to the rooftop patio at Crave for brunch or dinner.
For entertainment while you dine, take in a rooftop show over Kathy’s Pub. Known for years for its live music inside, Kathy’s now offers a rockin’ rooftop good time during the summer months.
Sol Ave. Kitchen & Junkyard Brewing Company, Moorhead
The neighboring patios at Junkyard Brewing Company and Sol Ave. Kitchen offer an unbeatable combination of Minnesota food and brews. Sol Ave.'s bright blue paint job and rolled-up garage doors contrast sharply with the metallic, industrial vibes at Junkyard Brewing, but while they look very different, both patios are ideal places to unwind after a long summer day of exploring Northwest Minnesota.
Sol Ave. offers a fast, casual assortment of street food-style meals packed with Mexican flavors, from Korean beef tacos to fried Brussels sprouts, roasted jalapeño and sweet potato pupusas. Meanwhile, the menu at Junkyard Brewing is stacked with over-the-top candy stouts and creative sours.
Gun Flint Tavern, Grand Marais
At the gateway to the Gunflint Trail and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, tucked along the harbor of Lake Superior in downtown Grand Marais, is the Gun Flint Tavern. After a long day of hiking or canoeing, you’ll want to kick back at the tavern’s Ravens Nest rooftop, with its unobstructed views of the harbor and surrounding wilderness. The roof deck offers a full-service bar to enjoy a craft beer (brewed on-site), organic food and live music on the weekends.
Launch Bar & Grill, Onamia
The warm summer breeze coming off the lake sets the scene at the waterfront Launch Bar & Grill inside Eddy’s Resort on Lake Mille Lacs. Recognized for its good service and contemporary atmosphere, craft beer selection and unique food offerings, the Launch serves dishes including beer-battered deviled eggs and other fun twists on standard bar food.
But it’s the incredible views along the west shores of Lake Mille Lacs that really set the Launch apart. Whether peering out from the oversized windows inside the restaurant or outside on the large patio, you'll feast your eyes on Eddy’s 1960s bright red-trimmed launch boats that dot the beautiful shoreline of Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake.
Lisa Havelka is the southern regional coordinator for Explore Minnesota. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Lisa loves antiquing, visiting Minnesota wineries, riding motorcycles, and catching live shows at Minnesota’s many music venues.
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