Friday, August 20, 2010

The Oh-God-Summer-Is-Over Patio List

Oh God! Summer is almost over! Where did it go? We never went camping, fishing, tubing or anything fun! All we did was worked and sat around in our air conditioned apartments re-watching Quantum Leap (did you know that they have like five seasons on Netflix?)!

Fear not, dear readers. Summer has not quite yet escaped our grasp, but it slips, like sand through the hourglass, through our tightly clenched little fingers. In an attempt to prolong summer’s glory I have been eating outdoors whenever possible. Here are my favorite places for outdoor chow time.

Top Outdoor Patios (Food)
Target Field
What would summer be without baseball? Hotdogs, beer, peanuts and crackerjacks. When the Twinnies are on a winning streak at Target Field you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot to grab a dog and a brew and watch the action. Good people watching, good baseball and stadium food, if the price tag for admission weren’t so high I’d be there every night!

Grumpy’s Downtown
My favorite spot to hit after the game for a drink and some company, Grumpy’s Downtown sports a sizeable patio, a great Greasy Spoon menu served til 11pm and appetizers until 1am in case of extra innings. Also a great place to drink beer before a day game and feel right at home with everyone else who is drinking at noon on a Wednesday!

Common Roots
One of the most charming patios on the list, Common Roots boasts an ever changing menu of locally grown delights, many of which are harvested from a garden in the back yard. With a couple local brews on tap as well as fresh brewed Peace Coffee all day, Common Roots is one of my favorite places to grab lunch or dinner in Uptown.

Victor’s 1959 Revolutionary Café
Viva Cuba! Although Cuba is far, far away, Victor’s is a great place to catch a few rays and pretend that it’s not going to be negative twenty degrees in a few short months. Whenever I can rouse myself early enough (read: when I end up passing out somewhere in Uptown) I like to catch Victor’s early morning happy hour 8-10:30AM on weekdays and grab myself a mimosa and some yucca fries out on their cozy little patio.

Bryant Lake Bowl
Whenever I find myself in Uptown I quite frequently end up at the BLB. Happy hour apps are a must (mock duck spring rolls, mmmm) and the beer selection is unparalleled in that part of town. Although a new law requires you to actually be sitting down while you drink your beer on one of the narrowest patios I’ve ever seen, BLB’s outdoor seating is some of the best people watching in town. Watch hipster moms try to wrangle fixed gear strollers down Lake street and see how many prostitutes they have to avoid! Ten points!

Squeezed in right next to eachother on Nicollet Mall, the patios at Barrio and the Local are no-brainers for this list. The Local’s patio is always hopping yet one seems to always be able to find a seat. Barrio’s shoulder-to-shoulder vibe gives the impression of knocking back tequilas in a cramped bar in Oaxaca. Small plates at both places are the way to go. Try the chicken shots at the Local and the Beef Tenderloin Anticuchos at Barrio while you watch the suits scurry home.

Psycho Suzi’s
In my neck of the woods when you think “food” and you think “patio” one name springs to mind, “Psycho Suzi’s.” With a big ol’ fenced in patio, drinks in tiki mugs and a pizza menu as long as Johnny the Shark’s rap sheet, this kitschy, rockabilly themed joint has a lot going for it in the outdoors department. Bonus points for attractive, tattooed staff and clientele.

Bulldog NE
Late night happy hours, tater tots and truffle oil, oh my! Northeast’s premier burger joint has a decent sized patio, cheap appetizers at night and just so happens to be on my way home. Do I spend a lot of time on this patio? You betcha! Grab a Tilburg on tap and sit yourself down with a basket of tots and try to imagine winter, I dare you.

Probably the fanciest and/or schmantziest patio on the list, Pracna affords a great view of the Mississippi and her bridges. Bring a date and a full wallet and you just might get lucky, son. If Pracna’s patio is full slip over to Vic’s just down the block and catch a great deal on some wine.

Voted number one by my readers and friends, Brasa may not have the best view, but they arguably have the best food. If you’re not hip to the Brasa vibe it’s all South American home cookin’. The patio fills up quick but the garage door windows open up and even if you’re sitting inside you’re basically outside. The cornbread is a must, but really, you can’t go wrong with that menu.

Mill City Café
Probably the most idyllic patio on the list, the Mill City Café is tucked away up here in Nordeast in the California building. It’s a great place to take a date or just to rub elbows with the obscure and artsy but don’t show up too late as MCC is only open for breakfast and lunch. Good food, great ambiance and Mill City holds the distinction of being the only two-tiered patio on the list! Yeah!

Honorable Mention:
Uptown Bar
You will be missed, old friend. When I lived on the south side of town the Uptown Bar was my stomping ground. You can’t beat big ass bloody marys, beautiful people and crazy bums mingling in the street and a hamburger that would make your arteries slam shut in fear. Hopefully the New Uptown Bar can hold on to some of that magic for us.

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