Jack Riebel's house of cured meats opened to raves in March. But with this month's opening of its hotly anticipated new patio, Butcher & the Boar is destined to become a bourbon-lovers' summertime paradise.
The sunken beer garden certainly lives up to the hype. Sprawling over approximately 5,000 square feet, the patio has room for 251 patrons, more than doubling the restaurant's capacity. Riebel has built an oak barrel-laden back yard that feels more like a tipplers' town square than a fine-dining destination.
High walls seclude the coop from its surroundings in the Harmon Place Historic District, but an uncluttered layout and large picnic tables seem more conducive to commingling than intimate dining (although the tree-trunk high-tops are perfect for two). Most of the tables are counter-service only, with a limited menu that is still coming together -- let's hope their infamous footlong sausage makes the cut. Until then, only a single rotating food option will be available -- the day of our stop it was a fiery pulled-turkey sandwich, unpretentiously served on a metal tray with plastic cutlery. The full menu of carnivorous creations is available only if you're lucky enough to grab one of the few tables on the top rung, near the wood-burning fireplace.
With an outdoor bar boasting 30 different tap handles, this meat maven's new court is destined to become a hot spot for beer geeks, as well. We're already planning our return.
After being a little late to the party last year, the Uptown Italian restaurant is primed for its first full season with its spiffy new rooftop. Stretching across the top of a neighboring salon, the rustic mezzanine is large enough to accommodate plenty of tables without feeling overcrowded -- an appreciated feature when planning a romantic date. While an obstructive billboard thwarts the view to the east (thanks a lot, Clear Channel), the top of the restaurant, just blocks away from Lake Calhoun, provides the perfect setting for a sunset dinner. Alas, Amore's happy hour doesn't make it up the stairs, but this quietly beloved eatery has gotten one serious upgrade.
Cowboy Jack's (coming soon)
This new downtown Minneapolis hotspot-in-the-making comes via the After Midnight Group -- the cowboy-bar kings behind Cowboy Slim's and the suburban Cowboy Jack's restaurants, as well as the Joint and the Cabooze. Occupying the multi-level space next to Epic, the newest Cowboy Jack's location will provide Twins fans with an unpretentious rooftop -- currently used as a balcony by Epic -- for pre-gaming. Though construction is still underway, a bronze-colored bull has already claimed the veranda, as game-day specials have materialized. AMG brass hopes to have the country-themed bar and its mechanical bull operating by summer.
- Patio guide 2012: Take it outside In search of the Twin Cities' best hotbeds of restaurant and bar patios