We get it, Minnesota. You like to drink outside. Winter’s constant encroachment on patio season has created a state full of al fresco addicts, who cram into the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants as soon as frostbite’s not a factor. Accordingly, restaurateurs are going to insane lengths to create the biggest, baddest, most over-the-top attractions to lure fair-weather imbibers. Real talk: It’s gotten excessive up in here. And we love it. Like a 10-year-old on two liters of Mountain Dew, we’re jacked on patios that are totally freakin’ EXTREME! From fanciful food to elaborate fixtures, some stand out from the increasingly indulgent crowd for different reasons.*
Extreme Altitude: Stella’s Fish Cafe
1400 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-824-8866 • www.stellasfishcafe.com
Since taking over the former Tonic space in 2005, Stella’s has literally been a pillar of Uptown’s rooftop scene. Uptown now claims five top-floor terraces, but sky-eyeing imbibers still flood this four-floored seafood restaurant, aiming to get onto its patio on summer nights. Coincidentally or not, the high-dining harbinger added a second-level deck shortly after Uptown Cafeteria opened its rival rooftop on the other side of Lake Street in 2010. Stella’s 48-seat area puts guests even closer to the clouds, though Uptown’s skyline got more crowded when the 10-story MoZaic development popped up last year. Stella’s still boasts a stellar view of downtown Minneapolis, but once the six-story Walkway building is completed this fall, some sightlines could be clipped. Regardless, the oyster peddler is an O.G. of Uptown in-the-air eateries.
Extreme accessory: retractable roof at Union
731 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-455-6690 • www.unionmpls.com
The Crave crew was dreaming big when it decided to carve a tri-level dining, drinking and dancing epicenter into the downtown Minneapolis building that long housed Shinders (we’ll take fine food and craft cocktails over baseball cards and porno mags, thank you). But the crown jewel of the multimillion-dollar project sits above Union’s 6,000-square-foot rooftop terrace. These days having a rooftop patio downtown is like driving a Lamborghini in Beverly Hills, but Union became the Hennepin Joneses by adding a custom-built retractable roof to its top-floor terrain. Owner Kam Talebi spotted a similar contraption at a restaurant in Turkey and worked with the same manufacturer on his urban greenhouse-like covering, which can open or close in less than five minutes. The climate-catering conservatory is heated or cooled to fit any season. So, however Mother Nature smites us, it’s a perfectly elegant perch from which to flip her the bird.
Extreme Suburban sprawl: Lord Fletcher’s & Maynard’s
3746 Sunset Dr., Spring Park • 952-471-8513 • www.lordfletchers.com
685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior • 952-470-1800 • www.maynardsonline.com
The suburbs don’t usually scream “extreme” (except for the Extreme Fajitas at your favorite flair-wearing chain). But the big boys of Lake Minnetonka take drink-deck excess to the max. Collectively, owners of Lord Fletcher’s and Maynard’s say they occupy 9.5 acres of waterfront real estate, and their capacious patios are summertime stars. Lord Fletcher’s can pack more than 800 people onto its lengthy lakeside swath, and also features three volleyball courts and a jumbo 30-foot TV used for sports games or video DJs. Last spring Maynard’s underwent a quarter-million-dollar remodel and added a towering stone fireplace with an attached 60-inch TV. With roughly 140 slips between them, the boat-up bars are beacons for both locals and trust-fund party boys who need somewhere to nosh (and take shots) before, during and after a big day at Big Island.
Extreme Exotica: Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
1900 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-788-9069 • www.psychosuzis.com
Leslie Bock’s carefully cultivated tiki carnival is an ode to outrageousness, and its patio is the main attraction. The nearly 8,000-square-foot piazza, lined with thatched umbrellas and tiki statues that could have come from the set of “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” is almost always packed in the summer. This torchlit oasis for the outlandish has become a Nordeast Never Never Land, but with drunk PedalPubbers instead of pirates. This year Bock and her decidedly alt staff added an 869-square-foot deck extending from the château de shameless’ second level. Psycho Suzi’s rummed-up cocktails come in various shades of nuclear waste and are served in tiki-tacky mugs that beg to be boosted (hence the $5 deposit). Hell, even the drink menu has attitude, promising certain potions will “bring you to new heights of disgrace” or make you as “completely brainless” as a zombie.
Extreme makeover: Cossetta Alimentari
211 W. 7th St., St. Paul • 651-222-7378 • www.cossettas.com
If you haven’t been down St. Paul’s W. 7th Street in a while, you may not have noticed that your parents’ pizzeria has a new look. And it’s not some shoddy budget perm like your mom rocked in the ’80s — we’re talking a $12.5 million remodel. The restaurant/Italian market has doubled in size, adding the sit-down Louis Ristorante & Bar on the third floor last fall. Don’t worry, you can still snag a quick slice downstairs. But the revamp’s coolest component, curious tipplers, is the 135-seat rooftop patio, which officially opened at the end of April. Aiming for Italian authenticity, all the tables and chairs surrounding the newly minted outdoor bar were imported from the mostaccioli motherland. St. Paul’s been a laggard in the drinking-on-high scene, so a rooftop to rival the neighboring Liffey is a healthy addition.
Extreme Eats: Butcher & the Boar
1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-238-8888 • www.butcherandtheboar.com
Jack Riebel’s restaurant is all the rage. With Butcher & the Boar, the Twin Cities chief of charcuterie hit a home run with his collection of carnivorous offerings, and picked up a James Beard nomination this year as he rounded the bases. B&B’s equally out-of-the-park patio makes for one enticing back yard, an urban sanctuary where meat, beer and bourbon abound. To take in Riebel’s full menu of pig’s foot salads and wild boar hot links under the sun, snag a table on the porch immediately outside the restaurant. But the limited menu available in the sunken beer garden is far from tame. Recent trips have yielded a zesty Cajun sausage and a generous meat plate with pickled beef heart and a sapid spreadable that our bartender described as essentially a rooster confit. Always a winner, the loaded foot-long — heaping with Fresno peppers and fried potato strings — looks like someone cherry-bombed a chef’s picnic and artfully dolloped the remnants onto a bun-defying wiener. This is one high-level hot dog.