The long holiday weekend's weather forecast -- partly sunny skies, temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s -- has "patio" written all over it.
That's as good a reason as any to dig into the Burger Friday archive and select five premium burgers, served on five premium patios.
No. 1: Surly Brewing Co. This sprawling, $30 million-plus facility is an ideal destination for impressing out-of-town visitors, including the stretch of picnic tables (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) that line the stellar patio just outside the brewery's vast beer hall.
Earlier this year, chef Jorge Guzman retooled his double-patty burger (pictured, above), and it's a must for fans of the genre. Guzman, a rare talent (and a 2017 nominee for the James Beard Foundation's coveted Best Chef: Midwest award), is leaving in early August, That's when his extraordinary Brewer's Table -- located on the brewery's second floor, is closing (burger fans, not to worry: the beer hall isn't going anywhere). Guzman's departure, and the Brewer's Table demise, is a huge loss for the city's culinary scene.
No. 2: Mercy. The Le Meridien Chambers Hotel's restaurant is now in its fourth incarnation in a decade (for those not keeping track, the first three were Chambers Kitchen, D'Amico Kitchen and Marin Restaurant & Lounge), and what chef/owner Mike Rakun's recent remake has in common with all of its predecessors is its proximity to the hotel's most-excellent patio, a well-appointed courtyard respite that's tucked off the busy beaten path of most downtown Minneapolis sidewalk cafes. Burger-wise, Rakun is bucking the double-patty format, and the delicious results will no doubt set a trend, if they haven't already.
No. 3: Esker Grove. The just-debuted patio at the Walker Art Center's new-ish restaurant has got it going on, and then some, taking full advantage of its proximity to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In the going-overboard department, the patio also boasts downtown skyline views. When it comes to their burger, chefs Doug Flicker and T.J. Rawitzer are also demonstrating their affection for -- and skill set with -- the single-patty model. It doesn't hurt that the kitchen bakes a heckuva burger bun.
No. 4: Revival (St. Paul). When co-owners Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone opened the Cathedral Hill outpost of their fried chicken palace late last year, they chose a storefront (the former Cheeky Monkey Deli) that has many advantages over the original Revival's cramped south Minneapolis headquarters. Namely, space, including a nicely decked-out alley patio. More seats equals less waiting for a table in this no-reservations zone, right? Well, probably not. But this diner-style, bacon-crowned cheeseburger -- it played a major role in jump-starting the Twin Cities' burger craze -- is more than worth the wait.
No. 5: Constantine. Monello chef Mike DeCamp looked to his formative teenage years, when he worked the line at McDonald's, for inspiration when he devised the over-the-top burger that he serves in the evenings at Constantine, the basement-level bar below the restaurant. When the weather turned warm, and Monello's very pleasant patio kicked open, DeCamp started serving a doubled-up patty version (with fries) at lunch.
Calendar item: Burger Friday is on vacation, and will return on July 14.