The 2014 patio season has arrived, finally.
Warm weather is a double blessing at fabulous Fika. First, the American Swedish Institute’s restaurant boasts a one-of-a-kind outdoor dining venue, sandwiched in between the warmly contemporary Nelson Cultural Center and the forbidding fairy-tale castle that is the historic Turnblad mansion. Second, the patio adds much-needed capacity, a boon for the many fans of chef Dustin Thompson’s exciting and affordable Nordic fare. Lunch Tue.-Sun., dinner Wed.
2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., 612-870-4907, www.fikacafe.net
The tables stretched out on the sidewalk in front of Meritage pretty much own the market on urbanity. What a view! The eye candy includes Landmark Center, the St. Paul Hotel and Rice Park, and having the terra cotta glory that is the Hamm Building as a backdrop isn’t exactly architectural chump change. Chef/co-owner Russell Klein’s four-star cooking — starting with the Midwest’s top-performing oyster bar — more than stands up to the surroundings. Dinner Tue.-Sun., lunch Tue.-Fri., brunch Sat.-Sun.
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, www.meritage-stpaul.com
Sheltered from the street and surrounded on three sides by the Chambers Le Méridien Hotel, the highly civilized courtyard patio at Marin Restaurant & Bar has got to hold the prize for the most photogenic patio (non-rooftop edition, anyway) in downtown Minneapolis. Enjoy the stylish — and conversation-friendly — setting at breakfast, lunch and dinner, all served daily, and don’t miss a peek at chef Mike Rakun’s herb garden.
901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-252-7000, www.marinrestaurant.com