The only downside to taking a seat in this leafy, well-appointed North Loop respite is that it means giving up a spot inside at the nostalgia-inducing bar, still one of the city’s best-looking watering holes. Highlights on the old-school menu include the chicken wings, the steak sandwich and the “Plaza” burger, a beef patty topped with sour cream and onions and served on a pumpernickel bun.
219 3rd Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-5900, montecarlomn.com
Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub
Head to the shaded patio and dive into the handicraft of brewers Jamie Robinson and Joel Scott, then stay for chef Jason Foster’s menu, which cleverly inserts smoke (and beer, naturally) into all kinds of hearty, beer-friendly dishes. Sunday brunch is a treat. Drop in on Tuesday (3 to 6 p.m.), when all brewed-on-the-premises beers are $2.50.
2716 E. 38th St., Mpls., 612-208-1450, northboundbrewpub.com
Red River Kitchen at City House
This seasonal gem is one of the few Twin Cities restaurants to boast a Mississippi River location, and it’s a doozy, with a sunny patio that’s perched right on the water. The food truck-like menu covers all kinds of quick, tasty bases, from tacos to sandwiches to nachos — with a nod to those following vegetarian and gluten-free diets — and also features a small list of beer, wine and cider options.
258 Mill St., St. Paul, redriverkitchen.com/ city-house