Years ago, when I first started writing this column, I told a friend I was thinking of writing about the best patios in Rochester. Her reply? “Best patio? You mean best view of a parking lot?”
At the time, the comment was fair. But it just isn’t anymore. Existing and new restaurateurs care about providing an inviting al fresco experience.
And now that it’s suddenly summer in Minnesota, we need to get our game faces on and pack every summer experience during this too-short span of beautiful weather. By this weekend, my husband will be camping and fishing and who knows — we’ll probably have the sprinkler out.
And since warmer weather obviously also means we’ll be eating all of our food outdoors as often as possible, you’re gonna need to know about all the best restaurant patios in the area. I’m here for you.
Here are my favorite outdoor dining spaces in Rochester, in no particular order.
ZZest Café and Bar (1190 16th St. SW) — Still one of the best patios in the city, this private, roofed space is open to the river flowing along the back of the restaurant’s property. You feel a little like you’re in a different world — food included. Yum.
Forager Brewery (1005 Sixth St. NW) — Forager gets the award for “feels like you’re in your own backyard” patio experience. There’s a pergola, a nice expanse of lawn, foliage and little decorative touches. Sometimes, you can even enjoy the aroma of spent grain from the beer brewing process, too.
La Vetta (30 Third St. SE) — It’s seven floors up, overlooks the city skyline, has mini fireplaces, and you can order food from a limited menu of Terza specialties. Yep, it’s pretty special.
Twigs (401 Sixth St. SW) — Even though it’s at a busy street corner, Twigs makes you feel as if you’re in the middle of a city garden with strategically placed shrubbery, sofas, heaters and umbrellas. That is to say, it’s a delightful respite from the hustle and bustle, even though you’re still in the middle of it.
Chester’s (Shops At University Square, 111 S Broadway #108) — I love picnicking on the Peace Plaza downtown. Even better is eating on the Chester’s patio (which is located on Peace Plaza) because they make the food for me and keep bringing me drinks.
Tap House (10 Third St. SW) — When it expanded into the building next door and added a fantastic food menu, the Tap House patio game really kicked into overdrive. It’s a beautiful rooftop space that’s packed by 5:30 p.m. most nice nights and features live music, too. And did you hear? Pretty soon, the Tap House is going to be opening up for lunch Monday through Saturday.
Five West (1991 Commerce Drive NW) — This newcomer barely got to break in its patio before the cold of winter swept in, but it’s sure to be a showstopper this season. Fireplace tables, an outdoor bar and a fountain overlook are highlights of this beautiful space.
Which one did I miss? Shoot me a note with your favorite patio, and I’ll get it in a future column.
Mark your calendars: Rock the Block on 4/29
Just in time for spring, the Tap House is hosting a “Beer Street Social” from 5 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 29. Live music will accompany the brews, and Triple T BBQ will be providing food. Come out to celebrate on Historic Third Street.