Photo: @whiskey_tree at Saint Paul Brewing
Written by: Mecca Bos
Dads, grandads, savvy grandmas and Minnesotans of all kinds come to think of it, have long known that one of the best ways to stay warm is from the inside out. Drinking beer and brown liquor outdoors (or sometimes in the garage) is one of our favorite ways to while away the winter.
Toss in an outdoor heat lamp and woolen blankie, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine doing it any other way (OK, that might be overstating things). But the point is, we don’t let a little matter like low mercury get in the way of throwing a few back on the patio.
Nine places to eat and drink in the open air (no garage necessary):
Please check individual locations to confirm accuracy. Some may require reservations or have changing Covid-19 restrictions or accommodations.
Saint Paul Brewing
On the site of the Historic Hamm’s Brewery, since 1865 in the Land of Sky Blue Waters, the patio with outdoor tents, heaters and fire pits at Saint Paul Brewing has leveled up with a fire pit in a canoe. Who needs water when there’s fire, ice, and beer?
The unofficial favorite craft pub of serious Twin Cities beer snobs, The Gnome is ground zero for everything brewski related with a seemingly endless tap list and truly excellent bar food to pair. Not into beer? Check out the January 29 cider brunch, with four courses and four paired ciders. Heated patio with fireplaces.
Lake Monster Brewing
Always a stripped-down brewery with no table service and no kitchen, Lake Monster is low on pretense and high on welcoming everybody— including dogs. Dogs allowed outside and in, and most nights food trucks are parked outside for in or outdoor dining. Or, BYOF (bring your own food) and buy your beer here. Four wood fires, four propane fire tables, and many standing heaters.
St. Paul’s official brasserie and zinc bar and the place to go for an elegant French experience of oysters, bubbles, French Onion Soup that defines over-the-top, plus many other brasserie faves. Meritage's sidewalk patio has been outfitted with outdoor heating and lap blankets for Parisienne-style people watching and classic moules frites.
An ultimate classic Irish Pub St. Paul-style, McGovern’s has long been the site of many a pre- and post- stadium pub and grub shenanigan. The building dates to the turn of the century, and a no-frills menu (burgers, nachos, wings, et. al) gives you a feel for this working-class West 7th neighborhood. Take advantage of outdoor fire pits for a better feel for the scene on the Ave.
Red Cow is a small, independently-owned burger chain well-loved for their takes on what feels like every burger known to the genre (candied bacon, balsamic onion jam, even vegan and beyond). Pair with a shake (boozy or not boozy) and head outside to the patio, weather permitting.
Urban Growler Brewing Company
As the first women-owned microbrewery in Minnesota, this fact alone is reason to visit Urban Growler. But also an authentic Midwestern style Friday Fish Fry year round, and outdoor beer garden. “Midwest Cabanas” are available for reservation with access to fire pits and food available to order on steam tables so it stays hot all night long. Call ahead to reserve.
Housed in the oldest surviving commercial building in Minnesota (constructed in 1857) Waldmann Brewery has been restored as its original purpose as a German lager saloon, and retains its wood stoves, virgin pinewood floors, and hand-blown window glass. The Smith Avenue location is still a German enclave, and the beer and the menu reflect it— wursts, spazle, and pils. Go for their Winter Carnival Watch Party as the parade passes right in front of the brewery.
Winter Beer Dabbler
Can’t decide? Try all the beers at the 2022 Winter Beer Dabbler where unlimited samples of beers allow an all-access pass. What’s better than one beer? All of them.
Mecca Bos is a Twin Cities based food writer and professional chef. Thinking of tacos and travel are hobbies. Her work can be found at meccaboswrites.com