Southwest Metro Restaurant Patios Open for Summer

Patio fare that’ll leave you feeling satisfied, not stuffed.
Strawberry salmon salad at Island View Dining.

Vitamin D levels are up, convertible tops are down, and you’ve been visiting with the neighbors again: It must be summer in Minnesota. Here are eight dishes with a summerlike flair that will be calling out your name this season, along with eight lovely patios to serve as the pleasant surround for wiling away the hours on a lazy summer afternoon or evening.

Seared Ahi Tuna
Redstone American Grill
Behold the clean flavors of the seared Ahi tuna at Redstone, an appetizer of sushi grade tuna coated in sesame seeds and black pepper, seared rare and served chilled over Asian slaw with wasabi, pickled ginger and a soy lime dressing ($14.50). With plates like these, who needs salad? If you’re cavorting with a large group of friends, the dish can be bulked up as a double portion or a platter. As for the patio scene, the front area imparts a loungy vibe with couches and a fire pit, but it’s a bit more romantic in the back area, overlooking the pond, with lit fountains and a full service bar. Heat lamps extend the season in the spring and fall. “We pride ourselves on being the first patio to open and the last one to close every year,” says general manager Cathy Justice. 8000 Eden Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.903.9500

Seafood Stewpot
Lola’s Lake House
When you need a vacation, but have only one evening to spare, head to the patio at Lola’s Lake House. Surely you’ll be able to cast away your troubles by taking in the stunning view of Lake Waconia, with boat slips at the 100-foot marina so you can dock up and dine. When it’s time to order, go for the seafood stewpot, a cast iron pot full of clams, shrimp, andouille sausage, fresh fish, salmon and mussels in a tomato broth, served with crusty bread ($19.50). Ask them to shake up one of the “boat sippers” – a special drinks menu that comes out every year ($1 off during happy hour), and if it’s between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., scan through the new happy hour snack menu, with mini-versions of the popular stone-fired pizzas and more. Live music is offered on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. 318 E. Lake St., Waconia; 952.442.4954

Avocado Shrimp Salad
Santorini Taverna
The citrusy, tangy and earthy flavor combination in the avocado shrimp salad ($12) – made with poached shrimp, mixed greens, avocado, grapefruit and a mango dressing – shows off the tastes of summer like nobody’s business. On Santorini’s tiki-style patio, overlooking a nearby creek, you’ll want to quench your thirst with the popular sangria, available in white, with apple, peach and vanilla bean, or red with Thai basil. Happy hour runs from 4 – 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 – close, Sunday through Thursday, with small bites like barbecued shrimp skewers, gyro melts, spreads like hummus and mini-burgers running from $2 - $5. 13000 Technology Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.546.6722

Smith Douglas More House Dunn Bros.
Set outside the historic Smith Douglas More house, and featuring a gazebo that plays host to 150-year old grapevines, the fenced-in patio at this one-of-a-kind Dunn Bros. coffee shop will have you thinking about more than a morning latte on the quick. There’s wine and beer on the menu, along with an amazingly fresh bruschetta, made with tomato, garlic and herbs and served with warmed baguette. At $6.75, the price is right for a light lunch or evening snack. In a similar vein, the house made hummus on warm pita and the olive tapenade are simple, light and moderately priced dishes. The beer list focuses on craft brews including Lagunitas India Pale Ale, Red Stripe Jamaican Lager and Summit Horizon Red. The café is open late in the summer, until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. 8107 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.934.0145

Strawberry Salmon Salad
Island View Dining
Now in its 20th year, Island View Dining built a reputation for bright summery cuisine like the strawberry salmon salad made with fresh grilled salmon, mixed greens, mandarin oranges, red onion, avocado and strawberries ($10.59). Sandwiches like the barbecue chicken carnitas, lighter pastas and shrimp scampi also go down well in the summer. Bloody Marys are made from scratch and this summer, the bartenders are looking to serve the perfect margarita, says Kim Heenie, who owns the restaurant with her husband and chef, Kevin Heenie. The patio overlooks the scenic and semi-private, 18-hole Island View Golf Course. Look for daily specials like 35-cent wings on Wednesdays or a beer-of-the-month, a featured beer from one of the 16 taps that’ll cost you just $3. 7795 Laketown Pkwy., Waconia; 952.442.2956

Bacon Cheeseburger
Victoria Bar and Grill
On certain summer days, nothing but a super fresh, juicy burger will do. At Victoria Bar and Grill, all of the burgers are hand pattied, with fresh ground beef from Fresh Seasons Market in Victoria, which owner Brenda Hovander swears by. The bacon cheeseburger ($7.49) is the best-selling burger of the bunch, and you might want to consider stopping by on a Monday, when the daily special is the $2.99 burger. Located at the end of the bike trail and just across from Steiger Lake, the outdoor patio draws in bicyclists, motorcyclists, pet-owners and families. 7900 Quamoclit, Victoria; 952.443.2542

Greek Salad
Charlie's Grill @ Chaska Town Course ($9)
Something about a Greek salad sounds right for summer, and the one at Charlie’s Grill is no exception, with feta cheese, kalamata olives, locally grown tomatoes, crisp romaine and pepperocinis, all tossed with a Greek vinaigrette. The basic salad is $9, but customers love to add protein – chicken, walleye or shrimp – for an additional $2.50–$3.50. The patio views the 18th hole at the Chaska golf course and Lake Bavaria wetlands, with sunset specials to sweeten the view each night. 3000 Town Course Dr., Chaska; 952.443.3192

Chicken Chop Salad
Jake's City Grill
At Jake’s City Grill, the two-tiered patio is prime, and in the summertime, the kitchen will start to see orders for salads, like the Chicken chop salad ($12), coming in left and right. “Many places have a chop salad,” says manager Angie Heinz, “but to me, ours is unique because it’s a little bit sweeter and more refreshing.” This entrée-sized version is made with mixed greens, tomato, bacon, scallion, cranberries, chicken, and blue cheese crumbles, tossed in a sweet poppy seed vinaigrette. Jake’s patio, which sits high up on a hill overlooking the west side of Eden Prairie, offers sunset views and a separate full service bar with a large flat screen TV for the game-watching set. 12365 Singletree Ln., Eden Prairie; 952.930.3742