Cooling Foods from Southwest Metro Restaurants.

Cooling foods to beat hot weather in the Southwest Metro
Savor the salmon strawberry salad from Island View Dining in Waconia.

It’s getting hot in here. January’s trauma is distant enough for us to whine about the heat without compunction. Our internal thermostats have adjusted along with our appetites. Tater tot hot dish is but a shadow of a memory—now we anticipate meals of cooling, light foods. From chilled soups to fruit-based salads, this guide takes a spin through some of the southwest metro restaurants’ best cold specialties to keep you charged—and charmed—on summer’s hottest days.

Green Olive Catering
Strawberries are the clarion call of a Minnesota summer; their fleeting sweetness represents all that is precious about our warmth months. We love the luscious fruit in a pie, in a smoothie (or a margarita!) or simply popped into our mouths, fresh from the field. Green Olive Catering honors the beloved berry in a cold strawberry soup that is as elegant as it is delectable. We may think of soup as a winter warmer, but this chilled take is both refreshing and energizing; it fairly vibrates with bright berry flavor. We weren't surprised to learn that chef and owner Mary Sjodin visits a local farm and picks the berries herself. Cup $3.49, bowl $4.99. 37 W. 1st St.; Waconia; 952.442.3949;

Som Tum, aka green papaya salad, is a classic Thai dish that’s as refreshing as a dash through the sprinkler. The spicy-sour Thai seasonings, crushed peanuts and tart bits of exotic fruit commingle in a sexy (and gluten-free!) health bomb. Herbs frolic on the plate with cucumber, lettuce, bean sprouts and lime juice while the young papaya has a tart, almost floral aspect that is chow-able and alluring at once. The restaurant thoughtfully recommends an off-dry California Riesling to sip alongside. $8. 1330 Technology Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.641.5777;

Chaska My Love
Chill out with some chilled seafood, Mexican-style. The shrimp cocktail at Chaska my Love is the stuff of dreams: three pink fatties perch on the rim a hefty goblet while many more swim in the depths of the red sauce, about 20-25 total. Fish them out one by one and pair with the creamy avocado slices on top. If you’re lucky, you can include an order of ceviche in the cool ocean mix (available on weekends). The word ceviche, perhaps a variation of the indigenous Quechua dish siwichi, refers to a recipe of fresh fish that has been “cooked” in citrus; in this case, lime juice. It’s chopped finely to a dip-like consistency and lightly seasoned with chili; each bite is bracing, clean and refreshingly tart. Scoop it up with a crunchy corn tostada. Order at the counter and get it to go: find a cool breeze in the shade in which to sup. Cocktail, $9.95; Ceviche, $3.00 each. 127 W. 4th St., Chaska; 952.368.0350;

Island View Dining at Island View Golf Club
As good-looking as it is tasty, this salad sports a rainbow of pink salmon, red strawberries and mandarin orange crescents. There’s something about fruit on a salad that turns ho-hum health food into swanky spa food, and this dish is a prime example of luxurious self-care. In addition to the fruit and fish, there is creamy avocado and red onion—both smart texture and flavor contrasts. After you devour the pretty chunks, eat the greens too, maybe while dreaming of your next morning on the green of the golf course. $12.59. 7795 Laketown Pkwy.,  Waconia; 952.442.2956;

Kai’s Sushi & Grill
Just one of Kai’s creatively named sushi rolls makes a complete meal, but it’s one that won’t weigh you down. If you choose the Alaskan Beauty Roll, you’d better like salmon, for it’s a salmon extravanganza of spicy salmon, fresh salmon, smoked salmon, avocado, and salmon roe. Salmon comes from Alaska, but how does beauty play into it? The omega 3 oils! They’re handmaidens of shiny hair, glowing skin and, some say, sharp brains. The fish is nicely balanced with flakes of crunchy tempura, mild avocado and a shellacking of sweet pineapple sauce. $15.95. 586 W. 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.923.2456; 

Rare Steak and Sushi
The image of cattle peacefully grazing in a field of green grass is cooling in itself, and in service of a classic Italian antipasto, the naturally-raised beef is remarkably tender, flavorful and light. Happy cow, meet happy eater. The beef tenderloin is seared until just rare, then sliced paper thin. Laid on a place with olives, capers, arugula, pickled onions, garlic aioli, lemon zest, pistachios, shaved parmesan cheese and a cider vinaigrette, it’s the busiest carpaccio that we have ever met. That’s what makes it so fun: the mixing and matching possibilities are endlessly engaging, especially with the help of some crusty grilled bread. What does a pistachio wrapped in raw beef taste like? Try it, you’ll like it. $12. At Lifetime Athletic, 755 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.829.8484;

This place is always festive no matter the time of year, but the carefree vibe of summer amps up the party. You’ll want to stay awhile, drink a considerable amount, and nibble on delicacies that fire you up rather than slow you down. There are many chowables to choose from; spreads and antipasti are ideal because they’re served at room temperature and easily overcome hot-weather peckishness. You can dip, nibble or hoover to satiety, whether a happy hour snack or a summer’s eve dinner.

It’s hard to choose just three of the offerings such as spicy feta, tzatziki, tahini hummus, roasted pepper hummus, Kalamata olive goat cheese tapenade, mixed Grecian olives. On the sultriest of days, we covet the cool cucumbers and yogurt in tzatziki, especially when paired with a kaleidoscopic mixture of salty, tangy olives and some rosy roasted red pepper hummus. Wash down the salty bits with an icy cosmopolitan, and anchor it with warm pita wedges. Stick around and dance it off till closing time at 2 a.m. $6. 13000 Technology Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.546.6722;

The Prairie Taphouse
The Waldorf salad dates back to the 1890s and it still tastes fresh today. Try the boldly Minnesotan twist on the classic at the Prairie Taphouse. The bulk of the salad is, of course, native wild rice. It’s cooked to nutty, chewy perfection and tossed with grapes, apples, red onion, dried cranberries, pecans, bacon and blue cheese—slightly more elaborate, not to mention decadent, than yesterday’s simple composition of apple, celery and walnuts. Instead of the traditional mayonnaise, a sweet honey Dijon dressing binds it together. It may be a salad, but it’s substantial enough to fuel a long, sweaty day on the prairie (or at the mall). $10.95. 8251 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.2174054;

Tommy’s Malt Shop
Tommy’s Malt Shop makes killer malted milkshakes: what more do you need to know? A tall, sweet, malted beverage is an American classic, always cool and always cooling. Tommy’s uses premium hard ice cream—not that wimpy soft-serve stuff—and every frosty one is whipped up on the spot. You can invent your own flavor from the considerable list, or go for one of their “specials,” like the S’more, a crazy-yummy combination of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate. The use of malted milk makes this treat seem a bit healthier: barley is a whole grain, right? $4.95. 2 River Bend Place, Chaska; 952.227.0263;