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Vote for the Best Bar in Uptown Manhattan

Vote for the Best Bar in Uptown Manhattan


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What’s the best cocktail in Upper Manhattan? Only one way to find out

There is one day left to vote in Harlem Park to Park’s second annual Battle of the Bars.

There is one day left to vote in Harlem Park to Park’s second annual Battle of the Bars. Local drinkers are encouraged to try specialty cocktails from 30 different bars across Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.

All of the cocktails were designed using Hennessy VS and Hendrick’s gin. Patrons are asked to vote for their favorites on Instagram @UptownBattle. The top 12 will then compete at a VIP finale event on May 19 for the title of Best Uptown Bartender.

Hendrick’s Gin gave local media a preview last week, and while I’d encourage you to try any of the cocktails on the list, if you are in the Harlem area, you are best advised to go to Silvana and check out mixologist Kali Erwin’s “Salvation.” This elegant blend of Hendrick’s gin, pear juice, sage, and white wine vinegar is savory, refreshing, and perfectly structured.

Tickets to the May 19 finale, which will be held at Harlem Tavern, cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door. They can be purchased at The Uptown Battle of the Bars.


10 of the best restaurants in Uptown Manhattan, New York

Cult burger shop Shake Shack has gone from an instantly popular Midwestern-style patty pusher to an international chain in just under five years. But while shack burgers and Chicago dogs can be had from South Beach to Dubai, nothing beats ordering the original burger at its birthplace in Madison Square Park. One nice by-product of expansion is that the perpetual line that wraps around the burger joint has lessened of late. Go on a nice day and order their thin classic shack burger, adorned with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and shack sauce. Vegetarians should try a fries side and their cheesy 'shroom burger. And it would be a shame to wait in that line and not try their criminally thick custard.
11 Madison Avenue, +1 212 889 6600, shakeshack.com, burgers and dogs $4-8.50


2021 Voting is Now Closed

Modeled after Schneps Media’s wildly successful Bethpage Best of the Boro and Bethpage Best of Long Island competitions, the Bethpage Best of the City program gives you the power to choose the best businesses in Manhattan — “east side, west side, uptown, downtown, all around the town!”

Through the Bethpage Best of the City campaign, you’ll nominate (and later vote for) Manhattan businesses for a wide variety of categories. There will be only one first-place winner in each category crowned BETHPAGE BEST OF THE CITY.

The Best of campaigns in Queens and Long Island have proven to be enormously successful for the businesses involved, and the Bethpage Best of the City figures to do wonders for the businesses that take part in the competition.

Schneps Media, publisher of The Villager, Downtown Express, Chelsea Now, Manhattan Express, New York Family, Gay City News and several other local outlets, utilizes all of their media assets to promote the Program including the nomination period, voting round and listing of all the winners.

Each business that wins gets the right to utilize the “Best Of” logo/mark that is promoted in a tremendous amount of marketing including plaques, banners, print advertisements, digital marketing, social media marketing, outdoor advertising, email signatures, business cards and so much more.

Recognition means the world to the winners, and along with that distinction comes a great deal of pride. The Bethpage Best of the City’s impact is undeniable—it touches hearts and changes lives with these unique and distinguished marks of excellence.


New on Resy: Momofuku Noodle Bar Columbus Circle, Henry at Life Hotel, Intersect by Lexus

From the much-anticipated second outpost of Dave Chang’s iconic Momofuku Noodle Bar to chef JJ Johnson’s snazzy new home in the Life Hotel, these restaurants are delicious, delightful, and best of all, newly bookable on Resy.

Party Size

Momofuku Noodle Bar Uptown

David Chang’s brainchild—the game-changing restaurant that redefined what it meant to eat out in New York City, and the principal piece of his empire—now has a fraternal twin who lives in Midtown and accepts reservations. Executive chef Tony Kim oversees a menu focused on steamed breads, noodles, and daily dishes, with highlights including smoked pork ramen and spicy oxtail rice cakes. Pro-tip: get a crew together and opt for the brisket banquet menu complete with garlic noodles and a selection of buns, salads, and sides.

HENRY at Life Hotel

Housed in the former HQ of LIFE Magazine, Henry at Life Hotel explores the flavors of the African diaspora. In the kitchen, chef JJ Johnson highlights his pan-African culinary style, drawing on Latin, Asian, and Caribbean inspirations. Expect piri piri clams, cornmeal crusted whole trout, and a drink program courtesy of mixologist Pam Wiznitzer, of Dead Rabbit fame.

Manresa at Intersect

A cultural hub made for New York, Intersect by Lexus gathers hospitality, design, and technology into one sleek space. Consider the second floor, where a restaurant helmed by Danny Meyer’s USHG will feature a rotation of chefs-in-residency, handpicked by Meyer himself. First up: Greg Marchand, the acclaimed French chef behind the beloved Frenchie neo-bistro in Paris and London.

La Cigogne

Tucked in Carroll Gardens, La Cigogne is a lovely neighborhood bistro dedicated to Alsatian cuisine. Famous for its hand-cut spätzles, and tartes flambées (with onions and lardons), the French Northeastern region is highlighted by none other than an Alsatian chef himself. Also on the menu: the French classics, from croque madame to steak frites, alongside a French wine list and cocktails.

Hachibei

Want to get a taste of an authentic unagi donburi without leaving the country? Hachibei is your best bet. The Midtown East restaurant sources its freshwater eel straight from Kumamoto, Kyushu (where Unagi is their specialty), and uses traditional grilling techniques and a secret sauce to ensure a perfectly plump and juicy result. P.S.: it’ll be the best grilled eel of your life.

Uncle Chop Chop

Named after a notorious Australian gangster, Uncle Chop Chop is a casual Aussie-style café dishing out Southeast Asian cuisine that pays tribute to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. We like the corn and squash fritters, balinese shredded roast duck, and date pudding with toasted coconut ice cream. Pro-tip: don’t look up what said Australian gangster did until the meal is over.

LIC Market

Drinkers of natural wine, rejoice: LIC Market is the only place in Queens that’s entirely dedicated to natural pours. A short walk from Court Square Station, this charming bistro offers an ever-changing, seasonal menu that pairs perfectly with their extensive list of wines, which includes labels from France, California, Austria, and more. Market-fresh favorites include slow-roasted duck hash, ricotta-and-pignoli salad, and the sausage-and-onion sandwich.

Nittis

A high-end yet cozy concept, Nittis is a modern take on a red sauce joint where a former Versace model (turned executive chef) serves iterations on the owners’ beloved family recipes. On the plate, expect cacio e pepe pizza, meatball Parmigiana, and square spaghetti Puttanesca. Ambiance-wise, it’s a mix between a 1950s film noir and 1980s New York.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que - Brooklyn

Other than having one of the best origin stories ever (hint: it started with three biker dudes doing makeshift barbecue on the road), Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is the perfect place for ridiculously delicious ribs, chicken wings, and mac’n cheese. Bring a large group for family-style sharing, and make sure someone orders the BBQ chili nachos.

The Hive

Farm-to-table reigns supreme at this new Brooklyn gastropub. With two Michelin-trained chefs in tow, The Hive serves masterful takes on comfort food classics, with global flavors and a hint of honey. Start off with fries and a couple signature house-made dips (black truffle carpaccio and super spicy mango habanero are surefire hits), before moving on to their perfectly executed sandwiches. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Savor Por Favor

Begin your evening at this little Mexican restaurant in the East Village with a Palomita: a sweet and tart cocktail made with agave’s closer, and smoother cousin, sotol. Savor Por Favor plays the hits: chicken mole enchilada, potato taquitos, chipotle-braised short ribs, and decadent refried beans are served alongside a mezcal and tequila-heavy cocktail program.

Las Lap

A tropical drinking den in the Lower East Side, Las’ Lap is a rum destination manned by mixologist Darnell Holguin. Food-wise, there’s Forbes 30 Under 30 chef Kelvin Fernandez in the kitchen, cooking up award-winning arepas, which famously beat Bobby Flay’s, and other West Indian and Caribbean classics.

Mokum

In its devotion to serving its community right, this Upper West Side oasis is committed to developing deep relationships with like-minded farmers and suppliers. From fresh pastries to signature ratatouille, an ever-changing array of comforting fare is available all day, every day. After all, in Yiddish, Mokum translates to “place” or “safe haven.”

BarBacon Union Square

BarBacon is a restaurant whose mission is to celebrate a beloved treat—bacon, of course—in all its glory. With a kitchen team dedicated to sourcing and utilizing the best artisanal bacon from across the country, you can bet that dishes like chicharron nachos and lamb bacon Reuben will satisfy.

Selamat Pagi

With a name that translates to “good morning” in Indonesian, Selamat Pagi is an accordingly delightful locale, tucked into a leafy residential block of Greenpoint and boasting a modern-day aesthetic with a pop of pink. The menu, which is rooted in tradition, is very friendly towards vegan and vegetarians and concentrates on ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, turmeric, coconut oil, and plenty of chili.


From waterfront to hot spots, our annual patio guide has it all

The patio at Nico’s Tacos on Como, 2260 Como Avenue, St. Paul, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

This year’s patio guide contains a dozen newly minted outdoor spaces we’ve visited this past year and can’t wait to tell you about.

Our annual guide also includes our perennial list of favorites in categories such as along-the-water haunts, neighborhood classics and current hotspots.

We also give you the lowdown on changed or improved patios, such as a backyard courtyard addition to Nico’s Tacos in St. Paul and new furnishings on the still-amazing patio at The Butcher’s Tale, in the former Butcher & The Boar space. (* = changed or improved patio).

Where you can get one, we recommend a reservation, especially this year when people are still more comfortable dining outside than in. And because of the pandemic, some restaurants require them.

We also want to encourage you to be patient as restaurants get their groove back, especially outdoors. In some cases, menus and hours might be limited, and there is a staffing shortage, so you might have to wait a little longer for food and drinks.

The second-floor patio at Omni Viking Lakes Hotel in Eagan is connected to the Ember & Ice Lounge with seating areas, firepits, its own bar and a great view overlooking the Vikings practice field, (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

EMBER & ICE, Omni Viking Lakes Hotel, 2611 Nordic Way, Eagan 651-689-9800 omnihotels.com/hotels/viking-lakes-minnesota: The contemporary Ember & Ice, the Omni Vikings Lakes Hotel second-floor patio connected to Ember & Ice lounge, boasts several seating areas, firepits, its own bar and a great view overlooking the Vikings practice field. All this while being able to enjoy a great cocktail and food list. The vibe in the lounge takes on Icelandic culture of the North, and that philosophy extends onto the patio. Note that patio season starts June 1 here.

ESTELLE, 1806 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul 651-330-9648 estellestp.com: The new hotspot serving excellent cocktails and Italian-, Spanish- and Portuguese-inspired dishes is ready for its first full-fledged patio season. In addition to sidewalk seating in front of the eatery, there’s a wood deck in the back. It’s decked out with wrought-iron furniture, vertical planters on the walls filled with herbs and string lights for just the right ambiance.

The new patio at the Handsome Hog on Selby Avenue in St. Paul, June 2020.(Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

HANDSOME HOG, 173 N. Western Ave., St. Paul 651.219.4013 handsomehog.com: It’s hard to believe that this new patio was once a pass-through with a few parking spots. Handsome Hog recently relocated from Lowertown to the former space of The Fitz on Cathedral Hill. The space has been transformed, including the addition of a 120-seat fenced-in patio decked out with a wrap-around bar, pergola, multiple seating areas, umbrellas, potted plants and flowers. And the food is great — you can’t go wrong with anything you order at this contemporary Southern restaurant.

THE GNOME CRAFT PUB, 498 Selby Ave., St. Paul thegnomepub.com: The Gnome, which replaced the Happy Gnome last year, has undergone a revamp, including an expansion of the patio that is now three times the size of the previous outdoor dining area. What’s more, the new 200-seat expansive wood deck dotted with tables and chairs takes advantage of shaded trees on the deck by adding hanging hammock swings — how fun is that? Enjoy pretty spring, summer and fall days here while dining on the menu of things such as cheese, charcuterie, relish trays, poutine, duck wings, hand-carved sandwiches and raclette, the Swiss dish with melted cheese. There’s even a “Milwaukee Pretzel,” a giant 30-ounce braided pretzel with shaved raclette. It’s go big or go home here.

HOPE BREAKFAST BAR, 1 S. Leech St. St. Paul hopebreakfast.com: Because of dining restrictions amid the coronavirus, cities have worked with restaurants to help drive up business. Creative alternatives have come from it, including St. Paul allowing a section of Leech Street to be closed so restaurants such as Hope Breakfast Bar, along with Cafe Astoria across the street, can spill their small patios onto the street, resulting in more seating on top of existing patios. Live music gives out a block party vibe. While here, consider Cafe Astoria across the street, which also has patio tables on Leech Street and where you can grab coffees, smoothie bowls, oatmeal bowls, crepes and salads.

The expanded patio at Iron Ranger has ornate fencing that blocks the parking lot from view. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

IRON RANGER, 1085 Grand Ave., St. Paul 651-487-1913 ironrangermn.com: This neighborhood favorite expanded its patio to include an outdoor bar and ornate fencing. It’s already caught on, so if you’re looking for a seat, best to arrive early. And definitely order a porketta sandwich when you’re there.

Diners enjoy the patio at Luci Ancora in St. Paul, Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

LUCI ANCORA, 2060 Randolph Ave., St. Paul 651-698-6889 luciancora.com: During the pandemic, Luci Ancora was allowed to add tables last summer on the property along the concrete sidewalk right next to the building facing the parking lot. This year, they’re amping it up by repairing the parking lot and sidewalk that includes brick pavers, planters, colorful umbrellas and rechargeable lights illuminating each table. The result: a quaint, charming patio with a country European/Italian feel, a perfect complement to the menu.

MANCINI’S CHAR HOUSE, 531 W. Seventh St., St. Paul 651-224-7345 mancinis.com: Before, the patio area at this longtime institution was just an afterthought, functioning more as a smoking den than anything. That all changed during the pandemic when Mancini’s went all out and created a pretty, landscaped patio with brick flooring, tented areas for shade and flower beds.

NINA’S COFFEE CAFE, 165 Western Ave., St. Paul 651-292-9816 ninascoffeecafe.com: Nina’s may be a longtime institution on Cathedra Hill, but it seems this spot is always up to something new. And this year, that includes a new sidewalk patio. It’s all thanks to supporters stepping up during the pandemic, in which Nina’s received an up-to-$5,000 match from an anonymous customer. Some of the money raised goes toward creating a 30-seat patio with umbrellas, planters and more.

The new patio at Shamrock’s on West Seventh Street. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

SHAMROCK’S PUB AND GRILL, 995 W. Seventh St., St. Paul 651-228-9925 crshamrocks.com: A bright spot of the pandemic is that places that are usually so busy they barely have time to catch their breath have finally tackled their patio projects. Shamrock’s has added a sweet little space with pavers, built-in wooden booths, picnic tables and a new bar that opens to the outside, with a separate indoor lounge in case of inclement weather. There’s a flowering tree planted in the corner of the space, and overall, it’s one of our favorite 2021 additions.

WOODFIRED CANTINA, 928 W. Seventh St., St. Paul woodfiredcantina.com: This new fast-casual Mexican spot in Keg and Case West 7th Market has plum patio space along bustling West Seventh Street. Includes an outdoor bar, plenty of seating and towers of pour-your-own margaritas.

The patio at Yumi Japanese restaurant on Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, July 11, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

YUMI JAPANESE RESTAURANT + BAR, 400 Selby Ave., St. Paul 651-207-6810 yumisushibar.com: Pssst … this new patio is so cute and the food so delicious that we almost don’t want to tell you about one of St. Paul’s best-kept al fresco dining secrets. In addition to a sizable indoor dining room, this Cathedral Hill spot features a more-than-30-seat outdoor dining space with bamboo and teak accents. A private, fenced-in patio offers some privacy from Selby Avenue. The space is just the right backdrop for dining on sushi rolls, sashimi plates, noodle dishes and teriyaki and tempura platters. Opens at 4 p.m. daily.

IN THE WORKS

Gloria’s To Go, 131 S. Main St., Stillwater 651-351-3943 leosgrill.com: The renovated patio at Leo’s in downtown Stillwater is slated for a late-May debut. Following the renovation, look for a new outdoor food concept serving soft-serve ice cream and hot dogs to roll out in June. This will be in addition to Leo’s current offerings such as burgers and malts.

DeGidio’s Restaurant & Bar, 651-291-7105 degidios.com: The longtime St. Paul institution just opened a new 60-seat patio with pavers and patio decor and landscaping. Reservations are available Friday and Saturday for now.

Acqua in White Bear Lake. (Pioneer Press: Nancy Ngo)

ALONG THE WATER/SCENIC

6SMITH (Boat Works Building), 294 E. Grove Lane, Wayzata, 952-698-7900 6smith.com: Pull up to one of the patio seats off the main floor or head to the rooftop patio. Either way, this sleek, contemporary spot on Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay is a place to watch the waves and boats docking.

ACQUA, 4453 Lake Ave. S., White Bear Lake, 651-407-7317 acqua-restaurants.com: Nab a seat on one of the quaint patios on either floor of this duplex restaurant overlooking White Bear Lake, or cross the street and enjoy the restaurant’s more spacious lakeside patio. Italian fare served here is top notch.

ADMIRAL D’S WATERFRONT TAVERN, 4424 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake, 651-330-3101 admiraldswbl.com: The casual, come-one, come-all vibe makes this popular dockside patio a welcoming spot for enjoying views of White Bear Lake. Under new ownership, the menu of things like burgers has expanded to include seafood baskets and tacos.

BIRCH’S ON THE LAKE, 1310 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake, 952-473-7373 birchsonthelake.com: Brew house and supper club with an expansive wood deck on a hill offers pristine views of Long Lake. Or, walk to the bottom of the hill where a fire pit surrounded by chairs sits right next to the lake. It’s also a place to grab a decent brew and gastro-pub fare.

BRICK & BOURBON, 215 Main St. S., Stillwater 651-342-0777 brickandbourbon.com: Bird’s-eye views of the St. Croix River and historic Lift Bridge make scoring a seat on this small rooftop deck worth your while. Craft drinks and spins on comfort food are the lay of the land.

CHARLIE’S RESTAURANT AND IRISH PUB/ PAPA’S ROOFTOP AT WATER STREET INN, 101 S. Water St., Stillwater, 651-439-6000 waterstreetinn.us: The riverside hotel and restaurant underwent a big expansion and, as part of it, created downtown Stillwater’s most expansive rooftop restaurant patio. The new 160-seat rooftop patio features six gas fire pits and bird’s-eye views of the St. Croix River Valley. The new rooftop restaurant also has its own bar and kitchen and a menu different from the first-floor pub and restaurant. The popular first-floor patio now can be enclosed or open, so it’s rain or shine. While each patio has a different vibe, they have one thing in common: spectacular vistas of the St. Croix River Valley and lift bridge.

The Nantucket-themed patio at Cov in Edina. (Courtesy of Cov)

COV, Cov Edina, 3155 Galleria, Edina 952-999-4011, covedina.com. Cov Wayzata, 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata 952-473-5253, covwayzata.com: The spot with a Nantucket feel extends to the gorgeous patio that immediately transports you. The menu of oysters and plenty of seafood adds to the coastal vibe. Cov’s location in downtown Wayzata also has lake views.

CURRENT, the Afton House Inn Hotel, 3291 St. Croix Trail S., Afton, 651-436-8883 currentrestaurant.com: Restaurant with a patio a few hundred yards from the St. Croix River offers views of the majestic waters and marina. The area’s charming small-town vibe makes you feel like you’re on a staycation.

DOCK CAFE, 425 Nelson St., Stillwater, 651-430-3770 dockcafe.com: Grown-up restaurant with a patio on the water’s edge offers direct views of the St. Croix River, Lift Bridge and river valley. The restaurant has been closed since the pandemic but there’s good news on the horizon. The restaurant is looking at a May reopening, according to a post on its Facebook page.

The patio action at Feller in downtown Stillwater, May 11, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

FELLER, Lora Hotel, 402 Main St. S., Stillwater 651-571-3501 fellerrestaurant.com: The patio at this gorgeous boutique hotel in downtown Stillwater is a way to take in the city’s historic charm, plus the bluffs, the St. Croix River, and the action on Main Street. Order from the hunter-and-gatherer menu or enjoy happy hour.

FREIGHT HOUSE, 305 Water St. S., Stillwater, 651-439-5718 thefreighthouse.com: One of downtown Stillwater’s most popular and sizable patios boasts seating on the main patio, gazebo with wrap-around bar or beer garden. Take in vistas of the St. Croix River and historic Lift Bridge. Challenge your dining mate to a game of bocce ball. And dine on burgers and local tap beer.

GIANNI’S STEAKHOUSE, 635 Lake St. E., Wayzata 952-404-1100 giannis-steakhouse.com: Take in views of Lake Minnetonka while dining in style at one of Gianni’s white-linen-covered tables with hand-woven bistro chairs. An overhang allows for a shaded area on the patio for those who don’t want to soak up the sun.

MALLORY’S RESTAURANT AND ROOFTOP BAR, 609 Second St. Hudson, Wis. 715-531-4101 mallorysrooftop.com: Sit at one of the high tops offering glimpses of the St. Croix River, head to a lounge area with fire pits or belly up to the long bar at this downtown restaurant with a rooftop patio and bar. Food is as casual or fancy as you want it to be, from burgers to knife-and-fork entrees.

Patrons enjoy the multi-level patio at Muddy Waters Bar and Grill in Prescott, Wis, May 17, 2014. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

MUDDY WATERS BAR & GRILL, 231 Broad St., Prescott, Wis., 715-262-5999 muddywatersbarandgrill.biz: Outdoor hot spot has become a destination for its expansive, multi-tiered patio. Its primo views of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers make it one of the prettiest riverfront restaurants around. The patio has an outdoor bar and a covered deck area to keep patrons dry when there’s rain.

PIER 500, 500 First St., Hudson, Wis., 715-386-5504 pierfivehundred.com: Contemporary dining spot, with great views of the pier and St. Croix River, offers one of the best decks in downtown Hudson.

PSYCHO SUZI’S, 1900 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-788-9069 psychosuzis.com: Tiki-themed deck and Polynesian cocktails at this spot overlooking the Mississippi River inspire rest and relaxation.

Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis on Aug. 7, 2020 (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

SANDCASTLE, 4955 Lake Nokomis Parkway W., Minneapolis, 612-722-5550 sandcastlempls.com: The outdoor dining action is in full swing at this bright-blue lakeside walk-up eatery. Bar stools face Lake Nokomis, and a picnic-bench area easily accommodates groups.

SEA SALT EATERY, 4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, 612-721-8990 seasalteatery.com: Legions line up at this pavilion restaurant inside Minnehaha Park, and it’s easy to see why. The spot not only dishes up some of the best seafood around, but it also has a seating area to take in the picturesque parkland and nearby roaring waterfall.

Rooftop patio at B-52 Burgers and Brew in Inver Grove Heights. (Courtesy Progressive Architecture)

NEIGHBORHOOD

B-52 BURGERS AND BREW, 5639 Bishop Ave., Inver Grove Heights 651-451-3838 b52burgersandbrew.com: B-52’s patio has several seating options, such as a long marble-top bar and a lounge area. Fireplaces and television screens add to the vibe.

BARBETTE, 1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis 612-827-5710 barbette.com: Nabbing a seat on this bustling 46-seat Uptown patio and having a glass of rose and pommes frites — in our opinion, the best around town — is a favorite pastime.

BOCA CHICA, 11 Cesar Chavez St. St. Paul 651-222-8499 bocachicarestaurant.com: One of St. Paul’s staples for authentic Mexican fare boasts a stone terrace with a few umbrella-laden tables looking out onto Cesar Chavez Street.

BRIT’S PUB, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-332-3908 britspub.com: Multi-tiered expansive rooftop patio accommodates large groups that come to lawn bowl and eat fish and chips. Others can pull up to the sidewalk cafe in front and catch the Nicollet Mall street action.

BRUNSON’S PUB, 956 Payne Ave., St. Paul 651-447-2483 brunsonspub.com: The dozen or so tables with blue umbrellas on the two-tiered, landscaped deck fill fast. Probably because it’s a great place to soak in some sun. The reliable sandwiches, burgers and salads with Southern flair and down-to-earth prices don’t hurt either.

BURGER MOE’S, 242 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-222-3100 facebook.com/burgermoes: Thanks to the canopies and flower beds, this playful, casual spot is bursting with colorful decor. The vibe is casual and, as the name implies, burgers take center stage on the menu.

COZZIE’S TAVERN AND GRILL, 11154 60th St. N. Stillwater 651-342-0447 cozziestavern.com: Spacious roadside spot off Minnesota 36 sports a multifaceted backyard oasis. There’s a stone patio (designated nonsmoking), a wood deck, lawn area with bean-bag toss and even a small spot for volleyball during the warm-weather months and boot hockey during the chilly season. The mini-Coney dogs from the casual menu are not to be missed.

May 19, 2016 photo of Dark Horse Bar & Eatery in St. Paul’s Lowertown (Pioneer Press: Nancy Ngo)

DARK HORSE BAR & EATERY, 250 E. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-313-7960 darkhorsebarandeatery.com: Charming 110-seat patio offers a retreat from busy East Seventh Street. The patio here includes bar seating, barrel-top high-tables for large groups, low-tops, fire pits, strings of lights and colorful flower beds. Food and drink offerings include pizzas, dozens of beers on tap and a whiskey wall.

DAY BY DAY CAFE, 477 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-227-0654 daybyday.com: Breakfast and lunch spot offers a fenced-in, multi-tiered patio that makes for a serene retreat in the middle of the city. Landscaping touches such as potted flowers, fish pond and waterfall add to its restfulness.

DOCK & PADDLE, 1360 Lexington Parkway N., St. Paul dockandpaddle.com: Formerly Spring Cafe, the space is under new ownership again and has a menu of salads, sandwiches, tacos and burgers. But one thing has stayed the same — its reputation as a prime spot for eating outside, thanks to a spacious pavilion and bench and lawn areas overlooking Lake Como.

EL BURRITO MERCADO, 175 Concord St., St. Paul 651-227-2192 elburritomercado.com: This beloved Mexican spot now offers a 36-seat, festive patio that even comes with weekend entertainment.

FRENCH MEADOW BAKERY & CAFE, 1662 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-789-8870 frenchmeadowcafe.com: Nab a sidewalk table in front of the restaurant. Or, head to the back of the restaurant, where a fenced-in patio with wood benches, wrought-iron tables, draped lights and colorful flower beds offers an escape from the city hustle and bustle. Enjoy the health-conscious eating options while there.

Guests enjoy a beautiful moonlit evening on the Grand Catch patio on Grand Avenue in St. Paul on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

GRAND CATCH, 1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul 651-348-8541 grandcatchmn.com: This Cajun seafood boil spot offers two patios: a colorful, sidewalk seating area out front as well as a back seating area with wooden benches. Both are perfect for peeling jumbo shrimp or cracking into that lobster tail.

HAI HAI, 2121 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis 612-223-8640 haihaimpls.com: The spot serves up Southeast Asian street food and has a colorful, 80-seat patio that transports you to another place. Colorful stools and floral cloths bring tropical notes to the decor. If full sun is not your thing, half of the patio is covered and can be enclosed for those wanting shade or protection against bad weather. There’s even a service window for ordering drinks.

HERBIE’S ON THE PARK, 317 Washington St. St. Paul 651-726-1700 herbiesonthepark.com: The 60-seat downtown patio near the Ordway on Washington Street is a bit hidden from the street. And if you nab the right seat, you can catch the sidewalk action and views of Rice Park while dining on tavern fare cranked up a notch.

HOLMAN’S TABLE, Holman Field, 644 Bayfield St., St. Paul, 612-800-5298, holmanstable.com: You’re practically on the tarmac when sitting on the patio at this St. Paul Downtown Airport (also known as Holman Field) eatery. Sink into one of the dark, wicker chairs on the 36-seat, elevated patio and, if your timing is right, watch planes fly in and out of the reliever airport.

JAX CAFE, 1928 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-789-7297 jaxcafe.com: Classic steakhouse with a zen-like garden and koi pond in the back is a place to get your “om” and filet mignon on.

KENDALL’S TAVERN & CHOPHOUSE, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road N.W., Coon Rapids, 763-755-1234 kendallstc.com: Restaurant at Bunker Hills Golf Club includes a sizable deck looking out onto sprawling greenery.

LA GROLLA, 452 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-221-1061 lagrollastpaul.com: Friendly neighborhood Cathedral Hill spot is a place to eat pasta while sitting on a patio lined with flower beds. Flowering trees add to the vibrant colors.

MERITAGE, 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul 651-222-5670 meritage-stpaul.com: Bustling sidewalk terrace with brasserie charm aims to whisk you away. French dishes and wine list at this spot in the heart of downtown are also buzzworthy.

MOSCOW ON THE HILL, 371 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-291-1236 moscowonthehill.com: Neighborhood spot with wood deck with tents, string lights and colorful cushions attracts regulars from Cathedral Hill and beyond. Russian fare such as perogies and house-infused vodkas are also a draw.

The patio at Nico’s Tacos on Como, 2260 Como Avenue, St. Paul, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

* NICO’S TACOS ON COMO, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul 651-450-8848 nicostacobar.com: This Mexican restaurant in St. Anthony Park continues the reputation of its predecessor, Muffuletta, in having a front patio that quickly attracts a crowd on warm weather days. After all, the open-air patio is still a great place to catch some rays, and greenery still fills the landscape — this time tropical-themed accents such as banana leaf, birds of paradise and agave plants . And bonus: did you know that, in addition to the popular patio in the front, there’s also a quaint backyard courtyard that you can now dine on? It’s a hidden gem and a best-kept patio secret — until now. It’s safe to say the charming courtyard in Milton Square transports you to Europe.

OSTERIA I NONNI, 981 Sibley Memorial Highway, Lilydale 651-905-1081 osteriainonni.com: Spacious back patio with luscious planters and stylish furnishings overlooks a pretty pond, and the recent addition of heaters makes it more accessible on chilly evenings. Great wine list and happy hour, too.

PATRICK McGOVERN’S, 225 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-224-5821 patmcgoverns.com: A retractable roof is part of this pretty, three-tiered, landscaped patio, making the casual hangout a place to come rain or shine.

“I love when people bring their dogs,” said host Shiloh Edwardh, center, who brings out a bowl of water for Nel, a Standard Poodle, and Lux, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, at the Red Rabbit patio on Grand Avenue in St. Paul Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The owners Bob and Anne Herman recently arrived from Chicago and love this patio. “Chicago is not as dog friendly,” said Anne. “There aren’t nearly as many places you take your dog.”The restaurant is in the former Wild Onion. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)

RED RABBIT, two locations, 788 Grand Ave., St. Paul 651-444-5995 and 201 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis 612-767-8855 redrabbitmn.com: The centrally located Red Rabbit in St. Paul sports a quaint patio with a fireplace where you can take in the action along Grand Avenue while sipping on Aperol spritzes and negronis and dining on menu items ranging from oysters to rustic Italian fare in the form of pizzas, pastas and more. The original Red Rabbit, in Minneapolis’ North Loop, is also a hot spot for dining al fresco with its spacious patio with plenty of tables and lounge areas with, of course, red cushions.

REVIVAL, 525 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-340-2355 revivalfriedchicken.com: A fenced-in patio out back with umbrellas, flower beds and lamppost lighting provides plenty of charm. It’s just the ticket for gathering on a nice weather day and enjoying Revival’s famous fried chicken and more.

POTLUCK FOOD HALL, Rosedale Center, 1595 Minnesota 36, Roseville 651-330-3064 potluckmn.com: Rosedale Center’s food hall includes a 60-seat patio. That way, you can order from one of the eight food and beverage concepts inside, and then take it outside.

RUDY’S REDEYE GRILL, 4940 U.S. 61 N., White Bear Lake, 651-653-6718 rudysredeye.com: Rooftop terrace with colorful tents, comfy wicker chairs and banana-leaf palm trees make snowbirds feel like they never left Florida. On top of that, the menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish, steaks and chops should have something for everyone.

SMACK SHACK, 603 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis 612-259-7288 smack-shack.com/minneapolis: Grab a seat on the long, 150-seat patio at this popular North Loop seafood spot and make sure oysters and lobster rolls are part of your group’s order. Retractable coverings can be adjusted according to whether you want sun or shade. Water-tight overhangs also make the patio a reliable option for dining al fresco even if it starts to drizzle.

St. Paul Tap’s patio. (Courtesy of St. Paul Tap)

ST. PAUL TAP, 825 Jefferson Ave., St. Paul 651-227-6315 stpaultapmn.com: The 2,000-square-foot patio includes a full-service bar along with booth-and-table seating that accommodates shaded or sunny areas. Catch a Twins game under the stars on one of the many televisions.

THE ‘WICK PUB & GRILL, 9555 Wedgewood Drive, Woodbury, 651-294-3160 thewickpubgrill.com: Prestwick Golf Club restaurant spotlights from-scratch pub fare. The stone deck with its signature orange umbrellas and views of the golf course greenery are as popular as ever. Potted plants, flower beds and a stream also make for a picturesque setting.

THE HOWE, 3675 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-729-3663 howempls.com: Two patios — a sidewalk and back deck — offer plenty of choices for enjoying nice weather. The spot is also a draw as a dog-friendly patio, complete with yoga mats for your furry friend to lounge on and a dog menu to order from.

THE TAVERN GRILL, several metro locations, including 772 Bielenberg Drive, Woodbury, 651-578-3000 10950 Club West Parkway, Blaine, 763-398-8100 3561 Lexington Ave., Arden Hills, 651-478-4450 and 15435 Founders Lane, Apple Valley,952-683-1222 thetaverngrill.com: Tavern Grill draws regulars not only for its wide-ranging menu — casual burgers and pizzas as well as fancy steak and seafood — but also for its elaborate, landscaped patios. Fireplaces, lounge areas, waterfalls and wrap-around bars are part of dining al fresco at Tavern Grill, depending on the restaurant location.

The Tilted Tiki in downtown Stillwater. (Courtesy The Tilted Tiki)

THE TILTED TIKI, 324 Main St. S., Stillwater, 651-342-2545 thetiltedtiki.com: Tiki-themed spot in the Grand Garage Building includes a patio with palm trees and thatched decor, with Polynesian cocktails and food to match. The spot along downtown’s Main Street lets you take in sidewalk and street action.

TINY DINER, 1024 38th St. E., Minneapolis, 612-767-3322 tinydiner.com: A charming little patio inspires in big ways. Its solar roof, edible gardens and rainwater-catch system are a show-and-tell of sustainable and urban farming practices. And then there are the pretty plates emphasizing local ingredients. Currently serving breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m.

TRIA, 5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks, 651-426-9222 triarestaurant.com: Take in nature at this popular dinner and Sunday-brunch spot on the former farm of railroad mogul James J. Hill. The menu changes seasonally. The addition of Edison bulbs strung across the entire patio means it is no longer pitch black when the sun sets, so patrons will get some extra patio time each night.

WASHINGTON SQUARE BAR AND GRILL, 4736 Washington Ave., White Bear Lake 651-407-7162 washingtonsquareonline.net: This patio regularly makes the list in our annual readers’ patio picks and it’s easy to see why. This spacious deck in the heart of downtown White Bear Lake sports a fun vibe and a delicious menu of American- and Mexican-influenced fare at affordable prices.

Betty Danger’s Country Club in Northeast Minneapolis, on Jan. 7, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

SEE AND BE SEEN/HOTSPOTS

BAR LURCAT, 1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, 612-486-5500 cafelurcat.com: The elegant establishment features a patio with gorgeous views of Loring Park. For something more quiet and private, we’ll let you in on a secret: Lurcat also has a few outdoor seats in the back.

* BETTY DANGER’S ANIMAL FARM, 2501 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, 612-315-4997 bettydangers.com: The former Betty Danger’s Country Club has been revamped, with a new name that comes with those changes. But some things remain the same, including its whimsical nature and being a destination for outdoor hangs. Take a ride on the big Ferris wheel. Then grab one of the outdoor seats, sit back and relax.

BOROUGH RESTAURANT AND PARLOUR BAR, 730 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis 612-354-3135 boroughmpls.com: Be a part of the North Loop action at this contemporary restaurant with a spacious dockside patio with a bar. Or, grab one of the sidewalk seats out front.

A Manhattan on the Butcher’s Tale patio, photographed in May 2021. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

* BUTCHER’S TALE, 1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis 612-236-4075 butcherstale.com: The home of downtown Minneapolis’ most magical outdoor space has reopened with a new owner and new name, but the original butcher (chef Peter Botcher) from Butcher & The Boar is back, this time helming the kitchen. The meat-centric menu is as good as ever, and the stunning, sprawling patio has new furnishings that more easily accommodate socially distant seating.

COLITA, 5400 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis 612-886-1606 colitampls.com: Colita serves some of the best contemporary Mexican fare and cocktails around, and the hot spot comes with two patios. A few tables on the sidewalk are available, but the majority of the restaurant’s 46 patio seats can be found in an enclosed space on the east side of the building. Plants, wood accents and a pergola for shade add to the charm. Garage doors adjoin the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

HEWING HOTEL ROOFTOP BAR AND LOUNGE, 300 Washington Ave. N. Minneapolis 651-468-0400 hewinghotel.com: Contemporary rooftop bar and lounge at the Hewing Hotel has a spectacular view of the city. And the food and drinks are always reliable.

The Lexington’s rooftop patio. (Ginger Pinson / Pioneer Press)

THE LEXINGTON, 1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul 651-289-4990 thelexmn.com: The 80-seat rooftop retreat offers plenty of choices for sun or shade. A bar and kitchen guarantee that drinks and food come out at just the right pace. A second-floor private event space seating up to 120 people is also available. Current hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to close.

LOUIS RISTORANTE & BAR, 211 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476 cossettas.com: Located off the third-floor sit-down Italian restaurant, the large terrace has its own bar, pretty Italian villa accents and flower beds. And then there’s the gorgeous view of the Cathedral of St. Paul. For something more low-key, the second-floor wrap-around patio is part of the more casual Cossetta restaurant.

MONELLO CUCINA, 115 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis 612-353-6207 monellompls.com: Escape from the urban hustle and bustle at this quaint patio with plenty of Italian villa-esque charm at this fine restaurant establishment in Hotel Ivy. Order a drink at the outdoor bar and order from the more casual patio menu to further wind down from your day.

The patio at Salut Bar Americain, 917 Grand Ave., St. Paul, photo on May 18, 2010. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

SALUT BAR AMERICAIN, 917 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-917-2345 salutbaramericain.com: French-American brasserie boasts one of the largest patios along Grand Avenue, making it a primo spot for people-watching on a warm day.

SEVEN STEAKHOUSE SUSHI AND ROOFTOP, 700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-238-7770 7mpls.com: Expansive rooftop patio, luxurious and mod decor, fancy dining menu and one of the best skyline views in downtown.

STELLA’S FISH CAFE, 1400 Lake St. W., Minneapolis, 612-824-8862 stellasfishcafe.com: The unique rooftop patio with built-in bar at this seafood spot continues to be trendy. It’s the only two-tiered rooftop restaurant deck in Uptown.

UNION RESTAURANT & BAR, 731 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-455-6690 unionmpls.com: Thanks to a retractable roof, it’s patio season year-round at this trendy downtown dining spot. Suit up, because this is the place where the pretty people like to come dressed to impress.

W.A. FROST, 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5715 wafrost.com: This perennial favorite on Cathedral Hill has long been a crowd-pleaser for its classy vibe, fancy stonework and abundant gardens. The spot is even more breathtaking when lit up at night, making it one of the most romantic spots around.

July 19, 2016 photo of the whimsical patio at Bauhaus Brew Labs. (Pioneer Press: Jessica Fleming)

BREWERIES, DISTILLERIES AND WINERIES

ALEXIS BAILLY VINEYARD, 18200 Kirby Ave. S., Hastings, 651-437-1413 abvwines.com: Wine connoisseurs, picnic lovers and those looking for a place to chill amid a sprawling estate will find a trip to this vineyard right up their alley. Create your own picnic basket with local artisan cheeses, grab a bottle of Alexis Bailly vino from the on-site shop and find a place to sit on the lawn or patio. Stroll the sculpture garden or play a game of bocce ball while you’re at it. In July and August, live jazz is featured on Sunday afternoons.

BAD WEATHER BREWING, 414 W. Seventh St., St. Paul 651-207-6627 badweatherbrewery.com: Newly spruced-up patio includes pergola, planters and a fire table for chilly days. A food truck can usually be found on the premises, too.

BAUHAUS BREW LABS, 1315 Tyler St. N.E., Minneapolis bauhausbrewlabs.com: Large outdoor area includes plenty of picnic tables to enjoy a Bauhaus brew. Look for artsy murals and poppy colors on everything from the building to the furniture and you’ll know you’ve arrived at this brewery just steps away from the Northeast Minneapolis arts district.

BELLE VINEZ WINERY, W10829 875th Ave., River Falls, Wis. 715-426-9463 bellevinez.com: Sprawling winery with plenty of greenery offers a retreat for those wanting some rest and relaxation while sipping on the house wine and dining from the menu of charcuterie plates, brick-oven pizzas and more.

DAY BLOCK BREWING COMPANY, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis 612-617-7793 dayblockbrewing.com: The spacious patio within walking distance of U.S. Bank Stadium makes it an ideal spot to pre- and post-game or just gather on nice days.

LAKE MONSTER BREWING, 550 S. Vandalia St., No. 160, St. Paul, 612-964-6288 lakemonsterbrewing.com: This sizable brewery off the Cretin-Vandalia exit on Interstate 94 seems to be always hopping, and the patio is no exception. The expansive sidewalk patio in front of the brewery has plenty of seating and includes fire pits for cold days. Patrons can sip a beer and dine from the featured food truck parked outside.

An area of the patio at St. Paul Brewing. (Courtesy of St. Paul Brewing)

* ST. PAUL BREWING, 688 Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-1945 stpaulbrewing.com: Best described as an art park with tables that happens to serve really good beer and wood-fired pizzas, made in an oven that’s planted in the bed of a sunny yellow actual running 1976 Ford F250 (which actually runs). Themed seating areas and copious greenery, surrounded by historic walls of the former Hamm’s brewery add to the charm.

SURLY BREWING COMPANY, 520 Malcolm Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, 763-999-4040 surlybrewing.com: Beer drinkers and foodies have a giant campus near the University of Minnesota to do their thing. The 1½-acre beer garden with views of the Witch’s Hat Water Tower offers a sizable outdoor space for hanging out. Grab one of the bench seats or a spot around one of the fire pits. Reopening June 1.

Patio at Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis. (Courtesy of The Restaurant Project)


Uptown Dessert Shops

Bisous Bisous Patisserie is one of the best bakeries in Dallas. Go in for a single macaron (they offer classic flavors like chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio as well as some more adventurous tiramisu and passionfruit) or order a tower with up to 10 tiers for a party.

A newer addition to the neighborhood is the gluten-free Unrefined Bakery. Treats available for every dietary need (paleo, keto, etc.) include cookies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, sweet breads and more.


LA hound in NYC - a report

Just got back to LA after a 10 day trip to NYC. We chowed mostly downtown, as that was where we stayed and our business was. Here's where we ate:

Wednesday, Day one, dinner - Arturo's on Houston St. There were 6 of us. We shared 3 pies, and one of our party had ravioli. 2 of our party split a capresi salad. The pies were great, and one of the best things about them was that we requested fresh mozzarella, which came from the cheese store across Houston on Sullivan St.

Thursday, Day two, lunch - Maurizio Trattoria, on W. 13th between 5th & 6th. This was a little surprise. We had some time to kill, my feet hurt and we didn't want to walk anymore, so we took a chance. It turned out to be great! I had mussels steamed with chorizo and capers. My companions had pasta - the lasagnette with pesto was fantastic! The service was great, and the ambiance very lovely.

Thursday, Day two, dinner - Osteria del Sole, on the corner of Perry St. and W. 4th, in the West Village. We've been here before and love it. We had one of the most delicious beet salads ever my ricotta-stuffed ravioli was sauced with brown butter and bottarga. My companion had magnificent prawns with Israeli couscous.

Friday, Day three, snack - We had bings at the bing place on W. 3rd at 6th Ave. I learned about this place on this site. Thank you so much. the pork and chive bing is the BEST.

Friday, Day three, lunch - John's Pizzeria, Bleecker St. My companions prefer this to Arturos, but I like Arturos.

Friday, Day three, dinner - Danal, East 10th St. between 2nd & Third. A lovely little French bistro. I had a salad made with fresh heirloom tomatoes and watermelon it was to die for. I had fish My friends had roast chicken and a pasta dish.

Saturday, Day four, lunch - Veselka, Second Ave at 9th St. I had a cup of borscht and a half sandwich. The borscht was GREAT. They served me a cup of chicken noodle by mistake first, and it smelled so good I almost ate it too.

Saturday, Day four, dinner - An Indonesian restaurant on 9th Ave. between 44th and 45th. the special is a good value you get a sampling of several items plus salad, dessert AND a drink, all for $20.

Sunday, Day five, lunch - Chez Jacqueline in the Village, on MacDougal between Bleecker and Houston. It was a rainy day! We sat by the window and watched the people pass by. This was a lovely meal! We shared an assortment of appetizers, including the pissaladiere, the salad with haricot vertes and chicken livers, and the grilled squid.

Sunday, Day five, dinner - home-cooked by friends

Monday, Day six, breakfast - Take-out bings!! We had one red bean, one cabbage, one chicken, and one pork with chives

Monday, Day six, lunch - Banh mi, at A Chau deli on Mulberry St. in Chinatown. I had the cold cut sandwich, my companion had the shredded pork, which was marvelous. We ate on a park bench in Columbus Park. I would definately go back here!

Monday, Day six, dinner - Olives, in the W hotel near Union Square. A hasty choice, as we had theatre tickets across the street. they had nice cocktails, an interesting menu. My friend had duck I had ravioli stuffed with chicken livers and sauced with a kind of apricot and something else sauce. It was good, rich, but way too salty. My friend's duck was too salty too.

Tuesday, Day seven lunch - 'ino. THE most marvelous meal!! We each had the sampler where you get to pick 4 quarters of panini. The weather was blustery and raining, and it was such a cozy little place to spend the time in. Unfortunately, after the meal, as we walked back to our flat, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell down, badly scraping my face and jamming my left ring finger. Boo hoo! A trip to Bigelow Pharmacy for neosporin and bandages.

Tuesday, Day seven, dinner - the Village, 9th St. at 6th Ave., our local bistro across from our flat. We'd had drinks here all week, but me being injured and all, it was as far as we wanted to go for dinner. It turned out to be a wonderful surprise very tasty steaks, although my injuries made me feel sorry for myself. The potato gratin served with my steak was comfort!

Wednesday, Day eight, breakfast - After finding a local locksmith to cut my wedding ring off my swollen finger so it wouldn't cut off the circulation, we found a little place on Christopher at Waverly, where they had a very Spanish-inspired menu. Omelettes with jambon and chorizo, very good. Large generous cups of coffee.

Wednesday, day eight, lunch - I ate a dog with mustard and Kraut at Gray's Papaya Dog. Delectable. My friend went uptown to work and was too busy to eat lunch.

Wednesday, day eight, dinner - A place called Gusto, on Greenwich Ave. at Perry St. They have a very creative, Italian inspired cocktail menu, with a lot of classic drinks like Negronis and Campari-based apertifs. We had steak, pasta, and shrimp. Then we had theatre tickets, "Sweeney Todd."

Thursday, day nine, breakfast - greasy coffee-shop fare at the Waverly, corner of Waverly and 6th Ave. We had the greasiest hamburgers imaginable. No desire to go again, but the ambience was fun.

Thursday, day nine, lunch - well, double lunch, actually!! Two of us were full of hamburger, but the third of us was starving. So we went, at his request, to Katz's. He had a whole pastrami sandwich while we split one.

Thursday, day nine, dinner - Pylos, on E. 7th between First and A. Greek. We shared mezethes at the wine bar. The most fantastic wine list! I need to learn more about Greek wine! The food was great. They served a complimentary dip with the bread, something like hummus but made with split peas. Grilled octopus. A whole red pepper stuffed with a creamy feta cheese concoction. Beets and arugula. Meatballs in tomato sauce.

Friday, day ten, lunch - Grand Central Oyster Bar. A classic. We ate in the saloon, which we like. We had raw oysters. My friends both had fried oysters and clams I had broiled day-boat scallops. All marvelous!


Houston Media Celebs Turn Out in Force for Original Ninfa’s Uptown Opening Party

P art-tee! What a night it was when 200 guests poured into the Original Ninfa’s Uptown for the smashing VIP party that preceded the official opening of this new outpost of Houston’s iconic Tex-Mex restaurant. Between the irresistible menu offerings and the killer Ninfaritas, by night’s end, bellies were bulging and spirits were high.

Calories-be-damned. The consensus was great food, great drinks and great fun.

There could not have been a livelier restaurant introduction than this fiesta bustling with bloggers, food writers, media stars, sports greats and society headliners for an open menu feast with nonstop libations. In the bar we spotted cookbook author Erin Hicks, tête-a-tête with defense attorney Ned Barnett and PaperCity editor-in-chief Holly Moore paling with bon vivants Greg Fourticq and John Cohn, while Channel 13 KTRK news ace Miya Shay and hubby State Representative Gene Wu waited for their table.

In the dining room, we rubbed elbows with soon-to-be-mom KTRK traffic anchor Katherine Whaley and hubby Chris Wadley, who were head-huddling with KHOU Channel 11 meteorologist Chita Craft, due in December with a baby girl, and husband Lane Craft, as well as blogger Jayme Lamm and interior design sisters Sarah and Saba Jawda.

The buzz was on. Table-hopping as preferred entertainment was second only to toasting the new “old” Ninfa’s with frozen, on the rocks and top shelf Ninfaritas. Wait staff swirled through the heady mix carrying trays of sizzling fajitas, bowls of chili con queso and plates of freshly-made guacamole. More chips, please.

It was a beautiful spectacle for Legacy Restaurant Group owner Niel Morgan, who made his fortune in real estate development, and Legacy CEO Jonathan Horowitz. (Legacy owns the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, Antone’s with its famed po-boys, and Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas, set to open downtown later this year.) Joining the leadership on this important night was Legacy corporate chef Alex Padilla and the Original Ninfa’s Uptown executive chef Jason Gould.

There was another chef in the house, this one celebrating, not working. Chef David Cordua and Sara Padua were toasting their engagement and their upcoming jaunt to Mexico to plan their South of the Border wedding, which is set for next winter.

Mixing it up on this festive night were former Houston Texan Wade Smith, blogger Carrie Colbert, KHOU Channel 11’s Ron Trevino and Cheryl Martin, blogger Allison Lach, KPRC Channel 2’s Derrick Shore, High Tech Texan Michael Garfield, blogger and and social media consultant Hannah Swiggard, Live Nation’s Grace Gibson, publicist Nick Scurfield, Hansen Partners’ John Andell and wife Stacy, Karen and Mike Mayell, Sam Banks, Adriana and Mark Monroe, and PaperCity besties Kara Smith and Farrell Lawo.


What’s the Best Barbecue Spot in Houston?

Feges offers brisket, ribs, boudin, and more – even some lighter options.

You can now indulge in Truth BBQ's tasty meats here in Houston.

The Pit Room cooks up smokin' good barbecue.

The Alief natives of Blood Bros. have got a hold on good barbecue.

Pinkerton's fare is nothing short of perfection.

Even The Real Housewives of Atlanta made sure to stop at this institution.

You can have it all at Triple J's Smokehouse.

Get there early for Corkscrew BBQ or you might be too late..

Pappa Charlies Barbeque is now open in Downtown.

Killen's is worth all the hype.

H ouston’s best barbecue spots are among the best in the entire state — and all of America for that matter.

But what is Houston’s No. 1 barbecue haven?

You get to decide by voting for your rightful champ in PaperCity‘s Best Barbecue Challenge. The winning barbecue hotspot will take home serious bragging rights, but you get a chance to win big too.

One voter will be randomly selected to win a $250 gift card from whichever spot emerges as the Houston barbecue champion. That’s some serious BBQ buying power. You can vote once per day — and the more times you vote, the more chances you have to win.

Truth BBQ

After much impatient waiting and anticipation, Truth BBQ finally opened up in Houston and it’s been an immediate hit. The Brenham-based original has been recognized as one of the best places in the state by Texas Monthly.

Feges BBQ

You don’t need a stand-alone restaurant to craft standout barbecue. Feges is tucked in the Hub foodcourt at Greenway Plaza, and it’s creating intensely smokey, cravable waves. Barbecue on a lunch break? Yes please.

The Pit Room

Central Texas-style cookin’ springs to life at this Montrose mainstay. The pint-sized Pit Room is as rustic as it gets, drawing crowds of the hungry and hangry alike to its cozy patio.

The Pit Room cooks up smokin’ good barbecue.

Blood Bros. BBQ

Blood Bros. switches things up with its seasonings and rubs all while maintaining the integrity of the art of barbecuing. Asian and Cajun flavors take centerstage to create sweet and spicy zestiness.

Pinkerton’s Barbecue

Classic, down-home barbecue – that’s Pinkerton’s. And that’s probably because Grant Pinkerton dishes out variations of his own family’s recipes. You can’t get more down-home than that.

Gatlin’s BBQ

From its original and small location to its now larger and roomier locale, Gatlin’s has been serving up stellar meat to hungry crowds for years, even hosting the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta back in 2018.

Triple J’s Smokehouse

Triple J’s Smokehouse is no stranger to the barbecue scene. Since 1994, this dive tucked in the city’s northeast end has given barbecue lovers everything they could ever want – including stuffed baked potatoes piled high with meat and all the fixin’s.

Corkscrew BBQ

Their goodies sell out consistently, so you’d better get there early and perhaps wait in a 30 or more minute line to savor the moist, tender brisket and jalapeno pork sausage. The wine, beer and cider that they serve alongside their smoked dishes will make the experience A+.

CorkScrew’s got all you could ever want.

Pappa Charlie’s Barbeque

After years of participating in barbecue competitions throughout the country and selling their crazy good ‘cue from a 20-foot trailer, Pappa Charlie’s finally opened up a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2015.

Killen’s Barbecue

This Pearland barbecue paradise is a favorite of pro athletes, including J.J. Watt, thanks to Ronnie Killen’s mix of smoked meats and Tex-Mex staples. Get a kick-butt pound of bone-in beef short rib or a three-meat plate with pulled pork and more.

This poll has now ended – the winner ofPaperCity‘s Best BBQ Challenge is Truth BBQ.

Congratulations to James Burke for scoring a $250 gift card to the winning restaurant.


Cheers: Trends and Traditions in Hotel Bars

Quick, name a famous hotel meeting room. No offense to those spaces where we spend so many important hours, but they tend to be remembered for what planners bring to them rather than for themselves. Now name a famous hotel bar. Ahhh, that’s a different story. Hotel bars, in fact, have unending stories.

Imagine yourself, for example, at American Bar at The Savoy, a Fairmont property in London, which was named best bar in the entire world in 2017 by World’s 50 Best. Marilyn Monroe is sitting next to you, sipping champagne. The Savoy Cocktail Book has been the classic bartender guide since 1930. You can order an Aloe from the Other Side, named in honor of pop star Adele, who, like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and other rockers, has partied at Andaz West Hollywood’s Riot House Bar. And talk about inspiration: Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and Truman Capote have all occupied one of the 25 revolving seats at Carousel Bar in New Orleans’ Hotel Monteleone.

Bars and hotels have been paired practically forever. According to Guinness World Records, the Priest Inn (now The Bingley Arms) in North Leeds dates to 953 or earlier, making it the oldest hotel pub in Britain. Monks journeying between abbeys grabbed a pint and a bed there. In Miltenberg, Germany, the hotel Zum Riesen and its companionable bar officially date to the 15th century, though local legend traces their origins to the 1100s that bar has hosted kings—from German kaisers to Elvis Presley.

Today, hotel bars uphold their storied tradition, but they chart new territory, as well. Where once they were places to grab a quick drink after the day’s meetings and before the night’s group dinner, they serve now as hip work spaces and social hubs, play spaces and relaxation zones. And the beverages they offer have morphed into expressions of place, season and mood.

All of this takes forethought and deliberate planning by corporate and brand executives—and property bar teams—to reflect the changing expectations and needs of business and leisure travelers. So, here’s another story for you, a tale of the hotel bar of yesterday, today and tomorrow, for the next time a friendly bartender at your hotel asks, “What can I get for you?”

The Evolutionary Past

One of the great things about a hotel bar is that its clientele can be from anywhere, kind of like the bar scene in the first Star Wars. Meeting-goers. Tourists. Locals. Yet just who that clientele is—and what they experience at these watering holes—has changed dramatically over the decades.

Are you old enough to remember when an unescorted “decent” woman thought twice about claiming a hotel barstool? When an old-school bartender’s glance could be withering if you ordered a nonalcoholic drink? When peanuts or pretzels was about as good as it got unless you migrated to the hotel dining room?

Men did deals and held hushed meetings under a cloud of cigarette smoke at a hotel bar’s booths or tables, but women? Forgettaboutit…They went shopping.

Which points to a key evolution. Hotel bars today have become social hubs in the way retail once was, especially as women and generations of every gender have blurred the line between work and play, and have taken rightful places in what was formerly a male preserve of traveling salesmen and conventioneers.

“The bar used to be a waiting area to get to the restaurant itself,” remembers Mike Ryan, director of bars for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, an InterContinental Hotels Group brand. “You ordered a drink and maybe a snack to tide you over until your table was ready. Now, bars are F&B destinations in themselves, where people have full culinary and cocktail experiences.”

He adds: “We’ve also made subtle and not-so-subtle changes for them to be more flexible spaces. Double Take at Kimpton Palomar Beverly Hills Los Angeles, for instance, is essentially a grown-up game room and a perfect place for groups to hang out in. Whether it’s plentiful outlets and Wi-Fi, or having the space accessible outside of open bar hours, it’s meant to offer more than just drinks.”

Devin Burns, vice president of food and beverage at Omni Hotels & Resorts, agrees. “The bar is now seen as a communal and welcoming space for all,” he says. “It is where business and leisure guests can dine, relax, plug-in and enjoy great local cuisine perfectly paired with a crafted beverage, coffee, a full meal or a lighter, healthier snack. Single travelers and groups are attracted to the energy and open space that the bar offers.” Omni hotels, he says, strive for a balance between comfort, convenience and engagement.

The Strategic Presentations

None of these changes happen by accident.

Tucked into Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, for example, is BarStudio, the company’s beverage incubator. A bar-and-beverage innovation team works to express Marriott’s individual brands in bar ambience and menus, and it coaches visiting bar teams from Marriott-managed properties.

“They inspire one another and end up taking back recipes, stories and learnings—an organic instead of a forced cross pollination of information,” says Angela Kuzma, global vice president of restaurants and bars. To broaden this sharing of what works, Marriott also launched an initiative called Diary of the Craft, a toolkit of success stories as well as “the personal and professional journeys of our artisans and talent,” says Kuzma.

BarStudio innovates bar design for Marriott, too. “Designing a bar space that allows each guest to feel authentic to themselves is far more impactful than building out a space that’s one dimensional,” Kuzma says. “A guest in jeans and sneakers or a suit should feel just as comfortable walking into a luxury hotel bar as they do playing pool at a dive bar. There are so many nuances to getting it just right, but the key is to create a whole experience built within the character of the design’s point of view.”

“When we’re ‘concepting’ our bars, we take a holistic approach,” Kimpton’s Ryan says. “We think about the sense of arrival, the flow of traffic, the lighting you need for day versus night, the music selection—thanks to our first director of music and brand activations—and the barware we present those beautifully crafted drinks in. If one element is off, it throws the ambience out of balance and impacts what you take away from your visit. A fully concepted, tightly packaged bar offers a seamless, immersive experience.”

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has created what it calls the Wander program for its hotel owners to encourage concepts that evoke a memorable sense of place, says Jonathan Wilson, vice president of customer experience and innovation in food and beverage, and wellness. He cites The Troubadour Hotel New Orleans, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, where the rooftop bar, Monkey Board—named for the highest platform of an oil rig—delivers skyline views made more memorable with Crescent City-style craft cocktails, such as Stone Pie (Cane Land spiced rum, pumpkin-spiced syrup and OJ), and fried-chicken sandwiches.

Meetings hotels flagged by the big hoteliers have cocktail menus that range from tightly controlled, brand-wide selections to a combination of corporate signature drinks and local flavors. At Omni, data-mined guest-buying behavior is combined with input from “master mixologists who have vast knowledge and volumes of consumer data” to create beverage programs that balance trends and traditions. “For example, we know that there will always be an appetite for classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned,” Burns says. “However, we might also offer an Old Fashioned made with tequila instead of whiskey as a fun twist and opportunity for our guests to discover something new.”

Kimpton uses restaurant software to pull bar-specific data. “We cross reference that sales data with anecdotal conversations with bartenders to build a picture of what our guests are drinking,” Ryan says. “A lot of people like vodka— surprise, surprise!”

When it comes to creating cocktail menus, Ryan takes a hands-off approach. “My role is centered on coaching and mentorship. When we open new restaurants and bars, I will develop the initial menu concept, but the best expression of the menu will always be the lead bartender’s,” he says. “Typically, we change our menus seasonally we establish quarterly spirit features to give our teams a base to work from, and then let them create the actual cocktails and menus so that they can showcase their city and region.”

Burns gives his cocktail program an annual, brand-wide refresh, but he also encourages each hotel to supplement the list to be “genuine and authentic.” Two years ago, he launched Omni Originals, a quarterly culinary and cocktail program with thematic offerings. Last December, that meant Cookie Cocktails—cocktails inspired by classic holiday cookie recipes.

“Unlike food menus, which change largely by season, cocktail menus are much more fluid,” Hilton’s Wilson says, no pun intended. “Parts of the menu can change every single day. Most guests don’t use a menu they walk in and place an order. Ultimately, this process is a partnership between the F&B lead on property and the mixologist, enabling the mixologist to have creative control. After all, a well-rounded menu can have a significant impact on revenue and profitability.”

Cross-pollination between locales also figures into the cocktail strategy. “Whether it’s a digital bar education program or an in-person off-site, we’re sharing successes and learnings with each other all year round,” Ryan says.

Future Bar

So, what will the happy hour of the future look like? Will drinks be delivered by drone or served by robots? Will cannabis edibles in seasonal, hyper-local flavors be on the menu?

“One thing is for sure: Bartenders and mixologists are not going away,” Wilson says. “Guests want to be entertained, they want to learn, they want to be heard, and having the brand hospitality to represent all of these attributes is what makes the experience memorable. There will be more opportunities for self-serve experiences in terms of conveniences in venues, such as lobby marketplaces, but not as replacements for hospitality.”

“No robot bartenders here!” Ryan echoes. “The reason people go to bars is to be introduced to something new, strike up a conversation with the bartender and if the occasion is right, say ‘hi’ to the person next to you. Bars are social spaces—there’s a lot that can be automated, but the bar experience shouldn’t be one of them.”

The “bar side” manner of human bartenders is as important as the drinks they make, he says. “We have a cheeky Bar Manifesto we post up back-of-house that explains what our standards and principles are in running our bar. From the integrity of ingredients to always, always, always having a welcoming and inclusive attitude for our guests, we expect our teams to check their egos at the door. We hire for heart all the way.”

“Technology will play an increasing role, nonetheless. “I predict that Kimpton bars in the future will find ways to streamline a lot of the awkward mechanical parts of rapid-fire service without compromising the quality of the product or the experience,” Ryan says. “Payment processing is a major speed bump currently. Moving entirely to electronic payments, the way most of China has, will dramatically speed up one of the slowest steps in the bar experience.”

Omni’s Burns agrees that nothing can replace “friendly, guest-focused, anticipatory and high-energy human bartenders. But we always look for ways to incorporate technology and new tools to enhance the bar experience. For example, cocktails and wine on tap are more and more prevalent, and offer advantages for the right space—including speed of service and less waste.”

No one at the big hotel companies is admitting publicly that cannabis will find its way into beverage programs anytime soon. The potential liabilities and uncertainties are still too great. “There’s a separation between an individual choosing to use it for personal reasons and public consumption,” Ryan says. “It’s too dangerous to experiment with certain ingredients without knowing all of the potential risks.” He explained the rationale this way: “At the end of the day, we’re bartenders, not pharmacists, doctors or research physicians. We’re trained to dispense alcohol in a responsible way.”

So, if pot-infused libations won’t be on the hotel bar menu, what will be the Next Big Thing in hotel bars and beverage programs? Hilton’s Wilson has an answer that might surprise you—no alcohol.

“The forward-looking trend is around what we call ‘no proof,’” he says. “No proof is not mocktails. It is an amazing bar experience with no alcohol at all.” In other words, guests will have the option of a great bar and lounge that still offers “a thrilling experience, unique energy and ambiance, great food and service and exciting entertainment”…but without the booze.

Hilton already has no-proof bars in the Middle East, where many business and leisure travelers shun alcohol for religious reasons. Manhattan Sports Diner at Hilton Jeddah and Ambar at Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences, both in Saudi Arabia, are two examples.

“As this trend matures in major cities like London and across the Middle East, we will start adding concepts to our properties in the U.S., as well,” Wilson predicts.

Trending Sips

At hotel bars around the country, brown liquors are definitely back in vogue. And so are…

Savory: Beet, mushroom or cheese infusions in a cocktail? How about corn, jicama and sunchokes? Mixologists are playing with nontraditional flavors in the name of being hyper-local, seasonal and (somewhat) healthy. The cacio e pepe martini is an homage to the classic Roman pasta dish of only three ingredients—pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper it’s made with vodka, cheese-infused dry vermouth and black pepper.

Ferments: House-made syrups and tonics that include fermented and probiotic ingredients. Tepache, a traditional Mexican ferment made from pineapple peels, sugar and cinnamon, is being paired with beer, mescal, tequila and even bourbon.

Hard Seltzers: Made with fermented cane sugar and infused with fruit essences, these have the same alcohol content but fewer carbs than a beer, and relatively few calories (roughly 100) for an adult beverage. Paired with vodka, the combined kick demands respect, however.

Exotic Citrus: Bar stalwarts lemon, lime and orange are being joined by lesser-known cousins, such as yuzu, kumquat and citron. Somewhere in flavor between a lime and grapefruit, muddled Japanese yuzu is zesty-yummy when shaken and strained with ice, gin, vanilla extract, bitters and simple syrup.

Far-Out Spices: Saffron, madras curry, cardamom and tamarind are just a few of the spice-bazaar discoveries being made by bartenders to transport you to somewhere out of the ordinary.

One Plus One Equals Whee!: Last year’s trendy faves, frozen rose and the Aperol spritz (Aperol, club soda, orange twist) have been joined to create the slushy Aperol frose, which Kimpton calls the bar star of 2019.

Pompadour

The Statler Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton, originally opened in 1956 as one of Conrad Hilton’s first convention properties. Its mid-century design with retro-forward touches is exemplified in this specialty cocktail.

  • 1 ½ ounce Wild Turkey bourbon
  • ½ ounce Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum
  • 3 dashes vanilla tincture*
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 orange peel, in strips
  • Orange zest, cocktail cherry for garnish

Place sugar cube, Angostura, vanilla tincture and orange peel in a mixing glass and muddle to dissolve the sugar cube and pull the oils out of the orange peel. Add Wild Turkey and Diplomatico to mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into rocks glass with large ice cubes and top with brulee*. Garnish with orange zest and cherry.

*For vanilla tincture: Slice 15 vanilla beans in half and let steep in quart container of vodka for a week. For brulee: Soak Isomalt “sugar” crystals (available online) with Angostura bitters and lay out on a sheet tray. Heat in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until Isomalt is melted. Spread the brulee evenly and let cool for five minutes. Cut into circles to fit the size of the rocks glass.


First Starbucks Reserve Bar Is Open in Dallas

The coffee scene in Texas just got a whole lot fancier. That’s because the Lonestar state’s first Starbucks’ Reserve Bar—the beverage giant’s upscale, craft coffee spinoff—opened its doors in the McKinney & Olive tower in Uptown Dallas last week.

Reserve Bars, which are popping up in big cities across the globe, serve up unique caffeinated concoctions that aren’t available at ordinary Starbucks stores. Take the house affogato, for example. This $6.50 pinnacle of deliciousness features two shots of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream, a.k.a. the food of the gods. If that’s not reason enough to stop by, we don’t know what is!

Holly Hart Shafer, a Starbucks spokeswoman, recently told Dallas Morning News that customers can also order mocktails and “up-level brewing techniques, reserve coffees and all the specialty beverages like the Melrose — our play on the classic Manhattan using cold brew.”

The emphasis here is on the experience, and visitors are invited to sit down and watch the baristas work their magic and show off their skills with everything from nitro cold brew taps to siphon brewing. You can even order coffee flights or choose to go big with coffee and food pairings.

Dallas Morning News reports that visitors have two options: head to the “regular” Starbucks counter at the back for pastries and the standard coffee drinks you know and love, or grab a seat at the bar, chat up the barista and open a tab. This location won’t serve alcohol, but something tells us you won’t miss it.


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