Our summers are short but we never take them for granted.

As soon as it’s remotely comfortable enough to eat or drink something outside, restaurants set out their patios. You can find us here in our winter hats and sweatshirts until it snows.

Here are three patios in Minneapolis that we’ve enjoyed a meal at recently:

Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe has been serving organic, local, farm to table food before it was cool (1926 to be exact). In addition to operating the restaurant, Birchwood cultivates community by displaying local art and coordinating events like farm visits and monthly peace-building films.

My friend used to work here and spoke highly of how the owner made employees feel valued and provided health insurance and staff meals.

Weekend brunch is very popular. Be prepared for a wait if you arrive closer to lunch. It had been years since I’d last visited. We enjoyed our first summer meal on a patio here and everything was lovely.

If you love dogs, the sidewalk patio is dog friendly. The quiche lorraine has a buttery, flaky crust; the chefs don’t call in the pastry. A geranium leaf floated in my blood orange mimosa. Avocado toast arrived in a large portion (you can add an egg, any way you like), piled with a fresh pea pod and herb salad. You can depend on the Birchwood for fresh, locally sourced food with thoughtful touches.

It’s been around forever for a reason.

Bungalow Club

There’s this restaurant called Stewart’s that we love and visit so often, that we call any place that’s remotely similar, Bizarro Stewart’s.

The Bungalow Club feels a little bit like bizarro Stewart’s – a smaller restaurant decorated in a really charming, intimate way, friendly staff, an approachable but chefy menu, and cocktails.

The exterior signage is understated – we nearly drove right by. The inside features these cool curio cabinets and there’s a shady patio outside where you can watch the world go by on E. Lake Street.

We arrived during happy hour. I had recently read that NY Times article “The Aperol Sprit Is Not A Good Drink”  and really wanted to try one. When I tried to order one, our server replied that they couldn’t make one because they didn’t have Aperol. “That’s ok,” I replied. I don’t even know what Aperol is!”

The spritz ($6 at happy hour) on their menu is effervescent and pink and very good. In fact, I like it better than the real Aperol spritz I tried later that week.

We shared the roasted olives with fennel, chili and orange ($5) and burrata ($10) with olive salad, herbs and a cracker.

The person who brought out our dishes kindly checked to make sure we intended to order this many olives. We assured her that even if we hadn’t, we were delighted.

ie (Italian Eatery)

I left Italian Eatery squealing with delight.

My friend and I nabbed two of the seats at the small part of the bar that runs outside. “They’re the best seats in the house,” the bartender said as she invited us to enjoy our entire dinner there, not just drinks. On a nice day, she’s right.

If you don’t want to try your luck at the bar, make a reservation if you don’t want to wait for seats as the restaurant is very popular.

This is probably not the right place to come if you are looking for heaping bowls of Buca-style pasta. Pastas come in two sizes; We ordered the larger size. My friend was content with the summer spaghetti with tomato  sauce. I ordered the pasta dish below (which may not be on the menu now) – fresh, green pasta ribbons were tossed with some chili, swiss chard, sun-dried tomatoes and a creamy sauce made with some type of Italian cheese; I can’t remember exactly what, but I loved it.

Having shared two of the special appetizers of the day (juicy, grilled pineapple and grilled bread topped with ricotta and greens) I was content. However, I’m having a hard time imagining the smaller size.

The bar service was exceptional – the bartender who served us put a lot of care into making sure we enjoyed our wine picks. She offered us some delicious bread and butter with our meals and a taste of their housemade limoncello (as lovely as you could imagine).

Between Terzo (and the other Broders restaurants), Hyacinth and Italian Eatery, I am smitten. Friends gave me a lot more suggestions of dishes to try here like brunch, the meatballs, and buratta. I am looking forward to when the owner’s St. Paul restaurant Due Focacceria opens near us.

Feel free to share your favorite summer patios below!