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Waterside Troughs – Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

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Lake Minnetonka

Vann Restaurant

Hidden in plain sight in Spring Park, van (above) surprised many when he appeared on the long list for the James Beard Award, but not his fans. They knew that the intimate venue, incredible wine list, and Chef Erik Skaar’s thoughtful and creative dishes are something to be praised. Large windows allow you to watch the bay from more comfortable, air-conditioned seats. 4016 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park, 952-381-9042

Gianni’s Steakhouse

Wayzata may be home to many new restaurants, but sometimes you have to go old-fashioned. The patio in front At Gianni’s This is where you’ll spot the well-heeled enjoying a martini, a steak and the famous filée salad. Summer Sundays are a thing in this lakeside town. It’s when everyone comes back from the cabin and goes out for dinner, which makes for a fun night out on Lake Street. 635 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-404-1100

Unlimited Licking

Excelsior’s favorite seasonal ice cream parlor is now run by the next generation of the family. The kids brought in new flavors and fresh produce and made ice cream consumption more sustainable with compostable cups and spoons. Grab your scoop and head to the city docks to watch the boats and revelers. 31 Water Street, Excelsior, 952-474-4791

Stillwater/St. Cross

Papa’s Rooftop at the Water Street Inn

The historic inn has a new rooftop patio with spectacular views of the entire town of Stillwater and the iconic Lift Bridge. Enjoy pizza, pasta and salads, or just grab some snacks and a bottle from the fine wine list. 101 S. Water St., 651-493-6000

Calm water proper

Local support to that tavern on Main Street where the bar is fully stocked with only Minnesota-made spirits: from your favorite urban distilleries like Tattersall and Norseman to bottles from state pioneers like Vikre, RockFilter and Far North, your drink will have a distinct Minnesota flavor. The modern bar kitchen plays along, with local mushroom cioppino and a hot chicken sandwich with Cry Baby Craig sauce. 227 S. Main St., 651-342-2053

PD Pappy

PD Pappy (below) packs them all summer long, from motorcyclists to boaters to anyone looking for a Big Brutus burger and live music (no cover charge). This patio is so close to the river that when the Sainte-Croix swells, it is actually IN the river. Nobody cares. 422 E. Mulberry St., 651-430-1147

Other spots by the water

Charlie is on Prior

With a lighthouse that beckons you from land and water, by charlie is the hub of summer life on Prior Lake. A large upstairs dining area draws families for American Tavern fare, while three on-site bars ensure everyone is entertained. Embark; there are courtesy docks and dockside food delivery if you want to get back on the water. Live music plays most weekends during peak summer. 3950 Green Heights Tr. Southwest, Prior Lake, 952-226-5253

Birch is on the lake

Upstairs, the supper club rejects the idea that you need dark, clubby vibes, instead embracing floor-to-ceiling windows that face the lake. Downstairs, the brewery action flows to one of the Metro’s best small lake patios. Wherever you sit, you can enjoy creative, freshly brewed beers alongside Buckhorn’s signature fried chicken. Birch likes to party, so watch for live music and theme nights all summer long. 1310 Wayzata Blvd. W., Lac Long, 952-473-7373

Chief Shack Bay City

After your fine weekend meal at chief’s hut outpost in WI, you’ll probably need to stretch your legs. Dine on the tasting menu and sip all the fine wine, then walk down the block to Lake Pepin Boulevard along the river. Better yet, grab a spot at nearby Bay City Campground and make it an entire weekend. 6379 Main Street, Bay City, Wisconsin, 715-594-3060

japanese mizu

Sure, you can have a blast with everyone at the downtown White Bear Lake docks, but if you’re looking to enjoy your night out right next to the party zone, consider mizu. The small Japanese restaurant near the water has a small terrace where you can enjoy gyoza dumplings, roasted hamachi neck, pork belly ramen and lots of sushi. The creative rolls and fresh sashimi here are tops in Metro North. 4475 Lake Avenue S., Polar Bear Lake, 651-653-4888

Lunch with a side of the shore

Lola’s Lake House (below) spent 14 years on the lake, and all had a great time. The deck of the boat is the most popular place to meet friends and neighbors for fresh oysters and firecracker shrimp. The happy hours are legendary, not just for the sub-$10 menu, but also for the signature spicy margarita and house contraband mix. 318 E. Lake St., Waconia, 952-442-4954

City water

+ Sea salt restaurant / Queuing is one of the pleasures of summer. Order a drink and enjoy. Water to watch: Minnehaha Falls. What to eat: Crawfish Po’boy

+ bread and pickle / Your favorite foodie stop for music and movies in the band shell. Water to watch: Lake Harriet. What to eat: Seared Walleye Sandwich with Dill Tartar Sauce

+ Sand castle / Chef Doug Flicker runs this sandy summer outpost. Water to monitor: Lake Nokomis. What to eat: The Dog Flicker hot dog with kimchi

+ Dock and paddle / Live music and covered terrace overlooking the lake make it a safe bet. Water to watch out for: Lake Como. What to eat: Caribbean Cuban Sandwich with Puerto Rican Roasted Pork