Did you know that if you count our rivers and streams, our lovely state of Minnesota contains more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined? Maybe one day in the future we will finally put bars on all 183,326 miles of the shoreline here, but we’re anything but deprived for the time being. Whenever it’s nice out, I always prefer riverside bars over the landlocked variety, because water is the perfect thing to contemplate over a cold beer. I believe that’s what Eastern philosophy calls “Zen.” Here are my favorite riverside bars to enjoy in the summer!
Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
Located right on the Mississippi in Northeast Minneapolis, Psycho Suzi’s has a great retro, luau vibe complete with moai heads and tiki idols looking on over the fun. Going to their riverfront patio is like a miniature south seas getaway, complete with thatched umbrellas, a cabana bar, and the one feature any tropical vacation is always remiss without: tater tots. Their tropical cocktails come served in novelty ceramic mugs shaped like shrunken heads and other jungle relics, and you can take them home with you if you like. (I now drink my morning coffee from a skull.) When the weather isn’t compliant, go to their inside section Shangri La, a ludicrously decorated drinking hall that always puts me in a sunny mood.
I love downtown Stillwater’s St. Croix riverfront. It’s the perfect, quiet place to watch little boats float under the town’s historic lift bridge. P.D. Pappy’s is always my base of operations when I visit, as their two roomy patios provide perfect views of the lively river and the scenery surrounding it. Their happy hour, appropriately named “Pappy Hour,” feels endless lasting from 11 am to 6 pm every Tuesday through Friday, and their weekday food specials make the price of dining out practically negligible. Their nachos are massive, a delicious mountain of all the stuff that makes classic nachos good, and their pizzas are just the remedy for when my Sicilian blood is all fired up. With live music most days of the week, P.D. Pappy’s is the perfect spot for families, dates, or a little meditative “me time” alike.
My third pick is so good that it gets away with being on a lake instead of a river. I’m talking about Maynard’s Restaurant in Excelsior, my favorite restaurant to take a date or an out of town guest when I’m really trying to impress. It’s right on a wharf on Lake Minnetonka, and from their outdoor patio you can watch gorgeous boats in action or try not to submit to ducks begging for French fries. The ducks have their work cut out for them, though, because Maynard’s waffle fries are the absolute best I’ve ever had, the perfect accompaniment to their classic American fare. Maynard’s always has a happy, festive atmosphere, with people playing cornhole out back or drinking beers under the giant kayak hung over the bar. Maynard’s big, open dining room glows with natural light from the lake and provides great views when it’s too hot out to enjoy the patio. Maynard’s complimentary valet service makes getting there as simple as the drive out, and it’s right nearby downtown Excelsior, the perfect place to get an ice cream cone for a walk along the beautiful lake.
By Samantha Koshiol