Maple Grove restaurants, bakeries and cafes know how to make the most of Minnesota weather. Quiet, relaxing patios with comfy café chairs and shady umbrellas set the stage for pleasant conversation in good summer weather. Pull up an outdoor chair and stay a while. Minnesota summers are short, so it’s extra important to take in as much outdoor air as you can. With a light salad, your summer experience is complete. Dining al fresco is easy in Maple Grove. Great patios and fantastic salads make outdoor dining a true pleasure.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Daily Dose Cafe and Espresso
Made fresh to order with quality ingredients, the strawberry spinach salad radiates summer. The sharp contrast of deep red berries and bright leafy green spinach delights the eye. A pretty mix of baby spinach, strawberry quarters, goat cheese crumbles, chopped red onion and candied pecans comes with a side of housemade white balsamic vinaigrette. The pecans have a whisper of sweetness in a coating that masks oven-roasted nutty flavors. For a summer-style sipping beverage, try the fresh-brewed blueberry herbal iced tea. Relax and enjoy your salad and therapeutic brew under the shade of an umbrella-covered table. The outdoor patio is “a nice, quiet, quaint place to enjoy a salad,” says owner Curt Medina. Salad $6.95, iced tea $1.75. 15517 Grove Circle N.; 763.657.0919.
Bacon and Egg Kale Caesar Salad
Highlander Pub at Rush Creek Golf Club
The lovely rolling greens, sculpted with ponds of shimmering water, drifts of sand and broad forests of leafy trees set a tranquil mood. This public golf course boasts a Scotland-themed terrace, complete with live music on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. The spacious, sunny patio has plenty of shady umbrellas. A west-facing view offers ringside seating for dramatic sunsets. “Enjoy a full dining experience or just stop in for a cocktail and watch the sun disappear beyond our beautiful golf course,” says manager Bruce Michaelson. Nestle in for the panoramic scene and a tasty bacon and egg kale Caesar salad. Homemade Caesar dressing, award-wining apple-smoked Nueske bacon, fresh shaved parmesan cheese and fresh-made croutons dress up baby kale. This salad comes sunny side up. A fried egg and bacon mellow the kale bite with a homey, comforting, all-day-breakfast touch. Not quite what Mom would make but equally satisfying. Savor your salad and picturesque view with a glass of Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. $13. 7801 County Road 101; 763.494.8844.
Hummus Greek Salad
Olympia Café and Gyros
A traditional Greek salad needs no improvement. Yet the innovative staff at Olympia Café and Gyros puts a good spin on the authentic Old World dish with the addition of hummus. Take your pick of 17 hummus flavors, many with a zesty bite—all housemade. The spice meter goes progressively higher with the orange habanero, spicy Sriracha and diablo, but more standard mild hummus blends are available too. “It’s almost like a challenge between me and the cooks who’s going to come up with the next best hummus flavor,” says owner Paul Santrizos. Dip in with your side of pita bread. They make perfect accompaniments to the zesty Greek salad brimming with a garden grove of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, Kalamata olives, peperoncini and cucumbers. Salty feta cheese and made-from-scratch Greek vinaigrette bring out refreshing notes. The hummus Greek salad is even better out on the patio. Overlooking busy Central Avenue, the planter decorated patio makes a good spot to watch the world go by. $7.99. 247 Central Ave., Osseo; 763.424.3935.
Seafood Cobb Salad
Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse
This definitive steakhouse serves up a meaty seafood salad. As an entrée dish, the seafood cobb has staying power. Shrimp, crab, bacon and separated hard-boiled egg make a quartet of protein. Each ingredient is fashioned into a neat row. A ribbon of chopped tomatoes and sliced avocados complete the lineup with chiffonade scallions scattered over all. A housemade citrus-herb vinaigrette heightens the assortment of light yet filling flavors. Relish every bite in a casual outdoor atmosphere by dining on the beautifully decorated patio. Framed by natural wood and a waterfall, festoons of flowers, vines, shrubs and trees form an oasis in the city. “It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Maple Grove—feels like you’re on vacation,” says manager Felipe Navarro. $19.95. 11900 Main St. N.; 763.416.2663.
Punch Neapolitan Pizza
In a place renowned for world-class pizza, salads have to stand on their own. The Punch salad will not disappoint. A fluffy toss of mixed spring greens and toasted pine nuts glimmers with the sheen of balsamic vinaigrette. Ribbons of Italian-imported prosciutto drape over the lettuce leaves like decorative ribbons. A generous sprinkle of finely grated Parmesan cheese cascades over the salad from top to bottom. “You can’t go wrong. It’s just delicious,” says Jenny Nyquist, vice president. The focaccia, straight out of the oven with steam, is a blissful bonus. The same dough used in the famed Punch pizzas serves as the base for the olive oil, rosemary and sea salt infused wedges of bread. The relaxed atmosphere in the pergola-covered patio makes the salad even more of a delight. Take a mini vacation; dine like you’re on a terrace in Italy. Sip a glass of wine as you nibble your salad outside on the patio. No passport is required to take in these Italian delights. $8 large, $4.50 small. 12107 Elm Creek Blvd.; 763.494.3131.
Patrick's Chopped Salad
Patrick’s Bakery and Cafe
The ever-popular chopped salad at Patrick’s has just the right toss of veggies, eggs and cheese. Picture a blend of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, corn, scallions, chopped hard-boiled eggs, banana peppers, avocado and bleu cheese. The housemade green goddess dressing enlivens the salad with an infusion of French-style herbs. Luscious and lovely, the chopped salad looks pretty as a painting. Take your light meal “en plein air” on the patio. Beautiful foliage regularly coiffed by Bachman’s provides a lush backdrop. Complete your Francophile experience with an éclair or other fine French pastry. Go ahead—after a salad, you can do so without guilt! $9.95; with bacon for $10.95; chicken $12.95; shrimp $13.95. 12489 Elm Creek Blvd. N.; 763.420.7770.
3 Squares Restaurant
With classic sensibilities, the grill salad makes a refreshingly light summer meal. Fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and croutons go over a feathery bed of mixed greens. Housemade herb vinaigrette, Kalamata olives and pepperoncini perk up the salad with a pleasantly salty punch. Made-from-scratch cornbread offers the right kind of southern-style tasty carbs. What better place to eat your delicious grill salad than the patio. With a dog-friendly welcome-to-all atmosphere, the whole family can kick back out on the patio. Throughout the season, 3 Squares regularly hosts events on the patio adding to the fun. $6.45 small, $9.75 large; add chicken or steak $4. 12690 Arbor Lakes Pkwy.; 763.425.3330.