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Minneapolis-St. Paul outdoor dining: A dozen walk-up windows

We’ve been spending a lot more time dining outdoors. In addition to full-service patio dining, consider grabbing lunch, dinner or dessert at a walk-up window. After all, these pedestrian-friendly service windows offer a variety, from casual to cheffed up fare, and they’re convenient for grabbing food on the go while remaining outside. It’s also a nice way to capitalize on those nice weather days and nature’s beauty while you’re at it, as several of these places offer scenic backdrops on the grounds or nearby. Here’s a list of some popular walk-up windows to get you started:

(* denotes a walk-up new to our list)

ST. PAUL

CITY HOUSE

City House in St. Paul has several offerings, including the State Fair’s Deep Fried Dilly Dog for a limited time. (Courtesy of City House)

The spot along the Mississippi River in St. Paul features a food truck style walk-up counter with a menu that changes with the seasons. Lucky for us, it’s State Fair season. And to mark the occasion, the State Fair hit that originated from City House operations, The Deep-Fried Dilly Dog, will be available through Labor Day. In addition, look for a menu that includes a Cuban sandwich, plant-based burger and tacos. Dine on the patio overlooking the river and take in views of the downtown St. Paul skyline. Hit the bike trail while in the area. Food truck hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

258 Mill St., St. Paul; cityhousemn.com

*DUE FOCACCERIA

Italian style salads and sandwiches are among the offerings at Due Focacceria St. Paul, Aug. 6, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

The service is always easy and breezy at this newish casual St. Paul eatery serving up Italian focaccia sandwiches, soups, salads and more. In addition to being able to order inside the market, there’s now a walk-up window so you have the option of staying outside the entire time. We did just that on a recent visit in which we ordered from the window, nabbed a seat on the charming patio and waited for our delicious soup, salad and sandwich order to arrive at our table. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

475 S. Fairview Ave., St. Paul; 651-493-8858; duefocacceria.com

*LAKESIDE TREATS

Lakeside Treats walk-up window on the waterfront side of Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul (Courtesy Lakeside Treats)

The Lakeside Treats walk-up window is now open on the waterfront side of Como Lake Pavilion. The menu features on the go finger foods such as hot dogs, jumbo pretzels and nachos. Ice cream is also part of the lineup, including a vegan ice cream option. If you want more food and drink options, while it’s not a walk-up-window, there’s a new order-at-the-counter restaurant in the pavilion area called Dock and Paddle offering things like salads, sandwiches, fish and chips, tacos and burgers.

360 N. Lexington Parkway, St. Paul; 651-300-4847; dockandpaddle.com

*SODA FOUNTAIN AT ST. PAUL CORNER DRUG

Soda Fountain at St. Paul Corner Drug on Aug. 6, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

There’s a reason St. Paul corner Drug has been around since 1922. The place sure knows how to keep that old fashioned charm while still changing with the times. So when COVID-19 happened, the owners wanted a way for customers to still order from the popular old-fashioned soda fountain featuring ice cream and handmade sodas while social distancing. Instead of going into the store and bellying up to the counter as was tradition, the owners recently installed a walk-up window so fans can order online or by phone and wait for their ice cream (two scoops for only $3 and some change!) and soda orders at the window without ever having to step foot into the store. The spot at St. Clair and Snelling Avenues has one outdoor table if you can nab it. Otherwise, plan on enjoying your order to go. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

240 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651-698-8859; stpaulcornerdrug.com/soda-fountain

*TRUNG NAM FRENCH BAKERY

Trung Nam French Bakery in St. Paul on Aug. 21, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

While the service window here is technically not a full-fledged walk-up but also a drive-up, we can’t wait to let you in on a new feature from this St. Paul institution. Trung Nam has long had a service window in the back of the restaurant, but it was never utilized. Then COVID-19 happened, and the owners decided to make good use of it. You can now drive up to pick up your order of delicious Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, croissants, almond cookies and Vietnamese coffee. Phone orders/calling ahead is highly recommended to make sure you can nab things like those croissants before they sell out and to keep the line moving. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

739 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651-229-0887; trung-nam.squarespace.com/#home

SUBURBS

CUP AND CONE

Cup and Cone in White Bear Lake. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

The more than 40-year-old spot gets our vote for the most retro, classic and low-key. Generations have flocked to this institution for malts, shakes and ice cream. As popular are the food offerings, which include hot dogs, brats and sub sandwiches.

2126 Fourth St., White Bear Lake; 651-426-1498; cupandconewbl.com

LEO’S GRILL AND MALT SHOP

Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop in downtown Stillwater. (Courtesy of Cory Buettner)

Old-fashioned downtown Stillwater diner includes a walk-up window along the same street as the Lift Bridge. Due to COVID-19 and efficiency, the walk-up window has changed to ice cream orders only. Food can still be ordered for takeout, and can be done so by ordering via phone or in person in the dining room. The walk-up window is open during summer restaurant hours, 11 a.m to 9 p.m. daily. It’s also worth noting that Leo’s has a food truck. “Leo’s on Wheels” is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at Maple Island Brewery located two blocks north of the Leo’s bricks and mortar location. Picnic tables can be found surrounding the food truck. Or, take your order to the nearby Lowell Park.

131 Main St., Stillwater; 651-351-3943; leosgrill.com

* MN NICE CREAM

MN Nice Cream in downtown Stillwater on Aug. 19, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

The outfit serving up soft serve cones with colorful toppings worthy of social media posts not only has a food truck, but two bricks and mortar locations. The one in downtown Stillwater that opened in the spring of 2019 includes a walk-up window. During the coronavirus, the inside is closed so the place is currently a walk-up window service only operation for the time being. No problem — with nearby Lowell Park and views of the St. Croix River, there’s plenty of incentive to take it outside. Hours are from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

308 E. Chestnut St., Stillwater; 612-259-7053; mnnicecream.com

MINNEAPOLIS

BREAD & PICKLE

Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis on July 31, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

This spot overlooking Lake Harriet has a walk-up window where you can order fare emphasizing local and sustainable ingredients. Breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers and salads are some of the offerings. A few vegetarian options as well as ice cream and beer and wine are available too. Open seasonally, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis; 612-767-9009; breadandpickle.com

PORCHETTERIA @ TERZO VINO BAR

Porchetteria @ Terzo in Minneapolis on Aug. 18, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

The third restaurant from the team behind Cucina Italiana and Broders’ Pasta Bar has a walk-up window in which the menu spotlights porchetta in the form of sandwiches (my favorite: the Truffle Mushroom Porchetta) and polenta bowls. Salads also make up the menu. After 3 p.m., menu options expand to include entrees such as pastas and things like chicken piccata. There’s a pretty outdoor seating area to enjoy your meal at if you so choose. Or, order online and pick up your order to go. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

2221 50th St. W., Minneapolis, 612-925-0330; broders.com/terzo-vino-bar

SANDCASTLE

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

Grab a to-go meal and have a picnic in the park. Some changes have been made this year at this popular beach spot on Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis to better serve customers during the pandemic. The restaurant where you order from a walk-up window is currently takeout only for the season and the patio has been closed off for safety. But you can still enjoy your Corn or Coney Dog, BLT sandwich, fish tacos, rice bowls and other fare with a socially distanced picnic in the park. To make things even more picnic friendly, Picnic Packs have been added to the menu and includes a sandwich, chips and salsa or hummus, fruit and dessert. During the week a lunch menu of Deli Sandwiches, Picnic Packs, and Grab & Go items is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The full kitchen menu is available from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday. Orders are taken from one walk-up window and picked up at  a separate window to ensure traffic flows easily.

4955 Lake Nokomis Parkway W., Minneapolis; sandcastlempls.com

SEA SALT EATERY

Calamari from Sea Salt Eatery can be enjoyed on the restaurant patio or at Minnehaha Regional Park on Aug. 16, 2020 (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

While the window is not in full force for the time being, we thought we would update you on what’s new at one of the favorite walk-up windows of the metro area. During COVID, some things have been tweaked at this park pavilion restaurant known for its seafood. Try a walk-in reservation, which is on a first come, first serve basis and nab a patio seat. Or, order ahead of time for pick up and take your order to go. Consider a picnic while here. After all, you’re on the grounds of the sprawling Minnehaha Regional Park. Note Sea Salt Eatery’s reduced hours and requirements such as masks when walking through the patio/common areas and group size restrictions during COVID. Also good to know: You can order beer and wine to go and drink it anywhere in the park.

4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612-721-8990; seasalteatery.com

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