Midwest summers are some of the most beautiful on earth and sometimes lull us into ignoring the ice and snow ahead. So, what better way to enjoy the best of the outdoors than dining al fresco at some of the area’s Asian restaurants. From umbrella-covered sidewalk tables to cozy patios, Asian outdoor dining is the best of picnic ideas with the least amount of effort. Here are just a few options to try before the snow flies.
This cozy restaurant in St. Paul offers some of the best Thai food in the area with a tiny patio under a lovely shade tree. Stick with picnic foods such as green papaya salad, fresh spring rolls, or fresh noodle salad with shrimp. Add a fresh, green coconut with its delicious liquid refreshment and its almost like being at a roadside stand in Thailand, only better. Open seven days a week from 11 am to 9 pm. Krua Thailand has plenty of free parking behind the restaurant at 432 University Avenue West in St. Paul. For information call 651-224-4053.
Just down the street at University and Western in St. Paul, Mai Village offers patio dining with the perfect outdoor setting for its famous nuong Vi thap cam – beef, chicken, shrimp, scallop and squid grill. Diners grill meat and fish on their own tabletop grill, then wrap the cooked items with fresh greens in rice paper, dip it all in a sauce and enjoy. It is outdoor barbecuing without the mess. Or choose from their lengthy Vietnamese menu. For hours and information call 651-290-2585.
Tom Phom offers some of the most creative outdoor dining opportunities at the sidewalk café outside his AZIA restaurant and bar at 26th and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Everything from chicken Malaysian skewers and wooden skewer scallops to Filipino salad, Indonesian shrimp, scallops and calamari and the house favorite, cranberry curry is featured at AZIA seven days a week. Their Sunday Brunch from 11 am – 2 pm is also a favorite of sidewalk diners. For information call 612-813-1200 or go online at www.aziarestaurant.com.
Bombay 2 Deli
When Asia Import Food & Video celebrated its 25th anniversary in July, it opened its newest addition, Bombay 2 Deli. The family operation continues in this take-out vegetarian Indian deli with daily specials. Sometimes it is spinach/tofu or potato/cauliflower curry; other days, okra may be the featured selection. Every day there is a special appetizer such as potato balls or samosas. Add roti, steamed rice and chutney for a picnic tray to enjoy by your favorite lake or in your own backyard. Closed on Tuesdays. Located at 1840 Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis. For information call 612-788-4571.