Alfresco dining in Duluth
One is a Tiki Bar manned by a bartender in a Hawaiian shirt.
And let’s not forget a newbie: A former depot that has come to act like a cabana.
Scenic views coupled with so many months snuggled up to a space heater make alfresco dining a favorite pastime for Duluthians.
The News Tribune considered some of the best venues for taking a meal outdoors.
Here is a mix of picks that include lake views, street views and pizza parlor views:
MIDI RESTAURANT 600 E. Superior St.
This time of year, the focal point of the courtyard at the Fitger’s Complex is Midi’s Tiki Bar, a Gilligan-style hut manned by a bartender in a Hawaiian shirt.
Eight tables line a railing that overlooks the Lakewalk, and there are about five more on the bridge that leads from the courtyard to the steps leading to the high-traffic pathway.
This is a booze-friendly zone with all sorts of colorful daiquiris and various drinks ending in “-tini.”
The fare is light: Snack on a cheese tray or crab cakes or crepes with Nutella mousse.
Lest you get bored of miles and miles of blue water, there’s serious gawking potential: Runners and their two-seater Bob strollers, longboard skateboarders, tourists pumping along on four-person bike-like vehicles.
For the more serious diners, or at least those who require a full menu, Midi Restaurant has a string of about a dozen shaded tables snug against the building.
There is live music outdoors on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
LITTLE ANGIE’S CANTINA AND GRILL 11 Buchanan St.
This is the quintessential deck, the deck that other decks aspire to.
So, so many square feet of outside, fajita-flavored air. The deck at the Tex-Mex arm of Grandma’s Restaurant Co. is smack-dab central in Canal Park and the scene always looks like a commercial for how to celebrate summer.
This spot isn’t afraid to make alfresco dining a winter affair. In recent years, they’ve added an ice bar for the margarita off-season.
SIR BENEDICT’S TAVERN ON THE LAKE 805 E. Superior St.
Count Sir Ben’s regulars among the most hardy of alfresco diners. These loyalists continue to push the season, taking to the patio even during wool sweater weather.
Its lake view is impeded, but its spot on Superior Street offers a pretty true view of Duluth.
They serve Italian fare, gourmet sandwiches and have a full bar complete with more than 20 beers on tap.
VA BENE CAFFE 734 E. Superior St.
If you aren’t a stickler for things like direct sunlight, this Italian-themed cafe is the place to be.
Actual outdoor options here are extremely limited — but there is an all-glass sun porch that is as good as alfresco, minus the requisite zinc oxide.
Added bonus: This space is open year-round. A wind-whipped lake can be just as scenic as one topped with a gelato-colored sunset and filled with dozens of white sails.
GRANDMA’S SALOON & GRILL Canal Park
Of all the lake views in the city, this one boasts a most unique perspective.
It’s adjacent to the canal and when a ship passes under the Aerial Lift Bridge, hold on to your Famous Golden Rings: It’s about to get pretty exciting. When the horn blows, it’ll make your hair vibrate.
This large deck area has table and lounge-style seating.
MEXICO LINDO 600 E. Superior St.
Not for the acrophobic: This Mexican restaurant’s high-demand deck is at the highest point of the Fitger’s Complex.
It’s the perfect complement to head-sized vats of margarita and bottomless bowls of chips and salsa.
ENDION STATION PUBLIC HOUSE Canal Park
This place has a history as a former depot, but its future is more cabana.
Endion Station is the latest addition to the Canal Park family, and it’s situated right at eye-level with the water.
Good luck getting to the patio without snagging beach pebbles in your flip-flop. Whatevs, #leisureprobs.
The menu is more snack-y here, with sliders, kebabs, brats and the like. Meanwhile, in addition to the Fitger’s Brewhouse-brand beers, there are all sorts of train-themed cocktails on the menu.
CHESTER CREEK CAFE 1902 E. Eighth St.
Chester Creek Cafe carries the title of Best Deck Not Actually On Lake Superior.
This off-the-path space in a part-commerce, part-residential area of the East Hillside has a mellow neighborhood-y vibe, perfect for noshing on a falafel platter far from the bustle of downtown.
BELLISIO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT 405 Lake Ave. S.
This Italian restaurant offers a touch of Euro with a mid-sized patio off of the bar, separated from the sidewalk by a stucco wall that’s not quite tall enough to hide the fun of patrons’ wine flights, cheese plates, gnocchi dishes and tiramisu.