One of the best ways to experience any city is on a great restaurant patio: one that combines excellent food, spectacular views and lovely surroundings. Our regional editors give you their picks of the best patios in their cities.
With dozens of tables along the waterfront in the Historic Properties, it’s little wonder that Salty’s on the Waterfront boasts one of Halifax’s most popular patios. It’s the ideal spot to sit in the sun, enjoy fresh Atlantic seafood and watch ships of all sizes—from kayaks to mighty warships—ply the waters of Halifax Harbour.
Overlooking Coal Harbour and Stanley Park, the patio at Lift Bar & Grill has an outdoor fire pit and serves up West Coast fare and tasty martinis. Or, enjoy fresh seafood and take in the view of English Bay—or dine right on Kits Beach—at one of the stellar patios from The Boathouse.
Sabor Divino takes its patio dining seriously and in two ways—inside and out. On warm days and evenings, this Portuguese-inspired restaurant opens its floor-to-ceiling front window to reveal the café lounge level, so that diners can view the life circus on 103rd Street. This is a perfect place for the 13 varieties of tapas that are served in the late afternoon and evening.
Columns, old-fashioned laterns, dangling vines and a majestic lily pond are all part of the opulence at Terrace Fifty-Five. Enjoy stunning views of Assiniboine Park’s lush greenery while savouring their signature lobster pot pie. 55 Pavilion Cres, 204-938-PARK. Breathe in the fresh country air while dining in the charming veranda of Pineridge Hollow. Regional favourites are served in this country cottage, like Lake Winnipeg pickerel fillet stuffed with mushrooms and dill cream sauce. Off of Hwy 59, east on Garven Rd (PR #213), follow signs to Heatherdale, 204-777-3880.
Most Canadian Rockies patios boast stunning mountain views. In Banff, hidden patios beckon with sun-drenched dining where the peaks seem so close that you could reach out and touch them. Just outside of Jasper, Maligne Lake View Restaurant offers a multi-level wooden deck that descends to the water—pre/post dining activities include a cruise to spirit island, canoe or kayak rentals, fishing or hiking.
For people-watching–not to mention great food and friendly service–in Victoria it’s tough to beat the patio at Milestone’s Inner Harbour location. Located right on the Causeway, this is the place to watch locals and visitors strolling the waterfront, enjoying the buskers and artisans around the harbour, along with the many kayaks, Harbour Ferries, sail and power boats coming and going, contributing to the busy atmosphere.
Once the weather turns warmer, the pedestrian-friendly Stephen Avenue comes alive with the many restaurants peppered along its path offering up their patios–this is the place to see and be seen. Just north of the downtown core, River Café, located on idyllic Prince’s Island Park, offers an outdoor patio with unparalleled views of both natural surroundings and the city’s scenic skyline.
In Toronto, many downtown restaurants offer alfresco dining and drinking options. For a great people-watching perch in the city’s hip West Queen West neighbourhood, head to the Drake Hotel and order a glass of wine on the Sky Yard rooftop patio. Financial District fave Vertical counts pillow-laden banquettes and a view of a lovely parkette among its charms; Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes by chef Tawfik Shehata are also a major selling point. And in bustling Little Italy there are few outdoor spaces to rival Café Diplomatico, which offers dozens of tables for an alfresco experience.
The Parisian-inspired Métropolitain Brasserie is located in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown. With a terrace looking onto the city’s liveliest corner at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street, it’s the perfect spot for people watching in the summer.
La Bocca is great for people watching, fondue and chilled white wine. Meanwhile, The Brewhouse has a large outdoor space—prefect for sampling the in-house brewed ales and lagers.