SCRIMP: ONE COLD BEER ON THE PATIO «OR» SPLURGE: A GOURMET OUTDOOR DINNER
At the height of summer, Victoria restaurants with attractive patios have a distinct edge over other dining spots. While many businesses offer outdoor seating areas, few can provide a truly tranquil spot in the sun with pleasing views and little or no traffic noise. I’ll even sacrifice a point or two on the quality of the food to enjoy a top-notch patio.
Here are some great options for outdoor dining. Leave a comment on this post to share YOUR favourite local patio!
TOP THREE PATIOS
Canoe Brewpub: While I’ve had quibbles with the food here (sometimes over-salted), I’m unequivocal in my praise of the patio. Even at peak dining times, you can almost always get a table on Canoe’s huge bricked outdoor seating area. Far from traffic, this west-facing waterfront dining area is a sea of patio umbrellas, ideal for soaking up every last ray of sunshine after work. Funky, semi-industrial harbour views with the Johnson Street blue bridge in the foreground.
Glo Europub and Grill: Huge wrap-around waterfront deck with views of kayakers paddling the Selkirk Waterway and cyclists crossing the Selkirk Trestle. Ask for a complimentary blanket as the sun sets and hang out long into the evening.
The Veranda, Fairmont Empress Hotel: The ultimate in elegance, overlooking the Inner Harbour from the front deck of Victoria’s most famous hotel. Seasonal, April to October.
OTHER FINE PATIOS
AURA: An excellent view of the Empress Hotel from across the harbour. Al fresco dining with lovely views, ambient lighting and music, and heaters to keep guests comfortable well after sunset.
Bon Rouge Bistro: Intimate, enclosed open-air patio deck with brick fireplace, as well as streetside patio dining. Bon Rouge excels at creating a casual French ambience inside and out.
Caffe Fantastico: What a prime waterfront spot this cafe nabbed in the Dockside Green complex. Sit on the patio raised above Harbour Road and sip a superb iced latte while you watch paddlers in the waterway and cyclists touring along the bike path below. East-facing location makes this a perfect patio for morning coffee, and fresh-baked artisan breads are close at hand in the adjacent Fol Epi bakery.
Lido Waterfront Bistro: Casual patio dining on the “Lido Deck” above the Hyack floatplane dock. Affordable fare with panoramic views of the Inner Harbour, Parliament Buildings, and surrounding historic Old Towne.
The Local Kitchen: Very large patio at the bottom of Bastion Square, with sweeping views of the harbour. I might rule out this patio because of traffic noise from Wharf Street, except that the people watching and happy buzz are so good.
Milestones: You may have to endure a wait for a harbourside table at Milestones on Wharf Street, but you can’t beat the people watching from the sidewalk patio along the Inner Harbour Causeway. Tranquil, no; entertaining, yes. This is the Tourist Mecca in all its horror and glory—–with icy Bellini cocktails to wash it all down.
Paradiso Di Stelle: Like The Local Kitchen, this little Italian cafe is also on Bastion Square, but on the upper tier. The patio is therefore more removed from the traffic along Wharf Street, and with a somewhat nicer vantage overlooking the harbour.
Rooftop Surfclub: This gigantic, seasonal rooftop patio atop the Sticky Wicket pub is a one-of-a-kind Victoria experience, with a full beach volleyball court (!) and tasty tropical drinks. Partyville.
Spinnakers Brewpub: A small but superb second-storey patio area overlooking the WestSong waterfront walkway, adjacent the Songhees condo developments. One of the most tranquil seaside spots in the city, with gorgeous harbour views from its quiet neighbourhood nook in Vic West.
The Superior: While their are no waterfront views here, the garden patio is a lushly vegetated outdoor seating area with a really relaxing ambience.
The Tapas Bar: Again, no scenic views here, but the outdoor patio is situated in Trounce Alley, a quiet haven just steps from the hustle-bustle of people and traffic on Government Street.
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