When temperatures in Vancouver rise, sidewalk patios tend to fill up quickly. For a quieter city oasis at which to drink, dine, and people-watch, look up—way up—to one of these elevated patios.
The Gallery Café (750 Hornby Street), located on the second floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery, features live music several times a week and cocktails made tableside.
“We’re high enough that you can see Robson [Street] and all the businesses, but quiet enough that we can’t hear them,” director of operations Natasha Batiste says in a phone interview. “You walk out onto the patio and you really think you’re in a garden—it’s beautiful.”
For a light meal, Batiste recommends the ahi tuna Niçoise salad bowl ($10.25), a mélange of olives, cauliflower, potatoes, and green beans topped with slices of rare ahi. Quiches ($8.25 per slice), which are served with a salad, are also popular.
For a wedge of West Coast flavour, try the smoked salmon, red onion, and caper quiche paired with a glass of Prospect Winery’s Sauvignon Blanc ($8.25 a glass). Be sure to save room for dessert: “We make the best tiramisu [$4.75] in the city,” Batiste says.
With a view of the North Shore mountains on one side and City Hall on the other, the rooftop patio at the Keg Steakhouse & Bar’s Yaletown location (1011 Mainland Street) is the place to take in the city lights at sunset.
The patio, which includes 38 tables for dining and standing-room for 100 in the bar area, is heated and half-covered, with seven outdoor fireplaces. While steak is the obvious choice, the restaurant’s popular Lobster Summer menu features Atlantic lobster.
General manager James Wynne recommends trying the lobster and shrimp summer salad ($23.95), which includes mixed greens, mushrooms, corn, avocado, black beans, tomato, pine nuts, and a mango-sesame dressing.
“It’s a great summertime item and certainly a great patio item,” Wynne says. “Then, I think you can’t go wrong with our two-and-a-half-pound live Atlantic lobster [$42.95].” To cool down, Wynne suggests swishing back the Italian Danzante Pinot Grigio ($9 a glass) or New Zealand’s Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc ($10 a glass).
Not everyone enjoys baking in the sun while dining alfresco. If you’d rather people-watch from a shaded perch, grab a seat on the patio at MARKET by Jean-Georges (1115 Alberni Street), located on the third floor of the Shangri-La Hotel.
“It’s a good place to sit and have that outdoor feeling but still have a lot of privacy,” general manager Olivier Bureau says. “There’s a nice big planter at one end of the patio with some flowers.… It warms up the patio.”
Bureau says the menu and cocktail list change according to the season, citing the B.C. blueberry white wine sangria ($12 per glass/$50 for a pitcher) as an example. “We also created a coconut mojito [$12] this year, which is extremely popular,” he says.
For a light summer meal, try the goat cheese and watermelon salad ($10) followed by the slow-cooked steelhead ($26) or the steamed halibut ($32).
The patio at the Sandbar (1535 Johnston Street) is located on the second floor of this Granville Island restaurant, so diners are more likely to see sailboats pass by than pedestrians.
“We have amazing views of the downtown skyline because we’re on the south side of Granville Bridge,” assistant manager AJ Prasaguet says by phone. Customers hoping to dine on the heated and covered patio will want to arrive early, as seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
To complement the water view, try the seafood mixed grill ($28), which consists of scallops and prawns, plus a choice of fish, served over wok-fried rice and mixed vegetables. The daily fresh sheet is also a hit, with a variety of seafood entrées starting at $25.
While sangria ($6 per glass/$18 for a pitcher) is a popular patio drink, try one of the restaurant’s new Summer Sipper cocktails ($8 singles/$11 doubles).
“My favourite is the Velvet Jack,” Prasaguet says of the lemon- and raspberry-infused concoction. “For people that like Jack Daniel’s, it adds a totally different flair to it. It’s unbelievably fresh.”
Reflections (801 West Georgia Street) at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia isn’t known for its view, but the courtyard terrace is bustling on balmy Vancouver evenings.
“It’s a bit of an urban oasis,” says manager Shon Jones-Parry by phone. “We have private cabanas that are covered.… and there’s also a waterfall and an open fire pit.”
While Hawksworth restaurant three floors below is a fine-dining establishment, Jones-Parry insists that the dress code and attitude at Reflections is laid-back. “We definitely get the after-work crowd—people who come somewhat dressed up—but we get the casual crowd in shorts and T-shirts as well,” he says.
From the West Coast–inspired tapas menu, Jones-Parry suggests the seared scallops with potato and chorizo salad ($12). During Sunday brunch, try the beef short-rib eggs Benedict with smoked paprika hollandaise ($17).
If you’re stopping by for a drink, Jones-Parry says he always recommends the hotel’s signature gin cocktail, the Hotel Georgia ($12), or for something different, the tequila-and-pineapple-syrup-based Mexico’s Fix ($12).