5 patios old and new anchor Vancouver's summer snack scene

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      With the start of summer coming on Tuesday (June 21), it’s safe to say that patio season is now upon us. And if there’s any silver lining from this ghastly pandemic, it’s been the proliferation of patio dining across the region. Everyone seems to be getting in on the action: breweries, fine-dining establishments, and takeout pizza joints.

      Patios are even showing up on public property, like Sasamat Street south of West 10th Avenue, Maple Street south of West 4th Avenue, and Bute Street south of Robson Street, among other locations. But some of the greatest dining patios remain on the premises of local restaurants. Here are five of our favourites.

      Ancora's Howe Street restaurant patio overlooks False Creek.

      Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio

      1600 Howe Street, Vancouver
      1351 Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver

      Both locations offer superb outdoor patios with gorgeous views of the water. Given Ancora’s masterful harmonization of the cuisine of the seaside nations of Peru and Japan, it’s quite fitting to spend this time of the year outside nibbling on Ancora’s delicious sushi pizza or digging into a main course like seafood paella. There are actually strong historical connections between Peru and Japan—many Japanese headed to South America when racist American and Canadian governments restricted immigration after a white mob invaded Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown in 1907. So it’s not a big leap to bring the food of Peru and Japan together in one menu.

      The Cactus Club Cafe's patio at its Beach Avenue location draws a crowd on gorgeous summer days.
      Cactus Club Cafe

      Cactus Club Cafe

      1790 Beach Avenue

      There’s not much in Vancouver that can rival the setting sun over English Bay. And nowhere is there a better view for diners than the Cactus Club’s expansive patio on Beach Avenue. Are you curious to know about supply-chain problems in the economy? Just sit there and count all the cargo vessels out on the bay. Better yet, tuck into the Bandara salad along with a Polynesian margarita. That will help you forget about inflation, rising interest rates, and the war in Ukraine.

      Dockside Restaurant

      1253 Johnston Street, Granville Island

      This gem on Granville Island offers one of the comfiest seasonal patios in the region. Apart from the breeze off False Creek, you don’t even feel like you’re in Vancouver because it’s so damn peaceful. No wonder Georgia Straight readers voted Dockside as having the best patio for the Golden Plates awards in 10 consecutive years. There’s an extensive lunch menu, with everything from pesto chicken salad to duck leg, so what are you waiting for?

      The 1931 Gallery Bistro takes diners back to a time when life was far less complicated.

      1931 Gallery Bistro

      750 Hornby Street, Vancouver

      Plants, couches, and a terrific view of Robson Square—the tastefully minimalist patio at 1931 Gallery Bistro is a revelation to anyone who visits for the first time. How can something so quiet possibly exist in the downtown core? The 120-seat patio is part of a restaurant named in honour of its founding year, which speaks to the history of this establishment attached to the Vancouver Art Gallery. All proceeds go to the gallery, a vital Vancouver cultural institution. It’s an ideal place to nestle after taking in the VAG’s newest exhibition, Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment.

      This year, Tap & Barrel was voted as having the best patio by Georgia Straight readers.
      Tap & Barrel

      Tap & Barrel

      75 Athletes Way, Vancouver

      There are now four Tap & Barrel locations, and according to Georgia Straight readers, its best patio is at the Olympic Village location, which offers a magnificent view across False Creek to downtown Vancouver. And with the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival returning to the water from June 24 to 26, there’s no better time to enjoy a cool one with some lunch on this patio. If you’re bringing a pooch, make sure you sit near the fence so the dog can be leashed nearby.

      Others worth visiting

      Of course, there are many other restaurant patios worth visiting in the region. Here are eight others worth taking in: Ember Indian Kitchen (135–6168 London Road in Steveston), The Vancouver Fish Company Restaurant & Bar (1517 Anderson Street, Granville Island), H Tasting Lounge (1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver), Oakridge x Pac Rim Patio pop-up (1038 Canada Place), The Roof at Black + Blue (1032 Alberni Street), Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House (777 Thurlow Street), Lift Bar Grill (333 Menchion Mews, Vancouver), and Local Public Eatery (2210 Cornwall Avenue). Happy dining!