Vancouver Weekend: We're Thinking....Hidden Patios

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      Need something to do this weekend? Here are five hidden patios around town for you to discover.

      Giardino Restaurant, 1328 Hornby Street

      Unlike every other chain restaurant patio that’s decked out with the same striped pillows and mass-produced décor, you’ll find the hidden patio at Giardino Restaurant to be satisfyingly unique.

      As you make your way to the outdoor garden oasis at the back of the restaurant, you’ll walk past a Tuscan-inspired interior lined with wooden beams and hand-painted artwork. It gets even better when you get to the Florentine-styled courtyard where you can indulge in a glass of Masi Rosa dei Masi rosé and a delicious plate of Dungeness crab and shrimp salad. Featuring stones, lush greens, and 150-year-old red tiles from an old granary, this charismatic patio can transport you from downtown Vancouver to the heart of Italy in a matter of a few steps.

      Be it a family lunch or a little get-together with friends, this hidden garden escape is the spot to visit when you’re feeling like a little getaway. Just don’t be disappointed when it’s time to leave this little sanctuary, because as soon as you step back outside, you’ll be back in reality.


      The Naam's patio offers lots of privacy.
      The Naam

      The Naam, 2724 West 4th Avenue

      Kitsilano’s legendary vegetarian eatery offers a year-round slice of heaven on its secluded patio and courtyard, which are barely visible from inside the restaurant let alone from the street. The deck’s lush greenery provides a welcome shield from the sun in summer as well as a comforting separation from fellow diners.

      You can gab away about anything on this patio—politics, art, friendship, and sex—without fear of everyone hearing what you have to say. And on those cool rainy days when the enclosure goes up and the staff crank up the heaters, it surely ranks as one of the coziest spots in town. Hang out for what seems like forever as you snack away on those delicious sesame fries or dig into one of the Naam’s trademark Maui-Maui veggie burgers.

      This is not a location for those in a hurry, nor for those in the mood for a slice of beef. Just keep this in mind: while it’s a 24-hour restaurant, the patio closes at 11 p.m. because it’s in a residential neighbourhood.


      Indulge in a book and coffee at Platform 7's back-alley garden.
      Platform 7 Coffee/Facebook

      Platform 7, 2331 East Hastings Street

      The opening of must-visit rooms like the Red Wagon, Tacofino Commissary, and Campagnolo Roma—all within a two-block radius—may have cemented Hastings-Sunrise on Vancouver’s culinary map, but the ’hood’s patios remain scarce. Local coffee shop Platform 7, however, offers a welcome compromise that just may be one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

      The next time you’re craving a caffeine kick, get yourself to Platform 7 and take a moment to ogle the British train-station-inspired interiors. Then, pick up your drip coffee or Stumptown cold brew—and a hearty slice of East Village–baked apple-rhubarb pie if you’re feeling fancy—and march straight past the long, weathered wood bar, industrial-style booths, and gallery of java-related Instagram snaps until you arrive at the shop’s backdoor.

      Here lies a serene escape, complete with oversized planters, well-manicured greens, and enough shade to make the garden bearable even in the dead heat of July. All that’s left to do is to kick back with a novel, sketchbook, or some writing, and take joy in the fact that such a haven can’t be found at Platform 7’s newer Kitsilano location.


      Via Tevere's cool-without-trying patio.
      Via Tevere Pizzeria/Instagram

      Via Tevere Pizzeria, 1190 Victoria Drive

      Even if you've frequented this favourite off-the-Drive Neopolitan pizza joint, you might be surprised to find out Via Tevere has a patio at all. And that smug feeling of being in a secret place is definitely one of the cozy back-alley spot's draws.

      That and the fact that, as you down your ice-cold Peroni, it feels a lot like you're hanging in your best Italian buddy's postage-stamped-sized back yard, thanks to the wood trellises that dangle lush vines above you and the neighbourhood-style wooden fence that surrounds the courtyard. Added atmosphere comes courtesy of the wood stack at the back of the deck, where the staff comes to fuel the place's authentic round, tile oven inside.

      The cute red chairs and wood tables add to the casual vibe—one that's well suited to both the unfussy food (think gorgeously sauce-soaked, arugula-sprouting pizza you roll up in your fingers or red wine you sock back in glass tumblers) and to the heritage neighbourhood that surrounds it. Cool without trying.


      Brix & Mortar's courtyard is the perfect backdrop for a date night.
      Brix & Mortar

      Brix & Mortar, 1138 Homer Street

      Fine-dining establishment Brix & Mortar houses a roomy terrace with prime vantage points in the heart of Yaletown, but it’s the restaurant’s downstairs courtyard—accessible through an alternate entrance on Homer Street—that boasts the best seats in the house.

      Tucked in a small recess that appears tailor-made for anniversaries, wedding receptions, and other uber-romantic, circled-twice-on-the-calendar dates, the intimate room evokes an old-world charm that may just transport you to the City of Love itself. If you can keep your eyes off your dining companion long enough—the candle-lit vibe is bound to unleash your inner Romeo—you’ll notice the lush foliage climbing up the surrounding three walls, a grand uplight chandelier hanging seemingly from nothing, and the absence of wailing sirens that makes it clear Brix has invested in a fine, sound-deadening door.

      A barely detectable glass ceiling—which makes year-round reservations around these parts a safe bet—and one of the city’s most impressive wine lists help seal the deal. Pro tip: book a table online and request a courtyard spot in your notes. The restaurant’s keen staff will, more often than not, do their best to make it happen.

      Running every Thursday, Vancouver Weekend spotlights five Straight-approved places around the city worth discovering.