It’s patio season: Time to head outside and reconnect with nature. Well… a more civilized version of nature with a full menu and an extensive wine list. Of course, not all patios are created equal. So, the Canada’s 100 Best judges have combed the country to find the patios we feel are worthy of your scarce free summer hours.
While these are a collection of our favorites, if you have a patio you think we should know about, tweet us using #CanadasBestPatios!
4222 Village Square
(604) 932-4540 araxi.com
Located in the heart of Whistler Village, this canopied patio at the front of the town’s best restaurant affords a perfect view of the Main Square. But the people watching is seldom captivating as what you’ll find on the plate in front of you. Chef James Walt cooks with sophisticated refinement—and uses great local ingredients from the West coast fishery and the top quality farms just up the road in Pemberton.
Accord – bar a vin
212 Rue Notre-Dame O
Nestled between two handsome brick buildings in Old Montreal, this intimate alleyway patio is perfectly suited to the leisurely consumption of the innumerable quality vintages on offer here by the glass. The night-time lighting is delightfully romantic. Most important, new chef Simon Mathys has applied a refined and imaginative touch the Quebecois bistro offerings of this quality wine bar.
24 Wharf St
(613) 399-3338 drakedevonshire.ca
Jeff Stober’s predictably quirky and stylish take on the farmhouse inn was the only Canadian hotel to make Travel + Leisure’s 2015 “It list”—and in the process, unexpectedly put Prince Edward Country on the international map. Its patio deck affords a captivating panoramic view of Lake Ontario, and you’ll find necessary overflow seating on the untreated wood-staircase bleachers. The culinary concept is of course farm to table—with a multi-cultural urban spin.
538 Place Saint-Henri
(514) 316-7234 leh4c.com
H4C takes its name from the postal code prefix of the century-old post office it now occupies in the formerly downmarket—but now chic—neighbourhood of St-Henri. Out front, the patio offers a lovely view of local city life and Place St-Henri. It is a relaxed, convivial setting for appreciating the artful creations of chef Dany Bolduc, a former pastry chef who has found his calling in the savoury kitchen, where he produces highly innovative French-inspired cuisine.
Drake Sky Yard
The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen St West
This is the eleventh summer for the perennial Drake Hotel and its rooftop patio—the Sky Yard. Its enduring stylishness is partly due to its perpetually evolving floor plan, furnishings, projections and other art installations. But more than that, to the fact that a place with this much going on all the time is always a great idea. The food is multi-ethnic and casual, like the crowd.
1 Langdon Drive
(519) 740-2100 langdonhall.ca
The grand old house that centres this unique Ontario resort was built as a rural summer retreat for a wealthy New Yorker—but its enduring, understated elegance is very much English in character. In summer that extends to the manicured vegetable gardens, which yield so much of the better produce for chef Jason Bangerter’s exceptional seasonal menus. Take a walk through them before settling in for a meal on the terrace–likely the most elegant patio in the country.
66 Wellington St West
(416) 777-1144 bymark.mcewangroup.ca
Nestled at the base of the Mies van der Rohe TD Centre—home to 21,000 office workers—the swanky Bymark patio is natural draw for a business lunch, and of course happy hour. Later on, when those boisterous crowds recede, the sun sets and the surrounding towers glimmer against the night sky, it becomes a surprisingly beautiful setting for dinner. Steaks and burgers stand out, along with other high end takes American comfort food.
169 Niagara St
(416) 703-4222 edulisrestaurant.com
This street side west end patio adorned with hanging flower baskets is so modest in proportion that husband-and-wife chef and co-chef (and hostess) team Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth use it only for serving apéritifs and digestifs that properly bracket their five and seven-course tasting menus—but the French bistro chairs are fought over all the same. Food is highly ingredient driven, rooted in the traditions of France and Spain, rendered local and contemporary according to what’s at market.
Cactus Club at English Bay
1790 Beach Ave
(604) 681-2582 cactusclubcafe.com
The design and placement of this amazing perch on English Bay is the best conceivable example of the great things that huge and successful restaurant corporations can sometimes do with their abundant resources when they put their minds to it. Its patio—tucked between beach and restaurant—may be the finest in the city, and is ideally placed for observing the sunset. Local execution of Rob Feenie’s archetypically West Coast menu exceeds chain restaurant expectations.
143 Danforth Ave.
(416) 463-3086 allens.to
This spacious courtyard patio off Danforth Avenue could likely draw crowds every day by virtue of its massive and beautiful overhanging willow tree alone. But it doesn’t have to—because Allen’s also boasts the city’s best NY tavern-style burger, a fantastically varied grass fed steak program, an outdoor grill, a vast and nearly peerless list of whiskies, and good old fashioned hospitality courtesy of publican sans pareil John Maxwell.
1228 Sherbrooke Ouest
(514) 842-4224 maisonboulud.com
The Ritz Gardens reopened in 2012 with an entirely new look save for one untouchable constant—the duck pond, introduced in 1959. Yes, this urban oasis in the heart of the downtown core has enjoyed an uncommonly long run. More important, the food is better now than any the Ritz has produced in decades. Expect Boulud’s new French classics with plenty of Italian inflections from executive chef Riccardo Bertolino. Above all, expect finesse.
505 College Street
Admittedly, much of the considerable enthusiasm lavished upon Grant van Gameron’s Bar Raval has been an appreciation for its unique design, and specifically, the undulating surfaces of its sculpted mahogany interior shell. But pintxos and tapas are food of the sun, and it can be argued that the dining experience here is actually enhanced in the open air of its boisterous patio, overlooking the handsome Palmerston Avenue gates. Do not miss the percebes—goose barnacles—the king of Spanish seafood.
2491 Rue Notre-Dame W
514 935-6504 joebeef.ca
This Little Burgundy neighbourhood restaurant with the reputation that grows and grows put itself on the map with a menu that leaned heavily on neglected French classics, then found culinary inspiration in their richness—and ran with it. Or so it seemed according to a media seduced by the headline potential of the foie gras double-down. But the culinary repertoire here is in fact far more nuanced—and shines with lighter summer fare best enjoyed on the enchanting back patio, amidst the lettuces, greens and herbs of the restaurant’s garden.
One at the Hazelton
116 Yorkville Avenue
(416) 961-9600 one.mcewangroup.ca
Mark McEwan opened One at the Hazelton with the intention of providing Yorkville with a new kind of luxurious restaurant, that eschewed culinary pretension and embraced simplicity—in the form of the finest, most expensive ingredients imaginable served without fuss (think USDA Prime steak, Dover sole, and Dom Pérignon by the glass). From opening day, the formula made the elegant street-side patio the epicentre of Yorkville people watching—although this summer, sadly, the passing parade has less to do with Gucci and Prada than construction hats and steel-toed boots.
604 King Street W,
(416) 865-1600 buca.ca
Come summer the narrow gated passageway off King Street that leads to Buca also accommodates a slender patio, pleasantly secluded from the noise of the street. The bright orange padded seats and simple square wood tables provide a stark, modern contrast to the gritty, industrial surroundings of paned windows and weathered brick. Menu is standard Buca: rich with tradition and authenticity in daring new guises, and crackling with flavour.
15869 Croydon Drive, Morgan Crossing,
(604) 560-4416 myshanti.com
My Shanti literally shimmers—with an intricate facade of sequins that clad the building’s exterior and make Vikram Vij’s third restaurant sparkle. Contrast that with an industrial-minimalist, cement block patio that seats 30. It offers a quiet and private retreat, with small shrubs peering into a charcoal-coloured seating area. Shaded from the hot sun, the patio offers glimpses of the city and sunny skies. More importantly, however, it’s the perfect setting in which to sample Vij’s adventurous but accessible Indian cuisine.