Urban al fresco

Urban al fresco

11 patios for outside dining and drinking

  • Aug. 28, 2019 8:30 a.m.

– Story by Susan Lundy Photography by Lia Crowe

When the sun shines, temperatures soar and it’s time to wine and dine, outdoors is the place to be. Luckily, restaurants and bars in downtown Victoria have a range of options — from sidewalk seating to lush garden settings — to sip and savour al fresco. Here are 11 of our favourite spots and why we love them.

#1

It’s Obvious

Canoe Brewpub

If you’re thinking “patio” in Victoria, Canoe might be the first image that pops into mind. Quintessential Victoria, it checks all the boxes — scenic, seaside dining (and lots of it) with a great menu and a diverse selection of beer crafted on site. It’s a perfect place to gather with a group and share a sunny afternoon.

SAVOUR: Canoe Classic Burger — “happy cow” organic beef, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, bread and butter pickles, burger sauce.

SIP: Canoe Beer — try the mainstays and the seasonal.

#2

To the Sea

Fishhook Mermaid Wharf

One block down the harbour from Canoe, find Fishhook and prepare to tantalize your taste buds. This waterfront patio with views to the working waterway and Johnson Street Bridge serves up fantastic seafood with an Indo-French influence. Delish.

SAVOUR: Mermaid Thali — crispy, house-pickled seasonal local vegetables served with candied salmonaisse, harissa’d wild shrimp, lemony baguette and an assortment of local, sustainable cured, hot and cold smoked seafood.

SIP: Seaside Sangria — apricot brandy, peach schnapps, white cranberry juice, choice of white, red or sparkling wine.

#3

Viva Italia!

Il Covo Trattoria

With a lush and peaceful setting, an Italian-inspired menu and exquisite service, Il Covo Trattoria is the spot for outdoor fine dining. Step off a busy street in James Bay and find yourself seated in a lush garden, surrounded by many of the herbs and edible flowers also found in your meal. We sipped Prosecco and savoured cool gazpacho (served with a lavender garnish). Molto buona!

SAVOUR: Spaghetti Allo Scoglio (GF) — calamari, mussels, prawns, clams and bay scallops in a light white wine marinara sauce.

SIP: Grappa di Amarone — deep amber, fruity cherry notes along with flavours of almonds and anise.

#4

Raw is the draw

E:Ne Raw Food Sake Bar

Sidewalk seating at E:Né’s black, bar-style tables on Pandora Street may not offer the most scenic setting — although the people watching is definitely fun — but the menu will have you swooning in your seat. A $4 bites menu plus sake flight options let you sample your way through a large section of Japanese specialty dishes and sakes. Try a sake bomb!

SAVOUR: E:Né Aburi Charcuterie Platter — chef’s choice aburi roll, aburi oshi sushi, aburi nigiri and aburi oshi bites.

SIP: Sparkling sake.

#5

She’s so high/high above me

The Livet

Rooftop dining with skyline views and a cosy setting at The Livet sets the stage (theatre metaphor intended) for a must-do patio experience. Located across the street from the Royal Theatre, the upstairs location offers a private oasis from the busy street setting below. Features a char grill and a focus on tapas-style eating.

SAVOUR: Honey Garlic Pork Ribs — sesame, ginger, smoked tamari almonds, seasonal pickles.

SIP: Above the Clouds: gin, crème de viollette, lillet blanc, citrus, egg white.

#6

We like to watch (the world go by)

10 Acres’ Commons

While 10 Acres is split into three separate dining areas — Bistro, Kitchen and Commons — it’s the street-side sidewalk patio of Commons that is the outdoor place to be for tasty bites and mega sights. Situated with views of the Inner Harbour and across the street from the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, this is people-watching central in Victoria. Faster-paced than Bistro and Kitchen, the menu incorporates the same farm-to-table philosophy.

SAVOUR: Halloumi + Tofu Tacos — Adriana’s corn tortillas with guajillo and arbol chili bbq, pico de gallo and 10 Acres Farm spicy sauce.

SIP: Fare Fruit Margarita (and it’s on the Happy Hour menu, too!).

#7

It’s the gin

The Veranda at the Empress

Elegance, charm and spectacular views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, The Veranda at the Empress offers a summertime setting that’s great for a quiet bite amid the bustle of the city. And the drinks menu is dazzling. If you have yet to taste the pleasingly purple Empress Gin, this is the spot to do it. Or try one of the drink “Imposters” such as the one featured below.

SAVOUR: Floating Island (dessert) — bourbon vanilla bean crème anglaise, fresh raspberries, meringue chips.

SIP: Honey Lavender Lemonade: citrus blend, Fairmont honey, lavender and pea flower lemonade.

#8

For body and soul

Nourish Kitchen + Cafe

The sun-drenched seasonal patio at Nourish Kitchen + Cafe pairs a quiet, foliage-framed setting at the foot of a beautiful heritage building with divine flavours created from wholesome ingredients. Why wouldn’t you want to eat at a restaurant that aims to “make people feel healthy and happy?” Open from 9 am to 3 pm, this is a perfect spot for breakfast or brunch al fresco. Gluten free? This is your happy place.

SAVOUR: Sleeping Beauty Pancakes (GF) — cardamom oat pancakes, warm fruit compote, organic pomegranate whipped cream, bee pollen sprinkles, maple syrup.

SIP: Uprooted — harmonic arts chaga kola root syrup, soda water, sacred basil flower essence, immune depth tincture.

#9

Crafty

The Drake Eatery

With a rotating selection of unique West Coast beer and a deck overlooking Market Square, The Drake offers an urban oasis completely removed from the hustle of the city. It’s the place to go if you’re a craft beer enthusiast, but it also pours a delicious, hoppy cider plus various wines, and serves up a full menu of bites as sipping sides.

SAVOUR: Grilled Cheese and Kimchi — aged cheddar, green apple on grilled ciabatta, or make it vegan with The Cultured Nuts Ottima Mozza.

SIP: The beer! (or try the Tod Creek Mala-Hop Cider).

#10.

Hefty happy hour

Glo Restaurant + Lounge

There’s lots to like about the shoreline-hugging Glo — located on Jutland Road with views of the busy Selkirk Waterway — but add in a lengthy Happy Hour and an extensive Happy Hour menu, and you’ll be particularly happy to sip and savour away the afternoon. Happy Hour runs 2-5 pm as well as late night and features a power-packed range of drink and food specials.

SAVOUR: Shanghai Lettuce Wraps — hoisin-ginger ground chicken, crispy farkay noodles, cilantro, toasted peanuts, shredded carrot and crisp iceberg lettuce cups, served with three sauces, sweet chili aioli, peanut lime and ginger soy.

SIP: Happy Hour Prosecco Cocktails

#11.

Urban escape

The Fort Common

With alley-access only, the courtyard patio at Fort Commons is a superb spot to bring your takeout and step into a private haven right downtown. Staged with communal-style tables and offering napkins, cutlery and water, it’s perfectly positioned as an outdoor eatery for nearby favourites such as Be Love, Yalla, La Taquista, Fishhook and Chorizo & Co. Open from June 1 to September 16.

Food and WineVictoria

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read