It's spring in Vancouver, which means we are in a seemingly endless game of hide-and-seek with the sun. It also means that the influx of "patios to check out" stories have begun to fill your feeds. By now we are all aware of the major players in this genre (looking at you, Reflections) that overflow every summer with eager happy hour goers trying to soak up the rays and yummy cocktails after work.
But after a major boom in secret patios since the pandemic, there are some newcomers and hidden gems on Vancouver's outdoor dining scene that are worth a visit.
We've rounded up 10 we think you should check out.
Last summer this speakeasy-esque patio opened in Gastown as a sibling to La Taqueria and it's back again on a weather-permitting basis.
Don't let the back alley and shipping container fool you, the food and cocktails will both take you by surprise. Each flavour is authentic and well-considered, paying homage to different states in Mexico.
The usual suspects are on the cocktail menu: margs, mules, and Caesars but there are a few creative twists in there too. In the Late Afternoon has sherry, brandy, spiced apricot jam, lemon, and bitters for a sip that gives the husband-of-a-costal-grandmother vibes.
Pizza Farina is next door and can be ordered in advance and brought onto the patio which we highly recommend.
One of Vancouver's all-time best vegetarian restaurants this comfort food companion to the formal Acorn restaurant is worth the visit even without the patio. However it just so happens that the Arbor also has a lovely cozy patio out the back too.
Open from noon till 9 p.m. the patio is small and casual and pairs great with the Arbor's wicked happy hour that serves beer, wine, and two signature cocktails for $5 with North Arm Farm potato rösti and yellow curry or chilaquiles as bar snacks.
“It’s not every day you can find a hidden patio on the Drive, away from the traffic on the main street," says Doug Stephen co-founder of DL Chicken, Downlow Burgers, and The Drive Canteen of the Canteen's new space that they've been working on all winter and just unveiled recently.
The patio is hidden in the back, with an entrance through the convenience store and seats up to 24 people at three yellow picnic tables and three high-tops. The team hopes to host BBQ events and pop-ups with the community this summer. But until then people can expect all the snacks, hot dogs, and nachos the Canteen is known for plus specialty sodas.
Minami in Yaletown doesn't exactly conjure to mind the idea of a patio experience but, in fact, the hidden backyard oasis at this high-end sushi restaurant is a real gem.
Ensconced in greenery and hedgerows this patio has a lounge area and outdoor tables for parties of two to four. It's also the perfect place to take in Minami's happy hour, another seriously underrated offering—ebi fritters are just $9 and the aburi sampler is $7.
Sangria on tap, do you need to know more?
If so, the Como Taperia patio is reopening soon on the Main Street side of this Spanish snack and wine bar. The drinks menu is fabulous with an extensive imported and local wine list to be pared with ready-to-eat dishes that play around with modern takes on nostalgic items like charred octopus with chickpeas, hazelnuts and paprika salsa.
Giardino's patio is set to open on May 20. The Umberto-owned restaurant is a Tuscan-style upscale Italian spot located on Hornby Street between Davie Village and Yaletown.
The patio is designed like a garden in the Italian countryside for a little transportive dining in the heart of downtown Vancouver and while it's extremely romantic at night, it's worth visiting for an aperitif or lunch during daylight hours to fully take in the greenery and butter yellow hues.
We wouldn't call Sing Sing a relaxing patio but it's certainly entertaining and can be pretty lively on warm summer nights. The outdoor space overlooks Main Street and is great for sharing some pizza, dumplings, or pho with friends while people watching and sipping on craft beer or fun cocktails.
Sing Sing really comes alive late at night since it's open until 2 a.m. (one of the few bars in Vancouver that is) which makes the patio experience all the more fun. Plus when the weather is hot enough the garage door stays open which makes the inside feel like a patio too.
This neighbourhood staple missed the boat on the pandemic patio but they're more than making up for it now. Hero's Welcome is set to open a patio out the back and just in time to serve their newly revamped menu.
Introducing a sangria, Caesar, and a Botanist gin cocktail, the casual pub that was once a former legion continues to give its loyal local fan base more drink options and space this summer. The exact date has yet to be announced because of city zoning but stay tuned.