Urban al fresco

Urban al fresco

11 patios for outside dining and drinking

  • Aug. 28, 2019 7:30 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

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

The Princeton Food Bank will eventually be located on First Street in the former United Church 
building. (Spotlight photo)
Princeton’s food bank to get new downtown home

Baptist church acquires former United church building

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Most Read