There’s a check list of must-do things during the summer months and dining al-fresco is on the same list as bike rides along the Seawall, soaking up the sun on a sandy beach and dropping a line in hopes of nabbing a squirming fish. Summer in Vancouver is practically a religion for some, and after spending a summer here, you may find yourself to be a convert. When it comes to outdoor dining, Vancouver knows a thing or two about making the most of it. We do get a lot of rain throughout the year, so we snap up any sunny chance we can. Whether you choose to entertain on your balcony, in your backyard (should you be so lucky), on a sunny restaurant patio, or a perfectly planned picnic, you can’t go wrong.
Restaurants are around all year long, so my favorite way of eating outdoors is packing a picnic and throwing down a blanket. If you’re in a rush, or the kitchen is too hot to cook in, Granville Island is the perfect place to grab some treats. You can find plenty of freshly made salads, aromatic cheeses, pillowy breads, decadent desserts, savory meats (either cooked or ready to grill) and even a cold bottle of wine to pack into your basket. Once you’ve gathered a healthy haul, you just need to decide on a locale to enjoy your feast. Jericho, Spanish Banks, Sunset Beach and English Bay are reasonably close to Granville Island and make for a perfect picnic. If you’re not into getting sandy, there are grassy areas at Kits Beach (though it gets packed on weekends) and English Bay to nestle into. David Lam Park in Yaletown is also a sand-free area that’s not very crowded, but right on the Seawall.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, drive (or bus) out to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. The ocean views and fresh, salty air are a welcome escape from the city. This summer, a friend and I escaped to Bowen Island for the day. We grabbed a picnic from Granville Island and hopped on the ferry that leaves just outside of the Public Market and made the 25 minute journey over and enjoyed a day at the beach there. A round-trip is $30/person and the twelve seater boat drops you off right in Snug Cove. It was pure indulgent bliss!
If you would rather sit in the comfort of a restaurant, the number of outdoor patios to curb your outdoor cravings are endless. NU Aegean Cusina is perched right off of the Seawall, close to the Burrard bridge, and the menu will take you back to hot summer memories in Greece. The outdoor seating is a wrap around, glassed in patio that overlooks False Creek and Granville Island, which is just across the water. This patio gets much of the afternoon and evening sun, which makes it a perfect spot for dinner. Or, take advantage of their Happy Hour on weeknights from 5pm-7pm, where you can order three tapas for $7. The Charred Octopus and homemade pita bread are both popular. They also offer a weekend brunch menu and it’s a lovely spot to wake up to.
The outdoor patio at Lift Bar & Grill has a loyal following in itself, not to mention the menu. With lovely views of the water, marina and Stanley Park, this patio is never short on visitors. Between the sushi bar and West Coast inspired menu, it’s the perfect recipe for a fantastic date.
Over on Main Street is one of Burgoo Bistro’s locations and the people watching on the patio is part of the experience, while enjoying some comfort food. This casual space fills up quickly, but it’s worth the wait if you’re looking for somewhere to dine outdoors along Main.
We’re spoiled here in Vancouver when we want to dine outdoors because beaches, ocean and mountains surround the city on all sides, which makes finding a spot with a view a breeze.