Where to Dine Outside in Vancouver This Summer

Credit: Dockside

Though Vancouver’s indoor dining was given the green light to restart in late May, sitting out on a patio is likely to remain the preference for many almost regardless of the weather. The City is continuing its temporary patio program — begun in summer 2020 in response to the pandemic — where restaurants can apply for a free permit for temporary outdoor dining areas on sidewalks and curbside lanes. Some restaurants have expanded their permanent patios, too, to maximize the opportunity to dine in the safer outdoor air and (hopefully) the sunshine.

Here are some of Rain City’s best outdoor dining spots, most open in all but the most torrential downpours. Get ready for afternoon tea, mountain views, and live music at Vancouver’s top spots for outdoor dining.

Nuba (Yaletown and Kitsilano)

Credit: Nuba

Nuba serves fresh Lebanese cuisine using organic and local ingredients whenever possible. Patios are at two of its four locations: in Kits, there’s a shaded permanent terrace plus a temporary street patio with picnic tables, and the Yaletown location has two small permanent sidewalk terraces framed by potted hedges and partially protected by awnings. Pick-up and delivery (including meal kits) are also available.

Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen (West End)

Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen is upstairs in a century-old house on Davie Street with plenty of outdoor seating options. In addition to the lantern-bedecked heated patio above the back alley, there are two streetside patios. The lunch and dinner menus focus on freshly prepared Nepali dishes with lots of vegetarian and vegan choices. Order takeout and delivery direct.

Minami (Yaletown)

Credit: Cody Chan

Like sister restaurant Miku, Minami focuses on aburi, or flame-seared sushi — enhancing the texture and flavour of the fresh fish without compromising the balance and beauty that characterize sushi. Also on the menu are aburi-style beef and vegetable dishes, plus creative cocktails. The plant-filled hidden garden courtyard is open weather permitting. Takeout and delivery are also on offer.

1931 Gallery Bistro (Downtown)

This West Coast-Asian fusion bistro is upstairs in the Vancouver Art Gallery, with proceeds supporting the Gallery (Gallery members get a 10 percent discount). The large, 120-seat terrace overlooks the elegant facades of Robson Square and is open weather permitting, with patio seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t miss the afternoon tea and happy hour menus — happy hour is all night long on Tuesdays. Takeout (with a 10 percent discount) and delivery are available, too.

Dockside Restaurant & Brewing Company (Granville Island)

Credit: Dockside Restaurant & Brewing Company

Behind the Granville Island Hotel on the quieter eastern side of Granville Island, Dockside’s award-winning patio is sunny from morning to late afternoon. Umbrellas, curtained tents, and a pergola protect many of the tables. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and takeout, Dockside serves classics, Oceanwise seafood, and house brews from its own brewery.

El Guapo (Yaletown)

Find fun attitudes — a live DJ on weekend evenings keeps things lively — and contemporary Mexican cuisine for brunch, lunch, and dinner at El Guapo, with a discounted happy hour menu. The elevated sidewalk patio has a large glass awning; in bad weather, roll-down plastic “walls” make it almost an indoor space. Takeout and delivery are on offer too. 

Teahouse in Stanley Park (Stanley Park)

Credit: Teahouse in Stanley Park

At Ferguson Point in Stanley Park, the iconic Teahouse’s heated terrace has views of both the North Shore mountains and English Bay’s longest sunsets. The patio is partially protected from the elements by sun shades and glass half-walls, and despite the Stanley Park bike lane reopening in May, cars are still able to access the restaurant. The menu features contemporary classics such as rack of lamb and duck confit, with several gluten-free options, too. Temporary hours are Thursdays through Sundays beginning at 4pm.

Reflections: The Garden Terrace at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia (Downtown)

Hidden on the Rosewood hotel’s fourth floor is a walled terrace complete with waterfall, trees hanging with lanterns, and a swank vibe. Chefs prepare high-end tapas, lunch, dinner, and brunch along one side of the open-air room while bartenders concoct original and classic drinks on the other. A glass roof protects half the terrace from any rain.

Gotham Steakhouse (Downtown)

Credit: Gotham Steakhouse

Gotham’s sunny walled upstairs terrace welcomes you for lunch, dinner, and drinks with shade trees, umbrellas, and a massive fireplace. High-end classics such as prime grade beef and lobster tail are paired with award-winning wines, and the special prices of the afternoon social hour menu are available in both the lounge and patio. “Go with Gotham!” takeout and delivery are options, too.

Provence Marinaside (Yaletown)

This French-infuenced restaurant has three outdoor dining areas with views of the Seawall and the masts of the Quayside Marina. The permanent sidewalk patio is under awnings and overhead heaters, the quieter garden patio is around the corner from the main Marinaside Crescent entrance, and the wood-framed temporary eating area (with column heaters) is on the street. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner; takeout includes Provence at Home meal kits which have optional wine pairings.

Havana (Commercial Drive)

Credit: Lori Miles Photography

Latin American and Pacific coastal cuisine combine at this vibrant spot on The Drive. Boozy slushies and fun cocktails accompany ceviche, tacos, tostones, vegetable bowls, and more. This is a great place for families, too — the kids’ menu includes free happy hour weekend brunch pancakes for those eight and under. Seating on the covered back patio and at the street-side tables is first-come, first-served, and the to-go menu includes some beers and wines.

The Rise Eatery (South Granville)

On “The Rise” of one of Vancouver’s favourite shopping streets, The Rise Eatery’s covered patio is hidden around back and open weather permitting. The brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner menus blend a little of the Americas and Europe with a lot of Asia — think dishes such as squid ink pasta with sea urchin cream, house-made XO sauce, and sautéed Oceanwise prawns. Select menu highlights are available to go, and the restaurant participates in Mealshare so you can help donate healthy meals to youth in need.

Bridges (Granville Island)

Bridges is known for upscale pub food on its huge waterside dock next to the bright yellow building near the Granville Island Public Market. From there or the upstairs balcony, you might see a seal while you gaze at the passing sailboats and passenger ferries. Brunch, lunch, and dinner menus offer pizzas, burgers, and West Coast dishes such as tuna tacos. Take out and delivery are available too.

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (Downtown)

Credit: Leila Kwok

The award-winning team at Boulevard impresses with its West Coast fine dining menus and service. The permanent terrace’s ten tables are atop a beautiful grey-and-white tile floor next to the Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver’s circular driveway, and the temporary patio is under a tent between the driveway and Burrard Street. Expect refined dishes such as charcoal grilled sablefish with a soy-sake glaze or Japanese Wagyu with a seasonal side. For dine-at-home, chef Alex Chen’s meal kits include instructional videos, plus you can order ready-to-cook or -reheat BLVD Provisions for pick up or delivery.

LIFT Bar Grill View (Coal Harbour)

This seafood-forward restaurant is perched on stilts for spectacular views of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore mountains from both indoors and out. Choose from the rooftop deck or wrap-around patio with “vanishing” fold-away windows. Some tables are protected from downpours by awnings or from sprinkles by umbrellas. Given the demand, patio tables are first-come, first-served and may have a 1.5-hour time limit. Curbside pickup is available, too.

Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer/photographer specializing in travel, food, and responsible tourism; follow her on Twitter at @TravelEater and Instagram at @TravelEaterJohanna.