Vancouver’s Best Patio Dining: You make the call

With the weather getting nicer,  patio dining season is finally underway in Vancouver.  Restaurants have opened their doors and windows and set up their outdoor tables, offering diners a chance to admire all that beautiful Vancouver scenery that’s hidden behind fog and rain for much of the year.

But with the summer dining season so short, and so many great patios at restaurants around the city, it’s hard to know where to start.  So I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have a favorite patio?  A place with stellar views of the mountains, the water or the bustling streets downtown?  A spot with great food or great drinks where you can soak up the summer sun and warm breezes?

I’ll start things off by making a case for Cardero’s, the seafood and chops house that overlooks Coal Harbor.  The main thing that Cardero’s has going for it is location.  The restaurant is built on stilts and extends right over the water.  A narrow gangplank links the main building, sided in rustic wooden shingles, with dry land.  Crossing over earlier this week, I spotted purple and yellow starfish in the shallows below.

(c) aristocrat on Flickr

Inside, Cardero’s has a vaguely nautical theme, exposed beams fashioned to look like the hull of a giant ship.  There’s a big open kitchen rimmed by a curving bar, but the real draw is the patio outside.  Cardero’s patio isn’t especially large – there’s room for about a dozen tables – but it sits right in the marina.  An arms’ length away are the boats and million dollar yachts of privileged Pacific port hoppers.  Pick the right seat, and you’ll have unobstructed views of Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet and the North Shore.

The menu at Cardero’s focuses on fresh, local seafood, as well as some creative wok dishes and pizza and pasta.  And, while the food is well prepared, the crowds come for the atmosphere.  I soaked up the rays on a sunny afternoon while float planes circled for a landing in the water out front and oversized zodiacs returned from whale watching excursions.  Nearby, a great blue heron threaded its way along the docks, pausing to stalk minnows that glimmered in the water.

With some spicy fried calamari and a nice glass of wine, it was a great way to warm my bones after a long, cold winter and damp spring.  And, when a chilly breeze did pick up, Cardero’s turned on its heat lamps and handed out flannel blankets to help keep warm.

I know there are lots of patios – and die-hard patio fans – out there.  Please weigh in with your favorite below.

Remy Scalza

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