With Calgary’s unpredictable weather, the term ‘patio season’ is kind of a slippery slope.
Within just a moment’s notice, you can find yourself seated outside your favourite south-facing bar in the middle of winter. But despite getting to experience those random patio hangouts in February, there’s really nothing more blissful than hot summer days with extended lounging outside.
And for those hot days ahead, we thought it was time to do a quick review of all the best patios that we find at our city’s charming dive bars, hot date spots and soon to be opening restaurants that might no be on your radar yet.
Here’s the hot list for 2015 that we just can’t wait to enjoy:
Sponsored, in large part, by the hangovers of Beltline living Calgarians, 510 is the perfect spot to set up shop on 17th Avenue anytime of day… when the weather is cooperating. With regular live music, a fancy new cocktail list and an attractive patio for people watching and running into friends, it’s easy to see why there’s rarely a free spot on summer weekends.
A favourite dive bar in the heart of the city, this is the place to see quality Monday night stand-up. And when the rooftop patio opens, it serves as an easy spot to meet friends post-work or to get the evening started.
And if you happen to be on an awkward Monday date, you can always head downstairs for a little comic relief.
For all you lovebirds looking to celebrate something special, Bonterra offers the perfect place to dine al fresco. With a nice wall surrounding the patio, you’ll forget you’re in downtown Calgary and might be able to pretend you’re in Italy for a few hours.
One of our favourite picks for well-priced happy hours, Cibo also makes a pretty tasty Forno-style oven roasted pizza. During those hot summer days, you’ll feel revived after a few cold ones on the small but attractive southwest-facing patio.
This is another great date place. Guys, if you’ve been slipping in the romance department, this place is sure to win you major points. The dining experience here is top notch and one that you won’t forget anytime soon.
At long last, we get to see the inside of the historic Simmons building. Opening this spring/summer, we’ll soon be dining at the new restaurant Charbar, complete with a rooftop looking towards downtown and over the Bow River. This is sure to be the hottest new spot for summer patio seekers.
Drum and Monkey
If you live in the Victoria Park neighbourhood, this patio can be inviting on your walk home from downtown. In a city where dive bars are few and far between these days, this place is a welcome retreat from the more upscale bars and restaurants. There’s nothing fancy about it and that is precisely what makes it great.
On the warmest days of summer, the National on 17th offers the perfect combination of patio space, a good view of all the action on the strip, and a good selection of bar snacks. It may be a wait to get a seat here, but it’s always so worth it.
Discovering an outdoor patio in the back of a popular BBQ and rock joint is always a pleasant surprise. It’s kind of like finding a desert oasis. Often overlooked, plan to meet your friends out back for après work drinks.
Weekend brunches are always better at the River Cafe. Located in Prince’s Island Park in a rustic cabin-like setting, this is the best place to dine if you stayed in the city but wished you were at the lake. Not to mention, the food here is incredible and always made with love.
Ship and Anchor
We know we don’t need to sell you on this one. This patio is packed as soon as the thermometer hits zero.
Once described by food critic John Gilchrist as “a hipster spot,” here they serve an appetizing charcuterie menu along with a creative wine list. Taste’s small patio is the perfect place to soak up the sun, enjoy quality food, and see the goings on of 1st Street.
And if you you’re after a casual pint to finish your patio experience, the Drum and Monkey is just across the street.
Mission has a lot of restaurants, and while Anejo is great, you’ll have to give up your first born to get a seat on the patio. Our advice is to head to Vin Room, just a few blocks away, and grab a seat under the big umbrella. Order a snack and sample through the endless wine list and it will soon become your favourite spot.
See you on the patio.