Destination: Patio, Vancouver — Secret Gardens

When the sun makes its appearance in Vancouver, the city rushes to grab patio seating. While much of the outdoor seating is quite visible from the streets, there are some spots that are nicely hidden from view. Here’s a selection of restaurants that offer outdoor seating for those days you want to escape and perhaps play a little hooky. We wouldn’t want you to get caught, now, would we?

Cafe Il Nido
If you’ve shopped on Robson you’ve likely walked past this Italian gem hidden in a charming courtyard just off of the main street at Thurlow and Robson, and missed on Cafe Il Nido’s great patio. Opened in 1988 and recently renovated, this hot spot is perfect for a break from the everyday. Sip prosecco while you dine on food from Northern Italy with some international twists and flavours such as a splash of jalapeño or a hint of saffron. 780 Thurlow St., 604-685-6436.

Crave on Main
Main Street has a vibrant patio scene, but Crave on Main’s owner, Wayne Martin, a veteran of the Four Seasons Hotel kitchen, has hidden his around the back. This brunch, lunch and dinner spot gets lined up quickly, so get there early to secure a spot (especially on sunny days).  The theme here is fresh, local and organic, with lots of great seafood, salad and lunchtime sandwiches.  Crave is a casual spot where flip flops are welcome. 3981 Main St., 604-872-3663.

Oasis Ultra Lounge
In summer enjoy the retractable awnings and in winter, the outdoor heating, at this gay-friendly pub tucked away above Davie Village.  With over 200 different martinis, lots of beer and reasonably-priced wines, your thirst will certainly be quenched.  The tapas-style menu dictates sharing.  Each night there are different themes; go for “Social Sundays” where pitchers of lager are $8 and DJs spin festive tunes. 1240 Thurlow St., 604-685-1724.

Il Giardinos
For fine dining al fresco nothing beats Chef Umberto’s Il Giardinos, just off of Pacific on Hornby Street.  Pull up for valet parking and then spend an afternoon or evening with a good bottle of Italian wine and some great Italian antipasto and pasta. The service is attentive and the patio gardens gorgeous. Il Giardinos is one of Vancouver’s most romantic outdoor dining experiences. 1380 Hornby St., 604-669-2422.

Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar
Located in a 1912 Heritage building on the outskirts of Yaletown, Brix boasts a heated, glass-covered courtyard patio that’s open all year ’round. You’ll find modern Canadian cuisine here, and over 60 wines by the glass for vino connoisseurs. A late-night menu offers gourmet cuisine for those out on the town after the dinner rush. 1138 Homer St., 604-915-9463.

Image courtesy of Dennisworld.

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