Dining al fresco in Edmonton often means lugging around a picnic basket, laying out a blanket and swatting away mosquitoes as you try to enjoy your food.
Thankfully, though, there are plenty of restaurant patios around the city where you can sit in comfort and snack on something a little more refined than cheese and crackers. In fact, some of the finest eateries in Edmonton have tables outdoors to allow diners to get some vitamin D along with other nutrients in their food.
While there are no guarantees that the mosquitoes won’t be out for a bite, too, summer is too short to pass up these prominent patios.
When it comes to people-watching in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue is one of the prime spots. But why not indulge in some tasty food and even tastier cocktails as well?
The Varscona Hotel, right in the heart of Whyte Avenue, is where you’ll find Ampersand 27, the restaurant run by chef Nathin Bye. This restaurant is also one of the first along the avenue to take advantage of new City of Edmonton regulations allowing patios to extend out onto the sidewalk, with boardwalks built around them for pedestrians.
The patio is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. And while you do, you can sip on one of Ampersand 27’s creative cocktails, like the Seafarer’s Redeemer, a delightful mix of spiced rum, port and flavours like strawberry, orange and black licorice. Or you can order up a sharable plate of food, like the Arctic char crudo or the melt-in-your-mouth Alberta beef tartar, or a mix-and-match plate from the extensive charcuterie selection, which includes cured meats, smoked fish, pts and cheeses. –Glenn Cook
10612 82 Ave., 780-757-2727, ampersand27.com
BLVD Bar & Kitchen
Boasting the largest patio in downtown Edmonton, BLVD Bar & Kitchen’s expansive outdoor seating area – complete with a massive centrepiece bar – is often filled to the brim with the local after-work crowd on sunny weekdays.
Filled to the brim, too – though, not for long – are the wonderfully unexpected and refreshing punch bowls made for collective sipping in the sunshine. Make no mistake; even though the kitchen can make one hell of a po’ boy (panko-crusted shrimp drenched in Creole mayo, anyone?), this patio is ideal for refreshing summer libations.
The Philadelphia Fish House Punch, fit for four or more people, is a refreshing blend of rum, Hennessy VSOP cognac, Luxardo Maraschino Originale, peach brandy, split champagne, green tea and lemon juice, which is enough to cool the summer heat and give rise to a group’s good times.
But if you’re flying solo, BLVD’s summer cocktails can easily do the trick. One such delight is the BLVD Collins. Made with bourbon, elderflower liqueur, cinnamon syrup, lime juice and Earl Grey tea, this cocktail has hints of sweet and tangy, but still packs the bite from the whiskey base. –Cory Haller
10765 Jasper Ave., 780-934-2583, yourblvd.ca
On summer Saturday mornings in Edmonton, there are few better activities than an outing to the City Market on 104th Street. But if the crowds get overwhelming, there’s an oasis of calm waiting right there on the patio at Kelly’s Pub.
Inside Kelly’s, the decor and the wait staff are as warm and friendly as one might find in the kind of Irish pub after which it is modeled. But out on the patio, the atmosphere is just as jovial, as diners can watch the hustle and bustle of the busy summer market from a safe distance, perhaps looking over the bounty they’ve harvested from the booths or planning their next move over a cold beverage.
If you’re there early enough on market day, you can order from the breakfast menu at Kelly’s, which includes hearty steak and eggs or its take on a full English, complete with sausage, bacon, mushrooms and a grilled tomato. –G.C.
10156 104 St., 780-451-8825, kellyspubedmonton.com
Craft Beer Market
When you step into Craft Beer Market downtown, it’s hard not to be taken aback by the sheer size of the restaurant. Tables extend as far back as you can see, past the giant bar to the back room, where kegs full of beer are stored.
But that’s not even the half of it. Head up the stairs and you’ll find a private party room on the mezzanine level. Keep going up in the summer months and you’re rewarded for your effort with a glorious rooftop patio.
While the drink menu on the patio is pared down from what you can get downstairs – it’s tough to run draft beer lines that far up – the full food menu is available. That includes the Hawaiian ahi poke, which, although it’s in the appetizer section, is just about perfect as a fresh summer lunch. It combines raw sushi-grade tuna with cucumbers, ginger, garlic and sesame; add the togarashi aioli for some extra kick.
10013 101A Ave., 780-424-2337, edmonton.craftbeermarket.ca
Many hotel restaurants have specific clienteles – the hotel guests themselves, seeking convenient meals close to where they’re staying or looking to greet new days with complimentary continental breakfasts. The Riverside Bistro, a restaurant tucked into the Courtyard by Marriott Edmonton Downtown, has managed to expand its audience by offering one particular amenity – an incredible patio. The bistro patio offers stunning views.
The Mediterranean tostada is the perfect warm weather dish – full of flavour, yet light and refreshing. Crisp, peppery flatbread is topped with creamy hummus, tangy feta cheese, and a fresh tomato salad. You could certainly enjoy your dish indoors on days with inclement weather, but given the chance, dining on the bistro’s patio is a can’t-miss experience. The panoramic views of the river valley are the perfect accompaniment to any meal. If you’re not looking for the full gastronomic experience, stop by for a quick cocktail to sip while looking out at the North Saskatchewan River. –Adrianna Szenthe
99 Street and Jasper Avenue, 780-423-9999, marriott.com