Summer weather means it's time to hit the patios around Waterloo region: Andrew Coppolino
Some patios are old favourites and some are hidden gems, writes Andrew Coppolino
Warm weather can mean grabbing a coffee and a pastry, a pint and some nachos or taking a meal al fresco on restaurant patios; that is, weather permitting.
Some patios are old favourites and some are hidden gems. Some can sit 100-plus people while others are only a few tables on the sidewalk.
Here are a few selected patios to explore in Waterloo region and neighbouring cities if you're looking to hit the patio this weekend and all summer long.
Go high and low in Kitchener
Downtown has a number of sidewalk patios along King Street. But if you look up — way up — you might notice that McCabe's Irish Pub & Grill on King Street near Francis has a roof-top patio: it absorbs the summer heat and the pleasant breeze that often goes along with it.
There's seating for about 150 people and Thursday evenings there's live music night, alternating between local acoustic players and an Irish trio. Your perch a few storeys up affords you a view of west-end construction.
Lakeside in Victoria Park is The Boathouse with a patio that can be mighty fine for watching Otis and Ophelia the swans. Inside, there's often live music later in the evening.
The small restaurant Jack Burger on Duke Street at Ontario Street has a BIA "pub crawl" award-winning patio seating for more than 100 people. As summer rolls in, they will be doing open-mic nights on Saturdays. They have burgers, of course, and vegan Beyond Meat burgers, too.
Just across the street, Crazy Canuck, which is adjacent to the Apollo Cinema, has a hidden outdoor courtyard patio where they often host events and DJ nights.
Outside of the downtown, Martini's at the Charcoal Steakhouse has a newly renovated patio with comfortable lounge seating and heaters for when an evening chill sets in.
A nicely hidden and tree-lined patio is attached to Rustico Kitchen and Bar on Victoria Street North at River Road. Holding about 50 people, the patio features popular Flamenco guitarist Juneyt when weather permits.
For a sun-drenched patio experience, as well as a terrific selection of beer, check out The Bent Elbow on King Street East.
Lots of options in Waterloo
With some 40 venues in its central core, Waterloo is chock-full of patios.
That includes a partially covered patio at the popular Southeast Asian-inspired Loloan Lobby Bar. Now in its second season, Loloan's patio will feature a live jazz band the first Sunday of each month.
Located near CIGI campus at Erb Street West and Caroline Street, Sole Restaurant and Wine Bar has 24 outdoor seats along the front of the building and 42 seats hidden in its charming courtyard.
An awning and two chestnut trees shade and cool the patio; according to Czech-born owner John Cerny, that's a tradition in Czech Republic beer gardens. Accompanying the flowers, the sound of the water feature is lovely.
Across the street, Proof Kitchen and Lounge has a 100-seat, three-season patio (thanks to heaters and blankets). There's a live DJ on Thursdays and food and beverage specials and events that can be enjoyed in comfortable lounge seating. General manager Laura Umbrio says there's an energized "al fresco vibe" on the patio.
Want to try something new? Look for a new Kentucky bourbon and barbecue venue to open at 103 King Street North between Young and Springer streets in Waterloo later this year. It will have both upper and lower patio levels across its 6,500 sq.-ft.
Quiet scene in Cambridge
Cambridge has a surprisingly quiet and hidden patio at the Blackshop! Restaurant and Wine Bar along busy Hespeler Road.
Seating for about 80 in patio areas is quiet and features lush gardens and trees. There's comfortable outdoor furniture and heaters for cooler evenings. It was one of the first area patios, opening in 1983.
A smaller, new patio will be ready for warmer weather in the downtown Hespeler area of Cambridge, where several restaurants have small patios. Choun Kitchen is building out their unique 20-person patio to what chef-owner Bobby Chounramany calls a "super-chill Asian street-style space" with string lights, picnic benches and outdoor grilling.
If you choose to head a bit further afield, The Old Marina Restaurant near Puslinch Lake has long been a favourite water-side patio for taking in a sunset.
There is seating for 60, while the lower dockside level can hold up to 90 for events such as live music. The burgers feature a crispy "cheese skirt" and are go-to for burger lovers in the area.
Stratford restaurants are very busy during the Stratford Festival, but with some planning you can find yourself on the patio at the quaint Keystone Alley Restaurant. With its faintly European feel, a lush living wall of herbs and edible flowers the kitchen uses and seating for about 45 (with rain shelter and patio heaters), you could sit and sample from among eight of Keystone's in-house small-batch beers, brewed on site at their micro-brewery.