When you think of this buzzing neighborhood in Vancouver British Columbia what image pops into your head? For me, it’s the typical stereotype- chic boutiques, upscale restaurants, modern condos, lofts and apartments, and pretty girls with designer dogs in their matching purses! However, after reading an interesting article posted by the BIA (Business Improvement Association of British Columbia), I was surprised to discover Yaletown boasts more dynamic depth than I’ve given it credit for!
Actually, Yaletown has gone through more transformations than Madonna- from a warehouse and railway hub, to a romp in the dot.com boom, to a dabble in the garment industry, and to the urban community it is today. It’s eclectic mix of residential properties, commercial, restaurants and boutiques makes Yaletown one of the most sought after areas to work, live and play.
Although I’m not much of a history nut, there was a key element in the article which perked my ears and made my tongue hum hallelujah! You’re dying to know what it is, right?
Its Yaletown’s past love affair as a railway distribution center. Trains would choo choo through the streets and drop thousands of pounds of cargo off on the adjacent platforms.
Why’s that cool?
These platforms have been transformed into some of the BEST patios in the city! And it gets better. Not only does Yaletown have the hottest patios, they are also in the CLOSEST proximity! So ladies you can patio hop with pleasure- minus the stiletto gaping blisters. And gentlemen, this is where the ladies will be purring, need I say more!
Now this is history worth sitting on, don’t you think?
And with spring on the brink and summer starting to peak its sweet head into our lives; patio season has delightfully started to creep into the forefront of my mind, like whipped cream éclairs on a sweetaholics cerebral cortex.
For nine months every year we endure Vancouver’s schizophrenic moods of rain, rain and more rain! And although the dreariness can suck our soul wet sometimes, it’s the sunny days that make Vancouver actually worth it. It’s during these times we can break our umbrellas, and thankfully sigh, “Vancouver, you really ARE the most beautiful city on the planet!”
And since the sunny days come in slim sporadic handfuls, you OWE it to yourself to bask in the glory of Vancouver’s warmth. And what better way to celebrate Vancouver’s finest, then nibbling tapas, sipping chilled drinks, in fabulous company…on a patio?
And that’s where I come in.
I’m on a mission to find the BEST patios in Yaletown…so YOU don’t have to! No need to spend your hard earned money on average service and lukewarm cuisine. Allow me to test the waters and scout out where it’s hot! You’re busy enough as it is; so just kick back, relax, and enjoy the hunt.
After two solid weeks of eating, drinking, and playing magical chairs on Yaletowns’ patio market. I’ve come out a little heavier, a little bit hung over, and that much closer to finding, what I believe, are the hottest patios in Yaletown!
Below are my top Five:
We walked by Society and were instantly drawn in by the two bald headed men shelved at the front entrance. We later discovered, Joel Tolentino, the General Manager, was one of the darling duos. The patio was pulsating with a perfect buzz. We had no choice, except to come inside!
We later discovered the reason for society’s appealing vibrations, simply comes down to the atoms.
“It’s about the energy”, Joel said, after I sweetly interrogated him on why I felt so good there.
It’s not up to our guests to create it. We do!”
I loved his response. I also doubly loved their Mac ‘N Cheese Balls- deep fried ‘lil bad boys, infused with jalapeño and white cheddar, served with house made ketchup! Accompanied by some innovative cocktails? Now we’re talking.
Society definitely has a wicked drink list. The Candy Collins- Bombay sapphire gin and fresh lemon soda comes topped with a gigantic cotton candy ball. Now that’s cool! They also have awesome mojitos, with fresh fruit purees which change flavors each week. Tonight was blueberry and mango. Very refreshing and makes a healthier bevy since no simple syrups are used.
Society is open for dinner until late, as well as lunch on Fridays.
Awesome vibe. Stylish comfort food. Perfect for a night out!
Yaletown Brewing Company (1116 Hamilton Street)
Yaletown Brewing Company has been around for a while so it must be doing something right! This local watering hole homes a versatile vibe, and was nicely packed on Friday evening. Nick, our server explained, Yaletown Brewing Company was first to market in the area, and actually “created this neighborhood, and the vibe grew around it”. Cool!
With its savvy patio and innovative twist on pub food it’s no wonder this money maker has been bustling since 1994. It boasts a two sided spacious patio with comfy bench seats. The surrounding glass walls open up in the warmer months, so the patio and restaurant become one.
If you’re here, you got to try the beer! We tested the Taster Three Pack- three samplers of your choice. As well as the Deep Fried Pickles- tangy dill pickles lightly ale-tempura battered, served with parmesan sour cream. And the Spicy Fried Squid- pineapple cut squid flash fried with garlic, shallots, and jalapeños.
My favorite sampler for our pre-summer patio pursuit was the Nagila Pale Ale. It had a deep malt flavor, refreshing citrusy hop undertone, and paired nicely with the squid. If you like more bitter beers with a cool visual appeal, try the Black and Tan; or the Imperial Stout, brewed with Jameson Irish Whisky.
After polishing off our beverages, a magician appeared. No it wasn’t the beer talking; The Yaletown Brewing Company actually has a house magician. Yeeri is world class caliber and was the cherry on top to our already awesome night. We’re still wondering how he made a coin disappear or how he pulled a drink out of his handkerchief!
The Brew Pub is open for lunch, dinner and until late.
Solid brew. Quality food. Magic.
Cactus Club (357 Davie Street)
After iron chef Rob Feeney jumped on board the Cactai train, they’ve really kicked things up a notch. Their team have over 25 red seal chefs, and 90 apprentices working under Feeney’s guidance. And cool things are happening because of it. Cactus has crafted their menu showcasing local, quality ingredients, with a global twist, at an awesome price point. The main thing I love about Cactus is their consistency. You always know both service and cuisine are going to be top quality, and if it’s not delivered (which is rare), they’ll make it right.
Cactus is right on the corner of Davie and Hamilton. Their large patio gets the sun from lunch until late afternoon, making it perfect for happy hour and some nibblies!
We enjoyed the Tuna Tataki- oceanwise seared albacore tuna, served with green papaya slaw, avocado, and orange, dusted with pine nuts and drizzled with yuzu vinaigrette. And their Szechuan Lettuce Wraps- locally raised chicken, sweet and spicy szechuan glaze, korean chili sauce, crispy wontons, and peanuts served with a side of spicy yogurt.
Both of these dishes were originally created fresh from Rob Feeney’s kitchen. And boy can you tell by their taste and visual appeal! Our appies were delightfully accompanied by the very patio appropriate Bellini- peach schnapps, champagne, Bacardi white rum, and sangria.
Cactus is open for lunch, and dinner, until late.
Award winning cuisine. Casual ambiance.
Provence Marinaside (1177 Marinaside Crescent)
Water front views, elegantly situated overlooking the seawall. The sun’s positive rays ignited the ocean surface into a spectacle of sparkling splendor. We plunked ourselves outside and watched the parade of dog walker breeze by, while waiting for our beverages.
Our drink of choice?
The very patio worthy F’orangeraie- a rose wine from France infused with oranges. Apparently, the vineyard rests beside orange groves so the grapes are steeped with citrus. Although my amateur palate tasted no oranges, my tongue smiled sweetly with each sip.
Provence main focus is French wines, although BC wines are also showcased. Their Wine Bar, adjacent to the restaurant, has Weekly Specials in which you can save ‘n sip. They use an innovative keg system, which makes their wines more accessible, and less expensive, without sacrificing quality. On Tap Tuesdays all wines are offered for $8 per glass. A great way to sample Myer or Le Vieux Pin at half price!
Their Wine Bar has more of a tapas style menu, while their restaurant offers the full meal deal. Some fun things to try are their Bites, which are like baby tapas. We sampled the Baked Eggplant- marinated eggplant topped with baked tomato, caramelized onions and goat cheese. As well as their Smoked Fish Trio- served with pearl onions and miniature pickles. On Mondays they offer three Bite plates for $10!
Their restaurant has an awesome brunch selection. For a hearty start to your day, try their Smoked Salmon Benedict on corn pancakes, served with potatoes and fresh fruit.
Provence’s extensive wine list is an expression of the attention it puts into every detail; from their delicate Bites, to the knowledgeable servers, to their washroom which smells like cinnamon.
Every ounce counts.
Provence is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.
Great for a date or to catch up with loved ones.
The Keg (1011 Mainland Street)
The Keg in Yaletown is lush, and that’s no understatement. As soon as we stepped foot inside, we knew we were going to be taken care of. Kind of like when you roll up into a Lexus dealership.
Rooftop patio please! We stepped off the elevator. The fertility of the Keg’s opulence undoubtedly spread itself upstairs.
The Keg’s patio is swanky and the vibe is luxury. Think modern fire places, smooth lining, and dim lighting. And although it’s classy, you don’t have to dress to the nines. I rolled up in a black tutu and rainbow scarf, need I same more? And just like a Lexus, their glass ceiling retracts like a sun roof. We went on an early, sunny evening; the roof was open highlighting the blue hues of the sky, and the caress of the sun. BC Place peaked it’s newly made over face from behind the adjacent high rises.
When you go to the Keg you got to have a steak, right? Not always. I skipped out on the meat and went straight for the sweet. The culprit? Billy Miner Pie- mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust, seductively drizzled with hot buttery fudge, thick caramel and crunchy almonds. After one bite, I think had a mouthgasm. The combination of the textures and temperatures turned my taste buds into a tantalizing frenzy of elated satisfaction.
My partner in crime took the alternative route. She couldn’t resist the smell of char grilled slabs of prime deliciousness searing medium rare on the barbeque. Her culprit? Filet Mignon Tenderloin wrapped in apple smoked bacon. She fed me generous bites, which melted in my mouth, and made me ponder. The Keg has really revamped their business model. They’ve kept the quality, and plumped up their portions; leaving our bellies smiling and wallets feeling heard.
The Keg is open for dinner and until late.
The best rooftop patio in Yaletown. Go!
After this amazing experience, what image pops into my when I hear “Yaletown”? It’s still the typical stereotype- chic boutiques, upscale restaurants, modern high rises, and pretty girls with designer dogs.
However, I know there is more to Yaletown then its surface. Just like its eclectic mix of yaletown condos and commercial properties, there’s an equally awesome mix of patio restaurants with something for everyone. Whether you want to “be seen” or enjoy beers incognito in your flip flops.
And although I’ll be grabbing the first Boot camp Groupon after this glorious gobbling escapade, I’ll most definitely be returning to Yaletown’s historic hub of cobblestone terraces.
See you on the patio!