All the Patios on Stephen Avenue Walk
Five blocks of Calgary's most prime patio territory.
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro's patio is one of the best places to be during lunch hour downtown.
Photography by Jared Sych
Stephen Avenue (aka 8th Avenue) is Calgary's original entertainment and commercial district. Along with a few more modern additions, it has more than 30 buildings that were built after a fire in 1886 destroyed downtown and up until the 1930s. Architectural styles including Edwardian and Beaux Arts were preserved and restored and the names of the buildings are a who's who of Calgary history. Those buildings as backdrop, and the perk of having the avenue between 1st Street Southeast and 3rd Street Southwest closed to vehicles during the day, make it prime patio territory. The combination of visitors spilling out from the hotels and workers taking long, lazy lunches and ditching out early for happy hour mean that on a sunny day, the patios on Stephen Avenue are packed.
Here are all the patios along Stephen Avenue between 1st Street S.E. and 3rd Street S.W.
The patio at Teatro is tucked away in plain sight in Olympic Plaza. Look for the giant orb-like light hanging above it. That light casts a beautiful glow for a dinner of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine.
What to order: The three-course express lunch menu. It’s offered on weekdays and at $25 it’s a great opportunity to try the fine dining restaurant without splurging too much.
200 8 Ave. S.E., 403-290-1012, teatro.ca
This location of the local coffee roaster is tucked into the Telus Convention Center. In the summer, tables are also out on Stephen Avenue Walk and is a good place to rest or meet up with friends and business colleagues.
What to order: Espresso and a breakfast sandwich. The espresso is made using the fancy La Mazocco Linea PB. The breakfast sandwich is on a cheddar and chive biscuit, which is salty and delicious.
140 8 Ave. S.E., 403-264-7900, rossocoffeeroasters.com
This is the patio for the Hyatt Regency’s hotel bar and its menu has all the delicious things you want on a bar menu — burgers, nachos, cobb salad, steak sandwiches — but slightly elevated because it is the Hyatt. Think grilled cheese with apple and brie, on naan bread and served with tomato fondue. Sandstone will validate your parking, which is a bonus if you are coming from out of downtown.
What to order: Anything on the seasonal cocktail menu, including the mai tai, sangria and lemonade.
700 Centre Street S.E., 403-717-1234, calgary.regency.hyatt.com
It doesn’t get much better than eating fresh seafood in the sunshine with a glass of prosecco or beer. Catch gets its lobster from Nova Scotia and its Dungeness crab from British Columbia. It also has Jet-Fresh fish flown in daily.
What to order: If you are there with friends, go all in with a chilled seafood platter or the seafood bake.
100 8 Ave. S.E., 403-206-0000, catchrestaurant.ca
The range of dishes on the menu of this Vancouver-based chain includes plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, making it easy to go with groups who have different tastes. Milestone's patio is one of the biggest on Stephen Avenue.
What to order: Go on Monday when the special is four bellinis or a pitcher of beer and four appetizers for $40.
107 8 Ave. S.E., 403-410-9521, milestonesrestaurants.com
The second local brewer with outdoor seating on Stephen Avenue is Phil & Sebastian. It's in the Hudson Block, which is an old building that has been updated and decorated with greenery from Plant and products from local artisans involved with Market Collective. The coffee here is some of the best in the city and there is a selection of sandwiches and treats if you are hungry.
What to order: Cold brew. It's sold on tap or by the bottle.
102 8 Ave. S.W., 587-356-0905, philsebastian.com
Saltlik has all the steakhouse classics, including French onion soup, wedge salads and apple pie that is baked to order, to go along with its prime sirloin, filet mignon, New York striploin and bone-in rib-eye.
What to order: Steak is a solid choice, but so is the black and blue burger with blue cheese, sauteed onions and crispy onion rings.
101 8 Ave. S.W., 403-587-1160, saltlik.com
Blue Vinny Diner
Blue Vinny is only open for breakfast and lunch so this will have to be your patio of choice for the first half of the day. Order omelets, breakfast bowls, French toast and macaroni and cheese to enjoy on the small patio.
What to order: There's nothing fancy about this place so keep it classic with a breakfast bowl of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns and Hollandaise.
105 8 Ave. S.W., 403-263-3880
This restaurant ranks among the more sophisticated of Stephen Avenue. It has a New York vibe about it and the menu takes advantage of local ingredients. Think steak tartar, iceberg lettuce wedge salad, double cut pork chops and beef tenderloin with baked Alaska on the dessert menu.
What to order: The Chef's Tasting Menu. It's seven courses for $99 and the menu is so good at The Belvedere, every course will be delicious. The entire table has to participate.
107 8 Ave. S.W., 403-265-9595, thebelvedere.ca
OJ’s is up to 12 locations across Calgary. If you like any of those, you’ll like the Stephen Avenue location with all the same salads, bowls, burgers and salads.
What to order: The L.A. Street Dog made with Nathan’s dog wrapped in bacon and placed in a toasted baguette. Bonus: All of OJ’s burgers and sandwiches come with your choice of two sides.
109 8 Ave. S.W., 403-262-7248, originaljoes.ca
The menu is a tight collection of dishes that combine simple, seasonal ingredients into delicious entrees. Blink’s wine list focuses on family-run wineries, which makes the carefully selected options a little different than other restaurants.
What to order: Dessert. Blink also has some of the best desserts in the city so always save room. If you can't decide which, go for the Valrhona chocolate tart.
111 8 Ave. S.W., 403-263-5330, blinkcalgary.ca
The menu here is described as “True North” which means it takes its influences from across Canada. You’ll find oysters, beef and duck on the menu along with veggie dishes that will remind you how delicious a beet can taste. The cocktail list is a combination of classics and Canadian drinks along with a few new inventions.
What to order: Its One Punch Lunch with a daily feature, choice of side, mini butter tarts and a coffee or mocktail all for $16. That deal is offered Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
110 8 Ave. S.W., 403-262-8100, kleinharris.com
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro [Closing]
Divino is the kind of restaurant where you order another glass of wine and stick around a little longer after enjoying bistro dishes like Lyonnaise salad, mussels and frites or lamb sirloin.
What to order: Divino’s new spring menu includes a lamb confit melt with fig jam, braised leeks and melted Cambozola cheese.
113 8 Ave. S.W., 403-410-5555, divinobistro.com
Inside, this pub gets its Irish flavour from the Curran family artifacts on display. Outside on the patio, it’s the lively atmosphere and Guinness umbrellas that give it some Irish spirit.
What to order: Get the waffle fry nachos with bell peppers, onions, jalapenos and cheese. Or the Irish potato boxty with your choice of curried chicken, steak and Guinness or vegetarian curry as a filling.
114 8 Ave. S.W., 403-262-0708, jamesjoycepub.com
This started as a bank and still has some of the architectural elements (like the safe room). It's currently operating as a pub with appetizers, pizzas, sandwiches and salads on the menu. There are plenty of daily specials and house wine is $5 everyday. If you are out on the patio, make sure you look up at the building. It is one of the most beautiful and historic.
What to Order: Thin crust pizza. Donair, wild boar sausage and barbecue chicken are regularly on the menu and on Thursdays a chef’s creation is $10.
125 8 Ave. S.W., 587-293-9688, bankandbaronpub.com
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This patio is actually a balcony on the second level of the Alberta Hotel Building. The seats are lined up side-by-side facing out onto Stephen Avenue, making it the perfect vantage to people watch. Live music from inside the lounge spills out onto the balcony.
What to order: Salt Spring Island mussels with house smoked bacon and red onion in a white wine tomato broth.
200, 808 1 St. S.W., 403-269-7707, murrietas.ca
This patio is in one of the most iconic locations on the avenue. Find it among the pillars of the Hudson’s Bay building. The menu here is meaty with bone-in striploin, porterhouse and Peking duck as options.
What to order: Go for social hour every day from 2 to 5 p.m. when there are deals on highballs, beer and prosecco.
200 8 Ave. S.W., 403-770-2313, theguildrestaurant.com
It may have moved to a new location, but The Unicorn is still a staple of Stephen Avenue. If you can’t get a seat on the street-level patio, try to get one at the window on the second floor in the Sports Cantina. The Unicorn has 20 beers on tap and plenty of patio-friendly cocktails.
What to order: Wings. One pound of chicken wings are typically $13.50 and flavour options include habanero mango, stout barbecue, sweet Szechwan, hot honey sambal, salt and pepper or chipotle mango rub. Go to The Unicorn on Wednesdays for 25 cent wings after 4 p.m.
223 8 Ave. S.W., 403-265-3665, superpub.ca
This patio is basically a beer garden on a rooftop. Come here to be social — there are communal tables and games like ping-pong. And, of course, there's a huge beer selection too.
What to order: Happy hour runs every day here from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. so everything on tap is $0.25 per ounce. Or, if you are feeling like something really fun and summery, order one of the six adult slurpees on the menu.
360, 225 8 Ave. S.W., 403-237-5556, ntnl.ca
The beer taps at Local rotate often with many of the permanent taps favouring the British Columbia roots of this chain. Trash Buckets with a can each of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lucky Lager and Old Style Pilsner for $15 is an indication of how casual this restaurant is.
What to order: A press burger to go with your beer. Local’s burgers are made with patties that are pressed by hand and served on buns that are made in-house.
310 8 Ave. S.W., 403-264-7808, localon8thave.com
The Met has been in Calgary since 2000 and the upscale casual restaurant and bar’s patio is a mainstay of Stephen Avenue. This past winter it renovated just in time to be refreshed for patio season.
What to order: A $25 pitcher of sangria, pimms or mojito and maybe a phylo baked brie so you aren’t just drinking.
150, 317 7 Ave. S.W., 403-263-5432, themet.ca
The casual counter service restaurant has tables inside as well as outside. It focuses on healthy bowls and flatbreads and caters to the downtown morning and lunch crowd. Wise & Wright is only open until 7 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on weekends.
What to order: Toast. You think you can make toast at home, but you are never going to put whipped honey goat cheese, mango, pomegranate, basil, pumpkin seeds and balsamic glaze on your bread so you might at well get it on toast here for $6.
163, 317 7 Ave. S.W., 403-454-2987, wiseandwright.com
Last year it was Earls.67 and this year it is back to being Earls Bankers Hall. Its patio is tucked near the Galleria Trees (those giant white sculptures) right beside the shipping containers that make up the restaurant’s enclosed atrium.
What to order: Sante Fe Chicken Salad. Earls switches up its menu every now and then (it added ahi tuna tataki and coconut cream pie this year), but the Sante Fe Chicken Salad remains a fan favourite.
315 8 Ave. S.W., 403-265-3275, earls.ca
The Cactus Club Café’s patio is an L-shape at the corner of 8th Avenue and 3rd Street S.W., but the best part about this restaurant is that the walls open. You can be sitting indoors at the bar or in a booth and still feel like you are outside.
What to order: The grilled tuna club. Cactus Club’s tuna is Ocean Wise and it’s a West Coast-based restaurant so you know it knows how to sear albacore.
178, 317 7 Ave. S.W., 403-454-9399, cactusclubcafe.com
Just past the Galleria Trees technically beyond the area where Stephen Avenue is wide open to pedestrians are patios at Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar (order the steak, any steak), Cucina (get the Caesar salad with anchovies and porchetta) and Barcelona Tavern (order from the tapas and gin and tonic menus).