The temperature differential between Calgary sun and Calgary shade is astonishing, which can make for patio awkwardness. Who gets the sunny side of the table? What happens if you sit for so long that the shade shifts? Fortunately, this minor discomfort is avoidable with a little pre-planning – several Calgary restaurants have full-shade patios. But which ones? And more importantly, what’s the best excuse to visit them?
Work lunch: Cucina Market Bistro
Unless you have sunscreen at the office, you probably don’t want to spend lunch break in a high-noon sunbeam. Cucina’s intimate, north-facing patio on the Stephen Avenue Mall is in full shade, which means you can indulge in classic Italian dishes – including tiramisu made from an old family recipe – without cooking yourself.
Shopping power break: State & Main
Whether you’re strutting around Nordstrom or throwing elbows at H&M, sooner or later you need a meal break. State & Main at Chinook Centre has an east-facing patio that offers necessary fresh air but keeps you sheltered from blazing sun. Try the Korean-inspired gogi tacos with sriracha mayonnaise.
People-watching oasis: The Living Room
South-facing but protected from the sun (and bustling 17 Ave. S.W.) by a low wall and trees, this patio is a local favourite. In the heart of one of Calgary’s hippest districts, The Living Room serves contemporary cuisine with “interactive” appetizers including cheese fondue. Its patio has heaters and an outdoor fireplace, which is handy if you stay so late the temperature plummets.
Guests to impress: Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant
If you’re welcoming out-of-towners, in-laws or business associates you want to delight, take them to the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant in Fish Creek Provincial Park. This historic ranch house has a shaded wraparound porch with unobstructed views of native flowers and shrubs, offering a tranquil and elegant dining experience. Go for brunch and order the elk and asparagus.
Keeping your options open: Hose & Hound
This Inglewood institution in a former fire hall has two patios, one in the son, the other fully shaded and hemmed by trees. This is the perfect choice for those unpredictable Calgary days that suddenly switch from overcast to blazing – simply grab your drink and move around the corner to comparative comfort. The Hose & Hound serves classic pub fare, from fish and chips to pizzas and wraps, and it takes patio reservations.