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When the weather turns warmer, Calgarians flock to the host of patios for outdoor dining. Summer is brief so everyone takes advantage of the nice weather for extended patio lunches, drinks or dinner. There are several restaurants along Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary that fill up with diners flooding out of their corporate offices to enjoy a few rays of sunshine and some great dining. Avenue Diner, Divino, the Belvedere, Thomsons, the James Joyce Pub, the Tribune, Teatro, Catch are just a handful of great restaurants that have patio seating right on Stephen Avenue. Murrieta's and Milestone's feature patios overlooking Stephen Avenue from a second-floor perch. The Palomino Smokehouse and Bar has a great courtyard patio too.
17th Avenue SW and the Mission District (4th Street SW) feature a wide array of restaurants/bars with some great patio options. The Living Room, Melrose Cafe & Bar, Cilantro, Wildwood, and Mercato are just a few popular favourites.
Kensington, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Calgary, has some great patio options. Muse features a second story patio, Molly Malone's, Original Joe's and there are a host of others along Kensington Road. Chef's Table at Kensington Riverside Inn is a wonderful new option as well...it features five-course dinner menus in their dining room, lounge and patio. It overlooks the Bow River and the booming downtown skyline.
Barley Mill in Eau Claire has two patios. The Sheraton Eau Claire also has a patio for their restaurant (Barclay's) overlooking this public square.
Bonterra (8th St & 10th Ave SW) has one of the loveliest settings in their private courtyard patio.
Rouge in Inglewood is gorgeous and the chef picks fresh herbs and flowers from his garden and features it in his cuisine. The Deane House is a few blocks away and overlooks Fort Calgary -- the site of the original North West Mounted Police fort.
The Ranche in Fish Creek Park is a lovely historic building set in a protected provincial park. Great menu.
The River Cafe in Prince's Island Park is gorgeous and features an amazing menu. Dine early and then go enjoy Shakespeare in the Park by Mount Royal College. What a setting!!!
Poolside dining at Hotel Arts featuring the Raw Bar menu is definitely one of the most unique and popular options during Calgary's summer. It's quite the scene. Sip pineapple mojitos poolside and enjoy great dishes from the Raw Bar. DJs perform live on Sunday afternoons as well and it attracts quite a crowd. Bring your sunscreen and a bathing suit if you go for a dip.
One recommendation about all these options: please call the restaurants ahead of time to reserve a spot. In many cases, the most popular restaurants are often booked out for private functions (ie: weddings) on Saturdays in the summer and possibly Sundays on long weekends. Call ahead about Sunday dining too as some establishments will be closed.
Calgary nights tend to cool off considerably from hot afternoons. It is recommended that you bring along a sweater or jacket in the event that you're dining past 9pm or so. Also, the sun doesn't set until after 10 pm in June/July so you can dine later provided the kitchens are still open. Noise by-laws, however, result in the patio music being turned off at 11 pm and people moving inside. Lastly, all patios are non-smoking in Calgary due to the new smoking by-law.