They’re as much a symbol of summer as sunscreen and sandals. Patios are popping up throughout the city as restaurateurs look to safely offer us a load off with food and drink that’s not in a takeout container. Pubs and eateries in St. Catharines are pulling out all the stops to make their outdoor spaces a hot spot this summer.
Here are 10 to add to your ‘Chill Out Here’ list.
📍 98 St. Paul St.
The back of St. Paul Street has long been a topic of conversation among Garden City residents. Whatever the opinion on an area affectionately dubbed ‘Stilt City’, most can agree this popular downtown watering hole has leveraged the potential in their backyard. The Merchant Ale House serves its own brews and gastropub fare in the most urban space channelling Brooklyn with brick, steel beams and Edwin patio lights. A smoked mushroom sandwich washed down with a Blonde Bombshell is quintessential St. Catharines fare. For desert, have the seasonal strawberry-rhubarb sour.
The Twisted Pig
📍 1 Lock St.
This is where the smell of wood-fired pizza and lake breezes collide. The Twisted Pig boasts one of the largest patios in the city. Even better, it’s in Port Dalhousie and steps away from the newly reconstructed pier for an after-dinner stroll or a walk before wetting your whistle. This dog-friendly patio is great for people watching while enjoying causal, crave-inducing Italian fare and a summery beverage.
Upper Deck Taphouse & Grill
📍 210 Martindale Rd.
Over in the city’s west end, the casual-chic Upper Deck Taphouse & Grill offers a rare view of St. Catharines’ other waterfront, Twelve Mile Creek. This secluded deck with its view of untouched nature sandwiched between two of the city’s main arteries makes you forget about any hustle or bustle. The menu offers family favourites and finger foods galore, which pair perfectly with whatever is on tap or being shaken and stirred by those working the bar.
Johnny Rocco’s Italian Grill
📍 271 Merritt St.
Pizza, pints, vino, and a patio against a backdrop of St. Catharines’ industrial history is on offer at this south-end locale. Johnny Rocco’s Italian Grill’s patio is nestled into the best corner of the former Lybster Mill, built in 1860 along the second Welland Canal as one of Upper Canada’s pioneering cotton mills. It’s an uber-intimate space, tucked away from traffic, for dining and enjoying a drink served with Italian hospitality and a side of St. Catharines’ storied past.
📍 386 St. Paul St.
Back downtown at the other end of St. Paul Street is Dispatch, one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants. But it’s also garnering attention for collaborating with neighbouring businesses to make this part of St. Catharines’ main drag a destination for a night out, including with your pooch. Owners, chef Adam Hynam-Smith and artist Tamara Jensen, have sacrificed street parking for an astro-turf patio under twinkling lights. The space is equipped with corn hole and a walk-up window to get refills of creative cocktails, special finds on the curated wine and beer list, and patio fare that’s infinitely snackable.
13th Street Winery
📍 1776 Fourth Ave.
It’s easy to forget you’re in Niagara’s largest urban centre when pulling into this bucolic swath located on St. Catharines’ westernmost periphery. This award-winning winery offers so much to see and do, all while tippling vintages by winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas. 13th Street Winery is known for its Gamay Noir, butter tarts and interactive Canadian art and sculpture collection. Weekends here in the summer often include firing up the barbecue for a burger washed down with the quaffable Burger Blend that comes in red, white and rosé, all day.
Lock Street Brewery
📍 15 Lock St.
Back near the Lake Ontario shoreline in Port Dalhouse, Lock Street Brewery beckons with its secluded biergarten that’s everybody’s dream backyard. The brews are made with Germany’s purity laws in mind, mandating only pure and natural ingredients be used to make beer. With CHZ PLZ, one of the region’s premier purveyors of charcuterie, located next door, this hidden gem offers the ultimate summer afternoon experience. Dogs are also welcome.
Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
📍 9 Lock St.
If beer isn’t your thing, this coffee shop has a stunner of a patio that offers a quiet and contemplative escape over iced — or hot — caffeinated beverages. The multi-level seating area at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters means you can be as private or as public as you want when declaring membership to Team Tea or Team Coffee. You’re also mere steps from Lakeside Park for a beach day once you perk up.
Trust Beer Bar
📍 3 Garden Park
What was once a cinder block storage building in a well-used alleyway has become St. Catharines’ go-to for all things suds. Trust Beer Bar downtown offers hundreds of cans and bottles, including plenty of rare finds, for sipping on a patio surrounded by graffitied walls and covered with sails to protect those pints from summer’s rays. Tacos are on the menu for a casual and satisfying bite. There are also spiked slushies for a true summer in St. Catharines experience.
📍 111 Fourth Ave.
Watch one of St. Catharines’ glorious sunsets over a plate of noodles, ’za or shareable tapas at this west-end favourite. Lina Linguini’s offers a family-friendly option for lunch or dinner on a patio that makes you forget you’re in a strip mall parking lot. A word of warning: this place fills up fast because of the food, the vibe and, did we mention those sunsets that light the sky aglow?
No matter where you are in St. Catharines, there’s a patio with to suit you current mood and quench your thirst with a tall, cold one. The only challenge: picking a favourite from all the contenders.