I’m a huge lover of patios (#deckbeers, anyone?), but with Edmonton’s short season for enjoying them, none of us have time to waste on a bad one.
Lucky for you, you’re reading the first in a series of posts highlighting some of Edmonton’s best patios, and what makes them great. It’s not necessarily meant to be a critical “review” of each patio, but more of a database of patios to help you decide which one is best for you. Besides, I’m weeding out what I consider to be the poor choices already, so anything you read here should be a good choice.
To make things simpler, I’m going to tag the neighbourhood at the bottom of each post, so once there are a number of reviews available you’ll be able to narrow down your search by area. That should help out people like me with short attention spans and… hey, a puppy!
Unlike the popular Yeg Burger Odyssey, where I left some of the strongest contenders reviews until a little later on, with the Edmonton Patio Hop I figured I would start with the undeniable champion of Edmonton patios, The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.
If you’ve never spent an afternoon on the patio at The Mac, you’re truly missing out. With a stunning view, immaculately maintained grounds, and of course great food, this patio truly has no rival.
Here’s what you should know about the patio at The Mac.
The View at the Mac is amazing. With vistas out over the lush, green river valley, you can see miles in each direction. The view from the patio proper features plenty of flowers and greenery, and is a perfect spot to soak it all in. When strolling around the grounds (which you can, with drink in hand of course), you can see The Edmonton Queen setting sail, a number of bridges and even a park or two. Or you can just have a seat by the beautiful fountain and gaze back at the grand, old hotel.
Another beautiful thing is that there is almost zero traffic noise. If one of those obnoxiously loud motorbikes blasts by, there’s nowhere you can hide from that noise, but that’s about it. The only thing you’re going to hear on the Mac Patio, for the most part, is other patrons and the chirping of birds. There is music playing, but from where we were sitting it was almost imperceptible. You won’t have to yell to have a conversation here.The chairs are wrought iron, but comfortable enough with the provided cushion. Besides, you’ll likely spend some time out of your seat wandering the grounds anyways. There is a large awning that provides protection from both the rain and the sun, but if the sun is what you crave there are plenty of seats out on the grounds to get your vitamin D. There’s also heaters around the patio for those crisp evenings when a few more degrees C would be welcome.
The crowd at The Mac tends to be a little older on average, and definitely a bit more reserved than most. If you’re looking to slam shots of Jaegermeister and play beer pong with your “bro’s”, this isn’t the patio for you.
Beverages and bites
- The Food – The full menu is available on the patio, as is a special BBQ menu. The Hotel MacDonald has a BBQ set up right on the patio, and a chef is grilling burgers, and a bunch of other great smelling stuff right in front of you. It’s a great set-up, and it’s pretty hard to resist once the BBQ smells start wafting across the patio. If you already ate something and are just looking for a little something to share with your group, you can even get a charcuterie board, which is what we did.
- The Drinks – The Hotel MacDonald has a half dozen beers ($6.50-$8.50) on tap, including some locals from Alley Kat, plus more in bottles. The selection of beers is less extensive than some, but the ones they have are a pretty good mix of local and imports. I’d have no problem picking a beer I’d like, but an inability to find a suitable beer has never exactly been one of life’s greatest problems for me. The selection of wine is larger, with a healthy mix of by the glass and by the bottle options. I’m a sucker for a delicious Mojito during the summer, so my eye went straight to the cocktail menu ($13-$14), which features a nice selection of interesting drinks, along with some classics. I got the Cranberry Cucumber Mojito, which was refreshing and tasty, and Robyn had an exceptional Dark and Stormy, which is dark rum, ginger beer, and lime. The prices are definitely on the higher end, compared to some other patios, but totally justified given the impeccable surroundings.
For Edmonton patio lovers, a stop at The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald patio is an absolute must, and should be one of the first places you bring any out of town guests to show off how beautiful our city can be once the snow shovels are put away for the year.
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