Yesterday, one of my Twitter followers, Lori, asked me if I knew the best beer patio in Ottawa. I was about to respond with "Mine," but I knew that wouldn't be helpful. Instead, I told her I would answer her question with a blog post of my favourite pubs with outdoor patios.
In truth, I spend very little time during the summer on patios. In the spring, when flowers bloom and trees open up, the pollen kills me. If I'm going to be outside, I don't want bees or other pests bothering me. And if there's a wind, I prefer not to hold down my glass.
But on warm sunny days when the weather is right and the bugs are at bay, nothing beats enjoying a cold one outdoors. So, in no particular order, here are my top 10 patio picks for Ottawa.
Mill Street Brew Pub (555 Wellington St. at the Portage Bridge): You must have known I'd bring up this place off the top. It's my favourite pub in the city, and they have two great patios. And with the historic mill as a view, it's a cozy spot to drink a wide assortment of craft beer, some of which is made on the premises. During Bluesfest, you can sit on the patio and hear some of the performers, depending on the stage. The acoustics are such that the sound echos off Mill Street's parking garage: I was there last summer and could hear the live music perfectly.
Earl of Sussex (Byward Market, 431 Sussex Drive): This pub has been around forever and has a great patio on the corner that is shaded with trees. Right near the National Gallery, the patio offers views of Major's Hill Park and Nepean Point.
D'arcy Mcgee's Pub (44 Sparks Street, at Elgin): Another great patio with a view, D'arcy's outdoor space wraps around Sparks and Elgin, offering a great view of the War Memorial and the Chateau Laurier. There are great beers on tap, with many seasonals and featured beer changing all the time. This is one of my favourite places, year 'round.
Arrow & Loon (99 Fifth Avenue, at Bank Street, in the Glebe): This is the first Ottawa pub that featured local craft beer. My friend's brewery, Scotch-Irish Brewing Company, first offered his beers on tap at this pub, and many local craft beers can still be found here. While the patio doesn't have the greatest view, you are very close to Lansdowne, Ottawa South, and downtown. I go for the fabulous beer.
Sir John A (284 Elgin Street, at MacLaren): In the heart of Centretown, you are guaranteed to see lots of night life from the patio of this pub. There is great beer to be had here, including local craft beer and fine imported ales.
Heart & Crown (Byward Market, 67 Clarence Street): This pub is part of five interconnected pubs, known as the Irish Village, with patios both outside and within inner courtyards. For me, the best place to sit is at the corner of Clarence and Parent Avenue, where you have the best view of the heart of the Byward Market. If you prefer a more private setting, the inner courtyard patio is also great.
Heart & Crown (353 B Preston Street): Owned by the same folks as the Byward Market location, the Little Italy H&C is close to Dow's Lake. Don't be surprised to see the occasional Ferrari drive by.
Highlander Pub (115 Rideau Street): I tend to go to the Highlander for its outstanding and unmatched selection of single-malt whiskies, but the beer selection isn't bad either. Situated between the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market, the Highlander is close to many attractions.
The Clocktower Pub (418 Richmond Road, Westboro): The beer and food is hit and miss at this brew pub, but the patio is large and gets plenty of sunshine, and the pub is located in one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in the city.
The Lieutenant's Pump (361 Elgin Street, Centretown): Again, in the heart of Centretown, this pub has great Ontario craft beer on tap and the food is pretty good. The patio isn't huge but it does offer a great view of one of the city's great streets.
Those are my picks. If you go to any of these pubs you can't go wrong. (Good luck, Lori!)
If you have a favourite patio pub in Ottawa, please share it by leaving a comment.