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Outdoor Dining at Acorn and The Oak
Rachel Pinsky

Where to Dine Outside in Vancouver

Patios, decks, and makeshift parklets where you can eat pho, beef tenderloin, khinkali, and more

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Outdoor Dining at Acorn and The Oak
| Rachel Pinsky

On January 14th, Governor Inslee issued new open air dining guidelines for the State of Washington, allowing for outdoor dining and open air indoor dining. These rules require sufficient airflow to stem the spread of the coronavirus as people masklessly eat and drink.

Dining outdoors in Vancouver feels like dining outdoors. Propane heaters help, but their ability to heat a space is counteracted by the necessary ventilation. Breaking out ski or camping gear, bundling up, bringing a blanket, and being mindful of outdoor weather conditions can mean the difference between an enjoyable apres ski-like experience or a evening spent shivering and miserable.

Many structures in downtown Vancouver look alike because they were built with financial and technical assistance through the Parklet Program. Despite structural similarity, local business owners have put their own spin on these sidewalk spaces trying to bring their unique indoor experience outdoors. Tacos and mezcal spot Little Conejo added whimsical decorative windows, driftwood collected from the Columbia River lines the parklet outside seasonally inspired Elements Restaurant, and Georgian-focused Dediko added horizontal slates of wood and potted greenery for a modern European feel.

The places on this list were picked based on overall experience — a combination of unique design, great food and drink, ease of getting a spot (i.e. reservations), and good airflow. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, seating is limited. Planning ahead by making reservations or showing up at less popular times helps to snag one of these coveted spaces. Map entries that don’t include information about reservations, don’t take reservations. For takeout in Vancouver, peruse this map.

A number of Vancouver restaurants have resumed onsite service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID update page. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Grocery Cocktail & Social

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Screen Door alumni Chris “Salty” Reed and Cindy Reed recently added a twinkling-light strewn covered and heated parklet outside their beloved cocktail and southern-inspired food spot in downtown Vancouver. The end-of-the-cul-de-sac location gives the space a private, intimate feel away from the traffic on Main Street. It’s the ideal space to feast on a Grocery Burger topped with bacon jam, sweet onions, garlic mayo, and melted American Cheese while serenely sipping a Thai Me Up, Dolly with rum, BROVO amaro #4, Thai tea, coconut cream, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Minors are allowed until 7:30pm. Happy hour runs Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. and all day on Sunday.

Amaro’s Table

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A maze of tents fills the back courtyard of this downtown favorite. Amaro’s popular happy hour still runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close every day, with $4 to $7 treats like Bavarian cheese fondue and ricotta doughnuts served alongside similarly priced classic and draft cocktails. The regular menu includes elegant entrees like beef tenderloin medallions in a demi-glace served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Amaro’s rotating draft cocktails, like Midnight Sun sangria with bitter blood orange, Suze, ginger tea, and brown sugar, are the star of the show. Reservations are recommended and can be made by phone.

Little Conejo

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Nobel Rot’s Mychal Dynes and Nogoguro’s Mark Wooten have added a parklet with heaters to the space outside their beloved mezcal and taco spot in downtown Vancouver. Taco lovers devouring meaty oyster mushroom tacos and cheeseburger-like tortas Americano, while sipping mezcal-infused cocktails, fill the tables in Little Conejo’s warmed parklet, spilling out into the unheated picnic tables lining the outside of this corner space. Little Conejo doesn’t take reservations so it’s best to come at less popular times around lunch time and before the dinner rush.

Niche Wine Bar

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Sitting in Niche Wine Bar’s narrow greenhouse, called the Crow’s Nest, oddly feels like a trip to Europe. It’s unusual to still be in the Vancouver yet sipping a glass of pinot noir and nibbling on charcuterie on a weekday afternoon, listening to the hum of traffic and watching the quizzical looks of the mail carrier and pedestrians as they longingly pass by. The Crow’s Nest fits one party of two to three people from the same household. It’s aired out for 15 minutes between parties. Call or text Niche for reservations.

Food and Wine from Niche Wine Bar
Rachel Pinsky

Elements Restaurant

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Husband-wife team Miguel and Allison Sosa, along with their young children, collected the Columbia River driftwood that lines the outside of their elegant heated, semi-enclosed outdoor space on Main Street in downtown Vancouver. Element’s rotating seasonal menu features microgreens from Harvest of Peace, as well as produce from other nearby farms like Red Truck Farm, Flat Tack Farm, and Wobbly Cart Farm. Currently, seasonal Oregon white truffles can be found in the beef tartare, the potato gnocchi, and in as truffle sauce spooned over Snake River Farms Waygu ribeye. Reservations are required and can be made through Resy or by calling the restaurant.

Ella Bakh and her son, Nico, opened this charming space in downtown Vancouver to share food from Ella’s hometown, Tbilisi, Georgia. Their parklet mirrors the modern European-style of their restaurant with horizontal slats of wood, plants, and strings of honey-colored lights that flutter in the breeze like fireflies. Eastern European soul food like a warm Lobia pot (bean stew), boat-shaped khachapuri (cheese bread) warm from the oven, or tender knot-topped khinkali (dumplings) with beef and pork or mushrooms provide sustenance against the cold of winter. Mason jars of hot kompot (fruit tea), fresh fruit bobbing on the surface, or a glass of amber-hued Georgian wine complement the food. Reservations can be made by phone or through OpenTable. Happy hour runs everyday from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Trap Door Brewing

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Trap Door Brewing’s uptown village taproom recently opened a year-round enclosed, heated beer porch. For now, the walls remain partially open to allow air flow. Locals flock to this cozy space to sip Trap Door favorites like Trap Door IPA, a classic NW IPA, and Glowed Up, a hazy, citrus-y New England IPA. Several nearby food carts — like Taco City, E-San Thai, and newly opened Lettuce-Eat-Healthy — provide a good mix of food to nibble while sipping a cold pint of beer.

Acorn & the Oak

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Acorn and The Oak is 20 miles east of downtown Vancouver, perched on Lacamas Lake. At this secluded spot, Chuck and Janessa Stoltz have created a unique outdoor dining experience by adding their own quirky style to their newly renovated lake chalet. Janessa’s florist skills came in handy snagging a wedding-level tent and festooning it with greenery and flowers. A small projector silently projects subtitled film favorites — from classics like The Wizard of Oz to Gen-X nostalgia like Say Anything — onto one of the tent’s walls. From noon to 4 p.m., the spot serves light bites like deviled eggs, cheese boards, and cocktails. After 5 p.m., the menu shifts to updated classics like wedge salads and chicken stroganoff, along with cocktails like the Tipsy Oak, a blend of bourbon, orange juice, and Acorn and The Oak’s own thyme simple syrup, finished with a few splashes of cardamom and walnut bitters. The tent will be transformed into a tiki theme in March. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant or through OpenTable.

Acorn and The Oak’s outdoor space
Rachel Pinsky

Bleu Door Bakery

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Bonnie Brasure recently added a black-and-white-striped awning, with clear side panels and heaters, to the space outside her bakery and cafe in Uptown Village. The outdoor space attracts ladies who lunch catching up after a long social hiatus, as well as couples enjoying a relaxing mid-day break. They dine on soups like Brasure’s mushroom barley, a restorative mix of wild mushrooms and tender barley pearls, alongside decadent meat-free options like crustless quiches packed with bits of broccoli and melted cheddar cheese. Tables are limited, so it’s worth it to go during typically slow hours.

Brothers Cascadia Brewing

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This neighborhood hangout in Hazel Dell recently added tenting and heaters to the outdoor patio, creating a comfortable spot to sip beer and sample food from the cluster of food carts outside the brewery. Beer choices range from a crisp, clear Czech style pilsner called The Peoples Pilsner, and several juicy hazy IPAs, to dark brews like bold, brown malt infused Jp’s Meetinghouse Brown Ale. One of the several nearby food trucks, The Hungry Sasquatch, offers Neapolitan-inspired pies with a crust made of their own mix of wild yeast sourdough starter and organic whole-wheat flour. The Octo-squatch is made by covering this carefully formulated crust with pesto, smoked mozzarella, and tender octopus rings, baked at 800 degrees in a wood-fire oven. After it’s cooked, ghost pepper flakes are sprinkled on top for an added kick.

Hopworks Urban Brewery Vancouver

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People bundled in warm fleece-lined jackets with knit caps and mittens, huddled around heaters sipping beer and eating burgers and pizza, give this East Vancouver outdoor space a chill camping vibe. A long list of brews, including the citrus-y, tropical Vancouver IPA (VIPA) and a full menu of salads, appetizers, burgers and pizza make this a popular spot even on chilly days. The Rocket Man pizza, strewn with lemon sprinkled arugula, feta, and hazelnuts, is a noteworthy pie to house by one of those heaters.

Phở Haven

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Sipping a steaming bowl of pho on a cold afternoon at Pho Haven feels replenishing, even on the coldest days. The heated front porch of this Vietnamese restaurant, housed in an old Victorian, offers a nice perch for watching people and traffic pass by on Main Street. Pho Haven’s menu includes a variety hot soup, from their meat-y special pho with eye round steak, flank steak, and meatballs, to a lighter vegan pho with tofu and mushrooms in a broth flavored with a mix of fruits and vegetables. The six outdoor tables often fill up around 6 p.m., but are typically available for walk-ins at lunch and before or after 6 p.m. Reservations can be made by phone.

The Grocery Cocktail & Social

Screen Door alumni Chris “Salty” Reed and Cindy Reed recently added a twinkling-light strewn covered and heated parklet outside their beloved cocktail and southern-inspired food spot in downtown Vancouver. The end-of-the-cul-de-sac location gives the space a private, intimate feel away from the traffic on Main Street. It’s the ideal space to feast on a Grocery Burger topped with bacon jam, sweet onions, garlic mayo, and melted American Cheese while serenely sipping a Thai Me Up, Dolly with rum, BROVO amaro #4, Thai tea, coconut cream, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Minors are allowed until 7:30pm. Happy hour runs Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. and all day on Sunday.

Amaro’s Table

A maze of tents fills the back courtyard of this downtown favorite. Amaro’s popular happy hour still runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close every day, with $4 to $7 treats like Bavarian cheese fondue and ricotta doughnuts served alongside similarly priced classic and draft cocktails. The regular menu includes elegant entrees like beef tenderloin medallions in a demi-glace served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Amaro’s rotating draft cocktails, like Midnight Sun sangria with bitter blood orange, Suze, ginger tea, and brown sugar, are the star of the show. Reservations are recommended and can be made by phone.

Little Conejo

Nobel Rot’s Mychal Dynes and Nogoguro’s Mark Wooten have added a parklet with heaters to the space outside their beloved mezcal and taco spot in downtown Vancouver. Taco lovers devouring meaty oyster mushroom tacos and cheeseburger-like tortas Americano, while sipping mezcal-infused cocktails, fill the tables in Little Conejo’s warmed parklet, spilling out into the unheated picnic tables lining the outside of this corner space. Little Conejo doesn’t take reservations so it’s best to come at less popular times around lunch time and before the dinner rush.

Niche Wine Bar

Food and Wine from Niche Wine Bar
Rachel Pinsky

Sitting in Niche Wine Bar’s narrow greenhouse, called the Crow’s Nest, oddly feels like a trip to Europe. It’s unusual to still be in the Vancouver yet sipping a glass of pinot noir and nibbling on charcuterie on a weekday afternoon, listening to the hum of traffic and watching the quizzical looks of the mail carrier and pedestrians as they longingly pass by. The Crow’s Nest fits one party of two to three people from the same household. It’s aired out for 15 minutes between parties. Call or text Niche for reservations.

Food and Wine from Niche Wine Bar
Rachel Pinsky

Elements Restaurant

Husband-wife team Miguel and Allison Sosa, along with their young children, collected the Columbia River driftwood that lines the outside of their elegant heated, semi-enclosed outdoor space on Main Street in downtown Vancouver. Element’s rotating seasonal menu features microgreens from Harvest of Peace, as well as produce from other nearby farms like Red Truck Farm, Flat Tack Farm, and Wobbly Cart Farm. Currently, seasonal Oregon white truffles can be found in the beef tartare, the potato gnocchi, and in as truffle sauce spooned over Snake River Farms Waygu ribeye. Reservations are required and can be made through Resy or by calling the restaurant.

Dediko

Ella Bakh and her son, Nico, opened this charming space in downtown Vancouver to share food from Ella’s hometown, Tbilisi, Georgia. Their parklet mirrors the modern European-style of their restaurant with horizontal slats of wood, plants, and strings of honey-colored lights that flutter in the breeze like fireflies. Eastern European soul food like a warm Lobia pot (bean stew), boat-shaped khachapuri (cheese bread) warm from the oven, or tender knot-topped khinkali (dumplings) with beef and pork or mushrooms provide sustenance against the cold of winter. Mason jars of hot kompot (fruit tea), fresh fruit bobbing on the surface, or a glass of amber-hued Georgian wine complement the food. Reservations can be made by phone or through OpenTable. Happy hour runs everyday from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Trap Door Brewing

Trap Door Brewing’s uptown village taproom recently opened a year-round enclosed, heated beer porch. For now, the walls remain partially open to allow air flow. Locals flock to this cozy space to sip Trap Door favorites like Trap Door IPA, a classic NW IPA, and Glowed Up, a hazy, citrus-y New England IPA. Several nearby food carts — like Taco City, E-San Thai, and newly opened Lettuce-Eat-Healthy — provide a good mix of food to nibble while sipping a cold pint of beer.

Acorn & the Oak

Acorn and The Oak’s outdoor space
Rachel Pinsky

Acorn and The Oak is 20 miles east of downtown Vancouver, perched on Lacamas Lake. At this secluded spot, Chuck and Janessa Stoltz have created a unique outdoor dining experience by adding their own quirky style to their newly renovated lake chalet. Janessa’s florist skills came in handy snagging a wedding-level tent and festooning it with greenery and flowers. A small projector silently projects subtitled film favorites — from classics like The Wizard of Oz to Gen-X nostalgia like Say Anything — onto one of the tent’s walls. From noon to 4 p.m., the spot serves light bites like deviled eggs, cheese boards, and cocktails. After 5 p.m., the menu shifts to updated classics like wedge salads and chicken stroganoff, along with cocktails like the Tipsy Oak, a blend of bourbon, orange juice, and Acorn and The Oak’s own thyme simple syrup, finished with a few splashes of cardamom and walnut bitters. The tent will be transformed into a tiki theme in March. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant or through OpenTable.

Acorn and The Oak’s outdoor space
Rachel Pinsky

Bleu Door Bakery

Bonnie Brasure recently added a black-and-white-striped awning, with clear side panels and heaters, to the space outside her bakery and cafe in Uptown Village. The outdoor space attracts ladies who lunch catching up after a long social hiatus, as well as couples enjoying a relaxing mid-day break. They dine on soups like Brasure’s mushroom barley, a restorative mix of wild mushrooms and tender barley pearls, alongside decadent meat-free options like crustless quiches packed with bits of broccoli and melted cheddar cheese. Tables are limited, so it’s worth it to go during typically slow hours.

Brothers Cascadia Brewing

This neighborhood hangout in Hazel Dell recently added tenting and heaters to the outdoor patio, creating a comfortable spot to sip beer and sample food from the cluster of food carts outside the brewery. Beer choices range from a crisp, clear Czech style pilsner called The Peoples Pilsner, and several juicy hazy IPAs, to dark brews like bold, brown malt infused Jp’s Meetinghouse Brown Ale. One of the several nearby food trucks, The Hungry Sasquatch, offers Neapolitan-inspired pies with a crust made of their own mix of wild yeast sourdough starter and organic whole-wheat flour. The Octo-squatch is made by covering this carefully formulated crust with pesto, smoked mozzarella, and tender octopus rings, baked at 800 degrees in a wood-fire oven. After it’s cooked, ghost pepper flakes are sprinkled on top for an added kick.

Hopworks Urban Brewery Vancouver

People bundled in warm fleece-lined jackets with knit caps and mittens, huddled around heaters sipping beer and eating burgers and pizza, give this East Vancouver outdoor space a chill camping vibe. A long list of brews, including the citrus-y, tropical Vancouver IPA (VIPA) and a full menu of salads, appetizers, burgers and pizza make this a popular spot even on chilly days. The Rocket Man pizza, strewn with lemon sprinkled arugula, feta, and hazelnuts, is a noteworthy pie to house by one of those heaters.

Phở Haven

Sipping a steaming bowl of pho on a cold afternoon at Pho Haven feels replenishing, even on the coldest days. The heated front porch of this Vietnamese restaurant, housed in an old Victorian, offers a nice perch for watching people and traffic pass by on Main Street. Pho Haven’s menu includes a variety hot soup, from their meat-y special pho with eye round steak, flank steak, and meatballs, to a lighter vegan pho with tofu and mushrooms in a broth flavored with a mix of fruits and vegetables. The six outdoor tables often fill up around 6 p.m., but are typically available for walk-ins at lunch and before or after 6 p.m. Reservations can be made by phone.

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