Summer Picks: Kingston’s best patios

Ranking the city’s outdoor eateries on food, drinks, and atmosphere

From cafés to restaurants, Kingston has plenty of patios to choose from.
Kingston has finally warmed up, which can only mean one thing for students and residents alike: it’s officially patio season. 
Filled with khaki shorts, pastel ball caps, and sundresses, the limestone city is bustling with excitement for days of sunshine. 
The average Kingston newcomer is quick to learn about its rich heritage and the abundance of tourist attractions the city has to offer during the warm months. However, another special thing about Kingston is that each restaurant with a patio is unique in its own way, offering a special experience you can’t find anywhere else. 
I’ve been granted the important task of ranking Kingston’s best terraces based on food, service, atmosphere, and overall experience. Look no further when planning your outdoor escapades—here’s a list of Kingston’s top five patios, ranging from quaint cafés to glorious rooftops. 
5. Balzac’s Promenade 
If you’re looking for a small patio in the centre of downtown Kingston, Balzac’s is the place for you. During the summer, they often close off a small portion of Sydenham Street that turns their patio into a makeshift promenade complete with patio umbrellas and a well-balanced sun-to-shade ratio. 
I like to enjoy my favourite iced coffee in town and read a book while enjoying—from a reasonable distance—all of the dogs that like to frequent this patio as well. 
Unfortunately, Balzac’s patio hours aren’t always consistent, and the hustle and bustle of the main road is nearby, so bliss isn’t always a guarantee. 
4. Juniper Café 
Once the hidden gem of Kingston, Juniper Café is now a popular attraction for students, tourists, and residents. As the only public waterfront patio in Kingston, the charming café offers customers beautiful views and a serene atmosphere. 
If you want to enjoy Lake Ontario in all its glory by drinking something a little stronger than coffee, you’re in luck because the café is LLBO licensed. With great beer options like the MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. and a breathtaking location, Juniper is one of a kind. 
While Juniper Café is a bit out of the way from downtown (making it harder to hop from one patio to the next), their delicious food (baked in-house), wide selection of drinks, and exclusive location make it a must-visit. 
3. Amadeus Café 
Amadeus Café’s patio is one of Kingston’s best-kept secrets. Located at the back of the German restaurant, the cozy biergarten is a true gem. 
While the café is known for serving up some of the tastiest dishes in the city, many don’t realize this restaurant has something hidden out back. If you’re looking for a patio that transports you out of Kingston and into a Narnia-esque atmosphere, Amadeus is definitely for you. 
However, given its beer and wine focus, if you’re on a boozy conquest to explore the city for its mixed drinks, you may want to skip this one for now.
2. The Mansion 
I would argue that The Mansion has Kingston’s most underrated patio. With a dog-friendly area, outdoor televisions, and late hours, it’s impossible to go wrong. 
This is the ideal location for nighthawks looking for a 1 a.m. patio soirée. Did I mention the kitchen is open until 2 a.m.? 
Since The Mansion isn’t always the first choice for patio season, you’re almost always guaranteed a seat, especially given the patio's large size. Speaking personally, this location’s Caesar Sundays will always hold a special place in my heart. 
1. Jack Astor’s Rooftop
What’s not to love about a restaurant that serves mixed drinks in fishbowls? 
As Kingston’s only LLBO-licensed rooftop patio, Jack Astor’s offers delicious drinks and a stunning view of the lakefront city. The restaurant’s extensive menu, never-ending list of mixed drinks, over thirty beers on tap, and friendly customer service make this spot the champion of Kingston patios. 
It’s also the perfect setting for an Instagram photoshoot, as the nearby Springer Market Square and City Hall make for a unique backdrop. Since you’re guaranteed an experience that is sure to be the highlight of your hopping, Jack Astor’s is a must-visit. 
Reminder: The often-full patio does not allow reservations, which means that you may be looking at a hefty wait time if you come at peak dining hours. Be sure to get there early!

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