Top Patios in Vancouver Series: Joe Fortes Roof Garden / by Jenn Chan

Joe Fortes Roof Garden


The words "little children loved him" adorn a commemorative fountain in Alexandra Park which overlooks Vancouver's English Bay. Sculpted for Joe Fortes, for whom the formidable Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House is named, the fountain is a testament to a Vancouver legend, a gentle giant and he is definitely worth a quick Google! It's safe to say "adults love Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House"!

Since 1985 Joe Fortes has been a must see Vancouver institution. In 2014 Zagat rated them a 24 for food and service and a 22 for decor; these are world class grades from the most famous restaurant rating system in the world. Seafood, steaks, pasta, entree salads and even casual sandwiches and fish tacos on their lunch menu, there will be something for everyone!


Joe Fortes Roof Garden


Our experience started atop their incredibly lush, garden patio. Seated beside the tall glass railings perched above Thurlow Street we ordered a couple of Caesars. That's vodka with Clamato, Tabasco, Worcester Sauce and usually some creative garnishes, for the uninitiated, and took our time with the menu while we basked in the May sun. 


Joe Fortes Signature Caesars


To start we ordered an Albacore Tuna Tartare served with a wakame salad, ponzu, egg yolk, pine nuts and taro root chips as well as a New England Clam Chowder. The tuna was very fresh and the pine nuts added a lovely texture and taste. The clam chowder was very delicious, rich and hearty and could have been a meal in on its own.


Joe Fortes Albacore Tuna Tartare
Joe Fortes New England Clam Chowder


Our main courses were chicken and waffles and a seafood bowl. I have this issue whereby, when it's offered, I have a very hard time not ordering chicken and waffles. I mean it's chicken, excellent, and it's waffles, equally excellent. When combined they make a culinary duo that I thoroughly enjoy and can seldom resist. Add in some maple syrup and your twosome is now a threesome. I'll save any jokes to your imagination.


Joe Fortes Chicken & Waffles
Joe Fortes Chicken & Waffles


The seafood bowl was a generous mix of cod, mussels, clams, tomato broth and jasmine rice served with fresh, grilled bread. The broth was one of those ones you want to take to go after you're done. The cod tasted like it was pulled from the water minutes before! The mussels and clams were high quality and tasty. All in all a spectacular dish!


Joe Fortes Seafood Bowl


The scene on Joe Fortes' patio at midday feels like the lunchtime epicentre of Vancouver. Men in suits encircle lavish tables, under elegant umbrellas, presumably talking business, and sip cognac. Ladies in smart dresses, gleamingly accessorized, dine alongside shopping bags from Gucci, Louis Vuitton or the brand new Prada store across the street. Dudes and bros in skinny jeans sit at the bar and swill craft beer. Young ladies with pierced eyebrows, dark lipstick and spiked purses drink water and happily much large salads. All walks of life coming together to enjoy the necessities of life. I'd highly recommend you join them!