There are numerous hotspots in The Mile High City to chase away the winter chills. These restaurants, bars and lounges, in particular, have roaring fireplaces that make you want to jostle for a hearthside seat, order a round of cocktails or dinner, and enjoy the warmth.
Beers, bratwurst, bocce ball and blazing flames—you'll find those and more at Rhein Haus, a behemoth, 14,000-square-foot Bavarian-inspired beer hall and restaurant in Lower Downtown (LoDo) that’s handsomely decorated with polished brown wood, flickering hearths and alpine trappings. Enjoy a round of German or Belgian brews at one of the three bars, battle for supremacy on one of four indoor bocce courts, or pull up a chair in front of the hand-carved mahogany fireplace and nosh on housemade sausages, pretzels, schnitzel and strudel. Prost!
The original Cherry Cricket, a mainstay in Cherry Creek, generates heat via the sheer volume of bodies that jam the joint, but its new LoDo sibling, which, like the original, serves one of the city’s best burgers, is armed with a hideaway lounge bedecked with leather sofas and chairs and a beckoning fireplace that keeps winter at bay. Curl up with a cocktail and settle in for a long winter’s nap.
From James Beard Award-winning luminaries Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, owners of Frasca Food and Wine—Boulder’s lauded Northern Italian temple of gastronomy—comes Tavernetta, a sensational regional Italian restaurant based at the boot of the Kimpton Hotel Born. The menu, created by Frasca alum Ian Wortham, reaches deep into salumi, cheese, housemade pastas and fish and meat dishes that seesaw between porchetta to agnolotti with pers, pistachios and goat cheese. There isn’t a bad dish (or seat) in the house, but the table just adjacent to the amber flames of the gas-powered fireplace offers soul-warming comfort, plus it’s a prime perch to sip cocktails and share plates of fritto misto, salumi and beautiful cheeses.
For bookworms, romancing couples and weary travelers, there’s the elegantly appointed library-esque Study at the Hotel Teatro, an inviting lounge that makes it all to easy to slide into hibernation. Kick back on a pillowed leather sofa, sip a barrel-aged Boulevardier, curl up with a leather-bound novel or play a game of Checkers and warm your hands in front of the flame-fueled fireplace.
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll spot Mike Shanahan, the former NFL head coach of the Denver Broncos, at his namesake steakhouse, his two Lombardi Super Bowl trophies double as photo ops for the power mob waiting to experience the steakhouse’s imperial cuts of sizzling beef cloaked in char tails and served on stark white plates, perhaps with a side kingly creamed spinach. The lavish dining room is equally grand with stately chandeliers, crisp tablecloths, leather booths, walls displaying modern art and intimate tables near the imposing granite fireplace that sizzles with heat, even while the weather outside is frightful.
A recent facelift to this historic Golden watering hole, restaurant and live-music venue struts numerous updates, not the least of which is a sumptuously rustic lounge decked out with weathered brick, sunken leather sofas and chairs and antler chandeliers. Adding to the ambiance is a blazing fireplace, a perfect backdrop for a beer and bison burger. On winter days, when the climate feels more like summer, hang out of the sidewalk patio, complete with a firepit.
Bull & Bush
The Bull & Bush—Denver’s White House of beer—offers numerous attributes that make the chill of Old Man Winter far more manageable: an abundance of award-winning craft drafts, most of which are brewed on the premises, excellent whiskeys from around the globe, hearty pub dishes, including steak, bangers and mash and burgers and a cozy lounge illuminated by a hot-blooded fireplace that warms the couples who canoodle on the leather sofas.
Barolo Grill, a stellar Italian restaurant in Cherry Creek, is for beautiful bottles of wine, unassailable pastas and sultry braised duck; for exquisite service and fine-tuned tasting menus sketched with experimental flavors bereft of borders. It’s one of the loveliest dining rooms in the city, where tables are still sheeted with white tablecloths topped with polished silver, the lighting is gentle and warm and the amorous table for two, snuggled against the glow of a feverish fireplace, symbolizes classic romance, especially on a chilly winter evening.
Intimate, moody and far removed from the glaring headlights that cruise down Colfax, Bar Red is a no-frills American-Italian job that dispenses strong cocktails and plates of chicken Parmesan, shrimp scampi and salmon risotto in easygoing quarters. Bypass the upstairs diners to sneak away to the basement nook, a cozy hideout with an oversized sofa for two that faces the fireplace’s burning blaze.
Even the most cold-hearted winter warrior appreciates the warmth of tequila and an indoor fire-pit. And at Matador, a Mexican haunt in Lower Highland (LoHi), there’s always a festive spirit around its flaming hearth, a circular focal point that doubles as its own bar and attracts a margarita-sipping crowd, especially during the joint’s jovial happy hour.
Hotel Teatro pictured above.