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On Denver’s sun-smooched days — of which there are hundreds — locals and visitors alike flock outside to enjoy the scintillating scenery. And there’s no better way to soak up summer than on one of The Mile High City’s splendid patios. From skyward rooftop terraces to lushly landscaped gardens, these are some of the ultimate spots to eat and drink alfresco in Denver. For the hottest new restaurants, check out our Must-Try Restaurants page.
Worlds away from the busy backdrop of foot traffic that stampedes across the one-block stretch of Larimer Square , the courtyard patio of Bistro Vendome is as long on charm as the Eiffel Tower is high. Potted with flamboyant foliage and illuminated with strings of white lights, it’s an enchanting oasis for a romantic rendezvous, especially when you have flutes of bubbles and a bowl of mussels and frites to share. In sum, it’s a lovely place for any kind of date, independent of whether it’s early in the game or a celebratory anniversary. Mon coeur!
Stationed on the eighth floor of the Source Hotel in the River North Art District (RiNo), The Woods, a restaurant with a wraparound rooftop bar, is unequivocally one of the top spots in The Mile High City to catch a sunset, admire the city skyline and snap photos of the rugged Colorado peaks. It’s also a great place to cozy up to one of two fireplaces with a cocktail or beer from New Belgium Brewery, whose brewing facility is an occupant of the lower level of the hotel.
Even if your preferred baseball team isn’t the Colorado Rockies, there’s no denying the obvious: The massive bi-level rooftop plaza, overlooking right field, is worth the price of admission into Coors Field. Decked out with multiple bars, better-than-average ballpark eats from numerous vendors (including the iconic Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs) and curtained cabanas that sport wall-mounted TVs, the aerial playground is a thrilling place to party, and no matter where you choose to sit (or stand), there’s a view to a thrill, whether it’s the downtown cityscape, Colorado’s magnificent mountain peaks or the field of dreams below.
Named one of Bon Appetit’s "Best New Restaurants of 2017," Annette, part of the restaurant roundup gracing Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace , embodies everything you could possibly want from a dining experience: an elevated casual vibe, unassailable ingredients, full-throttled flavor combinations, a small but enormously satisfying wine scroll and a brilliant patio situation. Small parties of two-to-four can hang out in one of the intimate polycarbonate greenhouses furbished with rugs, warm blankets, fresh foliage and space heaters, or have dinner in a luxurious insulated yurt bedecked with white retro-mod chairs, wood-trellised walls punctuated with framed artwork and two socially distanced tables that seat six-to-eight diners.
Everything tastes and drinks better on this sophisticated, vibrant, open-air rooftop sprawl—the highest in Denver—roosting on the 20th floor of the Le Méridien Downtown Denver hotel. Grandstanding showstopping views of the state’s imperial mountain vistas, as well as sweeping panoramas of the city sphere, it’s the perfect hotspot for an after-work pour and post-dinner cocktails around the firepit. The cocktail to drink? Mez Tai Meets the Sky, a mezcal-and-rum-forward sipper crowned with passion fruit honey foam. Note that the rooftop bar is seasonal; before you go, call ahead.
Number Thirty Eight—named to recognize Colorado’s status as the 38th state to enter the union — is the River North Art District’s (RiNo's) answer to, well, everything: live local and national bands; outdoor movie screens; beach volleyball courts; a taproom; food, wine and cocktails. The whopping 18,000-square-foot patio, packed with picnic tables, Adirondack chairs with cup holders and a duo of bar rails, is unlike any other concept in the city, its acreage a must-visit destination for outdoor frivolity, independent of the season. Its outdoorsy theme, a nod to Colorado’s preferred lifestyle, extends to the beer, wine and cocktail program, too, which is full-throttle Colorado. There’s food, too, courtesy of pedigreed chef Merlin Verrier, who turns out a globetrotting roster of sandwiches, burgers, tacos, bao buns, pizza and Asian-inspired noodle bowls.
At Ace Eat Serve, a jovial Uptown hangout popular with all age groups, a large sidewalk patio grandstands Ping-Pong tables that inspire playful competition. But even if Ping-Pong isn’t your pastime, the patio is still a fantastic place to park yourself for an afternoon of eating, imbibing and, if it’s Saturday afternoon or Sunday brunch, energetic DJs spinning cool tunes. The menu revolves around Asian dishes (get the justifiably lauded tiger wings glazed with a sweet, salty and spicy sauce), and the drink roster follows suit, delving into Asian-inspired beers and cocktails, including the whiskey daisy slushy, a frozen sipper made with Jameson and local Leopold Bros. blackberry liqueur.
Tamayo, a modern Mexican restaurant from celeb chef Richard Sandoval, is hailed for its creative adaptations of regional south-of-the-border cuisine, extensive tequila syllabus and high-design rooftop patio, a partially enclosed expanse on Larimer Square that’s prime real estate for eyeballing those mesmerizing Colorado sunsets and the illuminated light display that blankets the block and city skyline. What to order: margaritas, crab guacamole, shrimp ceviche and the pork carnitas with pickled vegetables, black beans and housemade tortillas.
If you’re going to name your restaurant and bar “Viewhouse,” then you’d better live up to the brag. Viewhouse does exactly that by giving scenery fiends multiple vantage points to behold the city’s vast panoramas, which expand in every direction. While the side patio is designed for lighthearted lounging in cabanas and engaging in lawn games, the rooftop is seriously breathtaking. And given its proximity to Coors Field, the rousing Ballpark gathering spot is a natural pre- and post-game party stop.
Residing in Denver's Lower Highland (LoHi) neighborhood, Avanti Food & Beverage, a dynamically diverse food hall occupying a former printing plant, shelters a collection of self-contained shipping containers, each of which is a mini restaurant. Diners can choose from a world-spanning variety of cuisines—everything from Venezuelan arepas to chicken-and-chive dumplings—and enjoy their lunch or dinner in the communal first-floor dining area, or on the riveting rooftop deck, which offers fashionable lounge furniture and enthralling views of the downtown Denver skyline. Along with its restaurants, Avanti also lays claim to two bars, including one on the altitude-high terrace.
Lowry’s answer to a playground for kids, tweens and adults, this 500-seat, 9,000-square-foot German-style beer garden encompasses everything you could possibly want from a patio perch: fire pits, communal Oktoberfest-style picnic tables, a beer syllabus inked with 16 tap lines and an additional 85 by the bottle and can, plus live music (seasonal) and a menu that appeases every appetite: brats, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, salads and a slew of snacks that seesaw from chicken wings to soft pretzels mated with melted cheese. Bonus: Leashed (and good-mannered) dogs are allowed on the patio.
The rooftop terrace at Izakaya Den is like a civilized garden soiree high above the spirited party that’s South Pearl Street. Ascend the stairwell, flanked with foliage, to the alfresco oasis of serenity decked out with leafy greenery, marble, stone and wood accents and a retractable roof that ensures a cozy conservatory even when there’s an unpredictable summer storm brewing. A bowl of the immorally delicious lobster ramen paired with a few sake cocktails will make you want to stick around long after the night sky fades to black.
If you’re with a gaggle of friends and have an affinity for food trucks and whiskey, then Finn’s Manor, in the River North Art District (RiNo), is your rumble. The expansive space, fenced with bright pink and yellow slats, makes the most of repurposed throwaways: rusty steel carts, surfaced with wood, double as tables, and they’re cleverly roofed with corrugated metal siding and weathered lumber. A fleet of food trucks shares space with Denver’s hungry, and the indoor bar, which groves to a New Orleans vibe, inebriates the thirsty with the punch and potent craft cocktails, many of which salute whiskey.
By Lori Midson
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