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On Denver’s sun-smooched days—of which there are hundreds—locals and visitors alike descend outdoors 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 the ultimate spots to eat and drink alfresco in Denver. ​

COORS FIELD

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 and curtained cabanas that sport wall-mounted TVs, the aerial playground is a brilliant 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.

ACE EAT SERVE

At Ace Eat Serve, a jovial Uptown hangout popular with all age groups, the sidewalk patio grandstands a pair of Ping-Pong tables that inspires 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 Sunday and summertime, 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 Singapore slushy, a frozen sipper made with Damrak gin.

EL FIVE

Leave it to restaurateur and design genius Justin Cucci (Linger, Vital Root and Root Down) to erect an epic rooftop patio with equally glorious skyline views. An elevator whisks you up to the fifth floor of El Five, where Mediterranean tapas and creative cocktails timed for the seasons intersect, and while both the food and libations are noteworthy, we wouldn’t fault Cucci if he charged an entrance fee just for the opportunity to behold the bright lights of the big city from the sky-high deck, which, at the moment, eclipses all others. 

THE SOURCE

If you’re wavering between inhaling the flavor-bombed Mexican street-style tacos at Comida or the spectacular oak-roasted ribeye steak at Acorn, The Source, a European-style dining and drinking mecca in the River North Art District (RiNo), features dueling patios at both restaurants, making it all but necessary to hit up Comida for lunch and Acorn for dinner. The neighboring patios, ringed by stacked stones, are directly adjacent to the front entrance, which make them prime real estate for people watching. Sun-masking umbrellas, potted foliage, a chill vibe, open garage doors that peer into the dining rooms, and widespread views of the jagged Rockies seal the deal.

LINGER

By some remarkable feat, a vintage lime-green airstream trailer was dropped onto the massive rooftop of Linger, a hip Highland hotspot for soaking up the sun, imbibing cocktails and grazing on globetrotting small plates dispensed from the kitchen of owner Justin Cucci’s  “eatuary,” a play on words that stems from its former occupant: a mortuary. But Linger is anything but morbid. The terrace channels a midcentury-mod vibe, and the food, much like the infectious energy that radiates on the rooftop, is full of verve (think: Korean-barbecue tacos, beet falafels and cheddar cheese curds with shishito peppers). Gaze and marvel at the twinkling lights that illuminate both the sky and the city skyline, and you'll see why Travel + Leisure named this one of "America's Coolest Rooftop Bars." 

DEPARTURE ELEVATED

The chic Cherry Creek crowd congregates on the terrace of Departure Elevated, balanced above the Halcyon Hotel, to pose, play and partake in chef Gregory Gourdet’s repertoire of sushi, dim sum and cosmopolitan Pan-Asian plates. The aerial panoramas of the city’s skyscrapers are sublime, as are the clever cocktails, which seesaw from the Tao of Tanuki with shochu, watermelon, basil and a chile-salted rim to the Tiger King concocted with gin, Thai basil syrup, chartreuse and lime. Arrive early for a chance to snag a spot at the stone-surfaced bar or, if you’re seeking shade, a seat squatting below the billowy white canopy. 

TAMAYO

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 that’s prime real estate for eyeballing those mesmerizing Colorado sunsets and the illuminated light display that blankets Larimer Square and the city skyline. What to order: margaritas, guacamole and the pork carnitas with avocado puree and black beans.

VIEWHOUSE EATERY, BAR & ROOFTOP

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 with a location right next to Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies baseball team, the energy-driven LoDo gathering spot is a natural pre- and post-game stop

AVANTI FOOD & BEVERAGE

Residing in Denver's Lower Highland (LoHi) neighborhood, Avanti Food & Beverage, a dynamically diverse food hall that occupies 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 Vietnamese rice noodle bowls—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 restaurants, Avanti also lays claim to two bars, including one on the altitude-high terrace.

TAVERN DOWNTOWN

A favorite high-altitude stamping ground for baseball-game crowds, this LoDo joint’s three rooftop decks overlook Coors Field, a clear selling point for Playboy magazine, who awarded the Tavern Downtown a coveted spot on its "Top 10 Best Rooftops in America" list; the rollicking bi-level sports bar also generated accolades from Sunset magazine, who named it "Best Rooftop Patio in the West." Feast on a Chicago dog, a volcano burger or a western favorite like bison chili and check out the considerable craft-beer roster, too.

THE BRIARWOOD INN 

It’s worth the 25-minute drive to Golden, just west of Denver, to indulge in weekend brunch or dinner on the idyllic patio of the Briarwood Inn. The lovely garden terrace sits at the base of the mountainous foothills, but even if it didn’t have the scenic backdrop, there’s still much to admire: an ambient fireplace, verdant foliage, shaded tables, twinkling lights and a stage that features live jazz. It's an opulent restaurant that warrants a celebration, but the more affordable bistro menu, which includes dishes like crab and avocado deviled eggs, spring pea ravioli and sliders with bacon jam, is also offered alfresco. 

LOWRY BEER GARDEN

Lowry’s answer to a playground for both adults and kids, this 350-seat, 4,500-square-foot German-style beer garden encompasses everything you could possible want from a patio perch: fire pits, community 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 slew of snacks that seesaw from chicken wings to soft pretzels mated with melted cheese. 

HIGHLAND TAP AND BURGER

If you like to get rowdy (even just a little), Highland Tap & Burger, situated in the Highland ‘hood, is your poison. Its sidewalk patio is home to spirited revelers—and local reality show celebrities—who like to kick back with a cold brew (the craft-beer selection is phenomenal) or cocktail and indulge in the award-winning burgers, the best of which is Shroom Luva’s burger skyscraped with sautéed mushrooms, Emmenthal cheese and white-truffle aioli. Decadence.

LOCAL 46 BAR & BIERGARTEN

Just off Tennyson Street—the lively epicenter of the Berkeley neighborhood—sits Local 46 Bar and Biergarten, whose raucous patio sports a barbecue shack that dispenses skewers of shrimp, po’boys, sliders, tricked-out burgers and sausages loaded up with chili and queso. Along with ample picnic-style seating to sop up the sunshine, the sprawling oasis sports Ping-Pong tables, corn-hole and a bocce court—and if all that weren’t enough, revelers can also partake in karaoke and jam sessions six nights a week. Come nightfall, ropes of white lights give the pebbled garden an ambient glow, while fire pits chase away the chill.

LOW COUNTRY KITCHEN

You come to LOW Country Kitchen for the real-deal Southern cookin’ (think buttermilk-fried chicken, jambalaya and shrimp and grits) and classic sazerac with “just enough absinthe,” but you absolutely stay for that elevated rooftop terrace strutting far-reaching vistas of the downtown Denver landscape. Frilled with wrought-iron tables shaded with bumblebee-yellow umbrellas, wicker lounge furniture padded with cushions (ideal for date nights) and its own small bar that buzzes during happy hour, it’s an alluring rooftop bar that gives patrons a taste of the high life.

POSTINO

When it comes to smashing rooftop patios, Postino is a one-two-three punch. Its lofty location, in LoHi, parades scintillating scenery that stretches from the city to the Rocky Mountains that tower in the distance, and there are plenty of seats to watch those gorgeous Colorado sunsets drop behind the peaks. The menu, a collection of dishes that invites grazing with friends, is patio-perfect, with bruschetta topped every which way headlining the Italian-inspired board. And while you’re soaking up the surrounding landscape from your umbrella-sheltered table or loungey sofa, sip a peach bellini, a glass of wine from the impressive list, or a craft beer.

IZAKAYA DEN

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 sidekicked with a few sake cocktails will make you want to stick around long after the night sky fades to black.

LOS CHINGONES

The rooftop drinkery and eatery above the dining room of Los Chingones, located in the River North Art District (RiNo), boasts unobstructed sight lines of The Mile High City’s towers and skyscrapers and an abundance of communal tables and lounge seats that offer a front-row seat. Start with a salsa flight and work your way up to the kale and avocado enchiladas draped with a desert-red guajillo chile or the pork belly and grilled pineapple tacos. Match the modern Mexican marvels with a libation from the bewitchingly offbeat cocktail menu. (Pop Rocks, anyone?) While the RiNo restaurant and bar is the flagship, there are additional locations in Stapleton and the Denver Tech Center.

FINN’S MANOR

If you’re with a gaggle of friends and have an affinity for food trucks and whiskey, then Finn’s Manor, in 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 punch and potent craft cocktails, many of which favor whiskey.

By Lori Midson