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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.