Remember our words: Summer 2021 is the season for the restaurant terrace. After a year of closings and capacity constraints, as well as experimenting with yurts and greenhouses, restaurants across the state are back in business. And their outdoor dining areas are cooler than ever.
Some of these restaurants, breweries, and wineries have been perfecting their patio game for years, while others are newbies to the COVID era. Your lounges in the open air reflect the time just as much as the customers’ desire for fresh air at get-togethers.
Whether on rooftops, in converted parks, or over a rushing river, these 15 alfresco dining areas (presented in no particular order) are unique to Colorado, from the Front Range to the Four Corners.
Come on, Boulder
It’s hard to choose between the two locations of this food hall, both with expansive roofs. The original in Denver has a sweeping view of the downtown skyline, while the second in Boulder has a panorama of the Flatirons. If we have to choose, we point out the latter and recommend ordering a slice of the best New York pizza in the area. boulder.avantifandb.com
Flagstaff House, Boulder
Did we mention the mountain view? Flagstaff House has it because of its unique location just outside of downtown Boulder, nestled between the foothills. The restaurant’s back deck meanders along nature and if you’re lucky, your wine and appetizers may be connected to one side of the wildlife. flagstaffhouse.com
Union Bar & Soda Fountain, Fort Collins
Do you remember the MTV show “Cribs”? Well, that sprawling front yard is the modern-day restaurant equivalent, complete with shaded lounge seating, lawn games, landscaping, and enough frozen drinks to make you feel like you really made it. Order a round of frozen or some honey and lavender sangrias. unionbarsodafontain.com
Stodgy Brewing Company, Fort Collins
This 8 month old brewery in Fort Collins feels like a friend’s cozy garden party, just with solid brew, food trucks, and local pop-up vendors, plus space for the whole family (plus pets!) To enjoy the shady trees and picnic tables. When you leave, ask the staff about the history of the friendly fire building, which stood empty for a decade prior to this recent conversion. stodgybrewing.com
Northern Columbians are fortunate to have the Mish in their back yard just a scenic drive up the canyon from Fort Collins. You can come for a riverside concert (which starts again this season) or pop in any day after a hike to enjoy bar food and local beers on tap, enjoyed from a terrace just above the Poudre River. theishawaka.com
The golden mill, golden
Golden’s newest terrace is the result of a $ 6 million renovation of a mill site from the 1860s. The new Food Hall looks out over Clear Creek, Table Mountain, Mount Zion and of course the Coors Brewery. Once inside, choose from 50 local beers on the self-pouring wall, then head upstairs for a rooftop sushi. thegoldenmill.com
There is no shortage of fine dining in Aspen. But for al fresco haute cuisine, it’s hard to beat Betula, a French-pan-American restaurant that draws on flavors from South America and the Caribbean. This season, ceviche and watermelon champagne cocktails will feel right at home on a stylish rooftop terrace overlooking one of Colorado’s iconic cities (which really blooms in summer). betulaaspen.com
Some of the best uninterrupted views of the entire Front Range can be found at this hilltop and cider house in Lafayette. There’s no bad seat inside (or outside) the house, but there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a stem cider, like the summery paloma with grapefruit, lime, agave, and peppercorn. acreageco.com
Happy Camper, Denver
The most “scenic” of Denver’s COVID-era terraces, this pizzeria is what its name suggests: a camping party with fire pits, Airstream trailer seats, and a huge tent that protects you from the fickle elements of Colorado. Go here to feel like you stumbled upon a festival on a random day of the week. And order the 65-ounce margarita ($ 41) to share. happycamper.pizza/denver
Dairy Block, Denver
For an urban escape, head to the historic downtown Denver Dairy Block that surrounds this glittering alley, with strolling and seating to enjoy the block’s myriad food and drink. Tip: Try the modern Mexican menu at Bruto and ask for directions to the hidden cocktail bar Run for the Roses. Milchblock.com
The Jamestown Mercantile, Jamestown
Another popular stop for cyclists, hikers, and local musicians is the Merc, an institution in Lefthand Canyon. Home-style cooking and wood-fired pizzas are served at tables in the park directly across from the restaurant. Boulder chefs are known for performing, and neighbors from near and far come to sip house margins and listen to the weekly music. jamestownmercantile.com
Sutcliffe Vineyards, Cortez
There’s no “wine country” to speak of in southwest Colorado, but there is this award-winning winery that is still relatively under the radar after over 25 years. Here you can sample Cab Franc and Syrah while taking in the views of the red rocks of McElmo Canyon. sutcliffewines.com
Aurum Essen & Wein, steamship
Steamboat Springs’ most desirable summer terrace reservation overlooks the Yampa River. A multi-story deck and yard space make this a perfect destination for dates and family evenings. During happy hour (4: 30-6: 00 p.m.), enjoy draft beer and half-price bites. aurumsteamboat.com
Gold Hill Inn, Gold Hill
This 162 year old city is worth a detour alone and invites you to hike and explore. Outside the local log cabin restaurant, guests can enjoy the mountain ambience from the beer garden, with menus that are ordered à la carte and with bands playing on the weekends. goldhillinn.com
The Wyman Hotel, Silverton
If the Million Dollar Highway is on your bucket list, spend the nerve-wracking drive at the newly renovated Wyman Hotel in Silverton. The town feels the same for now, but the lodge seamlessly blends old and new, serving beer and wine, and hosting bands on its hidden side terrace for guests, locals, and street warriors throughout the summer. thewyman.com
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