Colorado Restaurant, Brewery & Vineyard Patios properly definitely worth the detour

The terrace deck at Mishawaka in Poudre Canyon. The Mish is popular for its riverside concerts, but has a full restaurant and outdoor terrace that guests can visit at any time. (Provided by Mishawaka)

Mark our words: Summer 2021 is the season of the restaurant terrace. After a year of closings and capacity constraints, and experimenting with yurts and greenhouses, restaurants across the state are back up and running. And their outdoor dining areas are cooler than ever.

Some of these restaurants, breweries, and wineries have been perfecting their decking game for years, while others are newbies to the COVID era. The outdoor dining rooms reflect the time as well as the customers’ desire for fresh air when they get together.

Whether on rooftops, in converted parks, or over a rushing river, these 15 alfresco dining areas (shown in no particular order) are unique to Colorado, from the Front Range to the Four Corners.

The rooftop terrace at Avanti on Pearl Street in Boulder. (WerkCreative, provided by Avanti)

Come on, Boulder

It’s hard to choose between the two locations of this food hall, both with expansive roofs. In the original in Denver you have a breathtaking view of the downtown skyline, while in the second part in Boulder you look at 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.

The view of Boulder from the dining room of Flagstaff House, pictured here from 2014. (Cliff Grassmick, file photo)

Flagstaff House, Boulder

Did we mention the mountain view? The Flagstaff House spared you from 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 can come with a side of the wildlife.

The front yard of the Union Bar & Soda Fountain in Fort Collins is filled with picnic tables, lounge chairs, shade, and lawn games. (Provided by Union Bar & Soda Fountain)

Union Bar & Soda Fountain, Fort Collins

Do you remember the MTV show “Cribs”? Well, that sprawling lawn is the modern restaurant equivalent, 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.

Have an outdoor picnic near the Friendly Fire building in Fort Collins. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)

Stodgy Brewing Company, Fort Collins

This 8-month-old brewery in Fort Collins feels like a low-profile friend’s garden party, just with solid beers, food trucks, and local pop-up vendors, and space for the whole family (plus pets!) To join in and hang out by 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 final remodel.

Mishawaka, Bellvue

Northern Coloradans are lucky enough 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 (again this season) or pop in every day after a hike for bar food and local beers on tap, enjoyed from a deck just above the Poudre River.

On the opening day, enjoy a warm afternoon on a dog-friendly terrace in the Golden Mill. (Andy Cross, the Denver Post)

The golden mill, golden

Golden’s newest deck is the result of an 1860s renovation of a $ 6 million mill site. The new dining room offers views of 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 to enjoy sushi on the rooftop.

Betula serves French Pan-American cuisine on the rooftop garden terrace in Aspen. (Provided by Betula)

Betula, Aspen

There is no shortage of fine dining in Aspen. But for al fresco haute cuisine, Betula, a French-Pan-American restaurant based on flavors from South America and the Caribbean, is hard to beat. This season, ceviches and champagne cocktails with watermelons feel right at home on a stylish rooftop terrace overlooking one of Colorado’s iconic cities (which really blooms in summer).

Opened in February 2018, Acreage Restaurant and Cidery is Denver’s Stem Ciders’ premier culinary venture. (Provided by Acreage)

Acreage, Lafayette

This hill and cider house in Lafayette has some of the best uninterrupted views of the entire Front Range. There’s no bad space in (or outside) the house, but there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a stem cider, like the summery paloma made from grapefruit, lime, agave, and peppercorn.

The view from Happy Camper, a pizzeria with a killer deck in the Denver highlands. (Provided by Happy Camper)

Happy camper, Denver

This pizza place is the “most scenic” of the Denver COVID patios. Its name suggests: a camping party with fire pits, airflow trailer seating, and a huge tent that protects you from the volatile elements of the Colorado. Go here to feel like you came across a festival on a random day of the week. And order the 65-ounce margarita ($ 41) to share.

Denver Milk Market: While waiting for your meal, play a game of cornhole (AKA bean sack toss) on the up-and-coming Dairy Block Alley. (Ryan Dearth, provided by Milk Market)

Milk Block, Denver

For an urban getaway, head to the historic downtown Denver Dairy Block that surrounds this sparkling alley. Here you will find walks and seating to enjoy the myriad foods and drinks on the block. Tip: try the modern Mexican menu at Bruto and ask for directions to the hidden cocktail bar Run for the Roses.

A summer dinner in the park across from the Merc. (Provided by Jamestown Mercantile)

The Jamestown Mercantile, Jamestown

The Merc is another popular stop for cyclists, hikers, and local musicians. He’s an institution in Lefthand Canyon. Home-style cooking and wood-fired pizza are served at tables spread across the park across from the restaurant. Boulder cooks have been known to perform and neighbors near and far come to sip house edges and listen to the weekly music.

Sutcliffe Vineyards has been located in southwest Colorado for more than 25 years. (Tynin Fries, the Denver Post)

Sutcliffe Vineyards, Cortez

There is no “wine country” to speak of in southwest Colorado, but there is this award-winning winery that is still relatively under the radar after more than 25 years. Here you can sample Cab Franc and Syrah while taking in the views of the red rocks at McElmo Canyon.

Aurum Food & Wine, steamship

Steamboat Springs’ most desirable summer reserve overlooking the Yampa River. A multi-story deck and garden make this a perfect destination for dates and family evenings. During happy hour (4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.), enjoy beer and appetizers for half price.

Old mining-style lanterns add to the old school charm of the Gold Hill Inn. (Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post)

Gold Hill Inn, Gold Hill

This 162 year old town is well worth the detour, with plenty of hiking and exploring opportunities. Outside of the local log cabin restaurant, guests can enjoy the mountain ambience from the beer garden. On the weekends, menu items are ordered à la carte and bands play.

The courtyard with railcars at the Wyman Hotel in Silverton. (Bridget Burnett Photography, courtesy of The Wyman)

The Wyman Hotel in Silverton

If the Million Dollar Highway is on your bucket list, be sure to take a break to have a nice night at the redesigned Wyman Hotel in Silverton. The town feels the same for now, but the lodge seamlessly blends old and new, serving beer and wine all summer, and hosting bands on the hidden side terrace for guests, locals, and street fighters.

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