From yurts to greenhouse villages, Denver’s finest out of doors winter eating places

Denver hasn’t always been a year-round city for al fresco dining. But it was only a matter of time, and a global pandemic, before the city’s courtyards transformed to suit Colorado’s colder months.

And they have changed in spectacular ways, in ways that underscore the creativity (read survival instincts) of locally run restaurants. In keeping with the après-ski tradition in the mountains and the craft brewery culture of the Front Range, many Denver restaurateurs have outdone themselves with these outdoor options last year.

As we speak, the city is extending its outdoor dining licenses through January 31, which means nearly 100 (and counting) closed streets, sidewalk tables, tent patios, and private dining structures – all heated, of course.

RELATED: Car-free eating blocks like Larimer Square could become permanent in Denver

Whether for a special occasion or a normal evening, you are in good hands in this year’s winter dining rooms. The following is a selection of the best that have been built – from alpine globes to yurts, bungalows and tents – for your winter wonderland fantasies to be lived out.

Provided by Acreage

Acreage in Lafayette keeps a partially enclosed porch heated in winter and features fire pits on the lawn and serves hot cider and warming cider cocktails for the winter season. (Provided by cultivation area)

Acreage (Lafayette)

Stem Ciders’ Lafayette Restaurant has some of the best views of the Front Range from its hilltop location. And you can also enjoy this view in winter when the restaurant and the cider house are served on several heated terraces, with covered porch seating, fire pits in the back yard and a “Back Forty Bar”, which is ideal for outdoor drinkers with specialties like hot cider and warming Cocktails was built. Try Tis the Ryeson with Stem’s Cocoa Caramel Cider and rye whiskey. acreageco.com

From The Hip Photo, courtesy of Annette

Annette’s yurt can accommodate up to 16 guests for a private party for the night. (From The Hip Photo, provided by Annette)

Annette (Aurora)

A row of greenhouses greet shoppers and diners at Stanley Marketplace, where Annette is making dinner (and brunch) reservations to book for an indoor or outdoor home-style meal (like your grandma’s but of higher quality) this season. And Annette’s yurt is a real holiday treat for a private dinner for you and up to 15 guests. To get hold of it for a full evening, you’ll need to order at least $ 1,000 ($ 1,500 on the weekend) in food and drink. Or you can reserve a two-hour slot with a minimum amount of USD 50 per person. Email [email protected] for the full shebang or call 720-710-9975 for the shorter deal. annettescratchtotable.com

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Patrons will attend the soft opening of Avanti, a food hall on Pearl Street in Boulder, on September 25, 2020. (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)

Come on (boulder)

Located on a fourth floor overlooking Pearl Street, this indoor-outdoor rooftop is as picturesque as it gets in the heart of Boulder any time of the year. Guests can order from one of the six food counters on the ground floor or go straight upstairs to enjoy perfectly charred slices of New York pizza as well as drinks from the rooftop bar. If you want to eat outside, order a hot toddy and then a warm pretzel with parmesan and fennel from the pizzeria. boulder.avantifandb.com

Four greenhouses and two fire pits make up the winter lounge in front of Bar Dough in Highland. (Kayla Jones, provided by Bar Dough)

Bar batter (highlands)

Four romantic greenhouses stand in front of this Italian LoHi restaurant, in which the chef serves a fixed price menu with Piedmontese classics (think of delicious pasta, lots of truffles and matching wines). In addition to the greenhouses, there are fire pits to snuggle up to with blankets, s’mores and alpine hot cocoa for a more informal evening in the winter season. bardoughdenver.com

Provided by Barolo Grill

The Barolo Grill’s outdoor dining area is an entire village of single-party structures surrounded by fire pits and fairy lights. (Provided by Barolo Grill)

Barolo Grill (Cherry Creek)

The bungalow village outside this Italian food and wine house on 6th Avenue is a dining experience all of its own. Go to order à la carte on weekdays or for a four-course menu and wine accompaniment from the talented chefs and sommeliers on weekends. Indulge in shaved black truffles over the holidays and stick around for the house cheesecake dessert. barologrilldenver.com

Provided by Frasca

Alpenglobes for private dining outside of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. (Provided by Frasca)

Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder) and Tavernetta (Union Station)

This northern Italian classic on Boulder’s Pearl Street and its newer sister eatery behind Union Station in Denver is a real highlight of the region with its alpine globes (like life-size snow globes) for intimate group dining. (Imagine the glass steaming up when the snow falls.) The set menu and minimum spend are already a luxury ($ 195 per person for Frasca and $ 300 per table at Tavernetta). But for the holidays, you can go all out with a truffle tasting menu (for $ 275). Pro Tip: For a cheaper experience, head to Boulder’s Pizzeria Locale next to Frasca, which sits in the globes during lunch on the weekend, as well as on Sunday and Monday evenings. frascafoodandwine.com; tavernettadenver.com; localebulder.com

One Last Chai cocktail from Forget Me Not (vodka, amaretto, ginger, cinnamon, and a blend of chai tea made locally by Herbal Riot). (Kayla Jones, provided by Forget Me Not)

Don’t forget me (Cherry Creek)

Half of the view-and-seen-front terrace of this new Cherry Creek Bar turns into a communal greenhouse with four tables for sipping hot or chilled cocktails and snacks on sausage boards in the colder months. The rest of the terrace stays open with fire pits and blankets and après-ski vibes. forget menotdenver.com

TIED TOGETHER: 24 of the coolest outdoor dining rooms in Colorado, from yurts and chalets to bubbles and gondolas

Joy Hill (South Broadway)

The back roof of this neighborhood pizza and cocktail eatery is a hidden gem (although it could be argued the word is well known). The owners worked really hard during the height of the pandemic soon after they opened their stores to perfect the sales force year-round. Now you can enjoy some of the best pizzas in town in a secluded, heated and weatherproof setting, with the feeling of being at a friend’s garden party (just with better food and drink). Joyhilldenver.com

Colleen Covell, right, sits and enjoys ...

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Colleen Covell, right, sits enjoying drinks with Molly McGrath, left, and her daughter Ella Hall, 15, outside Bistro Vendome in Larimer Square in downtown Denver on December 18, 2020. (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)

Larimer Square (LoDo)

The heart of Lower Downtown will be closed and re-lit this winter season, with space for shoppers to stroll and drinkers to stand and diners to sit on street-filling terraces of some of the city’s most popular restaurants (see Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Osteria Marco, and more ). With tents set up and heaters and fire pits scattered around, this feels like winter food should be – a block-long slice of European Christkindl culture in the heart of the Colorado capital. larimersquare.com

Potager (Capitol Hill)

This farm-to-table neighborhood has the cutest backyard terrace in the warmer months and, luckily for its fans, a heated and covered enclave to dine even in cold weather. Expect a secret garden atmosphere with fairy lights and (maybe snow-covered) foliage. Start your meal with oven-roasted seasonal vegetables and parmesan soufflé to set the temperature and mood. Reservations are recommended four or five days in advance. potagerrestaurant.com

Redeemer (RiNo)

Head to the alley entrance on 27th Street if you want to dine outside at this Larimer pizza place while still protecting yourself from the elements. The back patio warms up quickly, and the alley window serves pizza and drinks late seven days a week for anyone looking for a quick bite to eat outdoors or lingering over a cake and a beer or amaro. This season, try the addicting garlic butter and chili honey knots, followed by the diavolo pizza. You will warm up immediately. redeemerpizza.com

Provided by The Wolf’s Tailor

Outside tents at The Wolf’s Tailor in Denvers Sunnyside have inside seating by the fireplace. (Provided by The Wolf’s Tailor)

The Wolf’s Tailor (Sunnyside)

The canvas tents behind this North Denver restaurant make for another unique experience. And the rooms really shine in winter when a fireplace illuminates and heats the entire glamping setup. Expect house ferments, locally milled grains, game, and seasonal feed ingredients on an “entrust” menu (kitchen tasting) that costs $ 125 per person (groups of up to seven can be accommodated in the tents). This is the reservation for those who really want to be surprised during an adventurous al fresco dining. thewolftailor.com

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