Update August 21st, 2020: After months of being closed, Denver restaurants have been allowed to reopen. Check out the list of Denver Restaurants Reopened For Outdoor Dining for up-to-date info.
Denver is a pretty magical place. But out of all the reasons we’re happy to live here, the one thing that sits atop the list has to be the weather. We get 300+ days of sunshine a year, so there’s really no excuse not to spend a lot of time outdoors. And while the skiing, hiking, biking, and rock climbing is great, there’s one activity that really brings everyone together - and that’s lounging. Specifically, patio lounging. Read on for our list of the best places to do it.
Five floors up in the Lower Highlands, El Five’s patio has a beautiful panorama view of the downtown skyline and a tapas and cocktail menu that’s just as good as the sights. Seats on the patio are hard to come by without a reservation, so plan ahead. The Mediterranean food is a bit pricey, but it’s definitely worth the extra dollars for a nice night out. Make sure to get the shawarma-spiced lamb ribs.
Postino is one of the nicer patios in town and has with a solid Happy Hour ($5 glasses of wine and beer pitchers, 11am-5pm daily). It’s perfect for day drinking, cheese and charcuterie snacking, and impressing out-of-towners. If you want a cocktail without having to worry about the group next to you taking shots of Fireball, this is your spot. Grab a bottle of rosé and the bruschetta plate.
Working lunches are a necessary evil during the week, but Brider makes them a little more bearable. The menu is big with everything from kale salads to meatball sandwiches and pizza and the covered patio is great. And if you’re actually here post-workday instead of during, the full bar will help you and your colleagues blow off some steam.
A burger and a few beers near Union Station is the perfect warm-up before heading to a Rockies game. And for unwinding after work. Actually, it’s pretty ideal for most situations - and Hopdoddy provides the perfect venue. Their wrap-around patio has plenty of seating, and plenty of umbrellas to keep you from getting sunburned while you take bets on whether the people rolling by planning to catch the A-Line train will actually make their flights.
Briar Commons is a brewery/restaurant type of place, and it’s a great spot for a night with friend or day drinking. The food is decent, but you want to turn your attention to the brewed-on-site beer and the roof deck that looks over Jefferson Park. If you do get hungry while taking in the views, go for the burger.
Avanti is a market-style food court with decent (though semi-overpriced) options. You’re here for the huge patio space, great location, and the multiple bar areas spread out enough to keep lines down on a busy day. Our advice is to make this your crew’s early afternoon stop to catch the subset before heading downtown for the night.
Local 46 is far away from the more bustling and popular part of Tennyson St., but it’s worth the trip. The patio out back has a lot of seating, ping pong, and a smoke shack that serves burgers and a very good sausage plate. Combine all that with the live music, and you have the perfect summer night. It’s much more of a beer drinkers place, but this is Colorado - you pretty much have to like beer to get in.
The actual patio out front at Highland Tavern isn’t that great, but since remodeling and expanding their interior, it doesn’t matter. Most of the spaces both downstairs and up now include access to giant garage-like areas with open air seating and pretty spectacular views of the city. Grab some shots and a few orders of their famous tater tots. And definitely a cup of green chili on the side for dipping.
What’s in a name? For Recess, pretty much everything. The backyard here spreads out like a school playground, and provides a great way to escape from the usual bar scene routine. Bring all your friends, your sunglasses, and even your dog. And if you get hungry, the kitchen has burgers, mac and cheese, and burritos (pretty much everything your eight-year-old-self would have wanted).
WTF is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s true that it’s mainly a spot for the bottomless brunch crowd, but the Southern food and covered rooftop patio are worth putting up with having to hear about how the people around you “crushed it last night, bro.” Also, the best time to be here isn’t on the weekends - it’s after work on a weekday.
Buchi Cafe is our favorite spot for mid-week, extended-lunch “meetings.” Grab a double Cortadito if you need to stay sharp, or a Caipirinha if you need to loosen up. Either way, make sure you grab one of their Cuban sandwiches and a table outside.
The atmosphere and food make The Plimoth our most recommended date night spot in Denver. Spend a long afternoon at the Zoo nearby, then head here for dinner and go straight for the patio. Don’t be surprised if your date starts planning your wedding during the second course, or if you decide to propose after dessert. Just remember, it’s The Plimoth causing that warm and fuzzy feeling - don’t get crazy.
Highland Tap is one of our go-to’s. It’s super laid-back with great food, a great beer list, and great people-watching.
Root Down has Denver’s patio brunch game locked down. If you want to hang here (and yes, you want to hang here), start making your reservations now. You can try to walk in, but maybe bring a snack to munch on while you wait - the patio crowd here tends to settle in to share stories from the previous night over bottomless mimosas.
The Source offers a nice two-for-one option on the patio out front. Want a casual hang and some cheap, delicious street tacos? Head to Comida. Looking for a more classy, upscale afternoon or evening? Head next door to Acorn. Or just do lunch at one, and dinner at the other.
If you’re feeling artsy but don’t want to make the trek south to the Santa Fe art district, make a move to RiNo. Gallery openings are happening pretty much every other week, so once you’re good and cultured, make your way to the roof at Los Chingones for food and drinks. The Tres Pigs Nachos alone are a masterpiece.
According to the website, Historians is all about giving you “a unique Colorado experience,” which apparently means they have a ton of locally-brewed beers and a menu with a lot of locally-sourced ingredients. The patio up top has great mountain views and big tables for larger groups, and the Happy Hour includes half-off bottles of wine on Wednesdays. If you can’t make it after work, late-night drinks or big group brunches are also a good move here.
The Ale House has been the unofficial drinking hub in LoHi for quite some time, and for good reason. The patio up top provides nice, far away cityscape views, and the patio downstairs provides nice, close-by sidewalk people views. You should experience both.
This patio still holds a special place in our hearts, despite all the nearby highrise developments progressively killing its amazing downtown view. What can we say, Linger has a way of dealing with loss, and it comes in the form of great food and drink.
If you have a large group, round them up at Finn’s. It’s basically one big covered patio filled with food trucks (you’ll find BBQ, Filipino, Jamaican, steamed buns, and ice cream). And just off the main patio, there’s a cajun-themed cocktail bar where the group can kill time playing card games with a ridiculous amount of whiskey.
When you can’t get into Sushi Den, head to Izakaya Den next door and don’t feel like you’re settling. They get their fish from the same place, and Izakaya Den is basically just Sushi Den on casual Friday. The interior is a huge, two-story machine, but the patio (with a glass roof) up top is way calmer.