Take in a breath of fresh air while dining at these 12 Denver restaurants, all with outdoor seating that’s a step above. While not all the spots offer year-round alfresco seating, some have equipped the space with heaters and shelter so the days of eating outside are stretched as long as possible. From a rooftop food truck on top of an old mortuary to a large indoor-outdoor patio complete with ping pong to small but elegant street-side seating, these restaurants prove eating outdoors comes in many captivating forms.
Bistro Vendome (LoDo)
Chef Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s charming LoDo cafe seeks to channel Paris—and it’s done just that since 2006. While the neighborhood itself gets busy, Bistro Vendome remains a downtown oasis, tucked off Larimer Street. It’s here on the secluded patio, complete with hanging string lights and metal dining chairs, that France makes itself felt through glasses of Champagne, bowls of moules et frites, and crispy duck confit.
Happy Camper (Downtown/LoDo)
This hotspot opened in 2020 in an airy lot perfect for alfresco imbibing and dining, all with a camping theme. Aside from the great outdoors, this LoHi venue is a beer, cocktail, and comfort food sort of place, with a long wait unless you have a reservation. The energetic concept comes from Chicago, where the two original locations are going strong. With that connection, it’s no surprise pizza is a big deal here, and there are so many types to try, as well as build-your-own. Also on the menu, find items such as pulled pork nachos, elote dip, kale cobb salad and chicken-lime soup. Order pick up or delivery as well, though you’ll miss out on the whimsical decor and party-like vibe, complete with a ton of twinkle lights, picnic tables, and fake grass. Outdoor warmers keep diners cozy when it’s cold.
Mizu Izakaya and Sushi (LoHi)
Since 2016, Mizu Izakaya has brought fresh and flavorful Japanese food to LoHi, something that’s made it a local favorite as well as a destination spot. Surrounding the restaurant is a roomy outdoor seating space that’s covered and has airy curtains to let down when the sun is bright. In the warmer months the windows open onto the patio, making part of the inside feel breezy. When it’s colder out, sit outside comfortably thanks to portable heaters and steaming bowls of miso soup or pork kimchi ramen. While sushi is the house specialty, the izakaya also serves sizzling skewers, Kobe beef fried rice, an array of roasted fish dishes, duck bao buns, and more. Make sure to check out the drink list, too — the sake menu is vast and the craft cocktails showcase and balance Japanese ingredients well.
Dimestore Delibar (LoHi)
Head to this LoHi joint for show-stopping dimerolls—rolled focaccia sandwiches, the house speciality—that look as good as they taste. Co-owners chef Tim Dotson and Christopher Fuentes’s sandwich shop is a grocery store, too. That means diners can stop by for some produce and sundries, then order prepared food and a cocktail to take upstairs to one of the rooftop picnic tables. Choices run the gamut from the cold cut stuffed Italian sandwich to a smoked chicken salad dimeroll. It’s the best possible way to shop, and one of the best casual spots to have lunch or dinner while taking in the Colorado sun.
The Patio at Sloan’s Lake (Sloan’s Lake)
When The Patio opened at Sloan’s Lake at the end of 2020, it brought a large outdoor dining spot to this waterside neighborhood—perfect for people strolling around the lake and those seeking a pretty view with their meal. When it comes to the food, expect casual but comforting fare from chef Nathan Naranjo such as cornmeal fried pickles, chicken tinga tacos, cheesesteak, and Colorado fries, which are topped with jalapeno queso blanco, bacon bits, scallion, and lime crema. And don’t skip the cocktails—there’s a frozen drink machine that churns out adult slushies—which also pair well with lake views.
Briar Common Brewery (Jefferson Park)
Head to this Jefferson Park brewpub for a craft beer, burger, and a great view from the rooftop patio. Since 2013, this neighborhood spot has been serving house-made beer and American comfort fare. As one might expect, the beer list proves extensive, with rotating options such as stout made with local coffee, raspberry honey blonde ale with local honey, and the signature American pale ale. Pair a pint with buffalo cauliflower, a fried chicken sandwich, curry salmon, BLT salad, or a reuben sandwich. There’s partial covering to keep the sun from bearing down on diners, but keep in mind that there aren’t any heaters. Downstairs, find a casual outdoor biergarten where customers can bring their dogs and order food and drinks from the walk-up window.
Ace Eat Serve (Uptown)
Enjoy not only steamy bowls of ramen and spicy tiger wings, but a couple rounds of ping pong, too, at this Uptown restaurant. Ace Eat Serve, often referred to as just “Ace,” graced the neighborhood in 2012, bringing tasty modern Asian food to the area. Housed in what used to be a mechanic’s garage, this large, open space is ideal for a casual night out, big parties, and year-round outdoor dining on the partially covered and heated patio. There are ping pong tables, but even if you don’t want to play, there’s enough excitement to be had by diving into chef Thach Tran’s plates of Sichuan shrimp wontons, bao buns, kimchi fried rice, and more. The bar program also stands out, with sake, craft cocktails, wine, and beer filling it out. Visit now for weekend brunch and dinner service, save for Mondays and Tuesdays when the restaurant is closed.
Take in an amazing view of downtown on the roof of this LoHi eatery, which dazzles even more during sunset. From that vantage point, it’s hard to believe this restaurant is built in what used to be a mortuary. But there’s nothing dead about the vibe, drinks, or food. The menu is made up of street fare inspired by global flavors and bites from small stands one might see while traveling. The outdoor menu is similar to what’s served inside, but it’s more concise since the dishes come from the food truck situated right on the rooftop. Think wagyu sliders, potstickers, sweet potato waffle fries, Korean barbecue tacos, and Mongolian barbecue duck buns. Unfortunately the patio is seasonal, but enjoy frozen rosé and Painkillers there while the weather is nice.
Acreage by Stem Ciders (Lafayette)
Located near Denver, this cider house and restaurant overlook the foothills with one of the best views around. Get the full vista by making a reservation for a seat on the outdoor deck for full service, or for the dog-friendly cider garden. There’s also the “back forty” area, a drinks only, first-come-first-serve section. While there, try the chile-lime almonds, citrus salad, tea-brined pork tenderloin, and roasted maple-glazed carrots. The menu changes with the season, though a lot of the proteins remain the same. And, since the restaurant is run by Stem Ciders, there’s a full list of tasty ciders to choose from, too. As a bonus, there’s a playground and huge lawn surrounding the outdoor seating, perfect for kids to run around while waiting for their meal.
Tamayo Restaurant (LoDo)
Take in the mountain view or watch the city go by while dining upstairs on the covered deck of restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s Tamayo, the popular chef’s first venture in Denver that opened in 2001. Over the years this spot has constantly delivered innovative modern Mexico City fare to locals and visitors, and it’s a favorite among the lunch crowd and theater goers. Located in LoDo, diners can eat lunch, weekend brunch, or dinner inside on the first floor or upstairs on the airy, heated patio as long as there isn’t a special event going on. Order the crab-topped guacamole, birria tacos with braised lamb, chicken enchiladas, and a side of caramelized plantains with chipotle butter. Don’t forget the house-made churros at the end, which come with cinnamon-chocolate and caramel sauces for dipping. The drink list is equally impressive, with tequila and mezcal as the main spirits of choice.
the plimoth (City Park)
As far as farm-to-table dining goes, the plimoth was one of the first in Denver to really dedicate its menu to this concept. The restaurant opened in 2014 in City Park and has remained a neighborhood staple ever since. The menu changes with the season, and chef-owner Peter Ryan works with many local farms to get the freshest and best produce on the table. Try the Colorado lamb duo with lentils, fennel, radish and sunflower seeds or the rustic pork terrine with cranberries and hazelnuts. When the weather is nice, sit outside along the street on the brick-laid patio under ropes of soft lights. But there aren’t many outside tables, so secure an alfresco dining spot by reserving it in advance.
With sturdy wooden tables, long community seating, a lot of space, and plants scattered throughout, Acova boasts one of the best patios in Denver. To start, order the tomatillo beer cheese dip with roasted pretzel bites, spicy deviled eggs with prosciutto, and smoke-brined, flash-fried chicken wings. The entree menu has a lot to offer, too, including many types of burgers and sandwiches, lobster macaroni and cheese, and gluten-free honey fried chicken. For those with dietary concerns, there are notes on each dish dictating gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. If it’s chilly outside, add on a bowl of pork posole green chili and cuddle up under the heater. While reservations can be made for inside the restaurant, all outdoor seating is first come, first serve.
Linnea Covington is a freelance journalist who lives and eats in Denver—the best place for green chili and epic hikes with fantastic sandwiches.
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