Colorado restaurant, brewery & winery patios worth the detour | The Know

Mark our words: Summer 2021 is the season of the restaurant patio. After a year of closures and capacity restrictions, plus experimenting with yurts and greenhouses, restaurants across the state are back in business. And their outdoor dining spaces are cooler than ever.

Some of these restaurants, breweries and wineries have been perfecting their patio game for years now, while others are COVID-era newcomers. Their outdoor dining rooms reflect the times, as well as customers’ desire for fresh air while gathering together.

Whether on rooftops, in repurposed parks or perched over a rushing river, these 15 outdoor dining areas (presented in no specific order) are uniquely Colorado, from the Front Range all the way to the Four Corners.

Avanti, Boulder

It’s hard to choose between this food hall’s two locations, both with sprawling rooftops. At the original, in Denver, you’ll get sweeping views of the downtown skyline, while at the second, in Boulder, you’re looking out at a panorama of the Flatirons. If we must choose, we’ll point you to the latter, and recommend ordering a slice of some of the region’s best New York pizza. boulder.avantifandb.com

Flagstaff House, Boulder

Did we mention views of the mountains? Flagstaff House has them to spare from its unique position just outside downtown Boulder, nestled among the foothills. The restaurant’s back deck meanders alongside nature and, if you’re lucky, your wine and appetizers could come with a side of wildlife. flagstaffhouse.com

Union Bar & Soda Fountain, Fort Collins

Remember the MTV show “Cribs”? Well, this sprawling front lawn is the modern restaurant equivalent, complete with shaded lounge seats, lawn games, landscaping and enough frozen drinks to make you feel like you’ve really made it. Order a round of frozés or some honey lavender sangrias. unionbarsodafountain.com

Stodgy Brewing Company, Fort Collins

This 8-month-old Fort Collins brewery feels like a friend’s low-key yard party, only with solid brews, food trucks and local pop-up vendors, plus room for the whole family (plus pets!) to tag along and hang under the shady trees and picnic tables. When you go, ask the staff about the history of the Friendly Fire building, which sat vacant for a decade before this latest transformation. stodgybrewing.com

Mishawaka, Bellvue

Northern Coloradans are lucky to have the Mish in their backyard, just a scenic drive up the canyon from Fort Collins. You can come for a riverside concert (starting again this season), or stop by any day after a hike for bar food and local beers on tap, enjoyed from a deck built right over the Poudre River. themishawaka.com

The Golden Mill, Golden

Golden’s newest patio is the result of a $6 million renovation of an 1860s mill site. The new food hall looks out over Clear Creek, Table Mountain, Mount Zion and, of course, Coors Brewery. Once inside, choose from 50 local beers at the self-pour wall, and then make your way upstairs for some rooftop sushi. thegoldenmill.com 

Betula, Aspen

There’s no shortage of fine dining in Aspen. But for haute cuisine in an al fresco setting, it’s hard to beat Betula, a French-Pan-American restaurant that draws on flavors of South America and the Caribbean. This season, ceviches and watermelon Champagne cocktails will feel right at home on a classy rooftop patio with views over one of Colorado’s iconic towns (which really blossoms in the summer). betulaaspen.com

Acreage, Lafayette

Some of the best uninterrupted views of the entire Front Range can be found atop this hill and cider house in Lafayette. There’s not a bad seat in (or outside) the house, but there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a Stem Cider, like the summery Paloma made with grapefruit, key lime, agave and peppercorn. acreageco.com

Happy Camper, Denver

The “sceniest” of Denver’s COVID-era patios, this pizza shop is what its name suggests: a campsite party complete with fire pits, airstream trailer seating and a giant tent to protect you from the fickle Colorado elements. Go here to feel like you’ve stumbled upon a festival on some random weekday. And order the 65-ounce ($41) margarita to share. happycamper.pizza/denver

Dairy Block, Denver

For an urban escape, head to the historic downtown Denver Dairy Block surrounding this twinkle-lit alleyway, with strolling and seating options to enjoy the Block’s myriad food and beverage offerings. Tip: Try out the modern Mexican menu at Bruto, and ask for directions to the hidden cocktail bar Run for the Roses. dairyblock.com

The Jamestown Mercantile, Jamestown

Another popular stopover for cyclists, hikers and local musicians, the Merc is an institution up Lefthand Canyon. Homestyle meals and wood-oven pizzas are served at tables scattered around the park directly across from the restaurant. Boulder chefs are known to make appearances, and neighbors near and far come to sip house margs and listen to the weekly music offering. jamestownmercantile.com

Sutcliffe Vineyards, Cortez

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

Aurum Food & Wine, Steamboat

Steamboat Springs’ most sought-after summer patio reservation overlooks the Yampa River. A multi-level deck and yard space makes this a perfect date- and family-night destination. Go during happy hour (4:30-6 p.m.) for half-off draft beers and appetizers. aurumsteamboat.com

Gold Hill Inn, Gold Hill

This 162-year-old town is worth a detour in its own right, with plenty of hiking and exploring to be had. But outside of the local log cabin restaurant, diners can take in the mountain ambience from the beer garden, with menu items ordered a la carte and bands playing on the weekends. goldhillinn.com

The Wyman Hotel, Silverton

If the Million Dollar Highway is on your bucket list, be sure to pause along the nail-biting drive for a lovely night stay at the newly remodeled Wyman Hotel in Silverton. The town for now feels unchanged, but the lodge blends old and new seamlessly, serving beer  and wines and hosting bands all summer long on its tucked-away side patio for guests, locals and road warriors. thewyman.com

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