Patios are so popular in Denver that bars and restaurants fight for every square foot of turf or sidewalk where they can plant a table, a chair, a stool. As a result, this city is full of great places to sit outside -- some spots garden-like and secluded, others street-side, right in the middle of the action.
You don't need to head to the mountains to enjoy the great outdoors this weekend. Just grab a seat at one of our ten favorite patios, listed below (click here for the slide show):
1. Lola, 1575 Boulder Street. The deck outside of this restaurant is perched high above downtown Denver, with a great view of the city (thanks to a stalled loft project). But the scene around the deck is just as inviting, filled with Lohi hipsters sipping Lola's excellent margs or digging into guacamole made table-side. On sunny days, this is as close as Denver gets to its own beach.
2. Fuel Cafe, 3455 Ringsby Court. Fuel occupies a former taxi dispatch facility in the Taxi development hard by the South Platte in north Denver, and over the past year it's sped to the top of our list by dint of its urban but expansive setting. During the day, the joint can be jumping; at night, it often seems like a secret clubhouse.
3. Solera, 5410 East Colfax Avenue. Colfax is only steps away, but the patio for Goose Sorensen's restaurant is a real urban oasis -- with really great food coming out of the kitchen.
4. The Tavern Uptown, 538 East 17th Avenue. The stretch of 17th Avenue leading out of downtown is crammed with inviting patios, from Strings to Randolph's to Hamburger Mary's. But the Tavern Uptown has one of the best -- with the added bonus of a bowling alley inside the bar.
5. Steuben's, 523 East 17th Avenue. This restaurant devoted to regional food favorites is so popular that one patio is not enough. So Steuben's has two: one enclosed off the parking lot, another right in the middle of the action on 17th.
6. LoDo's Bar & Grill, 1946 Market Street. The sky's the limit at LoDo's, where the rooftop patio is bigger and better than ever. And while the action on this deck is more than enough to keep you amused, it's also a stone's throw -- or a beer toss -- from Coors Field. On game days, there's also a healthy rivalry with the folks on the roof of the Tavern across the street.
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7. My Brother's Bar, 2376 15th Street. First things first: My Brother's has no sign. But anyone who's lived in Denver more than a few minutes knows about this bar, which is located in a building that's operated as a bar since the 1880s. It has a long history of fans to prove it, including Neal Cassady (there's a letter from him in the back, written when he had a tab open at what was then called Paul's Place). While the inside rooms are dark and casual and comfortable, the patio out back is the perfect place to enjoy a JCB (burger slathered with jalapeno cream cheese) on a hot summer night.
8. Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe, 2005 West 33rd Avenue. For 25 years, Rosa Linda's has been an integral part of this northwest Denver neighborhood, even as the neighborhood morphs from a working class area to a rapidly gentrifying hipster hangout. Sit streetside at one of Rosa Linda's sidewalk tables, eating authentic Mexican fare, and you get a real taste of that neighborhood.
9. Root Down, 1600 West 33rd Avenue. Justin Cucci took a defunct gas station and turned it into an amazing space that incorporates both new and old, putting the bar right in the old service area, with garage doors that open to the elements on warm days. But there's also an excellent patio off the dining room, with a stunning view of downtown.
10. Bistro Vendome, 1420 Larimer Street. This restaurant is a virtual garden of eatin'. Although the indoor dining spaces are charming, the secluded patio, tucked into a back corner of Larimer Square, is an absolute delight -- as is Vendome's French fare.