There are plenty of outdoor tables at Denver bars and restaurants where you can sit on a boring concrete slab with none of the eatery's indoor ambience and grab a bite and a drink in cramped quarters, with the noise of nearby traffic whizzing by. But this city's best rooftop decks and patios offer an outdoor version of what's going on inside as well as great grub and, more often than not, an equally great view.
It's time to get into the summer swing: Here are the ten best rooftop patios, bars and decks in Denver for every occasion, from upscale, romantic dinners to cool nights by the fire pit to hot summer days made cool with cheap beers and delicious bar snacks.
10 Barrel Brewing
2620 Walnut Street
This is the rooftop bar and patio for the beer lover, where you'll have your choice of more than twenty beers brewed on site, along with good grub made to complement the brews. If it's a little chilly out, you can sit inside with a view out the expansive bar windows, but on sunny days, you'll want to grab a stool outside so that you can take in unobstructed views of downtown and all the RiNo action on Walnut Street below.
Avanti Food & Beverage
3200 Pecos Street
This is the patio to see and be seen on, where the young and hip sip colorful cocktails, munch on bites from the seven food vendors inside and gaze out on the Denver skyline. You may be too distracted by the people-watching to appreciate the views, whether from the main deck and its indoor/outdoor bar, the side patio with its shady pergola, or the bleacher seats that face Coors Field. But no matter where you sit, Avanti is the perfect place to kick back and watch LoHi slowly gentrify all around you.
249 Columbine Street
The rooftop extension of the pan-Asian eatery on the ground floor of the Halcyon hotel is where you'll want to be when the weather heats up. The reason? There's a swimming pool that, while intended only for hotel guests, is a great accompaniment to tropical drinks, dim sum and general lethargy. Hang out high and dry in Cherry Creek, content in the knowledge that you're only paying for food and booze and not one of the pricey rooms below.
2930 Umatilla Street
When El Five opened last month, the restaurant's fifth-floor deck instantly became the top outdoor dining destination in the city, where you can experience a little vertigo while taking in downtown's skyscrapers and construction cranes. Mediterranean small plates and unique cocktails, some afloat with an El Five-stamped ice cube, only enhance the splendor of this LoHi aerie.
The Fainting Goat
Here's one for fans of dive bars and unpretentious neighborhood hangouts. When the Fainting Goat closed briefly for a remodel earlier this year, many worried that the place would receive a modern overhaul, but the only noticeable change was a new coat of kelly-green paint on a couple of the walls. And the rooftop patio is still the most chill hangout on Broadway, where cheap beers and good chicken fingers are more important than getting in on the action at Denver's hotter neighborhoods.
Art and architecture make the Golden Triangle one of the city's most distinctive neighborhoods, and much of it is on view from the fourth-floor lounge at the appropriately named Art Hotel. Grab a seat at one of the fire pits and order a classy cocktail while appreciating the Denver Public Library, History Colorado Center, the Judicial Center and other impressive edifices that make up the urban canyon of Broadway.
1487 South Pearl Street
The upstairs at Izakaya Den is like a lofty Japanese garden, with live bamboo, orbs of light and a glass roof that retracts with a flip of the switch from the bartender, turning the entire space into an airy loft above Pearl Street. There's a mid-sized deck that faces the street, too, if you prefer a more traditional patio, but a seat at the bar when the roof is open feels so much more sophisticated and exclusive, even as moms and their strollers parade on the sidewalk below.
2030 West 30th Avenue
The vibe is energetic under the old Olinger Mortuary sign on the rooftop of this LoHi eatery, where drinks are served from a vintage RV that somehow managed to park three stories up from the streets below. The views are great and the food is better; build a meal from a selection of international street food or just stick to creative cocktails on a balmy summer night.
1920 Blake Street
There's no shortage of rooftop bars in LoDo and the Ballpark neighborhood, but Tap 14 gets our vote for its selection of seventy Colorado beers on tap. While other bars overcharge for the privilege of downing industrial brews out of plastic cups, Tap 14 has its own glassware to bring out the best of each pour. While you won't find the international breadth of Falling Rock Tap House across the street, you can hang out with an excellent rooftop beer while keeping an eye out for an open patio table for the next stop on your LoDo beer crawl.
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3927 West 32nd Avenue
Solitaire boasts the hidden gem of rooftop patios on this list, with a backyard deck elevated amid the trees in its West Highland neighborhood. Sophisticated small plates and an impressive wine list will satisfy your Epicurean urges while the birds and butterflies keep you company. There's no better place for a romantic evening for two under the stars.