TRVE Brewing
Danielle Lirette

TRVE Brewing has such a long, skinny space — it's just eighteen feet across — that it didn't make sense to seat people indoors for most of 2020. And the brewery has, or had, no patio seating whatsoever. But as 2021 rolled around, TRVE took over the back-alley parking lot of a neighboring business and installed the Dumpster Garden, a weekend-only pop-up outdoor beer garden featuring its cans and bottles. It was the most perfectly named, perfectly themed outdoor drinking spot for a dumpster fire of a year.

Westbound & Down Brewing Company
Westbound & Down Brewing Company Facebook

As winter approached during the pandemic, breweries rushed to install tents, domes, greenhouses or other enclosures that would allow them to seat people indoors — while outdoors — and still comply with social distancing rules. Westbound & Down Brewing took it to a whole other level, however, building a set of massive but elegant wooden barrels that came complete with heaters, Bluetooth speakers and room for six to sit and enjoy beer, fondue or other dishes from the brewpub. The Barrel Experience, as it was called, was a hit, and could live on at Westbound's second location, now under construction in Lafayette.

Tennyson Street has changed a lot in the past five years — for better and for worse. One of the better changes has been the growth of a quality craft-beer scene that was bolstered in 2019 by two new breweries — FlyteCo Brewing and the Empourium Brewing — bringing the total to five between 38th and 46th avenues. Your best bet for a crawl? Start at FlyteCo, on 38th, and head north to the Empourium, the Grateful Gnome, De Steeg and Call to Arms. All have in-house or nearby food options, and among the five, you can find just about any style of lager or ale.

Best Brewery for a Flight
Jonathan Shikes

Oh, did you think we meant a flight of beers? No, we meant a flight, like in an airplane. Since opening in 2019, FlyteCo Brewing's aviation theme has really taken off — and includes not just a salvaged plane wing at the entrance, runway striping on the floor and other aeronautical details, but a custom-built replica of the fuselage of a plane. Inside are jump seats, tables and plane windows where beer drinkers can gaze out at other customers. But you can order that flight of beers, too — in a carrier shaped like an airplane, of course.

Danielle Lirette

Kids are weird. They're hungry when you're not, and when you finally get them rounded up to head to their favorite restaurant, they clam up and claim they're not hungry the moment the server arrives. When you ask what they want to eat, they shrug and say, "Whatever." At Acova, that answer will get them a PB & J sandwich with a side. And "I'm not hungry" will land them a kid-sized cheeseburger with fries. You get the idea: Acova's kids' menu takes standard annoying answers and turns them into the names of dishes — which just might elicit a smile and get the young ones engaged in the family dinner. The only problem? Now you have to get them to choose a side dish. Unfortunately, "I hate you, Daddy," won't result in potato salad.

Best Restaurant Patio

Typically, hunkering down over burgers and drinks inside the dark and atmospheric bar at this venerable Denver institution is the way to go, but My Brother's Bar earns the distinction of best patio because right now it's all patio. The Newman family, who in 2017 took over from the Karagas brothers (who'd bought Denver's oldest bar almost fifty years earlier), hasn't seated guests inside since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, but they added heated domes and tents to an extended patio that took over part of the parking lot to give guests a cozy way to enjoy jalapeño cream cheese burgers and pitchers of beer in safety and comfort throughout the winter. Of course, the bar has always had a great patio — sheltered, shaded and surrounded by hop vines — so even when customers can finally go back inside, they may decide to stay outside for one more round.

Best Rooftop Patio
Danielle Lirette

A rooftop patio must offer more than just a pretty view — because views fall short if the food falls flat. At Linger, not only is your table at the top of one of Denver's hottest neighborhoods, but it's got built-in ambience from the Olinger Mortuary sign towering overhead, added whimsy from an RV converted into an outdoor bar, and a menu that will keep adventurous eaters on their toes visit after visit. There are taller buildings in town with more elevated patios; there are sprawling beer gardens where you'll trip over toddlers as you navigate your way to a beer. But Linger rises above the rest with its combo of food and attitude. Oh, and the views aren't bad, either.

Best Patio for Pets
Ratio Beerworks

The RiNo neighborhood is overflowing with dogs; sit on any restaurant patio or take a stroll along the sidewalks of Larimer, Lawrence, Walnut or Blake streets and you'll see every manner of furry friend, from pampered purebreds to Muppet-like mutts. And if you want to hang with your four-pawed pal (or someone else's), hit the patio at Ratio for beers and a bite of something from the resident food truck. The tables are spread out far enough that skirmishes are unlikely, and the temporary street patio provides even more room for all to enjoy.

Best Seafood Restaurant
Jax Fish House

Chef Sheila Lucero joined the Jax Fish House team as a line cook in 1998, became executive chef in 2009, and is now among the nation's culinary leaders when it comes to advocating for sustainable seafood and protected fisheries. Her dedication to the cause gives guests at Jax the peace of mind that each bite of seafood is responsibly harvested — not to mention delicious. Restaurateur Dave Query founded Jax in Boulder in 1994, and together he and Lucero are making sure that their restaurants thrive and grow while looking out for the future of wild-caught and farmed seafood.

Best Oysters
Danielle Lirette

Oysters arrive alive from America's coastal waters, but if they've been clammed up too long, they start to suffer. So getting the best oysters to Denver as quickly as possible is the trick to making sure they're at their freshest. Stoic & Genuine's connections with oyster growers on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts ensures that every oyster is sweet and briny, and that the individual flavors of each variety shine through. While that dedication to freshness doesn't come cheap, S & G offers an oyster hour with discount mollusks alongside reduced-price cocktails, wine and beer. So go ahead and order more; your oyster shucker will set you up with another round.

Best Of Denver®

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