It took Mother Nature a while to come around, but summer is now in full swing and a few restaurants around town are making up for lost time. Here are a few options to help celebrate the sun and Colorado's finest summer bounty.
In Boulder, Blackbelly Market officially kicked off its patio season with the opening of two outdoor areas. At the front of chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg's restaurant and butcher shop there are a few shady tables where the full dinner menu is available. Out back, through the bar area, there's a second sunny patio with community tables, a drink rail facing Arapahoe Street and umbrellas to help shade the summer sun. While the rays get a little intense in certain spots, there are pine trees on the west side to cool things off by 6 p.m or so. Rosenberg also put together a new bar menu for the patio (the full dinner menu is only available inside or on the front patio), which includes a couple of simple but thirst-quenching $6 cocktails, a few beers and wines, and a selection of small bites that highlight the kitchen's aptitude for meat — think house-made mini-corndogs, tasso ham and corn masa fritters (or some other "fried thing of the day"), and an assortment of charcuterie (more and more of which come from Blackbelly's kitchen as cured meats and dry-aged sausages come of age).
At Beast + Bottle, owners Paul and Aileen Reilly are also encouraging guests to get out and get a little sun. The new Patio Plates menu serves as a patio-only happy hour, with a short list of small plates (all for $8 or less) served from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The menu will vary from day to day with seasonal produce and available meats (just like Beast + Bottle's dinner menu). A selection of discounted wines, cocktails and draft beer will also be available, topping off at no more than $6.
Lower48 Kitchen is already known for its seasonally shifting menu, and chef Alex Figura is giving summer produce an even brighter spotlight with a $34 nightly prix-fixe menu for all of July. Ingredients will be sourced from local farmers' markets for the pre-fixe menu (as well as the la carte menu), so expect young garlic, summer squash, tomatoes and stone fruits from Colorado farmers and ranchers like Monroe Organics, 7X Beef, Granada Farms and Pastures of Plenty. The menu kicks off on Wednesday, July 1 with a slight pause as the restaurant closes on July 4.
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