Spring for patio lovers in Denver means quickly sipping drinks in the open air and then scurrying inside as soon as the rain, snow or hail begin. But Mother Nature plays nice once she's had a few springtime cocktails herself, so now we can all relax and enjoy long meals, a bottle of wine and maybe even dessert while basking in warm summer nights. Here are Denver's ten best restaurant rooftop patios for taking in the views — with good grub as an added attraction.
2706 Larimer Street
Larimer Street's remarkable shift from warehouse district to pedestrian thoroughfare is perhaps best observed on weekend nights, when groups of revelers throng the sidewalks from Broadway to Downing. And there's no better place to people-watch than American Bonded, where a breezy, fairy-lit, muraled rooftop oasis presents views of the skyline as well as the street below. Grab one of the bar's frozen drinks — served only at the outdoor bar along with other cocktails and beers, which keeps you from having to run up and down the stairs — and look for a spot near the front railing for the best vantage point. Fair warning: The place gets packed on summer nights. If you can't find a seat up top, look for an outdoor street-side table below. And stay late: The menu from True West Kitchen is served until 1 a.m.
Avanti Food & Beverage
3200 Pecos Street
A great patio can either offer a stunning view or a perch for people-watching, but few typically provide both. Avanti Food & Beverage doesn't have a typical patio, though: With seven counter-service options and multiple outdoor decks, here you can build a patio adventure to suit your mood. Grab a poke bowl at Quickfish and join the beautiful people on the main rooftop deck overlooking downtown; score tacos at BorraCho or Venezuelan street food at Quiero Arepas, then head for the bleacher seats; or make it an elegant dinner from Bistro Georgette or the Rotary and choose a table on the covered, all-weather patio. Cocktails, wine, beer or cider from two separate bars can also be tailored to your needs. Avanti's patios are like LoHi's backyard party — and you'll never want to leave.
Bacon Social House
2100 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton
David Dill just opened his second Bacon Social House, but instead of the secluded courtyard patio of the Sunnyside original, the new Littleton outpost boasts a spacious rooftop deck that seats nearly 100 bacon lovers (that includes you). Enjoy brunch all day, or come in for dinner to sample fun new dishes while taking in views of tree-lined downtown Littleton and the Rocky Mountains beyond. For a little history, the Littleton Municipal Courthouse (built in 1907) is also on full view right across the street. The only thing better on a Sunday morning than the restaurant's bacon flight is a bacon flight with a view.
Briar Common Brewery & Eatery
2298 Clay Street
Kent and Greg Dawson opened their two-story Jefferson Park brewpub in 2016, serving spot-on beers and a menu of small plates and entrees ringing in as approachable without getting too close to boring alehouse standards. The rooftop patio here is small and feels like a neighborhood secret. Shaped like the prow of a ship, the patio looks down onto Jefferson Park with views to the north and south, too, so you can grab a beer and a table and watch Broncos fans fill the neighborhood before fall football games, or just while away a summer night.
The Fainting Goat
Here's one for fans of dive bars and unpretentious neighborhood hangouts. When the Fainting Goat closed briefly for a remodel a couple of years ago, 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 one of the most chill hangouts on Broadway, where cheap beers and good chicken fingers are more important than getting in on the action in Denver's hotter neighborhoods.
Fire Restaurant & Lounge at the Art Hotel
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.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
650 South Colorado Boulevard
The Glendale branch of Jax Fish House is just one of four Jax eateries in Colorado, but it has an advantage over the others: a rooftop patio with its own bar and a west-facing view of downtown Denver and the entire Front Range. There's no better place to slurp oysters or crack crab claws while the summer breeze keeps you cool. The setting is chic enough to feel like you're downtown, but you can feel smug looking at the skyscrapers in the distance knowing you don't have to battle downtown crowds to score a patio table.
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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.
2463 Larimer Street, 303-295-0686
10155 East 29th Drive, 303-975-6166
Troy Guard opened his stylish taqueria at the end of 2013, ten blocks and a world away from his flagship eatery, TAG. A rooftop table affords views of downtown and the teeming sidewalks below as you dig into guacamole, ceviche, tacos and an incredible roster of cocktails from a bar almost completely devoted to tequila. Grab a stool and enjoy the view of rapidly gentrifying Larimer Street. Not all of Guard's Los Chingones eateries have rooftop views, but for something a little more sedate, you can relax with the same great food on the deck at the Stapleton outpost.