It's no secret that in Colorado, we're graced with a ton of sunshine -- so much, in fact, that we brag about it (300 whole days of sunshine a year, if you just moved here last week and haven't heard). In honor of our great weather and equally boast-worthy bar-and-restaurant scene -- as well as a thermometer climbing to 100 today -- here's a list (in no particular order) of some of the best patios for enjoying all that Colorado weather has to offer.
Linger 2030 West 30th Avenue 303-993-3120 Last year, Linger's patio lost one of the city's best views to a building project that obstructed the restaurant's soaring panorama. But the rooftop spot -- perched just under the massive neon sign of the old Olinger Mortuary -- is still a great place to spend a summer evening. Long, narrow high-top tables give part of Linger's outdoor space a bar-room feel, while lower-level seating offers a breezy look at the city. Patrons can watch bartenders concocting cocktails out of the converted vintage Winnebago parked on the roof -- but it's hard to take your eyes off that stretch of downtown skyline.
Vine Street Pub 1700 Vine Street 303-388-2337 Boulder-based Mountain Sun found the perfect spot for its Denver outpost in the Vine Street Pub a few years ago -- and multiple patios were part of that perfect package. There are plenty of places to sit, relax and eat along East 17th Avenue, but Vine Street's street-side space feels like an additional dining room that shares the sidewalk rather than crowding it. Around the corner, the west-facing patio is often overtaken by cruiser bikes, strollers and rounds of cornhole, the lawn game that goes so well with housemade beer of both the alcoholic and root persuasions.
Cafe|Bar 295 South Pennsylvania Street 303-362-0227 Cafe|Bar is tucked into a building at the highly trafficked corner of Pennsylvania Street and Alameda Avenue; before you've stepped inside, it's hard to imagine that Cafe|Bar could have much in the way of outdoor atmosphere. But the owners have made the most of their location with a lovely enclosed patio, with high stone walls and lush greenery accenting the casual spot's simple table-and-umbrella setup. Mature trees on and around the property provide just enough shade during the day, with sunlight cutting through the foliage to light the oasis; at night, subtle candlelight augments Cafe|Bar's comfy, hang-around vibe.
Racines 650 Sherman Street 303-595-0418 When Racines closed its original location on Bannock Street and built a brand-new restaurant a few blocks away, the Denver mainstay smartly added a parking garage -- and a giant patio, too. With one tier of the outdoor dining area fully covered by an awning, eating outside even on Denver's hottest summer days can be a treat. A smaller section at the front features individual umbrellas and lets in some serious sunlight -- but also provides a place where you can park your furry friends, just beyond the confines. For brunch, lunch, dinner or just coffee, Racines' patio is worth the wait -- and wait you will in the summer.
MCA Denver 1485 Delgany Street 303-298-7554 Hidden on top of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver's gorgeous building at the corner of 15th and Delgany streets is a roof deck that's become the place to be on summer nights. The view here isn't so much of the city (a building project across the street is putting an end to that) as it is of the people who flock to this semi-secret spot to enjoy drinks and conversation after work. With the summer season come later hours at the museum and programming geared to a crowd thirsty for intellectual stimulation as well as cocktails.
El Noa Noa 722 Santa Fe Drive 303-623-9968 There's nothing fancy about El Noa Noa's patio -- but that's what makes the longtime Mexican restaurant's outdoor space great. Hidden away from the bustling Art District on Santa Fe, with its hordes of First Friday art walkers, the spacious patio has plenty of seating, some trees, and a waterfall that helps drown out the street noise. And on weekends, there's live music to entertain the guests.
Paramount Cafe 519 16th Street 303-893-2000 A mainstay on the 16th Street Mall for more than 25 years, the Paramount Cafe could have the town's best seats for people-watching, as tourists, buskers, shoppers and business types share the pedestrian thoroughfare. Cruise ship-sized drinks go nicely with the Paramount's burgers-and-fries menu, and daily happy-hour specials keep the outdoor area packed. While the rock-and-roll-inspired refreshments are worthy, the street-side view of the heart of the city is what makes the Paramount a stopping place of paramount importance.
Bull & Bush 4700 Cherry Creek Drive South 303-759-0333 Long before residential and retail development lined the banks of Cherry Creek, the Bull & Bush was here: a replica of an English brewpub right in the middle of Glendale. Today it's surrounded by plenty of commercial ventures, but it's easy to block out the action when you're on the patio. Much like the pub's interior space, the outdoor dining room remains cool and comfortably dim even in the mid-day sun, thanks to a big awning overhead. Seating includes intimate two-tops as well as big tables for groups interested in watching the game on one of the many outdoor televisions.
Club Vinyl 1082 Broadway 303-860-8469 Club Vinyl's rooftop deck is an oasis in the heart of the city. Though the place can get rowdy -- this is the site of some of the summer's best dance parties, including Reggae on the Roof every Thursday -- there are plenty of quieter times during the week when you can hide out here, enjoying a comfortable chair, a cool beverage and superior views of the mountains and city skyline. Club Vinyl knows Denver weather well, too, so there are fires to keep you warm on cool nights, adding to the rooftop's unparalleled atmosphere.
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Tamayo 1400 Larimer Street 720-946-1433 Ten-year-old Tamayo got a million-dollar makeover earlier this year, and the rooftop patio wasn't ignored in the remodel: The space became even breezier and more inviting with a stylish change-up. While the dining area downstairs remains posh, there is a laid-back quality to Tamayo's outdoor space that makes this spot a gem. Traditional table seating mixes with lounge areas featuring leather and wicker chairs and comfortable couches. Don't leave Larimer Square without stopping here for a high-class cocktail and a spectacular view.