A waiter speaks to customers he serves in the seating area of Corridor 44 in Larimer Square in downtown Denver on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)
Denver has always had rooftop bars, secret gardens, dog patios, and sidewalk cafes to enjoy in summer (and even sunny winter). But 2020 was unlike any other year for outdoor dining.
From restaurants that have always been known for their rooftop bars to other places that have first hit sidewalks, the restaurant industry has seized the opportunity to lure customers back for a cocktail and an al fresco meal. As of Monday, August 10, Denver had approved 313 temporary patio permits since mid-May, and a city spokesman said it had not found any other major city with such a large outdoor expansion program. Denver plans to extend the terrace program through October 31, according to a city press release in July.
So if you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a curated list of some cool patios for you to review with reader suggestions and some of our own favorites. We spoke to restaurant owners about how they creatively used their space in the Virus. Some locations are running terraces for the first time, while others are expanding or moving their existing space. We’ve also added some retail stores and road closures that take the terraces to the next level for the summer.
Customers enjoy a meal and drink on Ace Eat Serve’s bright, open terrace. (Provided by Ace Eat Serve)
Ace Eat Serve Always had a cool terrace, but this summer it became the main dining room. With bright orange umbrellas and awnings, plants, fog and fans, Marketing Director Emily Biederman described it as a cool garden in town. For fresh summer favorites, shrimp agua chilli, all kinds of bao rolls and fresh sack shells are on the menu. Biderman also highlighted the Piña Colada and the Frosé popsicle for a “perfect terrace drink”. The restaurant has live music on Saturdays and all-day happy hour on Mondays. 501 E. 17th Ave .; Mon-Sun 3pm to 10pm; aceeatserve.com
Annette The Stanley Marketplace has focused on making guests feel like they are in a dining room on their extended terrace. The owners used stenciled walls and planters with tall grass and honeysuckle to separate the tables, and set up a large event tent to accommodate 44 guests outside. And for summery flavors, her Parisian Brest Colorado’s favorite palisade peaches with dulce de leche cream. 2501 Dallas St .; Wed-Sat 4:30 pm-9am; Brunch Saturday and sun. 10 a.m. – 2.30 p.m. annettescratchtotable.com
Christina Lundell, front, takes orders on the outdoor patio of Cabana X in Denver on Friday, August 7, 2020. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)
Bar helix, now known as Cabana X.is the closest place to get a tropical getaway this summer. It’s a 100% open air restaurant on Larimer Street with a beach atmosphere. Every month the new menu draws inspiration from different destination cities, currently Negril Jamaica, Ibiza, Spain and Mykonos, Greece. Owner Kendra Anderson said customers also got a sense of being interested in the vacation theme. This month the menu includes fried chicken from the Caribbean and a hummus baba plate from the Mediterranean. And although the restaurant usually opens at 4 a.m., Anderson has just started #AllDayVacay on Saturdays and Sundays, opening up at lunchtime for people who long to celebrate the weekend on their safe, open patio. 3440 Larimer St .; Wed-Thu 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and sun. 12-11 a.m.; insidethehelix.com
Bistro Vendome has a terrace on Larimer Square, almost like being brought to France. (Provided by Bistro Vendome)
Bistro Vendome ‘The secret garden terrace is always a surprise for customers who find it in the middle of the busy city. Hidden behind trees and brick buildings, the inner courtyard is “like a transport to France,” said Beth Gruitch, founder of the Crafted Concepts restaurant group, which also includes the Vendome bistro. They serve French classics with a twist, as well as a carefully selected wine list. 1420 Larimer St .; Sun-Thu, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Fri-Sat, 4 p.m.-10 p.m., brunch Sat and sun. 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. bistrovendome.com
Milk block is a mixed-use pedestrian mall in LoDo that’s also popular in Denver for alfresco dining and shopping. It can also be extended to the sidewalk with places like the Denver Milk Market and Huckleberry Roasters. For some spots like Run for the Roses – a cocktail bar in the basement of the Dairy Block – the additional space provided the first opportunity to expand onto the terrace this summer with a completely new menu and outdoor events. Owner Steven Waters said the ability to expand outside is “a lifeline” for his basement bar as he can get new customers out of the alley. Maggie Pryde, Marketing Manager for Dairy Block, said that any restaurant can use its space to reflect its own character. Then the collective also exhibited over $ 1 million worth of art, from murals to pieces on the walls. Dairy Block also hosted pop-up events on Fridays like Bring Your Own Vinyl with a DJ and pop-up galleries or art activation projects. 1800 Wazee St .; The opening times vary for individual providers. milchblock.com
The outdoor BookBar book lounge offers space to browse and enjoy wine and appetizers. (Provided by Book Bar)
BookBar opened his deck on 43rd Avenue off Tennyson Street this week. Bar manager Jessica Caouette said she brought out tables, comfy chairs, and a rolling bookshelf with popular titles and staff recommendations for community members to browse and then chat about books. There is also a great wine list with glasses you won’t find anywhere else in Denver, Caouette said, as well as small bites to nibble on during the book club. 4280 Tennyson St .; Wed-Fri 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. bookbardenver.com
Stoic & real The Union Station has a year-round terrace. The fish restaurant was expanded this summer to accommodate more guests. With a tent set up and a lot of trees, the owner Beth Gruitch (who also owns the Bistro Vendome) described the terrace as romantic. This summer there are great oysters, crab legs, and lots of other seafood that comes fresh out of the water in less than 24 hours. 1701 Wynkoop St .; Sun-Thu 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri-Sat. 11 am-10pm; stoicandgenuine.com
The murals and painted picnic tables of Denver Central Market on the outdoor deck. (Provided by Denve Central Market)
Denver Central Market There are now three alfresco dining areas in the River North Art District: the front patio, the alley, and the parking lot. The restaurant is one of 25 locations that have been expanded due to road closures in the RiNo Arts District. It’s a special approach to welcoming local artists and wall painters to brighten up the building.
There are 10 vendors in the market and with the extension of the terrace you can also serve cocktails outside. From fresh oysters worth $ 1 every Tuesday at Tammen’s Fish Market to summer salads at Green Seed, there’s plenty to enjoy in this beautiful outdoor area. 2669 Larimer St .; All week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. denvercentralmarket.com
Grandma’s house, a craft brewery on South Broadway, has a huge deck as it has been expanded to cover the burned-down property next door. Owner Matthew Fuerst has teamed up with Piante Pizzeria from Breckenridge for purely vegan pizzas that go well with their beers. He’s also re-launched events with Tuesday Bingo Night and ceramic painting to help people gather together safely this summer. 1720 S. Broadway; Tues-Fri 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sat to Sun 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; grandmasbeer.co
Mr. Bear is another RiNo spot that enhances the existing outdoor area for the summer. The bright, open patio features a wine wall, additional foliage, tropical print partitions, fairy lights, and an outdoor bar. Everything you need to forget you are in town.
General Manager Chanelle Kawamura said the terrace is where customers feel most comfortable and there is plenty of space to safely enjoy a meal. Their summer menu offers lots of guacamoles, quesos and salsas, as well as all the tacos you could want. 3163 Larimer St .; Mon-Thu 3 pm to 10 pm, Friday 3 pm to 11 pm, Saturday 12 pm to 11 pm, Sunday 12 pm to 10 pm; misterosodenver.com
The 400-foot mural along Larimer Square was created by So-Gnar Creative Division. (Provided by Captain Colorado Photography)
Larimer place was ahead of the curve with patio extensions in June, working with restaurants and retailers to request outdoor patios and road closures, including Bistro Vendrome. But the whole block has turned into a pedestrian mall, including a 400-foot mural by So-Gnar Creative Division and Pat Milbery, as well as street music all week long with local artists paid by the property management company. 1450 Larimer St .; The opening times vary for individual providers. larimersquare.com
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