Chef’s Special: Top Eight Patios

BY Amy Antonation


Just as the the Rockies return to disappoint Denver and the swallows return to Capistrano, it’s an annual spring tradition: a list of top bar and restaurant patios. Like a horde of lemmings, we’re rushing to follow the trend—but it’s not editorial staff choosing the best patios to camp out on.

Find chef Kristin Hazlett on one of these eight patios when they’re not working (which is….not often). / Courtesy Kristin Hazlett

We tapped Denver chef Kristin Hazlett for their Colorado patio picks. Hazlett (who uses they/them pronouns) started cooking at their parents’ restaurant in Cripple Creek and, 15 years later, jokes they have six degrees of separation from every Denver restaurant: “I washed dishes everywhere, ran the Jen Jasinski gamut.” They also did stints at the Dazzle (they’re a jazz trombonist) and Spuntino, and are currently at Denver’s Ginger Pig. Here’s where (and why) you’ll find them when they’re not working. 

“It’s beautiful at Piggin’ Out Smokehouse in Lakewood, and they have pretty damn good barbecue. They are super nice. They asked what sauce I wanted, I said, ‘All of them,’ and a flight of sauces showed up. We were doing shots of pineapple-habañero sauce so we didn’t have to throw them out.”

Bar Dough in Denver always does a great job. I like to do brunch there and get their cacio e pepeand then fried chicken for dessert (after six Aperol spritzers).”

Small but welcoming. / Courtesy Occidental Facebook

“You can get drunk at Denver’s Occidental and write on the walls in the bathroom and no one yells at you about it. By the time I get there [after work], I’m like, ‘Put food in my face!’ and it never seems to break the bank.”

When picking the best, patio proximity cannot be overrated. / Courtesy Platte River Bar & Grill Facebook

The Platte River Bar & Grill, Littleton: “I live in southwest Denver, so anytime you find somewhere good down there, you’ve got to go.”

“For delicious food, and if you’re lucky enough to grab a seat, Tacos Acapulco in Aurora. You have to make it through it those doors that are like opening airplane doors to get your pupusas and plantains. And they have that hand washing sink outside. I start taking a sponge bath and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s not there for that.’”

Pack up the fishing gear and have a seat on Zoka’s patio in Pine, Colo. / Courtesy Zoka’s Restaurant and Bar Facebook

“I go fly fishing quite a bit and Zoka’s in Pine is a great spot to kick it on a deck and have a craft beer. Once I saw a baby heron’s nest and they offered me binoculars to watch the mom fly in and out. I get the Buffalo cauliflower…it gives me the illusion of being healthy.”

“I golf as much as humanly possible because I’m a retired old man at heart. Go to Denver’s Foothills Golf Course even if you don’t golf, get a cheap burger, and hit some balls at the driving range.”

And, finally…

When you pick your job because of the patio…/ Mark Antonation

Ginger PigDenver: “I wouldn’t work here if the patio wasn’t fucking awesome.”

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to


Amy Antonation

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