Welcome to summer kids—the astrological and the meteorological ones. (Apparently, they are different. I had no idea.) It took for-ever for the warm weather to arrive but it finally appears to be here to stay…much to the dismay of my winter-loving friends. I don’t get them. This is my season and I am here for it—and I will be outdoors during it as much as physically possible. (Winter hibernation is so boring.) Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a bite or a drink under a shade in the sun.
This 17th Ave staple is a known patio spot for catching some of that sweet Colorado sun while snacking on daily happy hour specials from Korean fried wings to Floral Fridays’ $5 Daiquiris. On Saturdays and Sundays, swing through for Japanese pancakes at the best brunch in town, or head over on Thursdays for a Peking duck date night.
The story of Acova is written in wine slushies—red, white, or swirled. It’s an idyllic tale narrated on a sprawling patio that takes the concept of outdoor seating, deconstructs it, and rebuilds it with concrete slabs under opening garage doors—a modern-day Hemingway tale told in the language of architecture. For a pause that refreshes, steer towards the happy hour (Monday–Friday, 3 p.m.–6 p.m.) and sample the smoke-brined, roasted, flash-fried Acova Wings or any of the other apps on the eclectic menu for $3 off.
Overlooking downtown Denver, Avanti’s rooftop patio has cornered the market on views that inspire prolonged “oohs” and “ahhs.” Here, al fresco dining meets foodie paradise, with seven different restaurant concepts, each nestled within the sleek lines of modified shipping containers. The patio’s backyard party vibe, combined with an eclectic menu that pirouettes from poke bowls to arepas, has firmly established Avanti as Denver’s quintessential outdoor dining destination. Whether you’re toasting Independence Day with the Bomb Pop Frozen Cocktail or munching on popcorn during their Thursday movie nights, Avanti insists that the great outdoors is, in fact, truly great.
The Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery is where dietary caution goes to curl up with a pint and let loose. A 10-mile skip from Denver, it sidles up to the Platte River. Whether you’re casting sidelong glances at the mountains while you dig into espresso pork osso bucco on the back porch or taking a break from your stout brined chicken wings to become embroiled in a death-match of giant Jenga in the beer garden, the open sky above is as much a part of your meal as the brew in your hand. Here, you don’t just eat—you dine like the whole world is your patio.
Chef Troy Guard makes a persuasive case for outdoor dining at Los Chingones, the vibrant rooftop rendezvous that shatters the Mexican food stereotype, then pieces it back together in a more whimsical and appealing image. Situated in the heart of RiNo, this 90-seat terrace is a front-row ticket to a culinary fiesta, where a humble taco’s inner diva is given center stage. The Happy Hour stars not only the regulars—chips, guac, queso, and Borracho street corn—but also the surprise guests: a daily-changing quesadilla and a tostada pizza, all priced under $5. To quench the Mexican spice, your options range from the commendable T&T marg to the irreverent shot & snack—a shot paired with a can of Montucky Cold Snack. At Los Chingones, the sun doesn’t set on good times and great food.
Swapping asphalt for artificial turf, Tom’s Starlight reinvents the concept of the patio, adding a dash of Palm Springs glam to East Colfax’s historic district. Awarded 2023’s Best Restaurant Patio, Tom’s is where tiki totems rub shoulders with calamari and well drinks, all served up with a side of irony. So, kick back in a cabana, and let the $5 happy hour and BLTs-too-good-for-acronyms leave you starry-eyed under the Denver night.