With the snow well behind us, the afternoon rain set precisely to 2:30pm every day, and the occasional twister that only bothers Arvada, we're well into outdoor eating and drinking season in Denver. So, separated by neighborhood, here are the best stuff-your-face-and-wash-it-down-eries in the city.
Tamayo (address and info) The work of ubiquitous restauranteur Richard Sandoval, Tamayo stands out thanks to its modern take on Mexican classics. Gorge yourself on smoked brisket tacos with pickled onions and avocado, bacon guacamole, and squash blossom quesadillas while you power through freshly blended fruit margaritas and enjoy the shaded, verdant environs of their rooftop patio.
'Wild n' Out's' Justina Valentina Rips Shots and Shows Off Her Freestyling Skills
ViewHouse (address and info) Boasting a highly appropriate name, ViewHouse actually features a COLLECTION of fantastic patios. Their side patio could stand alone with its ample space for yard games, shaded bungalows, and easy access to the bar for one of their beer cocktails, but taking it "up" a notch is the show-stealing rooftop. Chef Jose Guerrero offers the entire menu at the elevated dining room with eats like Red Bird Farms roast chicken and the pork-layered Cuban Burger.
Ace (address and info) Claiming the Uptown spot amongst a cluster of worthy outdoor locales is Ace. A happy hour menu of Far East cuisine and drinks is available while you get your Forrest Gump on at one of their many ping-pong tables. And since the Colorado sun can feel like the breath of Hades, Ace’s patio is outfitted with more misters than a Whole Foods produce section.
Illegal Pete’s (address and info) Their tacos, burritos, and quesadillas are all tasty to begin with, but they're best consumed outside on a picnic table-filled patio that combines the size of a Walmart with the thrill of... not being at a Walmart. Wash everything down with the cold beer of your choice.
Hi^Jax (address and info) Standing on the shoulders of Jax Fish House, high above the other restos huddled in Glendale, is Hi^Jax (get it?!). Getting buzzed on Post American Pale Ale while getting excited on $1.25 oysters during happy hour is patio feasting at its finest.
Agave Tacos (address and info) With about as much square footage for outside eating as inside, Agave Tacos could have shot themselves in the foot had they opened up in, say, Seattle. But instead they chose a little corner of Wash Park in a town that boasts 300+ days of sunny goodness. They also sport a menu with more than 14 taco varieties that we took the liberty of trying and ranking for your consideration. You’re welcome!
Matchbox (address and info) "Dive bar" used to be a title applied to finely aged watering holes that you'd go to for ironic purposes (think Nob Hill), but now it seems that places are opening up and immediately trying to capture that worn-in charm. Matchbox has perfected this process with a very RiNo-chic, industrial décor, a well-rounded beer/drink menu, and an outdoor beer garden for some serious bocce ball playing and sun soaking.
Fourteen Seventy-Two (address and info) Low Country food is a rare find in Denver, but this cuisine, drawing inspiration from Caribbean, Cajun, and West African roots, is best enjoyed under intense sunshine. Fourteen Seventy-Two delivers with patios that could seat more than half of the Platt Park ‘hood comfortably and a menu so gut-bustingly good (bison sirloin, shrimp and grits, Southern fried chicken) that you’ll need all the extra room.
Linger (address and info) If you should find yourself in the Highlands during happy hour, don’t waste your time doing anything but getting your drink from a guy in a van on a roof, which is only an option at Linger, Tue-Fri from 4-6:30pm. The aforementioned van bar slings out classics like sangria, Mai Tais, and Old-Old Fashioneds, all for just six bones. Stick around for dinner and enjoy an internationally inspired feast of everything from honey Sriracha duck wings with togarashi ranch to Veracruz fish tacos with avocado aioli, chimichurri, and slaw. You may find yourself wanting to... LINGER. Boom!
Denver Beer Co. (address and info) Located a perfect stumble distance from a bevy of delicious eateries is Denver Beer Co., LoHi’s neighborhood brewery that kills the game when it comes to downing suds outside. A tastily balanced tap list ranges from heavy one-timers like their Graham Cracker Porter to more session-style brews like their Kuhrs Kolsch. And, as always, $5 warm pretzels.
This list -- and all the rest -- look even sexier in our iPhone app. Get it now!