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.
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!
Wash Park West
Vert Kitchen (address and info)
This French lunch spot houses a charming patio Martha Stewart would totally award an impeccably decorated thumbs up. Their L’Entrecote (steak sandwich with walnut mustard and arugula) gets the other thumbs up and ranks as one of Denver’s best between-bread masterpieces.
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.
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1. Tamayo1400 Larimer St, Denver
2. ViewHouse2015 Market St, Denver
3. Illegal Pete's270 South Broadway, Denver
4. Ace501 E 17th Ave, Denver
5. Hi^Jax650 S Colorado Blvd, Denver
6. Agave Taco Bar2217 E Mississippi Ave, Denver
7. Vert Kitchen704 S Pearl St, Denver
8. The Matchbox2625 Larimer St, Denver
9. Fourteen Seventy-Two1472, South Pearl Street, Denver
10. Linger2030 W 30th Ave, Denver
11. Denver Beer Co.1695 Platte St, Denver
This Larimer Square spot is a culinary canvas on which Chef Richard Sandoval blends earthy flavors of his native Mexico with creative cooking techniques to craft Tamayo’s modern Mexican cuisine. The substantial menu consists of starters, soups and salads, tacos, enchiladas, chef specials like chicken mole poblano and grilled striped bass wrapped in corn husk, and guacamoles, including traditional, bacon, tuna tartare, and spicy crab varieties. Equally extensive is the tequila collection (there are over 100 options); opt for homemade serrano- or prickly pear-infused tequila, or, if you’re like us and can’t choose just one, order a flight like the Casamigos, a trio of blanco, reposado, and añejo.
ViewHouse's roof deck overlooks Coors Field so you can take it 360 degree views of Denver, while taking down pub food like burgers or chicken and waffles, then wash it down with the craft beers on tap.
Coming correct with the tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, Illegal Pete's on South Broadway also brings it with a huge patio and tons of space to enjoy your eats outside.
The eclectic Asian cuisine here -- think Korean BBQ ribs, steamed bao buns, and dim sum -- might be good, but the ping-pong and huge outdoor patio is really what draws crowds. Tables can be rented by the hour, and you're encouraged to try one of the house-made sodas, or local and Asian beers (Asahi, Tiger, Singha) while waiting for your table.
A menu filled with the freshest seafood in CO, mountain views, and brews all separate the rooftop resto Hi^Jax from its downstairs sister restaurant Jax Glendale.
Agave Taco Bar is offering up a ton of new, eclectic taco options (squid ink taco! veggie options!), as well as an impressive list of daily aguas frescas.
Vert is a new-wave American- /French-inspired hub that's doling out delicious soups and sandwiches. This is not your average deli joint.
Inside The Matchbox you'll find a cozy-yet-still-industrial vibe, complemented by a retracting garage door in the front that provides an opening to indoor/outdoor drinking when the weather's right. There're cheap drinks, a back patio, and a bocce court for your enjoyment!
Enjoy a seafood-saturated menu full of Cajun/ Caribbean/ African flavors at this South Carolina-inspired "low country" grub spot and watering hole.
If you think an ex-mortuary can't serve up some killer apothecary-esque cocktails, you're dead wrong. Ok, ok, but seriously, the views at Root Down's fancy sister spot are spectacular, and with a rooftop patio and dinner menu featuring gourmet dishes from around the world, you will definitely be tempted to linger.
The Graceland of craft brews and premium ales and lagers. And for the love of beer, stop by their biergarten as featured in USA Today. You'll come for the beer but stick around for the awesome events. Check their site for the weekly schedule of rotating foodtrucks parked right outside this Highland temple of tap.