HomeFrom tents to greenhouse villages, the best winter outdoor dining rooms around Denver

From tents to greenhouse villages, the best winter outdoor dining rooms around Denver

Denver hasn’t always been a city for year-round outdoor dining. But it was only a matter of time and a global pandemic before city yards shifted to accommodate Colorado’s coldest months.

And they’ve transformed amazingly and in a way that emphasizes the creativity (read survival instincts) of local restaurants. Inspired by après-ski traditions and Front Range brewery culture, many Denver-area restaurants have outdone themselves with these outdoor options over the past year or so.

As we speak, the city is renewing its outdoor dining licenses through January 31, which means nearly 100 (and more) closed streets, sidewalk side tables, tented patios, and private dining structures will last—all hot, of course.

So whether it’s for a special occasion or a casual night out, this year’s winter dining rooms have you covered. Here’s a selection of the best built – from Alpenglobes to yurts, bungalows, and tents – for your winter wonderland fantasies.

Introduction by Acreage

Acreage at Lafayette maintains a partially enclosed porch that is heated during the winter, and provides fire pits on the lawn and serves hot cider and warm cider cocktails for the winter season. (Provided by Acreage)

Acreage (Lafayette)

Stem Ciders’ Lafayette Restaurant features some of the best views of the Front Range from its hilltop location. And you can still enjoy these views in the winter, when the restaurant and cider house serves up multiple heated patios, with covered porch seating, backyard fire pits, and an outdoor “Back Forty Bar” designed for wine drinkers with specials like cider. Hot and warm cocktails. Try Tis the Ryeson with Stem’s Cocoa Caramel and rye whiskey. acreageco.com

From The Hip Photo, courtesy of Annette

Annette’s yurt seats up to 16 people for an all-night private party. (from hip image, courtesy of Annette)

Annette (Aurora)

A row of greenhouses greet shoppers and shoppers at Stanley Market, where Annette is the dinner (and lunch) reservation to reserve the season for an indoor or outdoor meal of comfort food (like your grandmother’s but flattering). The yurt at Annette is a real holiday treat for a private dinner for you and up to 15 guests. For an entire night, you’ll have to order at least $1,000 ($1,500 on weekends) in food and drinks. Or you can book a two-hour slot for a minimum of $50 per person. Email events@annettescratchtotable.com for a full shebang or call 720-710-9975 for a shorter deal. annettescratchtotable.com

Rachel Ellis, Denver Post

Sponsors attend the soft opening of Avanti, a food court located on Pearl Street in Boulder, on September 25, 2020 (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)

Come on (Boulder)

Located on a fourth floor overlooking Pearl Street, this indoor and outdoor deck is as scenic as it is in the heart of Boulder any time of year. Diners can order from one of the six food counters downstairs, or they can head straight for perfectly charred slices of New York pizza, plus drinks from the rooftop bar. If you enjoy a meal outside, order a hot plate and then a warm cracker with Parmesan cheese and fennel from the pizza shop. boulder.avantifandb.com

Four greenhouses and two bonfires make up the conservatory outside Bar Dough in the Highland. (Kayla Jones, courtesy of Bar Dog)

Bar dough (Highland)

There are four romantic greenhouses outside of Italian restaurant LoHi, where the chef serves up a fixed-price menu of Piedmont classics (think delicious pastas, plenty of truffles, and double wine). Alongside the greenhouses there are fire pits for the winter season to enjoy blankets, sable and hot alpine coco for a casual night out. bardoughdenver.com

Introduction by Barolo Grill

The outdoor dining area at Barolo Grill is an entire village of one-party structures surrounded by fire pits and string lights. (Provided by Barolo Grill)

Barolo Grill (Cherry Creek)

The bungalow village just outside this Italian food and wine staple on 6th Street is absolutely its own dining experience. Go on a weekday to order a la carte or on the weekend for a four-course meal and wine from our talented chefs and bartenders. During the holidays, show off your black truffle rings and stick to your homemade cheesecake dessert. barolorilldenver.com

Introduction by Frasca

Alpenglobes for private dining outside of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. (Provided by Frasca)

Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder) and Tavernetta (Union Station)

This northern Italian staple on Boulder Pearl Street and its newer sibling behind Denver Union Station is already in the area for al fresco dining with Alpenglobes (like life-size snowballs) for intimate group dining. (Imagine the fogging of the glass as the snow falls.) The set menu and minimum spend is really a splurge ($195 per head for Frasca and $300 per table at Tavernita). But on holidays, you can also enjoy the truffle tasting menu (for $275). Pro tip: For a more economical experience, head to Boulder’s Pizzeria Locale, next to Frasca, which sits down to dinner at globes during weekend brunch and on Sunday and Monday evenings. frascafoodandwine.com; tavernettadenver.com; localeboulder.com

One Last Chai Cocktail from Forget Me Not (Vodka, Amaretto, Ginger, Cinnamon and Homemade Chai Tea Mix by Herbal Riot). (Kayla Jones, courtesy of Forget Me Not)

Forget Me Not (Cherry Creek)

Half of the front yard visible and visible in the new Cherry Creek Bar is transformed during the colder months with a communal greenhouse including four tables for drinking hot or chilled cocktails and snacks on charcuterie plates. The rest of the patio remains open with fire pits, blankets, and après-ski vibes. forgetmenotdenver.com

Related: 24 of the coolest outdoor dining rooms in Colorado, from tents and chalets to bubbles and gondolas

Joey Hill (South Broadway)

The neighborhood pizza and cocktail back deck is a hidden gem (although you could say word got out). The owners have worked hard during the height of the pandemic, right after they opened for business, to provide perfect outdoor service year-round. Now you can enjoy some of the best pizza the city has to offer in a secluded, heated, weather-proofed setting, with the feeling of being at a party in a friend’s backyard (only with better food and drinks). joyhilldenver.com

Colin Covel, right, sits and enjoys...
Rachel Ellis, Denver Post

Colin Covel, right, sits and enjoys drinks with Molly McGrath, left, and her daughter Ella Hall, 15, outside Bistro Vendome in Larimer Square in downtown Denver on December 18, 2020 (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)

Larimer Square (Ludo)

The central part of Downtown Lower will be closed and lit up again this winter, with space for shoppers to walk, drinkers to stand and diners to sit on the street-filled patios of some of the city’s favorite restaurants (see Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Osteria Marco and more). With tents, fireplaces, and fire pits dotted around, this feels like winter dining was meant to be – a long slice of Christkindle’s European culture in the heart of Colorado’s capital. larimersquare.com

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