Who doesn’t love soaking up the sun or sitting on a shaded deck or patio while watching the world go by? An Insta-worthy dish and chilled beverage complete the picture, so sip, savor and appreciate that life doesn’t get much better during our glorious Colorado summers.
143 W. Mountain Ave. (more locations
in Greeley, Boulder and Denver)
Ever since the first Rio Grande opened in Old Town Fort Collins in 1986, it’s made its mark serving scratch-made Tex-Mex cuisine gleaned from the founders’ travels around northern Mexico and the Yucatan, not to mention the infamous goblets brimming with tangy liquid gold.
Five Rio Grande restaurants across the Front Range offer eclectic patios with soothing fountains and umbrellas for shade, and the Fort Collins location features a newly renovated patio with a leafy courtyard. Sit and sip a classic Rio marg, sample high-end tequila selections from Maestro Dobel, El Jimador and Herradura or indulge in a Barrel-Aged Big Tex or agave martini with Don Julio reposado, Grand Marnier, orange liqueur, fresh citrus and a green olive.
359 Linden St.
This Old Town food hub offers an upscale restaurant, cafe, teaching kitchen, market shop and three patios, with opportunities for date nights, family gatherings and, on the north patio, sharing a meal with your pooch.
The Cache patio’s soaring beamed ceiling and glass enclosed space has accordion windows that open in the evenings to let in the night air. The window behind the bar (the one that looks like a slice of pie in baker Ginger Graham’s ode to the homey goodie) opens when mild weather beckons.
On the street level, an all-day cafe offers indoor and outdoor seating. Along with treating your pup to gourmet salmon, chicken or beef dishes and treats for dessert, the pup-friendly outdoor patio hosts dog adoption events, Halloween dress-up contests and dog washing days.
250 Jefferson St.
Union’s modern take on a soda fountain plus cocktails covers all the bases. With outdoor space for 135 guests, it ranks as the largest patio in Old Town Fort Collins.
The modern design—with comfy lounges and couches scattered amongst tables, a fire pit, pops of greenery and “Karl Foerster” Feather Reed Grass under strung market lights—makes it feel like you’re sipping high-end cocktails and enjoying a meal in a lush backyard. For a more intimate experience, spread out on shaded picnic tables with casual snacks, salads, sandwiches and full entrees beneath the pergola around back.
13714 Poudre Canyon Road, Bellvue
The iconic Mishawaka amphitheater and adjacent 106-year-old rustic roadhouse has earned a place in Coloradoans’ hearts for its tasty burgers, Rocky Mountain oysters, sandwiches, green chile, steaks and barbecued chicken. But the destination hits star status due to its location in a high-walled, rocky canyon studded with vegetation to absorb the reverb during concerts and a deck right on the Cache la Poudre River.
“When the water gets high, it flows under the deck, and there’s always wildlife across the water, like bighorn sheep, deer and bears,” says general manager Gary Duvall. “You can sit and watch the fly fishermen cast, and rafters and kayakers float past.”
The year-round deck has heated bubble tents in the winter. In the summer, you’ll likely need reservations to sip a cool drink and enjoy a meal after a hike or before listening to live music on a stage built atop an early-20th-century water wheel.
Another Fort Collins suggestion: Sunset Lounge Rooftop Bar above The Elizabeth Hotel, 111 Chestnut St.
1229 10th Ave.
The Santeramo family has been serving up red sauce and classic Italian fare since 1962 in different downtown locations around Greeley. In 2008, Mike Santeramo moved the business to one of Greeley’s grande dames: an elegant mansion sitting in a large, tree-covered yard that once served as the mayor’s house.
The patio was added in 2010, taking advantage of the restaurant’s park-like expanse. String lights, a fire pit and California heaters keep it cozy when the summer nights get chilly.
508 8th Ave.
WeldWerks creates innovative, highly acclaimed, medal-winning craft beer in Greeley, and its two dog-friendly patios are relaxing and oh-so-casual in the beer-y best way.
From market-style events to dog adoptions and live music (including a recent album preview by The Burroughs), there’s always something fun happening outside the downtown brewery. Grab a pint of summer-style beer, like the fan favorite Lime + Sea Salt Long Bones Mexican Lager, and order a chef-prepared snack from the onsite kitchen, The Annex.
Another Greeley suggestion: Luna’s Tacos & Tequila rooftop bar, 806 9th St.
270 N. Cleveland Ave. (also check out the Fort Collins location at The Exchange:
200 N. College Ave.)
Designer tacos, burritos, enchiladas and gourmet top-shelf margaritas create a vibrant fast casual scene at this spinoff from the Lucio family (think Blue Agave and Coyote’s Southwestern Grill), located at The Foundry in downtown Loveland.
The Vatos patio shares a greenbelt with other eateries at this hopping location. Order at the counter and a server will run your food to your table. But the quick service doesn’t cut corners: You’ll get Blue Agave quality at a faster pace, all while enjoying some fun in the sun.
205 ½ 4th St.
Atop a 1902 brick building on the corner of Main and 4th Street, this gastropub features trendy renovations, including wall-sized garage door windows that lead to a wraparound patio overlooking downtown Windsor and Windsor Lake.
Order small plates (popular choices are the shrimp cocktail and Brussels sprouts), as well as a salad, burger, gourmet pizza or other gastro-fare, and let the lake breeze keep you cool.
301 Main St., Unit A (also check out the Fort Collins location: 1831 E. Mulberry St.)
The latest addition to Windsor’s brewery scene, Peculier Ales crafts independent, unique beer styles, says owner and head brewer Nick Armitage. In May, chef Justin Brown brought his Gourmet Grub Scratch Kitchen to the in-house Peculier kitchen, creating a dream team that pairs inventive brews with adventurous dishes.
It’s the perfect spot to grab a Sharkleberry Pool-Aid fruited hard seltzer or Margaritas On the Beach sour, order freshly made salads, ahi tuna poke tostadas, pasta, burgers or steaks and head outside to the extensive, multi-level patio. Enjoy live music and comedy by the silo, and don’t forget to bring your four-legged friend (the patio is dog-friendly if your dog is friendly).
1246 Automation Drive
Windsor’s newest tap house and eatery near the Future Legends sports complex serves up delicious gluten free dishes—from sauces and fries to buttermilk chicken—in a carefully curated menu that works around customer allergies.
The eatery sports a self-service tap wall offering 26 Colorado craft beers, seltzers and cider, plus a full bar with other cold beverages. Dogs are welcome on the wide-open, lower-level patio. Upstairs, a larger outdoor space provides world-class views of Longs Peak, with comfy rattan seating, plenty of shade and nighttime stargazing.
HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS:
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday | $2 off all margaritas, $3 select drafts and cans, $5 wine | Specially priced appetizers, tacos á la carte
The Café at Ginger and Baker
2-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday | $5 house wine and well drinks, $2 off draft beer
Union Bar & Soda Fountain
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday | Select drinks and snacks under $10
4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday | $4 16-ounce margaritas, $5 glasses of wine
2-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday | $2 off appetizers, $7 32-ounce Italian margaritas
Vatos Tacos & Tequila
3-6 p.m. daily | $2 off Vato Macho margaritas, $2 off all beers
Hearth Restaurant and Pub
3-6 p.m. daily and all night on Mondays | $2 off all drafts, specially priced drink and food menu