Best Under-the-Radar Patios in 10 Denver Neighborhoods

By Ruth Tobias  |  June 9, 2014
Credit: Facebook/Vert Kitchen

Some are under-the-radar, artfully hidden from street view. Others are simply brand-new and yet to be hit by the throngs you'll find at, say, Linger, Old Major and Steuben’s. Either way, there are outdoor-dining discoveries to be made no matter where you are in Denver. Here are 10 of our favorites, organized by neighborhoood - for a rejuvenating respite from the daily grind.

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Platt Park: Black Crown Lounge

    This quirky South Broadway lounge is a charmer through and through. Occupying an old two-story home, it's filled with antiques for sale and host live-entertainment, ranging from jazz and showtunes to burlesque. Best of all, it boasts not one but two twinkling patios in front and back, where cabanas surround a koi pond and the servers offer blankets to stave off evening’s chill. 
    Must Order: Wine-by-the-glass pours are almost comically generous for the price (usually $10 or less). As for the selection of small plates, stick with the simple stuff, like deviled eggs and antipasto platters.
    Insider Tip: Let this be a warning to some, a welcome sign to others: smoking is still allowed on the back deck.

    1446 S. Broadway; 720-353-4701

  • Credit: Lowdown/Facebook

    Golden Triangle: Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen

    Sheltered from the Lincoln Street traffic by a high wall, LowDown’s three-week-old terrace has it all: plenty of space and umbrella shade, cornhole and foosball, a casually eclectic menu and, most important, plenty of beer.
    Must Order: Start with head brewer Scott O’Hearn’s latest releases, including the brand-new Belgian-American hybrid Holy Ale and the Boxer India Red Ale - sure to shine alongside the Calcutta pizza with grilled chicken, yellow curry and cucumber-yogurt sauce. He’s also just brought back the popular dark amber ale Lonely Sheep.
    Beat the Crowd: Lowdown opens at 11 AM, so on weekdays, you can have its slice of the outdoors largely to yourself. It’s in the later afternoon that the place starts jumping.

    800 Lincoln St.; 720-524-8065

  • Credit: DesignHoog, LLC

    Glendale: The Kitchen Next Door

    With its own bar and mini-herb garden, the City Set gastropub’s breezy 70-seat rooftop deck technically opened on Mother’s Day. But it threw its first official welcome bash just yesterday, so now it’s all systems go for al fresco get-togethers.  
    Must Order: Of the menu’s many staple items, we remain steadfast in our devotion to the crispy garlic smashers.
    Beat the Crowd: Community hour starts at 3 PM, which means you’ve got at least a couple of hours to soak up the sun with $3 White Rascals and $5 kale chips before the 9-to-5ers descend.

    658 S. Colorado Blvd., Glendale; 303-757-0878

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    Lincoln Park: Domo

    The garden at the center of this long-standing Japanese retreat is hardly a secret. But its riot of greenery, koi pond and wooden bridge still takes your breath away every time you enter it from the equally extraordinary dining room, evoking a shogun-era cabin.    
    Must Order: It honestly doesn’t matter much - teriyaki, nabemono, sashimi donburi - since the best part is the family-style side dishes that come with every meal: from cold buckwheat noodles to meatballs in country gravy.
    Insider Tip: Waits are notoriously long here and service can be agonizingly slow. If you’re on a tight schedule, head elsewhere, period.

    1365 Osage St.; 303-595-3666

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Alamo Placita: Angelo’s Taverna

    Several months ago, this decades-old pizzeria entered the 21st century with a remodel and a raw bar to supplement its red-sauce classics. But it hasn’t lost its cozy, convivial air, indoors or out on the charming back patio.
    Must Order: Oysters any style - raw, chargrilled or in boozy shooters - are a must for starters. And the hefty, bubbly pizzas, inducing twinges of nostalgia for neighborhood parlors of yore, are a foregone conclusion, .
    Insider Tip: You can’t beat Angelo’s twice-daily happy hours (3-6 PM and 9 PM-close), when bivalves go for a buck or two a pop, while an 8-inch pizza costs just $6.

    620 E. 6th Ave.; 303-744-3366

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    RiNo: Fuel Cafe

    Even after six years in the midst of a rapidly developing neighborhood, Bob Blair’s RiNo pioneer still feels like a delicious surprise, especially out on its sun-splashed oasis of a patio.
    Must Order: Gnocchi is a perennial highlight, whether presented with wild mushrooms, sherry and herb oil or goat cheese, pine nuts and garlic-scape pesto.
    Insider Tip: Fuel’s Facebook page is a must-visit for enophiles. In a malt-and-barley town, Blair has long been a champion of the grape, and it shows in enthusiastic announcements regarding the new, adventurous, sometimes tightly allocated bottles he has in stock.  

    3455 Ringsby Ct.; 303-996-6988

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    Jefferson Park: Chili Verde

    Festive but not rowdy, modern yet homey, this Federal Boulevard favorite is among a handful of local restaurants that eschew American approaches to Mexican cuisine (Texan, Coloradan, Southwestern, Californian or otherwise) in favor of regional cookery - in this case, that of Pueblo. It’s a treat indeed to sample tostadas de tinga and mole poblano out on the brick-lined sanctuary of a patio.
    Must Order: We always come back to the remarkable chile en nogada. The iconic Pueblan specialty consists of a roasted poblano stuffed with ground beef, almonds, raisins and other fruits; it’s then smothered in a walnut-cream sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. You won’t find anything else like it in town. 
    Insider Tip: Two words: salsa macha. Ask your server for extra to accompany the obligatory chips.

    2311 Federal Blvd.; 720-287-2296

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    City Park: The Plimoth

    Just over a week ago, The Plimoth unveiled its outdoor dining space to the public – and as 5280 reported, the crew will soon be putting that smoker pictured at right to good use. Given chef-owner Peter Ryan’s grounding in European tradition, we can pretty much guarantee he won’t be settling for casual cookout grub.
    Must Order: Housemade pâtés, terrines, rillettes and the like exemplify the kitchen’s attention to detail, offset as they are by thoughtful seasonal accents like lentil salad with piperade or pickled chard-onion relish. 
    Beat the Crowd: Go now - while word of the new patio is still spreading - and go early. This photo was taken at 6 PM on a Saturday night: not bad for a place whose reserved tables are among the most coveted in town, right?

    2335 E. 28th Ave.; 303-297-1215

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Washington Park: Vert Kitchen

    This wee gourmet counter joint lures hordes of loyalists who tolerate the tight squeeze for the privilege of wrapping their jaws around its smart, market-driven sandwiches and salads. But if you like a little breathing room with your croque monsieur, saunter out to the adorable split-level back patio for some fresh air amid the flowerpots.
    Must Order: For us, it’s a toss-up between the BLT and the baguette with marinated zucchini and white-bean hummus
    Beat the Crowd: By 2 PM, the lunch rush has slowed enough that you should have your pick of tables.

    704 S. Pearl St.; 303-997-5941

  • Credit: Volta/Facebook

    Boulder: Volta Mediterranean Restaurant

    Decked out in white and blue hues and graced by a corner fountain, Volta’s breezy courtyard whisks you far from the Village Shopping Center parking lot just beyond its walls. Of course, so does the vibrant, modern Greek menu and wine list.
    Must Order: In addition to the Athenian Experience sampler, we make mincemeat of the fat, juicy lamb burger with Taleggio and caramelized onions on focaccia at lunch. Come dinnertime, splurge on sparkling seafood, be it expertly handled calamari or whole fish.
    Insider Tip: If you don’t know your Assyrtiko from your Agiorgitiko, do take the time to speak with owner-wine director Jon Deering. He knows his Greek wines but he also knows how to host a dinner party, versus an enology lecture.

    2480 Canyon Blvd.; 303-938-8800