But some spots take al fresco to a whole new level. Bars and restaurants with rooftops are plentiful all over the Front Range, but what makes the best ones stand out? Right now, we’re partial to the under-the-radar options where you don’t have to cram too close to other people; the classics that survived the pandemic and are ready to be revised; and some of the new additions that have stepped up the rooftop game.
They’re not all within city limits, either. After all, if you’re looking for the best eats and drinks along with killer views, you’re ready to hit the heights. Here are the ten best rooftops to visit right now:
Briar Common Brewery + Eatery
2298 Clay Street
This gastropub opened in late 2016 in an odd, wedge-shaped building seemingly dropped into the middle of an intersection in the Jefferson Park neighborhood with little attention to traffic or practicality. But it’s been embraced by the neighborhood for a few reasons: the friendly staff, the well-thought-out menu; the timeless brews — you won’t find any Belgian rye imperial session IPAs here — and the rooftop. During the summer, it’s a parkside haven for city views — and it’s available to book for private events, too, if you want an exclusive rooftop experience.
The Golden Mill
1012 Ford Street, Golden
This historic mill turned food hall opened in 2021 and has quickly become a destination for anyone looking to head (a little) west for some staycation fun in Golden, where Clear Creek’s cold waters beckon tubers in the summer months. The expansive rooftop has a view of Coors Brewery and another big bonus: some of the best sushi in the state, at chef Jesus Silva’s Sushi Sora. Fill up a glass at the pour-your-own-beer wall downstairs, then settle in for an afternoon of sunny sipping and noshing.
Historians Ale House
Broadway staples the Fainting Goat and Historians Ale House are both longtime favorites for dive-bar vibes and rooftop views along this busy stretch of road, especially on weekends. But during the week, the upper level at Historians is a quieter refuge for an al fresco lunch break, where you can enjoy one of the best burger deals around: $7.95 for a cheeseburger, fries and a beer, well drink or soda from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
1229 South Broadway
Sure, the rooftop at our 2022 Best of Denver pick for Best Restaurant Patio is only two stories up, but it still boasts a killer view of the Rocky Mountains — and it won’t trigger anyone’s fear of heights. Paired with a thoughtfully crafted cocktail or a glass of Lambrusco and Joy Hill’s sourdough-crust pizzas, the view provides the ultimate colorful Colorado experience. If you’ve yet to feel the joy at this spot that opened just before the pandemic hit in 2020, this is your sign to go, ASAP.
Joyride Brewing Company
2501 Sheridan Boulevard, Edgewater
In 2014, Joyride became the first brewery to open in Edgewater — an area that’s since gotten a ton of new reasons to visit, including its own food hall, Edgewater Public Market (which also has a rooftop bar). In 2019, Joyride’s owners finally debuted a longtime dream: the brewery’s rooftop patio, which boasts not only its own bar with sixteen taps and room for 150 people, but stunning views that take in Denver’s skyline to the east, busy Sloan’s Lake Park just across the street, and, on a clear day, Pikes Peak to the south.
2030 West 30th Avenue
Back before new construction blocked some of the views, the rooftop at this restaurant built from the bones of the old Olinger Mortuary building was one of the most scenic places to dine in Denver. And while there may be more buildings surrounding it now, the eleven-year-old spot remains a go-to for good reason. Sure, its nearby sister restaurant, El Five, may be higher, but we love Linger’s more casual vibes and quirky touches, like the cocktails listed on toe tags, tables built from gurneys, and water served in apothecary bottles. Weekend brunch on the rooftop has long been an upbeat scene, and it’s one worth revisiting time and time again.
Odell Brewing Sloan’s Lake
1625 Perry Street
On the south side of Sloan’s Lake, just over a mile from Joyride, is another brewery rooftop, this one mere feet from the park’s water-side walking paths. Odell opened at this location last spring, and it handily nabbed our Best of Denver 2022 pick for Best Brewery Patio thanks to its ample space, quintessentially Denver views of the lake, and the delicious variety of beers that are brewed beneath your feet. It’s also the first Odell location to offer housemade dining options, including pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients.
Palenque Cocina y Agaveria
2609 West Main Street, Littleton
Downtown Littleton often gets overlooked by those who live closer to the city, but it’s home to a number of rooftop patios where you can enjoy the slower pace of the suburb, which happens to be packed with locally owned gems. Exhibit A: mezcal mecca Palenque, which originally opened in 2018 as a second location of Adelitas but took the Palenque name after former co-owners Silvia Andaya (who still runs the original on Broadway) and Brian Rossi cut ties in 2020. Two years into its new iteration, there’s no better place south of the city to learn about — and sip plenty of — a well-curated selection of agave spirits and cocktails than the upper level of this Main Street eatery.
7939 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village
For years, not much changed on Arapahoe Road near the Denver Tech Center, but a big push to revitalize the area kicked off in 2021 with the opening of Pindustry, the first major addition to what’s now called the Arapahoe Entertainment District. The two-story restaurant complex can hold up to 2,300 people, and besides the bowling and arcade games on the main floor, the biggest draw is the 16,000-square-foot Sky Deck with Rocky Mountain views, its own bar, and activities like giant chess and cornhole. Game on.
The Red Barber
3770 Walnut Street
There’s a reason this elevated escape was our 2022 Best of Denver pick for the Best Rooftop Patio: Size does matter. Located on the roof of the new Catbird Hotel in RiNo, the Red Barber boasts (nearly) 360-degree views from its perch six stories above the city. And while there are other rooftops in town with both city and mountain views, this one has 3,300 square feet of open, inviting space in which to sip cocktails, enjoy bites like wings with Caribbean hot sauce and Korean beef hot dogs, and play a game of cornhole. Comfy couches are prime spots for lounging, or opt for the grassy picnic area or a spot near a fire pit — there’s even amphitheater seating for live music performances. This is the ultimate backyard, in the sky, staffed with bartenders.