Best Outdoor Dining in Boulder

Brews and Views: Boulder's Best Outdoor Dining and Drinking

The towering Flatirons are famed throughout the west for the breathtaking skyline that they draw just above Boulder Valley. These sandstone slabs were named by the pioneer women who first settled the area for their resemblance to metal irons used for pressing clothes and have captured the imagination of all who have entered the valley since.

Some like to climb these multi-pitched monoliths, others ditch the ropes and merely run and scramble straight to the top. But, for the less daring, they are always there to provide an awe inspiring view. And what better way to take in this view than on a patio, sipping a local brew, and eating a delicious meal? 

Boulder restaurants and brewpubs were quick to fill customer's demand for this one-of-a-kind view by building rooftop and street side patios. Our list serves up the best of the best, including The Rio Grande with its delightful rooftop paradise offering a view of the Flatirons and Green Mountain all to the tinkling sound of its colorful fountain.

Other favorites on our list include the Lazy Dog and Southern Sun Brewery. These joints serve excellent drinks, food, and provide commanding views of Boulder Valley and the Flatirons.

Though there are a few selections on our list that don't offer a view of the mountains, they do offer relaxed, shaded seating, well worth your time.


So drink up, get out, and enjoy the roofs, patios, and views of Boulder, Colorado.



Located within walking distance of Folsom Field, you'll quench your thirst with one ( or several) of their many beer options. Gigantic pizzas, and scrumptious pasta concoctions will satisfy any Italian craving, this local dive is a favorite for beer and pizza lovers alike. The Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Sub are both excellent options for those who like traditional Italian, and for those who'd like to go the more adventurous route, The Hot Mob: ham, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, provolone, and Italian dressing. Our personal favorite, the Nediterranean, blends pesto & red sauce, pine nuts, garlic, roasted red peppers, artichokes, kalamata olives, feta to create one of the most hearty and mouthwatering pizzas in the west.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The patio at Backcountry is dog friendly, fun, and laid-back.

Hope's expert tip: Blend an American and Italian experience by ordering the Nediterranean Pizza ( named after Boulder's neighboring mountain town, Nederland) and beer.

Read more about Backcountry Pizza & Tap House →

The Lazy Dog Sports Bar

The All-American sports bar and grill offers up burgers and fries with a side of Football and, on the late night, dancing. Friday and Saturday nights offer live music from local and national bands. Their downtown location with a rooftop view is a spacious venue for dancing while marveling at the twinkling lights of Boulder. A hang-out for people of all ages, but you will generally find a younger, pup-crawlin', crowd later in the evening. Music genres range from bluegrass and classic rock, to punk and indie rock, so you are sure to hear a tune perfect for tappin' your toes.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Lazy Dog's rooftop patio is great for dancing the night away under the stars.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to check Lazy Dog's live music line up each week.

Read more about The Lazy Dog Sports Bar →

Located just outside Boulder in quaint Louisville, Colorado The Huckleberry is known for its fresh, delicious, and all-American food. Breakfast and brunch are the time of day when this place really shines, with a variety of eggs benedicts, biscuits and gravy, milkshakes, and homemade pies. Many items can be made gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan to suit your dietary preferences or needs. Tea and pastries can be purchased to take home, as well as a variety of local and handmade gifts such as jewelry, Christmas ornaments, and art work that can be found in The Huckleberry lobby. Also, be sure to have a delicious house chai.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The Huckleberry offers garden-party like seating near the back of the restaurant, perfect for a sunny day.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to ask for seasonal dishes that use local ingredients and don't miss out on their Huckleberry Ding-Dongs!

Read more about The Huckleberry →


Owned by a true Nepalese mountain man, Sherpa Pemba spent his childhood in the Everest region and acted as a guide on more than 20 ascents over 20,000 ft. Colorado acts as his home away from home and his restaurant is an authentic homage to Nepalese cuisine, serving some of the most succulent and savory dishes for miles around. The garlic and cheese nan, Saag, and curry chicken or vegetables will nourish and entice you so that you'll swear you could climb Everest. Sherpas outdoor patio has an ambiance that will make you fall in love, eat your fill, and raise of merry glass of your favorite libation. Decorated with hanging vines in the spring and summer months, this lush canopy provides shelter from the Colorado sun.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Sherpa's shaded and neatly tucked away patio allows you to relax under its beautiful arbors.

Hope's expert tip: You simply must try the garlic and cheese nan, along with a warm glass of their house chai.

Read more about Sherpas →

Walnut Cafe

Touted as Boulder's favorite breakfast and lunch joint for 25 years, the Walnut Cafe offers delicious favorites such as the Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Burrito, and a Quiche of the Day. Specialty Sandwiches such as the Boulder Melt and Hot Mediterranean are sure to satisfy. The Sunrise Sandwich is a delight and consists of 2 eggs how you like them, your choice of meat and cheese, served on toasted Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. Sides include fresh fruit, grits, blueberry corn bread, and banana bread. Wanna hear more? The Vegetarian, Mexican, and Denver omelets will all delight and satisfy and be sure to order one of the Walnut Cafe's delicious chais.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Walnut Cafe offers a quaint diner feel and allows you to sip chai while admiring the mountains from their large street-side patio.

Hope's expert tip: Ask for the Walnut Cafe's Quiche of the Day.

Read more about Walnut Cafe →

This local brewery offers some of the best refreshments in the area and is perfect to visit after a long hike at Chautauqua Park. One of their most popular beers, the Colorado Kind Ale, is dry hopped deliciousness and should be paired with one of Southern Sun's massive burgers or, our favorite, the grilled cheese. Hot wings and BBQ wings are a staple at this joint, as well as the delicious $1 tacos every Wednesday night. Choose from vegetarian or beef and eat late into the night since tacos service goes on well past pumpkin hour. Perfect place for a late-night snack.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Offering one of the best patio views of the Flatirons in Boulder, Southern Sun ranks high on our outdoor seating list.

Hope's expert tip: Don't miss out of the to-die-for delicious hot wings.

Read more about Southern Sun →

This lovely restaurant was a gift from Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which donated the building to the city in the late 1980's. The ornately decorated structure was imported and then rebuilt by workers from Tajikistan. Offering a truly one-of-a-kind brunch, you'll find Indian samosas, German Bratwurst, and Korean Kalbi Short Ribs. For something a bit more traditional, you can try the salmon benedict, homemade oatmeal, or greek scramble. Appetizers include Persian grilled chicken strips marinated in yogurt and spices. Koresht Bademjan, which is Persian braised beef stew with eggplant, onions, tomatoes and spices served with orange currant couscous, and Persian tamarind shrimp are two of the featured main dishes.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The Dushanbe Teahouse's patio sits alongside Boulder Creek and is simply enchanting with it's vined arbors.

Hope's expert tip: You simply must indulge on the Indian samosas or salmon Benedict.

Read more about Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse →

Avery Brewing Company

Hands down, one of the best breweries you'll ever visit; Avery Brewing Company offers an escape from the bars and pubs of downtown. The lively atmosphere immediately invites you to snuggle up with your honey, cheers with your friends, or just relax solo and sip in some solitude. Their Cajun-inspired appetizers include cured meats and pungent cheeses, Pork Green Chili, and Barbecue Nachos, to name a few. Some of their signature brews include the hoppy India Pale Ale, the light Belgian-style White Rascal, and the nutty, savory, Elle's Brown Ale. Avery's new brewhouse is located on the outskirts of Boulder and offers a taproom downstairs, brewery tours, and an elegant dining room for those who prefer to sip their brew in a more intimate and quiet setting. Watch for release parties and special tappings throughout the year.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Avery's outdoor seating is relaxed, fun, and perfect for any summer night.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to grab a pint of the Karma, Avery's most drinkable and refreshingly crisp beer.

Read more about Avery Brewing Company →

Claiming to serve cocktails with "passion, not pretense" the Bitter Bar is an elegant, albeit slightly trendy, bar located just off of Boulder's famous Pearl Street Mall. Tucked away on Walnut, Bitter Bar offers patio seating for some sunbathing during the day and invites you to bask in the soft glow of outdoor lighting in the evening. From plush booths for snuggling with your honey or gossiping with friends to community tables perfect for standing or sitting while enjoying the company of a large group, the Bitter Bar is a wonderful space for a Girl's Night Out or for celebrating a special event.

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The Bitter Bar offers an amazing selection of spirits, an enchanting outdoor patio with Midsummer Nights Dream lighting, and yummy bites sure to please.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to try the marinaded olives or select cured meats.

Read more about Bitter Bar →

The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Rio Grande

Serving some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine for lunch including, their Lunch Combo-half a quesadilla and your choice of soup or salad. For something a bit more calorie packed, the Rio's Custom nachos offer a concoction of cheese, your choice of meat, and guacamole. But what would a Mexican restaurant be without tacos? The Rio's Tequilla Shrimp tacos are light, fresh, and filling while still packing a flavorful punch. But don't forget the margaritas: Rio Margs (as they're lovingly called by Boulderites) will have you singing, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila...FLOOR!" These liquid desserts are consistently ranked #1 in the area by bloggers, beverage magazines, and locals alike. .

Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The Rio's rooftop patio is unmatched in Boulder, providing an excellent view of the Flatirons.

Hope's expert tip: Hands down, the best margaritas in town! These babies pack a powerful punch and, as such, the limit is 3 per person. But don't worry, after you drink your fill you can top it off with one of their delicious Tequila Shrimp tacos.

Read more about The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant →


Meet Hope Gately

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains playing...  More About Hope