In the summer—oh, let’s just be honest, in spring and fall as well—a seat on one of Boulder County’s lovely patios is prime real estate. The hottest of patios attract crowds at lunch and they stay until close, making visitors wonder out loud, “When do these people work?”
Patios are definitely a part of the Colorado culture. And this year, we take you off the beaten path, through a dingy hallway and out the back door for a list of patios that offer you something that The Rio, Southern Sun, Chautauqua and The Pumphouse can’t: no wait. Of course, that’s not completely true. Each of these has its own personality and perks, and they are worth the adventure.
701 B Main St., Louisville
Lulu’s patio (pictured above) is less of a patio and more like an extension of your own backyard. Hit up the bar, grab a margarita served in a Mason jar or a can of Shift, and head to the grassy knoll in the back for a game of cornhole. Or find a table and order a rack of ribs, tater tots and mac ‘n’ cheese in the super comfortable, laid-back patio.
809 Main St., Louisville
Waterloo is Lulu’s big brother down the street, and it too has a great hidden patio. Past the bar, the booths, the stage, the bathrooms and the kitchen, you’ll begin to feel the heat. The main feature here is the killer fire pit in the shape of a guitar. Picnic tables rest under a pergola, and music plays. It’s casual and full of fun people. All you need is a burger.
2111 30th St., Boulder
Rare is a patio that literally makes you feel like you’re some place else. At Ethiopian oasis Ras Kassas, it’s only the sound of Boulder traffic that makes you realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the People’s Republic. The shady patio skirts an easy creek and hovers over a woodsy riparian area. Grab a local beer and sop up spicy organic red lentils with your injera sponge bread.
524 Briggs St., Erie
This old town Erie bar is popular among the biker crowd, and it’s a no frills sort of joint. But that doesn’t mean you should steer clear. With beer on tap and a plate of chili fries in hand, head to the super-secret back patio to sit in the sun and meet the locals.
700 Main St., Louisville
Sweet and comfortable, Huckleberry brings in giant crowds for breakfast and brunch to sit in their sunlit dining rooms and eat huckleberry crepes. But out back, you’ll find a nice little refuge. Pick a Sunday morning and try your eggs sunny side up.
101 Pratt St., Longmont
So, we realize that almost every time we mention Sugarbeet, we say something about the restaurant’s non-traditional location. But it’s really a testament to the food and service that Sugarbeet has become a mecca for high-end diners in a not-so-high-end-dining sort of locale. The same goes for the patio, which offers variety and a change of scenery as well as Sugarbeet’s spring pea hummus, grilled halloumi and grilled bruschetta. Add a cocktail, and you’ll be glad you came.