Paul Aiken / Colorado Daily
Marty Caivano / Colorado Daily
Joshua Lawton / Colorado Daily
There’s this classic saying I find particularly relevant in a town as beautiful as Boulder: “I’m outdoorsy … in that I enjoy drinking on a patio.”
And in a town that boasts some absurd number of sunny days, locals have taken their wining-and-dining experiences to rooftops and patios.
Get your Vitamin D, yummy grub and hops all at once at these downtown oases.
The Rio Grande
1101 Walnut St.
This rooftop is a key Boulder experience. Never mind that it’s got a spectacular view of the Flatirons, tucked just a block away from the bustling Pearl Street Mall. Forget that the Rio has incredible food, like their burritos (add the rice) and green chile.
These folks have a margarita called the Man-Berry. You swirl together their frozen mango and strawberry margaritas and get a drink that’ll make any lazy afternoon complete. Not to say you need be of age to enjoy this rooftop. It’s just a perk.
Come early, as the rooftop seating can be limited. Stay long enough, and you’ll get to enjoy their colored lights (and heating lamps when temperatures drop). Guys, hint: This is a grand date option.
1109 Walnut St.
I pair this with the Rio because it just so happens to be its neighbor. Don’t worry, the view is still killer one building away. And what it lacks in Mexican cuisine, it makes up for in pub snacks like their flatbread pizzas and hand-cut fries.
Absinthe House is also where we all go to bust a move, and the rooftop is no exception, with a DJ putting out beats for you to move to. Head over on Tuesdays, and they’ll have two-for-one top-shelf deals all night. Thursdays are for the ladies, with free drinks for the estrogen set from 9 p.m. to midnight. Not too shabby for a night out under the stars.
Harpo’s Sports Grill
2860 Arapahoe Ave.
Not all rooftop options are Pearl Street-adjacent, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Take Harpo’s, for example. This sports grill has just as snazzy a view, and a whole mess of flat-screen TVs to boot. Talk about a great place to cheer on your Buffs while enjoying the (far more reliably good) view.
Alongside the usuals, Harpo’s beer line up includes classics from New Belgium, Avery Brewing and Boulder Beer. Feeling fancier and/or like a true “Scrubs” fan? The bartenders can also whip you up a fine Appletini, or Horny Margarita for, well, that kind of night.
And for the midweek set, Harpo’s crew brings you Geeks Who Drink on Tuesday nights. You’ll want to bolster your useless knowledge for this trivia night.
The West End Tavern
926 Pearl Street
Toward the end of Pearl Street, The West End Tavern sits chock-full of bourbon, beer and wings, and not necessarily in that order. Proud boasters of the Wing King Challenge, those up for eating 50 wings in 30 minutes will win bragging rights, a shirt and a spot on their Wing King Wall of Fame (aka: where cool people want to be).
Combine that with a kick-ass rooftop, and you’ve got a great place for the over- and under-21 set alike. Their menu has things like Angus Beef Brisket, root beer floats and house-made cherry pie. Their beer lineup is always changing, they’re always bringing in new craft brews from around the state. And their bourbon? Legendary. With 75 varieties, I’m sure you’ll find something you like. You’ll feel grown up, spending a night at The West End Tavern, enjoying the view of downtown Pearl while enjoying a glass of Devils Cut bourbon. (If you are old enough. If you’re not, you can look forward to it.)
Lazy Dog Sports Bar
1346 Pearl St.
“Boulder’s Largest Full Service Rooftop Deck.” That’s what folks at The Lazy Dog boast to have, along with a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays that’ll knock those socks right off your feet.
Not too shabby.
Nestled along Pearl Street, The Lazy Dog is one of those bars that’s easy to duck into and enjoy for a few hours. Thursday through Saturday, you’ll get treated to live music at 10 p.m., free to enjoy with your baby back ribs, fish and chips or baked mac ‘n’ cheese.
And if a gorgeous rooftop on Pearl — soaking up the evening air while watching the oddities of our town stroll by — isn’t enough to get you to come by, how about trivia night at 10 p.m. on Wednesday? Or brunch (who doesn’t love brunch?) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays? Exactly. Go check it out.
Alexandra Sieh writes about Boulder nightlife for the Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/ansieh.