Dine Outside Downtown with Views and Ambience

It’s such a luxury to dine outside before heading in for a night of entertainment. Downtown Denver has some outdoor dining options for people who like a view, a patio, or any type of cuisine.

Here’s a fun suggestion: try pairing your meal and drinks with a theme in the show you are seeing, if possible.


Exterior of Tamayo restaurant

Photo courtesy of Tamayo

My go-to is Larimer Square where you can choose between a nearby parking garage or a parking lot, then walk over to the theater complex after you dine (and walk the three blocks back after the show). Or, you can arrive early and park in the Arts Complex garage and easily saunter to Larimer Square and then head back for the show.

Rioja has a small patio, or just inside there are small tables near the bar and open doors to the fresh air. The Mediterranean fare is always delicious and the service is impeccable so you can’t go wrong with this choice. They have an extensive wine list, as well as clever cocktails and mocktails to sip. Rioja is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner so this restaurant can work no matter what time your show is. Reservations are recommended.

Tamayo is in a prime spot on the corner of 14th St. and Larimer, where they have ample indoor seating and then a stunning rooftop deck with mountain views. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food and a fresh margarita, this is your place. Try brunch, happy hour or dinner before your show. Reservations are recommended.


Photo courtesy of Dazzle Jazz

Dazzle Jazz is part of the Arts Complex now, so once you’ve parked in the lot, make your way to 14th Street and grab a seat on the patio. If your plans are for an evening show, you can select from snacks (popcorn, bruschetta, and similar tasty items), robust appetizers (sliders, salads, and more), and scrumptious desserts. For those seeing a matinee show, go for a filling brunch. Either way, you pick from an expansive selection of wine, beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Part of the Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, Prelude + Post is located across from the Buell Theatre and serves pre-show dinner and drinks plus post-show desserts and night caps. Its tapa-style menu features locally sourced ingredients. Best of all, you can take your beverages with you to any of the theatres throughout the Arts Complex.


Photo courtesy of Tavernetta

It’s an option to take public transportation to LoDo, grab a bite to eat at Union Station or nearby, then opt for a pedi-cab back to the train after your show.

Your outdoor dining choices at Union Station include Stoic & Genuine with an assortment of seafood and a patio where you can watch the fountains (and maybe some people splashing in them); Mercantile Dining and Provision with sandwiches for lunch or seafood, pasta, and other generous entrees for dinner to be enjoyed on their patio on the eastern flank of the station.

There are many restaurants in this block with outdoor seating so you can also try Wynkoop Brewing Company, the Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill, or walk toward Larimer Square and try the places mentioned above.

Nearby you will also find Tavernetta, a gem of Italian dining that you may want to indulge in and then walk off on your way to your final course, a wonderful production! If it’s baseball season, you might easily find a pedi-cab to hire for a lift to the theater, or you can walk there in the right shoes.

Photo courtesy of Corinne

For those who prefer the views and vibe of outdoor dining with the comforts of indoors, head two blocks east of Union Station along 16th Street and you will find Reynard Social on the sixth floor of the Thompson Hotel. Here you are nearly surrounded by windows for a view to the west.


One of the swankier options for dining al fresco before the theater in Denver is 54thirty, a rooftop lounge at Le Meridien. You’re close enough to park at the Arts Complex and walk over for your nibbles and drinks, then get back in time for your show. The views are worth stopping here as you get to look over the city and can see the Rocky Mountains to the west. The menu is light bites of sliders, tacos, and other snacks to accompany your beverages.

You can go downstairs to their restaurant, Corinne, for a more filling meal, and there is also a patio on the California St. side of the building.

Make a night of it in downtown Denver by soaking up the local architecture, people, and scenery as you sample the local fare.