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From Gondolas to Igloos: Winter Dining in Colorado

While dine-in service is closed in many Colorado counties, outdoor dining and take-out service are still an option for holiday celebrations from most of our stellar local eateries.

Yurts at Aurum Food & Wine in Steamboat Springs
Yurts at Aurum Food & Wine in Steamboat Springs
Annette's village of mini greenhouses
Annette's village of mini greenhouses
Enjoy winter dining in bubble family comfort
Enjoy winter dining in bubble family comfort
Rooftop igloos at Treeline Kitchen in Leadville
Rooftop igloos at Treeline Kitchen in Leadville

Additionally, as the crisp winter air makes its way across Colorado’s mountain towns and the Front Range, restaurants are getting innovative with their outdoor seating — especially as more people opt to dine al fresco due to health and safety concerns. Establishments have added space heaters, locally made blankets, radiant floor heating and more. Some public houses are going above and beyond by adding individual domes, greenhouses and gondolas. Below are a few examples, but check with restaurants in your area to see what they're offering this winter.

Annette, Aurora

As you walk up to this Stanley Marketplace scratch-to-table joint, you’ll notice a teeny village of 12 mini greenhouses all lined up side by side. Each house has a light above the door that indicates you need service. On brisk Sunday mornings, indulge in brunch with a Le Creuset French press, a thermos full of hot toddies, colorfully woven throws and a sourdough waffle topped with maple whipped cream. You must reserve a greenhouse online.

Mountain Tap Brewery, Steamboat Springs

Don’t freak out when you see the three bright-purple gondolas perched on the ground at Mountain Tap. They didn’t fall off the lines — they’re restored, heated, private-dining experiences. Choose your own music on the Bluetooth speaker, order a wood-oven blazed margherita pizza and guzzle a German-style pilsner. Reservations are required; the gondolas seat up to six people; and there are spending minimums.

Ace Eat Serve, Denver

Sit under one of three warmed, socially distanced geometric domes at this north Capitol Hill spot. Snack on flavorful dim sum, pillowy bao buns and tart mango sticky rice while the Denver snow falls around you. The igloos seat up to eight people, come decorated and are available for two-hour slots.

Black Cat, Boulder

Glass cabanas dot the landscape of Black Cat, providing wood-stove-warmth and shelter from even the coldest of Colorado nights. Upon arrival, you’ll be handed an aperitif and hors d’oeuvres for your tour of the historic farmstead. Then settle in for a hearty meal of farm-raised squash and greens complemented with heritage pork. Each shelter seats two to eight people and reservations can be made within two weeks of the date you’d like to visit. 

Beast + Bottle, Denver

Just off bustling 17th Street lies an oasis of balmy greenhouses. Take your bubble family out for a farm-to-table dinner that could include crispy-crust pizzas covered in prosciutto and gorgonzola or freshly caught Copper River salmon served with succulent marinated tomatoes. There is a $20 deposit per person for the greenhouse reservations, and guests must have their temperature taken upon arrival.

Aurum Food & Wine, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs

Who doesn’t want to eat in a yurt village? Lined up against the backdrop of some of the Centennial State’s tallest peaks, the yurts come with quilts and lanterns to further that homey vibe. Each of these domed dwellings is heated, at least 6 feet apart, and you’ll feast on a special chef’s multi-course meal. You must make a reservation for Breckenridge or Steamboat.

My Brother's Bar, Denver

The oldest bar in the Mile High City (opened in 1873!) has crafted six fully furnished snow globes that come with comfy couches, modern furniture, layered rugs and the occasional plant. You will want to host your bubble birthday or holiday party here, we guarantee it. Warm up with a cup of red chili or take a bite out of the famous jalapeño cream-cheese burger. 

Telluride Mountain Village

Twenty newly refurbished gondolas have taken over Telluride’s ski village. With proper heating and ventilation, plush seats and space for eight people, this will be a meal you’ll never forget. Order from 12 different restaurants around the plaza and have delights delivered right to your socially distanced gondola. How luxurious! There will also be 20-foot yurts and a pavilion to round out the hamlet’s dining options.

Buchi Cafe Cubano, Leadville

In the heart of downtown Leadville lives Buchi Café, a Cuban dreamworld. What makes it better? The outdoor igloos that fit your four-person-household. Start your day with traditional Cuban coffee and their homemade bread covered in thick, melted cheese. Or grab an igloo for an Aye Conyo sandwich of roasted pork, ham, turkey and pepperoni with Swiss cheese, crunchy pickles, onions and spicy hot peppers all doused in mustard and Key lime mayo.

Attimo Wine, Denver

Located in the heart of downtown Denver, Attimo has built a massive heated tent with socially distanced barrel tables and string lights for that intimate ambiance. Have a glass of their Italian wine (maybe the Favorita, which has notes of apricot, pineapple and pear) and a charcuterie board of cured meats, artisanal cheeses and Rebel Bread’s crostini. Reservations are required, and an 18-percent service charge is added to all checks. 

Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction

It’s officially greenhouse season in western Colorado. Sip a rum swizzle and chow down on bone-in pork katsu while you discuss your plans for seeing the Grand Mesa (the world’s largest flat-topped mountain). Grab one of seven little safe havens on a first-come, first-served basis. They fit up to four people in comfort.

Spuntino, Denver

The Highlands neighborhood got even cozier when Spuntino opened their massive tent. Stay toasty with spongy house-made rosemary focaccia, hand-rolled pasta, crunchy risotto arancini and fluffy apple-cider donuts. This covered, warmed wonderland is open for call-ahead seating and reservations Wednesday­–Sunday.

Grand Colorado on Peak 8, Breckenridge

If you book your stay at the Grand, request the rooftop Elev8 Lounge, which is housed in a clear dome. It’s a comfortable, slope-side retreat with 270-degree views of snow-covered mountain peaks. Hang out with your one-family household in front of the fire with a drink in hand — this is the right way to après.

Barolo Grill, Denver

This Cherry Creek neighborhood locale that dishes up elevated riffs on classic Italian eats is building upscale pods surrounding fire pits in their courtyard. Each will have plexiglass to keep the germs out and the good vibes in. Get extra cozy with the gnocchi al granchio — potato gnocchi, lump crab, tomatoes, shellfish crema and celery salad. Reservations and $25 deposits per person are required.

Town of Vail

Many of this ski town’s restaurants are adding heated tents adjacent to their restaurants to keep visitors safe and warm this winter. The village has also added complimentary areas with fire pits, patio heaters and igloos that will fit one-household families. All of this means you can enjoy the powder-dusted pine trees and chalets for even longer without getting too chilly. 

The Family Jones Spirit House, Denver

Situated in the Lower Highlands neighborhood, The Family Jones Spirit House is offering up quaint greenhouses. Sit in comfort as you sample concoctions like the pineapple chai punch (served with roasted pineapple) or the warming earl grey toddy. Dine on creamy fava bean hummus, juicy house-made meatballs and rich chocolate pot de cremes.

Treeline Kitchen, Leadville

Grab the top spot (literal rooftop dining) at downtown Leadville's Treeline Kitchen. The igloos seat up to eight people, offer incredible views of the Rockies and are furnished with electric blankets. Savor the creamy artichoke dip and piquant french onion soup or go all-in for the rich lamb pasta. Reservations are not required but are highly encouraged.

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