From Gondolas to Igloos: Winter Dining in Colorado

As the crisp winter air makes its way across Colorado’s mountain towns and the Front Range, restaurants get innovative with their outdoor seating. 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 Instagram-ready dining gondolas.

By: Colorado.com Staff Writer
Updated: July 2, 2024

Below are a few examples, but check with restaurants in your area to see what they're offering this winter.

Tip: Even with heaters, greenhouses and gondolas, you'll want to make sure you're wearing enough cozy layers to enjoy a comfortable dinner. Save the tank tops for summer.

Annette, Aurora

This scratch-to-table joint at Stanley Marketplace is the work of James Beard award-winner Chef Caroline Glover, so you know you're in for a good gastronomic time. Book a table on the covered patio or in the restaurant's yurt, where you can enjoy an array of winter-season delights. Past menus have featured the likes of sunchoke gratin with raclette, lemon and thyme as well as grouper bouillabaisse. 

DIRT Coffee Bar, Littleton

Set in an adorable house in equally adorable historic downtown Littleton, DIRT Coffee Bar will warm you up with an array of lattes, teas and cortados, which you can sip in style from their heated outdoor greenhouse. You'll find locally sourced light bites, like killer breakfast burritos, panini and a host of pastries — with ample vegan and gluten-free options. And dining at DIRT brings a little extra warmth, as the coffeeshop is a nonprofit whose mission is training, employing and empowering neurodivergent individuals through workforce development programming. 

Mountain Tap Brewery, Steamboat Springs

Three bright-purple gondolas wait to welcome you at Mountain Tap, each offering a 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 & Steuben's, Denver

Revel in garden-party vibes as you dine outside on the heated and fairy-light-bedecked patio at Ace Eat Serve — a north Capitol Hill spot. Snack on flavorful dim sum, pillowy bao buns and tart mango sticky rice while the Denver snow falls around you. Sister restaurant Steuben's brings the outdoor-dining heat with a wintertime cafe-style set up and re-imagined diner faves like beef-and-veal meatloaf and buttermilk-brined fried chicken.

Aurum Food & Wine, 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 at Aurum come with quilts and lanterns to further that homey vibe. Each of these domed dwellings provided a heated and cozy atmosphere where you can feast on a special chef’s multi-course meal. You must make a reservation.


Telluride Mountain Village

Twenty-five refurbished gondolas have taken over Telluride’s ski village. With heating, plush seats and space for eight people, there's nothing not winter-wonderland cozy about the meal you'll enjoy. Order from various restaurants around the plaza and have delights delivered right to your private gondola. The gondola-on-the-ground experience takes après-ski to a new level. 

Barolo Grill, Denver

This Cherry Creek neighborhood locale that dishes up elevated riffs on classic Italian eats boasts upscale heated bungalows in their courtyard. Memories of chilly days melt away with seasonal dishes like steaming house-made pastas, herb-crusted pork tenderloins and braised rabbit. Or savor the four-course tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations and $25 deposits per person are required. (Your deposit is refunded when you arrive for your meal.)

Treeline Kitchen, Leadville

Downtown Leadville's Treeline Kitchen is a must when visiting the highest incorporated city in the nation. Gather around the patio fire pit to warm up with delights like vegetable curry, locally sourced beef stroganoff and decadent lamb pasta. Reservations are not required but are highly encouraged.

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