Denver is full of sun-drenched patios (prime examples are those at The Squeaky Bean and Lola, our Top of the Town winners). But these days, I’m smitten with Encore on Colfax‘s terrace.

The urban space offers both sun and shade. One friend confides that it feels very New York-esque, which could be the result of the canvas curtains swept back for drama, the late-art deco lines of the reclaimed Lowenstein Theater sign, or the cool, polished cement floor.

Chef Paul Reilly cooks a modern American menu, which is to say there’s a little of everything (from sultry, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers to house-made sausage).

There’s always a sense of seasonality to Reilly’s food: The herb-roasted half-chicken comes with a tangle of arugula, grilled Colorado peaches, red onions, and Gorgonzola, while the seductive chicken-fried Idaho rainbow trout arrives with a baby heirloom tomato-watercress salad and basil-caper aïoli. Both dishes are light, even refreshing, and ideal for al fresco dining.

Tip: Don’t pass on Reilly’s desserts. Choose two (I’m partial to the doughnut-like cinnamon-ginger churros and the caramely peach tarte Tatin), and trade bites.

2550 E. Colfax Ave., 303-355-1112

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.