What’s a local restaurant to do to survive this pandemic winter? Get creative and make a unique hot spot, something cool that will beat the cold and one that will keep diners safe. These five are the most unique spots for outdoor dining in Colorado Springs now.
Igloos at The Old Depot
History meets arctic inspiration at the Old Depot, but these igloos will keep you plenty warm. Diners will find eight clear domes outside Brakeman’s Burgers, Track 10 Urban Kitchen and the Sandwich Depot. The restaurants opened last year in the newly renovated historic train depot behind the Antler’s Hotel. Each igloo seats six to eight people and has its own heater and bluetooth speaker, so you can stream your own dining tunes. “People love them,” says owner Charles Ochs. “They’re unique. They feel comfortable and safe. People get to create their own environment and play their own music. It’s like having your own private room.”
During the day, the lunch crowd can use the igloos first-come, first-serve. At night, reservations are required with service from Brakeman’s Burgers and Track 10. And for special events, the steak and seafood offerings of Track 10 get priority. Hint: Valentine’s Day is coming quick.
Tipi and Private Greenhouse at Shuga’s
As Kevin Dexter, owner of Shuga’s, researched and tried to prepare for the pandemic winter, he kept coming back to the idea of a tipi to offer safe and sheltered dining at his New South End restaurant. “We have wanted one for years in that space,” he says. ”I really wanted a circus tent too.”
There’s no circus tent, but there is a private greenhouse with one table for those who want to stay totally separated. The tipi holds several socially-distanced tables — plus a phonograph where you can spin some Roaring 20s hits on vinyl. “With the return of limited indoor dining, we’re able to offer options to customers of all varying comfort levels,” Dexter says. But it’s hard to beat the cool factor of the tipi — just sayin’. Be sure to reserve a table ahead, and don’t pass up the spicy Brazilian coconut shrimp soup.
Beer Bungalows at FH Beerworks
These little drinking dwellings are so popular at the east-side brewery that there’s an entire FAQs list about them on FH Beerworks’ Facebook page. Each of the 10 bungalows seats six, and your fur baby is welcome. They are heated but not insulated, so you might want to bring a blanket for cold nights. And online reservations (90 minutes each) are a must, so plan ahead. Partner food truck 1231 Craft Kitchen keeps the same hours to serve its Mexican fare to accompany your pint of Sticky Paws or Good Day IPA. You can’t live in these bungalows, but you’ll want to visit as often.
Cabanas at North Side Social
Why just eat when you can play? Beneath the big dome at North Side Social is a pickleball complex and private cabanas that seat 15-20. There are TVs in each cabana too. “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, and we supply the only covered courts in the area.,” says Mitch Yellen, owner and CEO of Altitude Hospitality Group. “With memberships from the novice to the skilled, there are classes, open play, etc. for everyone.” If pickleball is still not your game, you’ll find skeeball, jumbo Battleship, foosball and all sorts of arcade games inside. But it’s not all fun and games. There’s plenty of food and drinks, with the menu featuring craft burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and signature cocktails.
Parklets at Jax, Colorado Craft, Jack Quinn’s and Red Gravy
How do you create space for outdoor dining downtown? You build a row of parklets on top of the curbside parking spaces. The heated decks provide outdoor seating for Red Gravy, Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub, Colorado Craft Tejon Street Social, and Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. “This block of South Tejon is unlike any other in Downtown, with four full-service restaurants on the east side of the street; they have no other route for expanded outdoor dining, so these parklets will be a tremendous
help to get them through the tough pandemic months ahead,” said Susan Edmondson, president & CEO of Downtown Partnership, which spearheaded the effort. Kudos to GE Johnson and HBA Cares for their volunteer efforts to build the cozy downtown decks.
More Outdoor Dining
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