When only a patio will do

I think we’ve all suffered a dive or two to get that perfect burrito or breakfast with the to-die-for biscuits.

Lord knows, I’ve been in some dicey places to get authentic soul food. It’s called hole-in-the-wall dining. You sacrifice ambience — staring at a cheap-panel wall and a vase of dusty silk flowers — to satisfy your cravings.

But sometimes you want to gaze at something beautiful, feel the summer breeze and get lost in time. That’s al fresco dining, and the Grand Valley has some special spots to satisfy that craving.

PATIOS WITH A VIEW:

My friend has bemoaned the fact that not many valley eateries take advantage of the views of the Bookcliffs, Colorado National Monument and other natural scenes. But Red Canyon Grille at The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa uses its location to the max. From the patio, you have a panoramic view of the monument in the distance and down below, the lush green of the golf course. It’s the place you take relatives from Kansas when they’re visiting. The course is public, so anyone is welcome to play or sup. The lunch menu is up-scale sandwiches, salads and appetizers. Dinner entrees include apple brie stuffed chicken and comfort foods, such as chicken pot pie, meatloaf and pasta. Prices are under $15. The Sunday brunch menu ranges from classics, such as eggs Benedict to south of the borders tastes. Mimosas, bloody Marys and champagne at the Sabbath day brunch are only $2.50.

An hour’s drive away, but worth the trip is Entrada at Gateway Canyons. From the patio, which is only open in the evenings, you can see the stunning sandstone formations and hoo-doo spires that define the American West. The resort also has a more café-like venue, but Entrada is a high-end destination restaurant.

A recent chef’s posting recommends that guests try a three-course dinner. First, bison Carpaccio with caper berries. Second, a Palisade port-poached pear salad. And third, a combo of Colorado striped bass and Colorado rack of lamb with quinoa and amaranth pilaf. Ah yes, bring the credit card and plan on getting a room for the night.

Less starched linen and crystal, but with a great view, the Wine Country Inn concert series Live in the Vines on Friday nights offers a vista of the vineyards and the Bookcliffs. Tables are set up in the grass facing the performance pavilion and the fare is an informal grill. For performance dates and details, see http://www.coloradowinecountryinn.com

PATIO WITH AMBIENCE: The high fencing prevents a view of Bookcliff Country Club, but Hereford Steak & Sushi on Horizon Drive has opened a patio with an open but private feel. The dozen or so tables are lit with tiki lights and a large fountain sits in the middle. The restaurant serves anything from satay and crab cake appetizers to ribeyes and sushi platters for the whole table.

PATIOS WITH COSMO FEEL: Many downtown restaurants have street-side al fresco dining, but the ones with an advantage are on Main Street, with less car traffic and where you can people-watch. The ones I like best are Il Bistro Italiano, Le Rouge and Dolce Vita. Watch a tiny portion of the world go by, especially on Thursday evenings during the Farmer’s Market, and feel smug that you have a table under an umbrella and somebody is bringing you whatever you desire.

PATIO WITH PERSONALITIES: Naggy McGee’s, located a block off Main Street with not much of a view, is a spot of good cheer, boisterous conversations and belly laughs wafting to and fro. The food is better-than-expected Irish pub grub for under $15.  During happy hour Naggy’s designates a couple for beers for $2. Last check it was Dundee honey brown and Carlsberg.

QUOTE: “You know how I feel about tacos. It’s the only food shaped like a smile. A beef smile.”

— Earl Hickey,

“My Name is Earl”

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Send tips and ideas to tess.furey@ gjsentinel.com.



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