The Ultimate Backyard Party in Boulder, Colorado

Categories: Food, Travel,
August 29, 2016,

By Maddie Rowley

Photography courtesy of the rayback collective

Summer isn’t over yet; a notion made abundantly clear while drinking and dining at the Rayback Collective, a hip, open-concept culinary experience that’s “so Boulder” it hurts.

Rayback Summer Dinner Event in Colorado

Photo by Kobi Forer, @Photographic_CO

On a recent trip to back to Colorado, my former coworkers and I decided to check out the Rayback one evening for dinner and drinks, and it didn’t disappoint.

Pulling up to the place is a bit misleading, because it looks like an old elementary school from the side. But walking in, you enter a huge backyard-like space with picnic tables, umbrellas, vintage Edison lights, and grassy spots perfect for lounging. Toddlers run around on wobbly legs, chefs in food trucks yell “Order Up!” and patrons clutched craft beer or wine in one hand while tossing cornhole bean bags with the other.

Rayback Colorado Event VIE Magazine

Photo by Kobi Forer, @Photographic_CO

As the mountains loomed in the background and the threat of a downpour drew near, my friends and I made our way toward Rayback’s indoor space, a large warehouse full of reclaimed wood tables and a long bar lined with colorful taps. On the way, we passed a stage area and a few living-room type setups complete with couches and coffee tables.

Server at Rayback Colorado VIE Magazine

Photo by Kobi Forer, @Photographic_CO

A server asked for our drink orders after handing us a menu listing any and all types of craft beer, cider, mead (hello, medieval ages!), kombucha, and wine. I ordered a glass of chilled New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and it really hit the spot. Jamie, Kendall, and Elizabeth all ordered various craft beers (because they’re way cooler than me).

After a few minutes of sipping, we left our table to survey the food truck scene. Kendall and I ultimately decided on Mambo Dogs Express, because our surroundings were making us feel super Americana vibes. She opted for a classic Chicago dog, and I ordered my regular hot dog with extra yellow mustard. We also shared a Frito pie, which is a really unhealthy—yet so delicious—combo of Fritos corn chips, chili, and cheese.

Rayback food truck in Colorado VIE Magazine

Photo by Kobi Forer, @Photographic_CO

Marion Rayback

Marion Arthur Rayback

The Rayback Collective was named for Marion Rayback, a beloved Boulder plumber, local celebrity, and Navy veteran who lived to be 92. The collective intentionally fuses traditional restaurant/bar seating with the adventurous option to walk around and buy dinner from one of the food trucks, thus providing the customer with more freedom over food choice while allowing them—even forcing them—to interact with their surroundings and fellow diners. 

To me, the Rayback Collective felt like a favorite local hangout—a “home base” for family, friends, and coworkers alike. It’s a one-stop shop for food, music, games, and drinks that highlights Boulder’s love for the outdoors and is a true backyard party that you won’t want to miss.

Main photo by John Dale Photography

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