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Naked Lunch

Duty is more than skin deep at Shotgun Willie's.

Directly in front of our table, a G-stringed blonde was scraping her nipples across what must have been a very cold floor. From behind us came the sounds -- just barely audible over the shriek of Billy Idol covering L.A. Woman -- of someone getting his lap danced upon; to our right, men were lining up to shove their cards into the ATM for some fast cash. Beyond them was a shoeshine stand where nothing could be shined, exactly, but a sweaty fat guy with bad hair was in the process of taking off his socks and putting his pasty-white feet in the capable hands of a gal wearing heels with knee-high laces and a see-through shirt. To our left, a woman was pouring a shot into the gaping mouth of a balding man in thick glasses ­ and then, to help it go down, whacking him in the back of the head with a one-two punch of her enormous, um, melons.

Suddenly I thought, "Dang. I'm getting hungry."

Fortunately, Shotgun Willie's had just what I needed. There's something about watching a leather-clad babe in thigh-high boots trying a twenty-foot brass pole on for size that whets the appetite, and in a place like this, a hunger for food is about the only desire you can bring to its natural conclusion. After adding a kitchen five years ago (the club itself has been open nineteen years), Willie's has been beefing up its menu offerings to accommodate both larger disposable incomes and larger appetites. "We've tried a few different menus over the past couple of years," explains manager George Miller. "Barbecue, just appetizers, you name it. The steaks seem more suited to the clientele, though, so we've stuck with that for a while...When you think about it, it probably isn't healthy for guys to hang around the place for five hours without something to eat."

The dancers aren't the only people who cook at Shotgun Willie's.
Q Crutchfield
The dancers aren't the only people who cook at Shotgun Willie's.

Location Info

Map

Shotgun Willie's

490 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80246

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Southeast Denver

Details

Shotgun Willie's
Monster sampler platter...$15.95
T-bone steak...$19.95
Filet Mignon...$19.95
Club sandwich...$8.95
Steak and lobster...$19.95

490 South Colorado Boulevard, Glendale
303-388-9601

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 12:30-10 p.m. Sunday.

PT's Gold
Chicken Marsala...$9.99
Ten-ounce filet...$15.49
Ten-ounce prime rib...$12.49
Baby-back rib buffet...$5

4451 East Virginia Avenue, Glendale
303-322-1717
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday

And chef Billy Marr, who's headed the kitchen for the past year and a half, knows just what soaks up five hours of drunken lust: fried food. The Monster Sampler Platter, for example, brought a number of oddly shaped fried items, all the same color of mud on the outside, each unidentifiable until that first juice-squirting bite through those clean, crispy, faintly greasy brown shells. Hallelujah: At last, a man who knows how to clean a fryer and change the oil! We uncovered tender zucchini, fresh mushrooms and thick-cut onion rings; potato skins filled with cheddar; jalapeño poppers that squirted cream cheese at the slightest provocation; and mozzarella sticks offered in two sizes. All of the offerings featured quality ingredients that had never been frozen and as a result were solid, not squishy. All in all, Marr fried us to the moon.

After that, some of the entrees were a letdown. Not surprisingly, the thin, crispy French fries were fabulous (apparently, anything Marr dunks into hot oil comes out a winner); the sixteen-ounce T-bone was top-notch, too, with lots of flavor brought to the surface by the flame broiler. But the bacon-wrapped filet mignon was a dud -- bland meat, and bacon that was close to raw -- and the strip steak with lobster was another disappointment, with more bland meat and a watery, previously frozen crustacean. The prices were unbeatable, though, and our server, who seemed to beg the question "What's a nice girl like you...?" was as perky as they come.

What with the enthusiastic strippers, the killer fried foods and plenty of sports-relaying televisions, I was ready to join the rest of the, er, businessmen who make Shotgun Willie's a regular stop on their expense account. Hey, the management even labels its receipts "Bavarian Inn" so that your comptroller -- or wife -- simply thinks you've been eating a lot of schnitzel lately.

And you'll want to eat it a lot more after a visit to the nearby PT's Gold, which could be the Howard Johnson's of strip clubs. Since PT's took over the spot from the Mile Hi Saloon a year and a half ago, it's been serving lunch and dinner ­ although at first the food was made by regular cooks. "And then," explains manager John Cape, "we kind of wanted to improve it some more, so we decided to hire a real chef."

That would be Carmone Fuller, who's been cooking in the Denver area for 25 years -- ten of those at Reivers on Old South Gaylord. Although working at PT's has plenty of fringe benefits, he concentrates on the kitchen. "It's a job," he says. "It's a good job." And it's a job preparing dishes that aren't all that different from what's served in other restaurants. "Guys always order steaks, but the girls always want the pasta," he observes.

We wanted both, but we didn't get them for some time, since PT's kitchen is on the slow side. While we waited, I was treated to a mini massage -- "You can get more of that later if you want," cooed the platinum-haired cutie who was smart enough to work me instead of the alternately enthralled and embarrassed guys I was with -- and then we wandered upstairs to the All Nude! room, where a group of badly dressed men had their eyes glued to a woman who was not going to become All Nude! until enough cash was stuffed into her little halter top.

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