By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Common Grounds: 3484 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-5248. Writers and readers in northwest Denver take refuge at Common Grounds, the quintessential neighborhood coffee nest. Every night, acoustic acts and solo artists vie to entice the regulars from their double lattes and laptops, though the place is more of a meeting ground than a music hall.
Common Grounds LoDo: 1601 17th St., 303-296-9248. Musicians play for tips in this bright LoDo coffee-corner space, where, each Thursday through Saturday, acts distract patrons from the computers, board games and books that line the walls, nooks and crannies.
Conor O'Neill's: 1922 13th St., Boulder, 303-449-1922. Conor O'Neil's is the most authentic Irish pub you'll find in the Rockies, thanks to the importation of everything from the bar to the fireplace to the decor. Irish masons even flew over to help build the place. Live music on weekends includes rock, surf, folk and, of course, Celtic.
Cool River Cafe: 8000 E. Belleview Ave., Greenwood Village, 303-771-4117. Deep in the heart of the Tech Center, Cool River Cafe provides a respite for young and not-so-young urban professionals, where they can enjoy a few drinks after -- or during -- the workday. A steak-and-seafood-laden menu, pool tables and revolving dance bands performing each weekend give patrons a reason to linger after happy hour.
Cricket on the Hill: 1209 E. 13th Ave., 303-830-9020. Smoky and legendary, Cricket on the Hill is where local bands come to test their chops. With live music seven nights a week, the stage fare ranges from bawdy country to screaming death metal. Notoriously strong drinks and low lights make this a semi-grungy second home to Capitol Hill drinkers and scenesters.
Darcy's Bistro and Pub: 4955 S. Ulster St., 303-770-0477. Located in an upscale DTC strip mall, Darcy's Bistro and Pub is a chic eatery/Irish-pub hybrid that caters to an after-work crowd. Three seating areas complement the social atmosphere: a dark wood bar (with the requisite Irish ales and whiskeys on tap), a dining area with tables and booths, and a cozy library in the back.
Dazzle: 930 Lincoln St., 303-839-5100. When bands are playing, a musicians' fee is tacked onto each check at Dazzle -- which means patrons actively support the live-jazz combos that show up to entertain cocktail, dinner-hour and late-night crowds seven nights a week. Music is a theme throughout the classy but comfortable restaurant/lounge, where the menus are printed on old dog-eared record covers. Seats near the stage offer a visceral performance experience, which is usually a good thing.
Deadbeat Club: 4040 E. Evans Ave., 303-758-6853. The first Denver club to open in an old church, the sprawling Deadbeat Club is no house of God. Most ´beat heads worship at the altar of electronica, but the music menu varies with the tastes of resident and visiting DJs. Attracting a casual clientele that eschews the style mandates of downtown's nightlife scene, the danceplex has multiple rooms for drinking and shaking it.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse: 8100 E. Orchard Ave., Greenwood Village, 303-796-0100. A swank joint tinged with candlelight and cigar smoke (amid an air of DTC deal-making), Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is thick with fat-cat atmosphere. Abundant dark wood and killer martinis give off a definite men's-club vibe, as does a price tag that's not for the faint of wallet. Jazz musicians perform every night except Sunday.
D Note: 7519 Grandview Ave., 303-463-6683. The eclectic calendar of music and the array of graphic art displayed throughout the club make the D Note a comfortable spot to enjoy a wide range of aesthetic pleasures.
Druid's Arms: 809 Main St., Louisville, 303-661-0721. A semi-crunchy neighborhood bar in downtown Louisville, the Druid's Arms is an unpretentious, shot-and-a-beer antidote to the bar scene in nearby Boulder. The lean, rectangular layout puts the audience face-to-face with live bands on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dulcinea's 100th Monkey: 717 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-3601. With a chic paint job and futura furnishings, Dulcinea's 100th Monkey is a modern variation on an old-school jazz club. Most nights of the week, acid jazz, fusion, reggae and dub acts perform in the intimate room -- formerly a foul Colfax Avenue dive bar -- while a green-leaning crowd looks, and dances, on.
Eck's Saloon: 9890 W. Girton Dr., Lakewood, 303-989-2991. Eck's is larger than it appears from the outside, with room for hearty drinkers, pool sharks and anyone who just wants to stretch out and dance. Cover bands typically rule the weekends, while local acts of all genres entertain the after-work crowd.
E-Z Pickens: 1950 S. Holly St, 303-757-7129. The sign outside advertises "Eatin,' Drinkin,' Darts," and that's pretty much what you'll get inside this rough-and-tumble roost, which sports a large stage and dancing area. A working-class clientele and a minimalist decor set a casual environment.
Fadó: 1735 19th St., 303-297-0066. With a large patio and huge, wood-accented interior, Fadó feels as big as Dublin. The cheeky Irish pub was fashioned by carpenters from the Emerald Isle, and its music calendar is thoroughly green, with performances from acoustic and Celtic groups, and rock bands on the weekends. Lining the boulevard leading to Coors Field, Fadó is popular with the sports crowd and LoDo denizens looking for a little culture, however contrived.