For its February edition, the Warm Cookies of the Revolution Stompin’ Ground Games neighborhood Olympics will tout Capitol Hill tonight. To prep you for the celebration, which focuses on comedy and the concept of “home,” we’ve put together a primer of ten places we love in the ‘hood — with one bonus thing — though we could easily have expanded the list to hundreds of favorite spots in what is surely Denver’s most diverse district.
The metro area’s expanse of neon has been shrinking at an alarming rate since its heyday of six or seven decades ago, but on East Colfax Avenue, a street that in some ways defines the culture of Capitol Hill — from its swanky origins to its rebirth as a starter neighborhood for the young and restless — some of the city's best-preserved examples still glow as lurid reminders of the town’s morphing past lives.
Wax Trax Records
638 East 13th Avenue
Wax Trax isn’t the only independent record store in Capitol Hill, but it is the oldest, which is a miracle for a business that’s gone through one format change after another over the last few decades. It’s grungy and dirty and the help can be a bit rude, but the miles of vinyl are meticulously catalogued and every trip to flip is rife with the joy of discovery. Meeting place, historical archive and a spot where you can still experience the joy of the hunt in a world overtaken by technology, Wax Trax is forever.
Kilgore Used Books and Comics
624 East 13th Avenue
Also a victim of technology, the corner used-book store is a fast-disappearing luxury, but Kilgore co-founders Luke Janes and Dan Stafford built theirs into a workingman’s temple of book-eared pages to suit every intellectual pursuit, with an ambience now carried on by new owner John Kuebler. The store’s focus on comix, zines and graphic novels also brings a rich lode of popular culture to the block it shares with Wax Trax.
1109 Ogden Street
Restaurants come and go in our city of fickle taste buds, but Teri Rippeto’s Potager, a tribute to fresh, garden-picked and seasonal fare, has weathered the comings and goings by never disappointing. As former Westword restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz wrote, “Potager is comfortable in its own skin.” Ever-changing yet delightfully always the same, it’s a second home and neighborhood haunt for folks seeking a great meal.
Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax
312 East Colfax Avenue
A chip off the old block, the Dikeou Pop-Up space brings the sensibility of the Dikeou Collection, its art-gallery mothership in a downtown high-rise, to street level. Ensconced in the former Colfax digs of Jerry’s Record Exchange, it’s not fancy — but it does host one-shot art exhibits, readings, screenings and performances. And in keeping with the building’s roots, it also houses an eclectic collection of more than 15,000 vinyl records, which are brought out for occasional community spin-fests.
206 East 13th Avenue
Like a Mercury Cafe for the millennial set, City, O’City is more than a restaurant. It’s where the vegetarian hipster elite meets to eat and play, munching on savory waffles, seitan wings, pasta, poutine and pizzas before heading upstairs to Deer Pile for an affordable night of comedy, music, readings or some other kind of uncategorizable fun.
Keep reading for five more favorite places in Capitol Hill.
Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
1311 Pearl Street
The Kirkland won’t be a part of Capitol Hill for much longer, with plans to move in 2017 to new digs in the Golden Triangle museum district. Centered around Denver painter Vance Kirkland’s 1910 studio building — which itself will move, lock, stock and barrel, to the new site — the Kirkland is a beautiful repository of twentieth-century art and objects that’s clearly outgrown its space. But don’t let that deter you from wandering the crowded aisles of the present Pearl Street site — and hurry, because it will close May 1 as the museum prepares to journey west.
Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill
980 Grant Street
Charlie Brown’s could be Denver’s Cheers. Yup, it’s that place where everybody knows your name. A piano bar and karaoke palace with a fine, heated patio and diverse food options, it’s steeped in history — Kerouac and Cassady once roamed its tables — and lots of serious drinking of classic cocktails…or beer, or whatever. It’s where you do more than drink: Here you carry on the grand tradition of drinking.
Stephen Cummings, Westword
3317 East Colfax Avenue
It’s not the only movie theater in town that’s found new life as a concert hall, but the Bluebird is an exemplar of its breed. Mid-sized and just right, with added Victorian charm left over from its former life, the Bluebird looks, feels and — most important — sounds good as a cavalcade of popular acts, both national and local, march in and out and take to the stage.
1520 East Colfax Avenue
Every city needs some kind of fabled, trendy commodity that people will line up for, and at this moment in Denver, it’s doughnuts — and Portland-based Voodoo Doughnut in particular. You can’t walk the mid-section of Capitol Hill Colfax without spotting someone carrying home a load of bounty in one of the store’s signature pink boxes. But the real adventure is just going, lining up with the Colfax hoi polloi for one bite of sugary fried ecstasy, whether topped with sprinkles or a slice of bacon.
Eighth Avenue and Franklin Street
Cheesman’s got it all: green grass and trees, a central location, beautiful views, an historic pillared pavilion and the Denver Botanic Gardens for a neighbor, as well as a darker history as a cemetery and a place for cruisers looking for a date. Now every day is a dog show at Cheesman, and in the summer, groups gather for sunbathing and volleyball, too. A longtime hub for the local LGBT community, the park serves as a home base for the annual Colorado AIDS Walk and a starting point for the PrideFest parade.
Hannah Thomas, Westwrod
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1105 East Ninth Avenue
A grocery store is a grocery store, at least in most people’s minds, but if Capitol Hill is a small town, the iconic King Soopers outpost at Ninth Avenue and Corona Street is both its central meeting place and its heart and soul — a place where everyone bumps into everyone else, at any time of day or night. Career girls, stoners, hipsters, drag queens, families and denizens of every urban substratum under the sun will always rub elbows at the one and only Queen Soopers.
Get together with like-minded folks and learn more about community issues in the greater Capitol Hill neighborhood at Warm Cookies of the Revolution’s Stompin’ Ground Games: Capitol Hill, from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, February 26, at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion. A $5 donation is requested at the door, but no one will be turned away. Find more info online.