Happy Place: Harry's, 818 Seventeenth Street, 303-607-9000
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., 9 p.m. to close, and all day Sunday
The Deals: $2-3 draft beer; $4 house wine and well drinks; $5 well martinis; $4-5 appetizer specials.
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The Digs: Harry's bar rides a fine line between retro chic and early '90s oblivion, and on our first visit, we sat there kind of hoping that Tom Cruise would magically appear, give us a nod, and start hucking bottles of Smirnoff into the air while sliding Singapore Slings across the bar. No such luck. But the purple lights behind the bar are pretty rad. Located on the first floor of the Magnolia hotel, the bar only seats a handful of patrons -- but there are plenty of high top tables and the space feels cozy once it fills up a bit. The wonderful staff, a laid back crew that's chatty but noninvasive, is incredibly helpful.
The Verdict: The first time we went to Harry's, the dude next to us -- a guy from Gunnison -- immediately introduced himself and told us that he was hoping he'd run into Melo on the streets of Denver before he got traded to New York. The second time we went to Harry's, a woman asked the bartender if he could make her a frozen pina colada that she could take up to her room. Ah, hotel bars. You never quite know who you'll meet.
Which is what makes them intriguing. The patrons are from all walks of life: tired business folk, tourists, loners, drunks, washed up band members, prowlers and people who have just finished a long day of work and are waiting till the traffic dies down. Drinks are uniformly overpriced and expense accounts run rampant, but the anonymity of drinking at a hotel bar has its advantages.
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Harry's, though, is different from your typical hotel bar. This watering hole feels like a squeaky clean dive bar (if such a thing exists) -- a place where there are more locals than out-of-towners, all of whom get along marvelously. On our second visit, the bar filled quickly with boozehounds who acted like they'd been gathering at Harry's to talk sports since the wheel was invented. The staff gives you plenty of time to peruse the menu, but they're always there when you need to order, and while the food kinda sucks, the tenders try to steer you in the right direction: a server overheard us ordering the bruschetta ($4) and leaned in to recommend salt and pepper -- something it definitely needed. And while the generously poured drinks at happy hour aren't overpriced, the food specials could be a little cheaper. Charging four bucks for chips and salsa, when those are free at several joints around town, is highway robbery. Still, the shrimp, jalapeno and cheese wontons ($5) were a great complement to the several pints of beer we drank, and the menu description, which calls them "beauties," made us giggle.
Overall Grade: B
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