Milo's Sports Tavern has come to be a neighborhood standby for the folks of southeast Denver over the past fifteen years. The bar has been Milo's since 2002 and was originally a part of the B.U.F.F. Brothers conglomerate. When that began to break up in 2011, Thomas Clark, one of the general managers employed by the bar group, decided to buy Milo's and has owned and operated it ever since. He has really emphasized making the place a neighborhood bar and keeping things fun and simple, which seems like a successful philosophy. It's a reliably friendly place with reliably greasy and well-executed basic fare like nachos, hamburgers, wings and burritos. Everything is made in-house, and the food is one of the main attractions at this local spot.
I've been in a few times with a friend who lives a few minutes from Milo's and is practically a regular there, so we popped in again on a Wednesday night for some happy-hour drinks and carne asada nachos (the best nachos on the menu, according to people who know). Several older guys sat at the bar watching the large TVs, and couples and groups of guys dressed for manual labor were getting food and drinks after work at the tables throughout the dining room. No one was playing pool or darts, but that is always an option at Milo's. The bartenders and waitresses seemed to be everywhere at once, chatting and checking on the crowd. I have generally found service at Milo's to be quick and attentive, especially when I'm there with a near-regular who knows the staff.
As we drank our drinks, manager Garrett Donelli gave us a few updates on the happenings at Milo's, the biggest of which was that, despite rumors to the contrary, the bar is here to stay following the signing of a new lease with the building's owners. Over the last year, the building has been eyed as a potential new 7-Eleven location, but Milo's has won that battle, at least for now. Donelli also shared updates about events in the coming months, from the Annual Milo's Parking Lot Party, coming sometime in September, to the holiday party with a festive jazz band in December. The parking lot party is just what it sounds like, and includes music, beer pong and partying. I's taking place a bit later than the usual August date this year because of earlier uncertainty about the lease.
After getting the scoop, we ate our nachos and drank our booze. The drinks were $1 off, because every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. you'll find $1 off wells, domestic drafts and wines, plus $3 Pinnacle vodka and $4 Jägermeister shots for happy hour. Wednesdays also feature a 20 percent discount on wings, but we were too distracted by the nachos — and too full for wings after eating the huge mountain of cheese, chips. and meat.
Other specials were plastered on a banner atop the bar, such as the popular Friday night happy-hour buffet, with free food from 5 to 7 p.m.; all-day happy-hour Mondays; and Sunday's Bloody Mary bar and service-industry night, with a 20 percent discount for hardworking folks coming in from nearby bars and restaurants.
A chalkboard near the back of the main seating area shouts out all the sports teams that are commonly found on the 28 TVs throughout the building, bearing out Milo's designation as a "sports lounge." Aside from the usual hometown teams for football, baseball and basketball, Milo's is also one of the main spots in town to watch UFC fights as well as college sports, specifically SEC and PAC-12 games, with an emphasis on the CU Buffs and, randomly, Michigan State teams.
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This time of year, the patio is covered with canvas on top but open on the sides, while in the winter the sides close up and the heater comes out to make it an extension of the bar itself. A small crowd was spread across the high-tops and leather couches and chairs. No one was playing any of the various games, such as the row of old-school arcade games, including a Simpsons game, or Skee-ball. However, we did enjoy some wildlife viewing as a bright-green praying mantis perched on the cage surrounding the Skee-ball machine.
The patio looks out onto the intersection of Evans and Monaco and the clusters of older strip malls, with a few apartment complexes rising up behind them. The Virginia Village neighborhood is getting younger and less Colorado, as is the case with many classic Denver ’hoods, but Milo's still retains a core of older regulars who have been coming by ever since the bar opened. My friend could be considered one of those people; she and her older brothers have stopped by on and off for years and have generally lived no more than five minutes away.
But newcomers needn't worry; Milo's combines a friendly, welcoming attitude toward new faces and a general nonchalance, or "You do you and I'll do me" vibe. So it's an excellent place to do the same: Have your conversation, eat your food, sit alone or play bar games, watch sports, participate in the poker game or trivia night — all without judgment from those who have come before you. The regulars are just thankful that Milo's will live to see another day.