The Ten Best New Bars of the First Half of 2016
Sean Fisher makes cocktails with beer ingredients behind the bar at New Image Brewing.
6. New Image Brewing Co.
5622 Yukon Street, Arvada
Just a couple of blocks from Kline's, New Image pours barrel-aged beers brewed in-house, featuring creative styles for adventurous palates. But there's also a full bar featuring cocktails made with beer ingredients, so you'll find, for example, housemade syrups and bitters flavored with individual hop varietals blended into seasonally inspired drinks. The small-plates lineup feels equally ingredient-driven, with Spanish-style shrimp, lamb lollipops and pork-kimchi tacos as examples of the decidedly non-brewpub menu.
Palenque brings something new to Denver's Mexican cantina scene.
7. Palenque Mezcaleria
1294 South Broadway
Adelitas Cantina is already known for its extensive tequila list and thirst-quenching margaritas, but the new Palenque, with a side entrance around the corner from the main restaurant's front door, gives special focus to the mezcals and antojitos of Oaxaca. There are more than 75 mezcals to choose from, and the staff is ready to field your questions in order to steer you in the right direction. A pour of the smoky spirit, sipped from custom-made clay cups, along with a side of spicy peanuts and chapulines (Dios mio — those are toasted grasshoppers!) will take you far, far south of Denver.
Get into the fun, whimsical spirit at there...
3254 Navajo Street
This quirky joint with the ambiguous name is in fact a full restaurant, but the entire setup and execution feels more like a neighborhood bar, where it only takes a visit or two before the bartenders know your name and you're tipped off to all manner of insider specials. The menu is eclectic and ingenious, with tostadas, steamed buns, skewers and lettuce wraps making for nearly limitless combinations of small bites. There are larger plates, too, mostly served from a nightly specials board, but those are built to be shared. The crew behind this bar concept, which got its start in Telluride, proves that there is indeed a there, there...
The Wayback adds a sophisticated new option on West 38th Avenue.
9. The Way Back
4132 West 38th Avenue
You know Denver's tastes are changing when we recommend someplace on West 38th Avenue that's not Chubby's. That's because there's room for both greasy-spoon Den-Mex and clever cocktail concoctions on this fast-changing stretch that demarcates the West Highland, Sunnyside and Berkeley neighborhoods. The Way Back is serious about drinks without taking itself too seriously. The evidence: cocktails named Death by Mariachi, I'd Buy That Drink a Drink and Oaxacan the Garden — as well as the threat of a good brain freeze from a frosty daiquiri.
A set of chairs designed to resemble whale bones divides the dining room at the White Whale Room.
10. The White Whale Room
415 South Cherokee Street
An all-day, Moby Dick-themed cafe serving coffee in the morning and cocktails at night and catering to light-rail commuters and urban apartment dwellers may sound like a hot mess in the making, but the White Whale Room is instead lively, amusing and, most of all, heartwarming, thanks to the gracious service provided by owners Rachael Gass and Dakin Cranwell. Rows of high-back chairs resembling a whale's ribs and flowing ribbons of tentacles painted onto the walls and floors add humor and whimsy to the cool, concrete-and-steel space, turning the Alameda station from an inconspicuous stop on the way downtown into a jumping-off point for a drinking adventure.
3254 Navajo St.
Denver, Colorado 80211
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