Best Denver Answer to Cheers 2007 | 3 Kings Tavern | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
We all know the words by heart. It's one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of all time: "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name/And they're always glad you came/You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same/You wanna be where everybody knows your name." Why, yes, actually, we do. And fortunately, there's a place that fits that description perfectly: 3 Kings Tavern. Owned by three former Nobody In Particular Presents co-workers, 3 Kings is the most welcoming, unassuming joint in town. Each and every time you come in -- regardless of who's playing or what's going on -- you can count on being greeted with a cold brew, a warm smile and a friendly handshake from Marty, Jeff or Reverend Jim, which is why everybody keeps coming back.
Andy Thomas
All the broke, arty types -- musicians, writers, etc. -- in New York can't afford to live in Manhattan. As a result, they flock to less expensive neighborhoods in Brooklyn, which is where hi-dive owner Matt LaBarge and his wife, Allison, once lived. In the fall of 2003, when the couple moved to Denver and took over the former Quixote's spot, they set out to create a hip space like the places they enjoyed in their old Park Slope neighborhood. Ones that served good food, good coffee and good drinks -- even late. Lo and behold, when you build a hip space, the hipsters will come -- and they have. Sputnik has an unmistakable vibe that attracts Denver's boho set, complete with messy-haired hipsters who've traded in their trucker hats for Castro lids. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in Brooklyn.
There's something about stepping inside Mario's Double Daughter's on a Sunday night that takes you to a completely different dimension. Dimly lit with subtle red and blue lights, the place is outfitted with chairs that look like they're made out of lipstick. As down-tempo grooves pour out of the speakers, a Japanese flick -- could be the one where some guy gets shot in the shoulder by a mini-rocket launcher and then rips the appendage off altogether -- is being projected on the club's big screen. The film's audio is turned off, but the subtitles are on -- and so are DJs Curu, Eyeam and crew, who are spinning what they call "psycho-tonal extrapolations with mad vibrations for your crazy heads and asses." Add to that a few Alien Blood Martinis and dollar slices from the adjoining Two-Fisted Mario's Pizza, and what you have is an out-of-body experience.
Seeing a show at Pasquini's may be the closest thing there is to a house party in Denver. The space Pasquini's inhabits was once a house, and when it's music time, tables are cleared out and the band sets up right next to the window. And to see bands like 18 Wheeler, Reno Divorce and Letters From the Front up close and personal, volume turned up to eleven, well, there's just something inherently DIY about the whole thing. Maybe it has something to do with not having a stage. Punk Thursdays are the main nights here, where the late-night happy hour starts at 10 p.m. and ten bucks goes a long way with $1 PBRs, Kamikaze shots and slices of pizza.

Best Leather Bar That Should Be Featured in Architectural Digest

Denver Eagle

Owned by two leathermen who sport backgrounds in furniture upholstery, culinary arts and retail clothing-store management, the Eagle is an unholy alliance of industrial chic meets bad-boy bar decor. James Ventrello and James Peck (aka Jim and Jimbo) are the couple who designed and crafted the 4,800-square-foot behemoth of a bar. After $400,000 of renovations and six months of blood, sweat and tears, the shiny new perv palace opened last May. The Eagle offers what you'd expect in a traditional leather bar -- dark corners, pool tables, pinball machines, dartboards, video games and a Sunday beer bust -- as well as the unexpected (luxe-loft look, private mezzanine bar, diamond-plate trim, concrete floors, modern lighting fixtures and two flat-screen televisions). These designer digs serve as stage to a $2 Sunday brunch, a heated outdoor smoking patio and a 1949 Ford vintage truck (parked indoors) that doubles as seating and an express lane for bottled beer and shots. Earlier this month, slow business forced a heavy-hearted Peck and Ventrello to ring the Eagle's death knell, but an angel appeared and saved the bar after its last scheduled Underwear Night. So was he wearing boxers or briefs?
J.R.'s is a great place to test your friends for closet homophobia. It's so unassuming and under the radar that if your friends aren't up on the gay scene, they might not recognize the name. When you walk up, the bar -- looking like something straight off Bourbon Street, with a row of warm white lights and an old-school balcony -- will welcome them. They may not notice anything's amiss until they see the Purple Rain video on the big screen above the bar. Sit back and order a beer, and see what your friends do. If they order brews and set a stack of quarters on the pool table to call next game, you're okay. But if they freak out and suddenly assume they're so irresistibly hot that every male in the room must bed them (never mind that the women at the last bar never even gave them a second glance), then it's time for an intervention. Either way, the clientele at J.R.'s will just smile and continue drinking their beers.
Courtesy of the hi-dive
In less than five years, the hi-dive has become a Denver institution. Many of the current top-shelf local bands got their start at this intimate south Broadway bar, which sits smack dab in the middle of the Baker neighborhood. And even though many of those groups can now easily fill places twice its size, they still make it down to the hi-dive to perform on a regular basis. Perhaps it's because the sound is fantastic and the club promotes local shows with the same vigor and enthusiasm as they would a national. Which makes sense, because frankly, when it comes to talent, there really isn't much of a distinction these days. Thanks to the prescient booking of Ben DeSoto, in addition to being a choice destination for the toast of today's blogosphere, the hi-dive has also become the place to discover tomorrow's indie-rock sensations well before they reach the masses' radar.
DC 10 was the hot new kid in town when it opened last summer, but things got a little too heated when a co-owner of the swank club was arrested on charges of drug trafficking. Yikes. Taking zero time to recover from the media hoopla, DC 10 went full-throttle into the SoCo nightlife scene, staying visible with a number of high-profile and upscale events. With a stark white interior modeled after a plush airport lounge, cute servers dressed as oversexed flight attendants and a clientele that includes local Trump wannabes, diamond-studded women and a few Nuggets, there's no telling how far this place can go. Now boarding.
DJ Brian Howe knows what it takes to set off the dance floor -- as well he should. The guy's been spinning in clubs for nearly two decades, has released over 200 mix CDs and remixed tracks for a variety of labels. Dude's on point, which is exactly why he was tapped to host his own XM radio show on the BPM channel. On Friday and Saturday nights, Howe brings all that experience to Rise, where he keeps the floor jumping with varied sets of mashes, breakbeats and hip-hop. In terms of sizable clubs, Rise is one of the last bastions of pure dance in LoDo, and with Howe at the helm, it looks to stay that way for a long time to come.
Once a month, the best party in town happens after hours. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Afrobeat, deep house and global soul music raise the roof of whatever warehouse is hosting the party. But it's not all about the music: Producers and hosts Peju Alawusa (aka Yorubawoman) and Ashara Ekundayo also invite performance artists to join in this multimedia extravaganza. And because AfroBlu is six hours of non-stop partying, there's also room for resident DJs Musa Bailey, Peter Black/Aztec and Joe Sherrel. It's a soul-shakin', booty-bumpin' experience that'll keep you awake and loving it all night long.

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