Best Sports Bar for Food and Drink 2012 | Blake Street Tavern | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The Blake Street Tavern is big fun. At its large, newish home, there are seemingly acres of asphalt where you can party before opening day at Coors Field, just a block away; a huge country-Western dance floor in the basement where you can learn to line dance; a vast arcade area with shuffleboard, Skee-Ball, foosball and Golden Tee; and a huge bar where you can enjoy two happy hours a day while watching the game on an overhead TV. But what pushes Blake Street several notches above other sports bars is how seriously they play the game in the kitchen. The expansive menu offers everything from the standard burgers and wings to manly salads and hearty entrees, as well as kid-friendly meals. But the real surprise is chef Ernesto's top-of-the-town green chile, available in mild, spicy and vegetarian versions.

Readers' Choice: Stoney's Bar and Grill

Evan Semón

The Bull & Bush is the best sports bar in town for game-watching because of what's not on the television: glare. This pub's dark wood and low light make the twenty — count 'em, twenty! — glorious flat-screens seem somehow brighter than standard televisions. The games broadcast on them appear like floating visions of victory for fans, with no garish wires or other distractions, just pure HD color against a mahogany-stained backdrop. Sightlines are also crucial at any good sports bar, and there are no obstructions at the Bull & Bush — unless your view is momentarily blocked by your server bringing you another craft beer, which is always a welcome sight.

Readers' Choice: Sports Column

The Rams have come full circle under head coach Tim Miles, from complete joke to NCAA tournament participant. In Miles's first season in Fort Collins five years ago, the Rams went winless in conference play during the regular season. This year, CSU won all but one game at home and beat three ranked teams on the way to earning an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. Let's hope they'll be able to keep it up now that Miles is heading to Nebraska.

Readers' Choice: University of Colorado Buffaloes football

By "Best" we mean most theatrical, unexpectedly decent, lucky and utterly inexplicable. When Tim Tebow took the reins of a 1-4 team, most people expected the team to enter the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, not the playoff race. But thanks to a stout defense led by rookie Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and multiple late-game minor miracles by the Chosen One, the Broncos won their division and then a playoff game. The finish took them out of the Luck sweepstakes and into the Peyton Manning chase — which John Elway and Pat Bowlen won in amazing fashion, landing the future Hall of Famer and former Indianapolis Colt. Denver's bleeding orange again.

Readers' Choice: Denver Broncos

Regis Jesuit junior Missy Franklin has cannonballed her way onto the world swimming scene over the past two years, winning state championships and then breaking the world record in the 200-meter backstroke. She is expected to easily make the U.S. Olympic swimming team — specializing in the backstroke and the 100- and 200-meter freestyle — and to compete not only this summer, but possibly for years to come.

Readers' Choice: Missy Franklin

This season, Copper Mountain poached terrain-park manager Justin George from Keystone and gave him free rein to build an ever-changing system of progressive terrain parks in partnership with the Woodward at Copper action-sports camp. The parks work their way up from kid-friendly boxes, jumps and jibs to pro-level, crap-your-snowpants booters and massive urban-inspired features like wall rides and double-kink handrails unlike anything else in Colorado, all served by the new Union Creek high-speed quad chairlift. Woodward at Copper also made it a priority to make the terrain parks more accessible to the masses this year, hosting camps for riders of all ages and ability levels throughout the season and making the most of on-mountain airbags and the facility's indoor trampolines, foam pits and Snowflex slopes to emphasize safe and incremental progression.

Readers' Choice: Keystone Resort

Sports news today doesn't wait for the evening newscast; it breaks on Twitter. And in addition to breaking news via @drewsoicher, Channel 9 personality Drew Soicher brings just that — personality — to the job. Soicher's a sportscaster in the finest tradition: humorous, knowledgeable, and not afraid to put himself out there. Case in point: After legendary MC Heavy D passed away last November, uber-fan Soicher rhymed a few lines on-air for his colleagues, who were awkward in only the way local news people can be (which is to say, very). Most important, Soicher brings likability to his post — and unlike many of his sports-bros peers, he never comes off as arrogant.

Readers' Choice: Drew Soicher

Krisana "Brix Hithouse" Barrett gets credit for both clever wordplay and worldly sophistication. When not bumping elbows, she's an executive sommelier. The word "brix" describes the amount of sugar in a wine grape before harvest, which is used to predict the alcohol level in the resulting wine. And while opponents marvel at how cultured Barrett is, well, that's where the "Hithouse" part comes in.

Snowboard-video premiere parties have become big business in Denver and Boulder, with increasingly high-class and high-capacity venues, and sold-out crowds packed with pro-athlete VIPs. Our favorite of the bunch is Snowboard on the Rocks, an annual film-and-music extravaganza at Red Rocks Amphitheater presented by So-Gnar and Snowboard Colorado magazine. The fall event, now heading into its third year, combines live hip-hop performances with world premieres of the year's most hotly anticipated snowboard flicks. In September, Snowboard on the Rocks hosted the world premiere of TB:20, the twentieth-anniversary installment of Standard Films' Totally Board series, as well as the local premieres of Marc Frank Montoya's Familia 2 and the Videograss film Shoot the Moon, punctuated with performances by Doomtree, RJD2 and Michal Menert. That's a pretty sweet soundtrack for a September snow dance with 9,450 of your fellow shredders.

Powder chasers had their work cut out for them during the 2011-2012 season, with snowfall averages down across the state and winter storms few and far between. To be in the right place at the right time, you had to be either very lucky or, better yet, following the powder predictions of Boulder-based meteorologist Joel Gratz, co-founder of The website launched in earnest in November last year, offering the official daily and five-day snow-report tallies from ski areas in Colorado and across the country, as well as weather forecasts based on live data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That's information you can find elsewhere, but Gratz — an avid skier — puts it all together in his Colorado Daily Snow dispatches, with pow projections so accurate that local skiers and snowboarders now take them as prophetic.

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