Best Venue Reboot 2019 | The Buffalo Rose | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Chris Cone
The Buffalo Rose's exterior after its 2018 remodel.

Back in the 1980s, the Buffalo Rose earned its reputation by bringing in hard-rock and hair-metal bands, a tradition that continued for nearly three decades at the legendary downtown Golden music club and bar. The venue is housed in a group of five buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s, and in 2017, new owner Chris Cone, who bought the Rose in 2016, closed it for renovations and gave it a major facelift, installing new sound and lighting systems, HVAC, bathrooms and more. These days the Buffalo Rose brings in a variety of acts, including local tribute bands, national blues artists and — as a nod to the old days — hard-rock acts like Winger.

Aaron Thackeray

Nothing in town matches the spaceship-themed venue that is Temple Nightclub, which opened in 2017 in the former City Hall space. Approximately 50,000 lightbulbs grace the futuristic club, from floor to ceiling. The Funktion-One sound system guarantees phenomenal acoustics for beats from some of the best DJs and EDM producers in the world, among them Borgore, Duke Dumont and Pegboard Nerds. While the main room at Temple can be a lot of fun, the smaller room, LVL, offers a great place to chill to house and bass from local DJs on Wednesdays and weekends.

Readers' Choice: The Black Box


Not all club-goers want to get gussied up and shell out big bucks for hoity-toity bottle service and maddening crowds. Many electronic-music aficionados prefer to party in a more intimate space, where the drinks won't break the bank and the music caters to the underground. Since Sub.mission's Nicole Cacciavillano opened the Black Box in 2016, the club has grown, bringing in some of the best local and national talent from the fringes of dance music, blasting songs through a booming Basscouch system. The club is open at least four nights a week, and there's usually music happening in each of its two rooms. For those who want to create their own EDM experience, the Black Box Studio offers classes in music production, sound design and live visuals.

Readers' Choice: Tracks

Courtesy of La Rumba

Fans of all types of Latin musical styles have been heading to La Rumba since the late '90s to dance and enjoy Spanish-language music from Denver and around the world. The venue is known for its dance classes, where you can get various levels of instruction in salsa and bachata before hitting the dance floor. Regular dance nights are Thursday through Sunday — but for concerts and special events, La Rumba is known to bring in some of the biggest names in the state as well as from Latin America. For world-class entertainment in an intimate venue, La Rumba is the place to be.

Readers' Choice: La Rumba

Walk into Dazzle most nights of the week and you're apt catch a mix of Mile High jazz greats and world-renowned artists. Two years ago, the venue moved from its longtime home at 930 Lincoln Street to a much bigger space, in the Baur's building on Curtis Street downtown, where the club has upped its bookings by bringing in crowd-pleasing acts like the Bad Plus and taking chances on more fringe international artists like Jakob Bro and Nik Bärtsch. Along with live music, Dazzle serves up high-end comfort food and sells vintage and contemporary records at reasonable prices.

Readers' Choice: Nocturne

Evan Semón

Denver has plenty of venues that book the occasional blues act, but Lincoln's Roadhouse shines a bright light on the genre, whether it's hosting some of the area's best players, like Austin Young or Johnny O., or the occasional national act. The joint can get rowdy and the tiny dance floor jam-packed on the weekends, but if you like your blues with a side of some of the best Cajun grub around, Lincoln's is the spot.

Readers' Choice: El Chapultepec

Following the success of urban eateries Root Down and Linger, restaurateur Justin Cucci went on to open Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, dubbed a "gastro-brothel" in a nod to the building's history as a house of ill repute and peep-show parlor. These days, the super-hip spot, decked out in boudoir-style decor, serves a varied dinner menu that includes burgers, sliders, flatbreads, skillets and small plates. Downstairs, the music venue has gradually ramped up the quality of its bookings, bringing in such national acts as the Dandy Warhols, Son Volt and the North Mississippi Allstars while hosting local acts and wildly popular dance parties.

Since AEG talent buyer Scott Campbell, owner of the Larimer Lounge and Lost Lake Lounge, took over Globe Hall two years ago, the venue, dive bar and barbecue joint has steadily brought in a dazzling assortment of national acts that might normally be found playing bigger stages. Recent shows at the 250-person venue include Gang of Four and Helio Sequence; both had played the Gothic Theatre on previous stops in town. This no-frills intimate club is great for seeing bigger acts up close and catching lesser-known bands on the rise.

Readers' Choice: hi-dive

Michael Emery Hecker

Celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a concert space under the Fillmore name, Live Nation's mid-sized Colfax Avenue auditorium — once a skating rink and an electric-car factory — received a stunning upgrade. The Fillmore's wide-open space was graced with three new elevated tiers of seating, creating vastly improved sightlines to the stage. Upgrades to the sound system deliver bright acoustics to every seat in the house, and added doors have created a smoother entrance and exit for the crowds. The most crucial improvement — which came after years of complaints about endless lines — is the addition of more restrooms, so concert-goers can spend less time doing the pee-pee dance and more time enjoying the show.

Courtesy of the hi-dive

It's difficult to explain what makes the photo booth at the hi-dive so wondrous. It's sort of magical, in that it consistently spits out better photos of your face than you imagined anyone could take. It's a very straightforward, no-bullshit photographic endeavor: two strips, full color, no dumb frames to choose from. Plus it's intimate in a clown-car sort of way, spitting distance from the bar, and allows just enough time between shots for maximum spontaneous creativity. There's little you can't do in front of that camera's lens: Abandoned strips around the venue demonstrate patrons' love of getting a bit naked, pulling faces and — of course — making out inside. Say cheese.

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