Punch Bowl Social

There are plenty of good reasons for bar patrons not to drink alcohol, and yet boozeless beverages are in short supply at most watering holes. Staying sober in the company of drunken revelers shouldn't require limiting yourself to whatever's available on the soda gun, nor should intriguing flavor combinations and fancy glassware have to result in a hangover. Punch Bowl Social is clearly of the same mind: The bar here pours sophisticated mocktails brimming with exotic mix-ins like cardamom, fresh sage and aquafaba mixed with sparkling water and housemade flavor syrups. Who says being responsible has to be boring?

Los Chingones

One word springs to mind when considering chef/restaurateur Troy Guard's Los Chingones squadron of taquerias: "Fiesta!" And a fiesta isn't complete without free-flowing margaritas made with quality tequila and fresh lime. The Los Marg at all four outposts is a glass of liquid sunshine made with blanco tequila and the Chingones house sour mix (you'll often see lime after lime being squeezed to make the mix). For a typical Troy Guard infusion of childhood memories, go with a T & T, a margarita with a dose of orange soda and a Tang rim. Better still, order by the carafe!

loschingonesmexican.com

Readers' Choice: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

Uchi
Danielle Lirette

Rare is the happy hour in Denver that goes beyond a short list of carbohydrate-forward drinking snacks, and rarer still is a generous offering like that at Uchi, which allows you a fairly comprehensive taste of the restaurant's menu — enough to actually dine off of, if you're so inclined — at a cut-rate price. During the Texas transplant's happy hour, which runs daily from 5 to 6:30 p.m., you can graze your way through a well-edited collection of makimono, nigiri and chef tastings, including hits like the bright hama chili built with yellowtail and citrus, and foie gras-stuffed onigiri. Pair your feast with a reduced-price glass of sake, beer or wine, and finish with a discounted frozen candy bar, a crunchy, gooey chocolate confection that should always be the capstone to a meal here.

Readers' Choice: Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse

Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill
Mark Antonation

The gang's all here at Capitol Hill's most rollicking bar for piano music and drinks — and they don't plan on leaving any time soon. Charlie Brown's second happy hour runs from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. nightly, with two-for-one drinks for your first round and cheap wells, wines and beers thereafter. There's a weatherproof patio for smokers, a vintage bar for a more intimate encounter, and plenty of tables for you and your carousing friends. The saloon itself, tucked into the base of the Colburn Hotel, was built in the midst of Prohibition, but didn't become Charlie Brown's until well afterward. Still, you'll feel like you're traveling back in time — especially since the drinks are priced from a different era. Cheers to another last call.

Readers' Choice: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

Larimer Street's remarkable shift from warehouse district to pedestrian thoroughfare is perhaps best observed on weekend nights, when groups of revelers throng the sidewalks from Broadway to Downing. And there's no better place to people-watch than American Bonded, where a breezy, fairy-lit, muraled rooftop oasis presents views of the skyline as well as the street below. Grab one of the bar's frozen drinks — served only at the outdoor bar along with other cocktails and beers, which keeps you from having to run up and down the stairs — and look for a spot near the front railing for the best vantage point. Fair warning: The place gets packed on summer nights. If you can't find a seat up top, look for an outdoor streetside table below.

Readers' Choice: Avanti Food & Beverage

Recess Beer Garden
Danielle Lirette

Denver is a dog, beer and outdoor type of city, so what better way to whittle away the hours than by indulging in all of it? Luckily, you can do just that at Recess Beer Garden in LoHi (except after 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, when Fido has to stay home). Otherwise, the patio is prime for some al fresco bonding and drinking, especially during those first warm spring brunches. Sip a craft brew while chowing on chili fries and tater tots; just don't forget to share a bite or two with man's best friend.

Readers' Choice: Coal Mine Avenue Brewing Company

Avanti Food & Beverage
Danielle Lirette

A great patio can either offer a stunning view or a perch for people-watching, but few typically provide both. Avanti Food & Beverage doesn't have a typical patio, though: With seven counter-service options and multiple outdoor decks, here you can build a patio adventure to suit your mood. Grab a poke bowl at Quickfish and join the beautiful people on the main rooftop deck overlooking downtown; score tacos at BorraCho or Venezuelan street food at Quiero Arepas, then head for the bleacher seats; or make it an elegant dinner from Bistro Georgette or the Rotary and choose a table on the covered, all-weather patio. Cocktails, wine, beer or cider from two separate bars can also be tailored to your needs. Avanti's patios are like LoHi's backyard party — and you'll never want to leave.

Readers' Choice: Linger

Stoic & Genuine
Danielle Lirette

Start with something from the raw bar, then progress through the gleaming offerings on the menu at chef/restaurateur Jennifer Jasinski's compact Union Station seafood house. Stoic & Genuine's slate reads as both serious and playful, from a rich and rewarding take on paella loaded with mussels, shrimp, squid and sausage, to an amusing tuna sandwich that robes a rare slab of fish in molten American cheese. Crudos, oysters, crab legs and caviar are presented with pride and care, whether you're looking for a quick lunch or celebrating big. You pick the adjectives: impressive and elegant; vivacious and bright; delicious and bountiful.

Readers' Choice: Jax Fish House

Mario's Ocean Club
Mark Antonation

Your boss isn't footing the bill and it's not your birthday, but, damn it, you want a well-made bowl of chowder and a meal reminiscent of last summer's New England vacation. Last year, Mario's Ocean Club took over where the Chowder Room left off in the same space, serving inexpensive but satisfying shrimp, oysters, calamari and fish fillets, as well as a long roster of "Sea-wiches." Mario's offers all American-catch seafood, so you know that everything came from the nearest waters possible. That and a bill that won't send you into shock make for a pretty good deal in a landlocked state.

Jax Fish House
Jax Fish House

Jax Fish House has been dealing in volume since founder Dave Query shucked his first oyster at his Boulder original in 1994. Under executive chef Sheila Lucero, the oyster program has continued to exceed expectations of freshness and quality by bringing in responsibly harvested bivalves from the coasts' top producers. At any of Jax's locations (which stretch from Fort Collins to Glendale, with one slated for Denver International Airport), you can suck down oysters by the dozen knowing that they come from the cleanest waters and best oyster farms in British Columbia, Washington, Prince Edward Islands, Maine and other maritime locales. Jax's dedication to the homely but delicious mollusk can also be seen in the restaurant's oyster club and annual Hi-West Oyster Fest. And that's no shell game.

jaxfishhouse.com

Readers' Choice: Angelo's Taverna

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