Best Bar Decor 2023 | TrashHawk Tavern | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Molly Martin

Erin Homburger opened TrashHawk — a neighborhood watering hole inspired by the bars she came to love while living in Chicago — in October 2021, and its many fans have been bellying up ever since, downing shots of Malört and cans of Montucky between bites from a stellar food truck lineup. Although it's less than two years old, the bar feels like an old-school staple, thanks in large part to the decor. The forest-green walls are covered with retro objects, many of which came from Homburger's relatives — like the Denver Broncos plaque that used to be in her grandmother's basement. The bathrooms are plastered with old cigarette and booze ads from LIFE magazine, the spacious back patio is decked out with booze brand signs, and a chalkboard wall is filled with scrawled messages from Trash BBs — the term of endearment that Homburger has bestowed upon the bar's regulars.

Honor Farm

Hell brings fire, Tiki brings tropical, and Doug Frank brings his leopard-print Speedo. It's part of his job as the fire-breathing, lap-dancing, cocktail-serving man of leisure at Hell or High Water, the "haunted gay pirate tiki bar" that's been a LoDo hot spot since opening in the summer of 2022. With a killer list of tiki drinks, boozy drag brunches and Curse of the Cocktail happy hours, your vision tends to get blurry inside the tiny bar's bamboo jungle decor. But remember, your old pal is always nearby when you need another cocktail: He's the one with "Dammit Doug" written across the ass of said Speedo.

Jeff Fierberg

Food and drink. Server and guest. These are the simple combinations that create our most enjoyable experiences as both diners and service-industry workers. Hey Kiddo premiered in early 2023, serving up a sleek yet casual atmosphere, excellent service and an array of indulgent offerings with lighthearted twists, like chicken liver mousse on Texas toast and "bling bling" market-price caviar. Ok Yeah, concealed behind an unmarked door in the restaurant's rear hallway, serves an impressively diverse list of cocktails at a slick, three-sided low-lit bar. These two unique spaces describe themselves as "good and fun," and we couldn't agree more.

Shawn Campbell

Bar pros Mary Allison Wright and McLain Hedges resurrected Yacht Club — once located inside the Source — next door to Brasserie Brixton in late 2021. The bar effortlessly mixes high and low with a killer wine list and cocktails alongside a menu of hot dogs, all paired with an easygoing vibe that's still cool enough for a first date. In 2022, their efforts were rewarded when Yacht Club was named one of four U.S. finalists for Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar at the 2022 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. While it didn't take the top spot in the country, it's the kind of club every Denverite is lucky to have as an option.


An elegant French eatery could easily feel out of place in Denver, a city that happily embraces a decidedly laid-back lifestyle. But Noisette fits right in while also raising the bar when it comes to ambience, service and fine-dining fare. Tim and Lillian Lu, who both graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York, opened the restaurant in August 2022 in a revamped space that's definitely upscale, but not in a stiff, white-tablecloth kind of way. The white decor with pops of pastel and a mix of modern and vintage is inviting and transportive. Small vases of flowers on each table add a romantic touch, as do the mismatched flatware and floral antique plates. The menu is an elevated take on cuisine bourgeoise, or French home cooking, with entrees like braised beef shank and crispy duck breast along with decadent, showstopping desserts. You can also swing by during the day, when the bakery cafe is open, offering a selection of pastries, sandwiches, coffee and other noshes in a more casual setting.

Brandon Marshall

Meanwhile, back at El Rancho... Seventy years ago, a couple from Wisconsin bought a roadhouse that stood alone on the road leading to Evergreen, turned it into a bakery/eatery, and five years later passed it on to their daughter, Donna, and her husband, Paul McEncroe. Together they transformed it into such a classic Colorado destination restaurant that when Interstate 70 was built right outside, El Rancho got its own exit. In the 35 years since the McEncroes sold the place, it has gone through many owners and incarnations, but the current revival looks like a winner: Bonanno Concepts is running the operation, treating tourists and locals alike to updated versions of traditional Western dishes as envisioned by chef/entrepreneur Frank Bonanno and his wife, Jacqueline.

Molly Martin

No opening, restaurant or otherwise, is as highly anticipated as the upcoming reboot of the iconic pink palace under new owners Trey Parker and Matt Stone. That means the pressure is on for one of the main characters in this South Park episode-in-the-making, chef Dana Rodriguez — though the fiery and talented Loca, as she's known, is well equipped to handle the heat. She's risen through the ranks, from Casa Bonita castoff (she was denied a job there back in 1998) to owner of Work & Class, Super Mega Bien and Cantina Loca, and now executive chef behind the buzziest debut of the year. So far, all we know about her plans for overhauling the famously bad food at Casa Bonita is that the famed sopaipillas will be on the menu. But we're confident that Rodriguez is poised to impress the masses when Casa Bonita finally welcomes fans again come May.

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