Best Pickle Shots 2023 | Don's Club Tavern | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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Molly Martin

Don's Club Tavern has been a dive-bar staple in Denver for over 75 years. Here you'll find games like Skee-Ball and pool, a vending machine filled with everything from corn nuts and koozies to Banquet pot pies and K-Y lube, and a back patio filled with characters. Don's daily drink specials are another draw, with standard deals like discounted pitchers and buckets of beer. But what really steals the show are the pickle shots, which are just $4 all day, every day. While we'll take one down anytime, they're a particularly effective hangover cure.

Molly Martin

"Interesting food made by dumbdumbs" is what Misfit Snack Bar's Instagram bio reads, but a quick scan of its concise rotating menu proves that there's obviously tremendous skill in the kitchen, which is led by chef de cuisine Dylan Rigolini. Chef Bo Porytko launched Misfit inside Middleman bar in 2019 to let his culinary mastermind run wild, often creating innovative and irreverent renditions of classic comfort foods. In recent months, Misfit has served up successful stunners like ham and cheddar cheese croquettes and dry-aged kji-cured sirloin with Hollandaise foam, humbly dubbed Steak and Eggs. Only a dumbdumb would dismiss Misfit's creative (and downright delicious) food.

Danielle Lirette

The Irish Rover's dark wooden interior, splashed with sunlight streaming in from South Broadway, is the perfect place for a Saturday-afternoon buzz, preferably kicked off with a proper pint of Guinness providing the low-ABV hit your system needs to right itself after a long night out. The Rover is also where it's at on a dreary winter weekday that needs to be lightened up by the dim, comfy confines of a pub. After a drop of the hard stuff and a cold glass of beer, good conversations are sure to follow at this longtime Denver standard.

Molly Martin

The extinction event of the past few years — aka COVID — left a number of Denver's longtime punk venues counted among the dead. But the Crypt didn't earn our vote for Best Punk Bar by simple process of elimination. It was formed from the ashes of Tooey's Off Colfax in the summer of 2022 after longtime  industry stalwarts Priscilla Perez and Chris Maynard moved on from their long tenures there. Flooded in red light, it's decked out in vintage metal posters, with slasher films on the TVs, louder-than-loud bands playing every other night, and a vegan bar menu that hits the spot after some PBRs and a hardcore show. The Crypt was built to party, and no one does it better.

Sarah McGill

Since the '70s, R&R Lounge has been an openly proud gay bar, serving as a trailblazer for creating a safe space in the Mile High City's gay community. But it also doesn't adhere to strict labels. In 2018, owner Rich Illgen told Westword that anyone is welcome, as long as "your money is green and you can get along with everyone." It's ideal for those looking for a cozy dive bar with cold beers and solid drinks at a good price. It's also uniquely Denver, with a solid Broncos watch party on game days, a neon martini glass glowing above its East Colfax front door, and a proud sense of inclusion.

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.

Noisette

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.

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