I used to live one block away from Southside Bar and Kitchen, so you could say I'm familiar with the spot. At the time, it was called Sengers on the Fax. I eventually moved, but I still frequented the bar when it changed to Thirty Fourteen (for its 3014 East Colfax address). At one point, the bar added the names Odelay Tacos and the Beetle Bar, with various parts of the operation going by all three monikers simultaneously.
The space became Southside Bar and Kitchen (a reference to its location on the south side of Colfax) in 2015, when new owners John Elliot, Toby Waters and Dave Cleland (who's no longer part of the ownership) took over. As in the bar's previous iterations, there's still a hidden bar upstairs that opens out to a pleasant little patio. I love hidden things, so the speakeasy-ish space, which changed names from the Beetle Bar to Hidden Idol in 2017, is one of my favorites things about Southside. It's an impressively tiki-themed little spot serving up tropical cocktails (some of which involve fire) and beers from 7 p.m. to last call — because flaming tiki drinks only come out at night.
I popped in with a friend on a recent Sunday afternoon, well before tiki time, but we were given a brief tour of the upstairs anyway. Downstairs at Southside, things were quiet, so my friend and I chatted with bartender Seth Stone, also formerly of the Denver rock band Dirty Few (which recently broke up). When bands are together a long time, Stone explained, it's like a marriage — and sometimes marriages have to come to an end. As fans of his band, we reminisced about a few memorable shows, including the Westword Music Showcase a few years ago, and Stone told us he's now working as many bar jobs as he can to save money to buy a boat.
Along with our conversation with Stone and a few younger women who said they were regulars, we enjoyed beers from their varied selection of craft drafts, cans and bottles. A Princess Yum Yum sounded yum-yum to me, so I sipped on that.
While the food menu at this Colfax location has evolved over the years, tasty, well-executed bar snacks have always been part of the program — and tacos and tater tots have been served since the days when I lived nearby. The taco selection has expanded since I was a regular here, so I haven't tried them all, but I can vouch for the general taco skills of the cooks.
Black-and-white photos of music, movie and boxing legends adorn the walls and tables inside the space, while TVs next to the bar are often tuned to sporting events, showing hockey playoff games on my recent visit. I recalled some weird dates I had been on here, mostly in the bar's previous incarnations, and remembered that a friend had dated a hip-hop DJ who used to play Friday night sets upstairs.
Pool tables keep customers occupied inside, and when the weather is nice, there's cornhole on the long patio facing Colfax. Happy-hour specials run from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 7 p.m. every Saturday, and all day every Monday, which is also $2 taco night. My favorite menu item, loaded tater tots topped with bacon, cheese, jalapeños and green chile, can be had for only $6 on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (so plan your tot cravings accordingly).
Service-industry folks, nurses, teachers, first responders and military members all get love here, with 25 percent off bar tabs. Upstairs at Hidden Idol, special events related to tiki enthusiasts are common, including a market where you can buy everything you need for your home tiki bar.
Southside is the kind of place that might change names and themes over the years, but its location on Colfax means that it will always be a casual, drop-in kind of place, where you can drink beers and eat tots at the downstairs bar or venture upstairs for something a little fancier.
Southside Bar and Kitchen opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends, staying open until at least 1 a.m. nightly. Hidden Idol opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 720-389-8109 or visit the bar's Facebook page for more details.