While we keep working hard to flatten the curve in Denver, it's more important than ever to support our friends at our favorite neighborhood watering holes. Many brave neighborhood bar owners and staff are still working hard to keep folks safe, keep spirits up, and even help us get our favorite food and spirits to go or for delivery. Some bars are doing their part by staying closed and offering virtual ways to support staff and businesses through options like gift cards and merchandise.
This the fourth in a series about neighborhood bars we love and ways to enjoy and support them, even as quarantine stretches on. This time, we are focusing on southeast Denver and the suburbs out that way, such as Aurora and Parker.
The Bar Car819 Colorado Boulevard
What to order: The fine folks at the Bar Car are serving up their full menu, plus drinks, for pick-up every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., with delivery available through UberEats or Postmates. I recommend any of the selections collectively referred to as "Kick Ass Fries," but particularly the Buffalo and truffle varieties. Also popular with regulars are barbecue plates and the specialty Fonzie burger (featuring Velveeta cheese) and Mr. Yoshi burger (made spicy with jalapeños and sriracha mayo). You can even get in on a virtual bar game of Music Video Bingo by picking up free bingo cards with your order on days that they’re available. Or take advantage of running deals like $1 off all wells, beers, wines and cans (that's $1 off pretty much everything.)
Other ways to support: Buy some sweet gear like hats, shirts and coozies with the Bar Car logo.
Why I'll be back: The Bar Car knows how to throw a party! Weekly Bar-Car-aoke nights bring colorful characters, and monthly old-school vinyl DJ sets and annual street parties and bar crawls always have regulars and the rest of the neighborhood going hard. Also, the rotating Bar Car wall mural and a patio right on Colorado Boulevard are best enjoyed up close and personal.
Challengers Sports Bar and Grill12161 East Iliff Avenue, Aurora
What to order: Wings to go! If you need some spice in your life, try the wings in the 5/11 Alarm sauce. Also great for a snack or meal: chili cheese fries with the famous Challengers green chile, fried pickle spears or Chicago-style thin-crust pizza, always cut in squares. You really can't go wrong with the food here — everything is solid.
Why I'll be back: Challengers is always bustling with a diverse crowd of friendly sports fans. Festive holiday decorations, televised sports, pool tables (including pool leagues) and a spacious patio add to the appeal of visiting this bar in person. And you will never miss any game-day action (when there are game days again), because there are TVs on the patio and in the restrooms. Which is definitely more than most people can say for their in-home setup.
The Dam Grille8000 East Quincy Avenue, #1500
What to order: Food is satisfying across the board here, with good burritos, sandwiches, burgers and even hot dogs like the "Dam Dog" chili dog. For a spicy and decadent treat, try the bacon-wrapped jalapeños. Also, the beer list is always extensive here, or try a margarita or flavored martini if you're feeling fancy. Family-style food and drink and rotating specials are available for curbside pick-up or delivery through GrubHub. For the family-style options, you can't go wrong with fifty wings and a side of fries for $54.98 or a Cheeseburger Party Pack, with four sets of cheeseburgers and fries for $39.96.
Other ways to support: Buy gift cards for later, or some T-shirts to show your love for the team at the Dam.
Why I'll be back: The lovely patio fire pit, huge fish tank and large taxidermied fish on every wall create a fun drinking atmosphere for an in-person brew and burger. The frequent tap takeovers and large tap list also make in-person beer sampling a good pastime (which are tough to do from home, though I suppose you could order a whole bunch of to-go beers from the tap list). Also, Broncos and Minnesota Vikings football parties and 25-cent pool on Tuesdays can only be properly experienced at the bar.
Fat Boy's Sports Bar10660 East Alameda Avenue, Aurora
What to order: Fat Boy's is all about fat portions, so whatever you get, rest assured there will be a lot of it. For example, the nachos are great, and you can choose from a "foothill" or a "mountain" based on your level of hunger or the amount of people you are quarantining with. The normal menu is large and varied, with Mexican dishes, seafood, barbecue, pasta and even steak dinners. But now Fat Boy's is offering family-style meals as well, such as a whole pan of smothered burritos or a portion of spaghetti and meatballs to feed your army/family.
Why I'll be back: The friendly folks, diverse mix of people, pool tables and large patio are enticing. And the many fun events like karaoke and music bingo keep things interesting. In addition, Fat Boy's celebrates all bar holidays with reckless abandon, so once we are able to celebrate together again, I'm there.
Fat Boy's Sports Bar is open daily from 2 to 7 p.m. Call or visit the bar's website for more information.
Noonan's Sports Bar and Grill13521 East Iliff Avenue, Aurora
What to order: The whole, huge menu is available, with tried-and-true bar favorites, plus more exotic options like Rocky Mountain oysters. You can get breakfast anytime, and the many fried appetizers are available as sampler sets or on their own. Loaded bowls of tater tots with various toppings are also winners, as are mac and cheese and chile relleno burritos. Noonan's also has a rotating dessert menu, so make sure to get a dessert and a cocktail, because you deserve it. And the deals abound: The famous Tuesday 90-cent wing special is no longer just for dine-in, plus it's half off all to-go drinks when you order ahead and pick up. Alternately, you can get your fix delivered through GrubHub or Postmates.
Why I'll be back: Noonan's has one of the longest happy hours in the whole metro area, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends, and those cheap drinks aren't going to drink themselves after quarantine. There's always a fun and diverse crowd here, and "there's always something happening," a slogan that holds true with frequent events like trivia, comedy, beer pong, karaoke, poker and bingo. Golden Tee, giant Jenga, pool tables and oh-so-many TVs round out the bar entertainment for your future in-person enjoyment.
The Piper Inn2251 South Parker Road
The Piper Inn will be closed for the duration of the mandated shutdown.
Ways to support: Buy gift cards for later, as well as some badass merchandise, including a vast selection of shirts, hoodies, mugs and even baby onesies. You can also donate to the Piper Inn's GoFundMe campaign for the staff, or write an online review if you're short on money but can give some time.
Why I'll be back: Those wings! The delicious Asian wings here actually live up to the bar's own "Best Wings in Denver" hype. The place is always packed with a merry mix of bikers and everyone else who lives in the vicinity, and the warm and welcoming "old Denver" vibe will bring me back, hopefully in time for patio season on the airy little deck with its view of Leetsdale.
Spanky's Roadhouse1800 East Evans Avenue
What to order: Food options here are varied and a little upscale, so treat yourself! I enjoy the tangy and crispy Brussels sprouts, the wings, or a burger with creative toppings. Try the Spanky, topped with guac, bacon and fried onions, or the PB&J, smothered in peanut butter and cherry pie filling (really!). With any of the burgers, you can choose from natural beef, bison, chicken breast or Impossible veggie patties. Spanky's brunch is not to be missed, with tasty Benedicts — or crepes and pancakes, if you're looking for something sweet. Or if one person wants pancakes and another wants lunch fare, not to worry: The aforementioned burgers and several sandwich options are available for brunch, as well.
Other ways to support: Buy gift cards for brighter days to come. During the month of April, every $50 gift card purchase comes with a free $10 gift card.
Why I'll be back: This family-oriented little bar is relaxed, with spacious seating and a lovely covered patio. Spanky's always shows love to the University of Denver and has a place in my heart since I went there for grad school. The college kids, families, and everyone else from the neighborhood will surely be back to watch sports and socialize as soon as they can.
The Watering Bowl5411 Leetsdale Drive
What to order: Unfortunately, dogs can't go to this dog park with a bar by themselves, or the place would be packed with our canine friends enjoying their immunity to coronavirus. I guess dogs and their humans will have to settle for re-creating the Watering Bowl experience at home with some to-go food. The Watering Bowl is here for you with curbside pick-up or delivery via your choice of GrubHub, UberEats or Postmates. You can't go wrong here with burgers, calzones and baskets of tots or fries. Shareable sliders are a great option for quarantine with your family or roommates; they come in Philly cheesesteak, fried chicken or classic mini-burgers on sweet rolls to give your at-home bar snacks a little variety. You can also order dog treats and even dog cakes for your furry friends at home.
Other ways to support: Join in the online fun by following the Watering Bowl on Facebook or Instagram; you can share doggie photos, view adoptable pets so you can solve the problem of an inadequate number of dogs in your home during quarantine, or submit your dog to be "Dog of the Month" to earn Internet glory, a free pitcher of beer and a pizza and cake for your canine. Also on the Watering Bowl's social media: options for online watch parties and other events to enjoy virtually while you and your pooch enjoy food and drinks.
Why I'll be back: Much like me, my dog misses his friends, so we can all reunite here. The dog-filled patio is like nothing else in this town, and the people are pretty fun, too. Tons of fundraisers to support good causes, themed parties and events, and great food and drink deals will bring us all back out, tails wagging.