See Also: - Boulder's five biggest hipster bars - Five best midsize venues in LoDo and Ballpark - Denver's ten best karaoke bars - Denver's ten best dance clubs - Denver's ten best jukeboxes - Five best places to buy vinyl
What exactly is a hipster? The term lost all of the weight it had around, oh, 2008. Today, a "hipster" qualifies you as a young person and not much else. The youthful connotation has also been muddied. The term "oldster" has now fallen under the hipster umbrella as well. Sorry, Alejandro Escovedo and Bob Schneider fans, you too are now hipsters, despite your age and graying goatees.
Yes, the term has sailed onward and upward -- just look at these Google Insights for "hipster." Judging from its ubiquity, any bar or restaurant could likely be pegged as hipster -- mostly by people who are not hip, because those are the only people who use the term "hipster" with any seriousness. All of that said, here are the ten biggest hipster bars in Denver.
10. Rooftop Cafe at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street
Coming in at number ten is the cafe at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art, where you can sip a cappuccino or craft beer poured by an edgy bartender after checking out the latest exhibition. The rooftop atmosphere is a hidden downtown gem, plus they book live music most Sundays during the summer. Tell your friends about this one; your status will rise almost immediately.
9. Williams & Graham, 3160 Tejon Street
Williams & Graham comes in at number nine for the prowess and knowledge of its bartenders -- rather than its clientele. The imbibing elite show up not just for the best Prohibition-era cocktails in the city, but for the long, detailed history behind every single ingredient involved in its creation. If facial hair is your thing, you'll want to come here for the waxed mustaches and prize-worthy beards alone.
8. The Matchbox, 2625 Larimer Street
Located in NoDo, a sparsely populated part of town that is slowly gaining momentum, Matchbox is home to many a jorts-wearer as well as an outdoor area in the back for vintage lawn games. (This bar was also one of our "Denver's ten best new bars" of 2011.)
7. Star Bar, 2137 Larimer Street
Star Bar: This is love. Built in 1959, it still manages to keep its vintage, dive-y feel without offering the same old buckets of cheap beer. With an ever-rotating and impressive draft selection of beers from breweries like Ska and Great Divide, plus live music, karaoke and a 50-cent jukebox, Star Bar is the most tolerable bar in the LoDo/Ballpark area and has the most eclectic mix of people you'll find in the neighborhood. (Star Bar was also named one of "Denver's ten best karaoke bars" in 2011.)
6. Thin Man, 2015 East 17th Avenue
Thin Man, the hipster hangout of Uptown/City Park, is like the low-key vacation spot where celebrities go to avoid being noticed. Hipsters who are settled comfortably into their identities will enjoy the dark and sultry atmosphere, the mix of people and the dazzling selection of infused vodkas and serious cocktails.
5. Illegal Pete's, 1530 16th Street
Illegal Pete's on the 16th Street Mall (there are several locations) has emerged from the woodwork as one of the coolest places to drink downtown. Grab a cheap (or craft!) beer and some tacos and watch some live music: Pete's hosts up-and-coming local bands as well as more intimate sets with established artists coming through town. Plus, the owners have their own record label. I repeat: The owners have their own record label!
4. Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 East Colfax
Lost Lake can be a hike, but it's worth every inconvenience to get there: It's arguably the best hipster dive bar in our fine city. Great bartenders, cheap, strong drinks and an incredibly curated rotation of bands, all crammed into a glorified log cabin basement. Try the $5 beer-and-shot special and make some terrible decisions for best results.
3. Meadowlark, 2701 Larimer Street
O, Meadowlark. The bartenders are full of angst and general indifference -- but who isn't these days? -- and the secluded back patio makes Meadowlark one of the best outdoor destinations and one of the most intimate live-music venues in Denver. The inside is cramped and dive-y, with old-school woodwork and art by local artists. Plus they have a free photo booth that posts to their website, so feel free to embarrass yourself.
2. City, O' City, 206 East 13th Avenue
If you like to get your hipster on sans animal products, City, O' City is part bustling vegetarian restaurant, part great bar and 100-percent grass-fed, Capitol Hill hipster. The staff is fun, friendly, tattooed and generally chest-hair bearing. Style statements run rampant, and often a resident DJ will spin the classics alongside something you've probably never heard.
1. Sputnik, 7 South Broadway
Sputnik, Denver's original hipster bar, has everything a Denver hipster hangout needs: a prime South Broadway location, a neighboring music venue, cheap drinks, flannel, a sometimes intimidating staff, DJs, a bingo night and bowls of mac-and-cheese that will bring you to tears.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.