Support Your Neighborhood Bars: South Denver Edition

Sarah McGill
Patio food at the Brutal Poodle in sunnier times, but hopefully this scene can be re-created again soon.
As quarantine life goes on, your neighbors in the bar industry need your help now more than ever to make it through so they can be there for you when gathering in public spaces is a thing again. Now that the days are sunnier and you can have a picnic on your lawn or porch, why not get your supplies from one of your favorite neighborhood bars?

There are many bars still hanging on and staying open for you, or offering other ways to support their staff; here are a few on South Broadway and around Washington Park:

The Brutal Poodle

1967 South Broadway

What to order: The creative food here never disappoints, and the kitchen team at the Brutal Poodle has upped its game, adding interesting rotating specials such as specialty hoagies and pasta dishes, and family style options like the "Mac Attack Family Pack," with drinks, salads and cheesy and flavorful four-cheese mac and cheese with hot Cheetos crust, for everyone in your house. Also going down smooth: make-your-own drink kits with options like margaritas and Bloody Marys, and a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily, with $3 wells and domestic cans. If you want brunch vibes, I recommend the chicken and waffles. For more of a dinner or lunch thing, the Brutal Burger or Shroom Burger (for the veg and vegan folks). The Poodle has the best of both worlds, with lots of meat for the meat lovers, and various veggie and vegan choices for plant people. For dessert, don't skip the lovely bread pudding. And if you don't want to go hard, or don't have enough people in your household to merit a full margarita kit, there are plenty of bottled and canned beers on the extensive list of local brews Impressively, the Poodle is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will deliver to you anywhere within ten miles (the bartenders and servers have transitioned to delivery drivers). There's even the option to "bribe them to take it further," so you can really get this delicious food no matter what part of town you live in. Show the staff of the Poodle some love, instead of food delivery services that take a big cut out of the profits from local businesses.

Other ways to support: This bar is run by Denver musicians, so visit the Brutal Poodle Facebook page for ways to support local bands. One band, Rozu, is even selling "I Heart the Poodle" T-shirts to support the staff. And as with many local establishments, gift card purchases are much appreciated and give you an excuse to go back post-quarantine.

Why I'll be back: Headbanger karaoke is always amazing and full of screaming; it surely will be back on Tuesday nights, and so will I. The mural-covered back patio with its stage for live music is the spot to be during patio weather, and the bar is itself is always filled with friendly people and quirky art featuring punk-rock dogs.

The Brutal Poodle is currently open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call or visit the bar's website or Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge The Candlelight hopes to see you again soon. - SARAH MCGILL
The Candlelight hopes to see you again soon.
Sarah McGill

Candlelight Tavern

383 South Pearl Street

What to order: Classic burgers, chicken wings, onion rings or a cup of chili to take home. The menu is small and basic, but everything is solid and cooked to order. Snag some booze to go, too; the prices are cheap, and you can never go wrong with a burger and beer. Call ahead to order curbside pick-up.

Other ways to support: Buy a wide array of cute Candlelight Tavern merchandise, with various designs and colors of hats, beanies, sweatshirts, T-shirts and even golf towels. Non-Amazon online shopping gets an A+ in my book, and you can pick up your new gear along with your food and booze order.

Why I'll be back: With a neighborhood crowd where everyone is welcome, shuffleboard, and a homey interior for sports watching and relaxing, this old-Denver classic is an institution, with faithful regulars who will be back without a doubt. Many customers have met their life partners here, so if you're heading out of quarantine single and ready to mingle, perhaps a stop at the Candlelight is in order.

The Candlelight Tavern is currently open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call or visit the bar's website, Twitter or Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge The Dive Inn's sunken bar and boat are empty for now. - COURTESY THE DIVE INN
The Dive Inn's sunken bar and boat are empty for now.
Courtesy The Dive Inn

The Dive Inn

1380 South Broadway

Ways to support: Unfortunately, the Dive Inn is currently closed, but there's lots of fun to be had on the bar's social-media pages. Also, buy a limited-edition COVID-19 Dive Inn T-shirt, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the bar staff. While you're at it, there's plenty of other logo'd merchandise and gift cards.

Why I'll be back: 1) You can sit in a boat in the middle of the bar. 2) You can play so many bar games: foosball, ping-pong, cornhole, pool, to name a few. 3) Your dog can come, too. 4) There's always something going on, with many fun special events, holiday celebrations and themed parties. 5) The drinks are cheap. The ownership and staff are creative and have a can-do spirit; I have a feeling they'll make it through so we can see them all again soon. Also, the kitchen, operated by Cluck Chicken, serves some of the most tender and flavorful chicken sandwiches, wings and chicken fingers around.

The Dive Inn will be closed for the duration of the mandated shutdown. Visit the bar's Instagram or Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge The taps are many and the environment is cozy at Finley's. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
The taps are many and the environment is cozy at Finley's.
Danielle Lirette

Finley's Pub

375 South Pearl Street

What to order: The Finley Burger, always one of the best burgers in town, comes with cheese and creamy bearnaise sauce on top. The wings are never a bad choice, nor are the fish and chips or the five-cheese mac and cheese. The menu offers salads if you're trying to be healthy, or desserts like sticky toffee pudding if you're not. The always-impressive beer list is possibly getting more unusual and creative during the quarantine, with lots of limited runs of local and not-so-local craft beers chosen by Finley's resident beer nerds. So bring your growler or some other fill-able vessel and get your fancy beer fix. The bar's Facebook page lists rotating specials; order ahead for curbside pickup or delivery available through GrubHub.

Other ways to support: Finley's has an online store for gift cards and a whole bunch of merch options, from the usual caps and hoodies to more creative options, like towels, iPhone cases, mugs and baby onesies. There's something there to remind any member of the family of their love for Finley's.

Why I'll be back: This small, homey dining room is cozy and chill, with a lovely wooden bar top and Irish-themed decorations, more neighborhoody than divey. The beer list and food are always on point for an in-person experience, and the staff and ownership are lovely people who welcome regulars and newcomers alike with open arms. Also, for those of you with children, this is definitely the sort of bar where no one will make you feel bad for bringing them along; after all, they'll want to get out of the house, too, when this is over.

Finley's Pub is currently open daily from noon to 8 p.m. Call or visit the bar's website, Instagram or Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge Kentucky Inn's cheese curds and Wisconsin love are always in our hearts. - SARAH MCGILL
Kentucky Inn's cheese curds and Wisconsin love are always in our hearts.
Sarah McGill

Kentucky Inn

890 South Pearl Street

Ways to support: The doors are shut at the moment at the Kentucky Inn, but you can still show your appreciation for the outstanding staff, despite its current inability to mix your drinks, on the Kentucky Inn's GoFundMe virtual tip jar.

Why I'll be back: The quick service and tasty cheese curds and other quality pub grub are a welcome find in the midst of a quiet neighborhood, and the remodeled bar room retains just enough of its old dive-bar vibe to feel lived in but not grungy. Wisconsin and Midwestern folks love it, but so do longtime residents and anyone who likes a relaxed spot for a drink and a snack with old and new friends.

The Kentucky Inn will be closed for the duration of the mandated shutdown. Visit the bar's website or Facebook page for more information.