Denver's ten best jukeboxes

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

More and more, you've probably noticed an influx of Internet jukeboxes, the kind that offer a seemingly endless assortment of songs, cropping up in bars. But there are still a handful of spots rocking old school CD jukeboxes that require a bit of taste-making. Here's the ten best, including this year's Best of Denver winner. You'll notice what might seem like glaring omissions here, last year's winner at 3 Kings Tavern, and the local-centric juke at the Sidewinder. But both of jukes weren't operational when we last visited. Continue on for the ten best jukeboxes in Denver.

See also: - Best of Denver 2012: Denver's ten best jukeboxes - Best of Denver 2013: A look back at the Best New Band winners from the past decade - Best of Denver 2013 Readers' Poll: Meet this year's Arts & Entertainment winners

3 Kings Tavern, 60 South Broadway (Winner, Best of Denver 2012) Sure, you've got thousands of songs at your fingertips on those Internet jukeboxes, but the old-school CD jukes just feel like they've got soul -- or at least character. When you're flipping through the pages of 3 Kings Tavern's Rock-Ola Legend, which seems like it's at least a few decades old, the selection process is much more tangible, whether you're hunting for AC/DC, Crüe, Stones, Skynyrd, Big Black, X's Live at the Whisky a Go-Go or one of the stellar mix CDs. And since a stream of local acts plays at 3 Kings, it's not surprising that the juke is also stocked with a fair amount of the city's finest punk bands, including King Rat, Frontside Five and such dearly departed icons as Planes Mistaken for Stars.

Continue on for the ten best jukeboxes in Denver

10. The Bar Car, 819 Colorado Boulevard After a long run as the Recovery Room, the Bar Car opened in the spot in 2010, and a first-rate jukebox also moved in. The box has a good variety of bands, including decent amount of '80s and '90s rock, like Jane's Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots and Foo Fighters, but there's also some classic rock like Billy Joel and Neil Diamond.

9. Sancho's Broken Arrow, 741 East Colfax Avenue. Step a few feet inside Sancho's Broken Arrow and there's no mistaking that you're in a Grateful Dead-centric bar. So it makes perfect sense that the jukebox is stocked with enough Dead to last for weeks. Every so often, though, you need a break from Jerry and company, and there are a few other artists sprinkled in -- cats like Leon Russell and the Talking Heads, as well as jam-centric acts like Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident and Gov't Mule.

8. The Horseshoe Lounge, 414 E. 20th Avenue While the Horseshoe Lounge kind of feels like you're hanging out in someone's basement at times, the bar's juke offers an ideal soundtrack for a house party. There's Black Keys, Social Distortion, the Flaming Lips and the Cure, and you can also get your disco on to the likes of ABBA or the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. In addition to good selection of '80s and '90s rock, there's a decent variety of other stuff, from the Ramones to RUN-DMC.

7. Carioca Cafe (Bar Bar), 2060 Champa Street While the music of Tom Waits might seem fitting in many of these spots, it is especially complementary at Bar Bar. The fact that the bar has a disc like Used Songs, a collection of Waits's songs from 1973 to 1980, makes perfect sense, as Waits himself would have been right at home at a place like this. But there's also stuff on here that he might dig, like Merle Haggard, Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. If that's enough, there's also Hendrix, the Isley Brothers, Blondie and early Stones.

6. P.S. Lounge, 3416 East Colfax Avenue Another diverse one, the P.S. Lounge's juke sports everything from the blues -- acts like John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan -- and jazz players like Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock and Charles Mingus, to classic rockers like Jethro Tull and the Doors and country folks like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. There's enough alt-rock variety to appease most tastes, whether it be Oasis, Vampire Weekend or the Cure. There are also quite a few mixes thrown in from various decades, as well as soundtracks from, for instance, Pulp Fiction and Swingers.

5. 12 Volt Tavern, 7514 Grandview Ave. Arvada Since the 12 Volt brings in its share of punk acts, it's not surprising there's a fair amount of that on the juke, like Sex Pistols, Ramones, Bad Brains and Bad Religion. But the juke also has a great variety of other stuff, whether it be the soul and R&B of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield, the classic rock of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top or the '80s rock of Depeche Mode, Billy Idol and the Go-Gos.

4. Nob Hill Inn, 420 East Colfax Avenue One of the great things about this classic dive's jukebox is all the Nob Hill Classics mix CDs that make up a good portion of it. One disc might have Buck Owens and the Beau Brummels, while other discs might have the Hollies and Uriah Heep or Parliament and Gene Autry. Pick any other one of the Classics CDs and you're bound to find a hell of an assortment of bands. But if mix CDs ain't your bag, there's plenty else to choose from, whether it be Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

3. The Cruise Room, 1600 17th Street Out of this top-ten list, the Cruise Room is the only juke that plays vinyl. The Seeburg Select-O-Matic 100 from the '50s doesn't skimp on crooners like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, or legendary jazzers like Louis Armstrong or Woody Herman. But it's also got a little bit 'o soul with Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. Although there are coin slots on the juke, it's actually free.

2. Skylark Lounge, 140 South Broadway Sure, there's plenty of rockabilly and country, including Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Patsy Cline on the Skylark's juke, which perfectly complements the rest of the retro-centric spot, which is lined with vintage movie posters, but there's also a vast assortment of other stuff, from the punk of the Clash and Sex Pistols to the jazz of Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt and Dave Brubeck, and a whole lot in between. There's also a few discs by local bands that have played there, like Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams and the Dalhart Imperials. Definitely one of the most eclectic jukes in town.

Lion's Lair, 2022 East Colfax Avenue Variety is key to a great jukebox, and the juke at the Lion's Lair has it in spades. From the blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf to the classic rock of the Stones and Zeppelin -- and pretty much everything in between -- it's one of the more diverse collections in town. And since the Lair brings in its fair share of punk acts, you'll find a good dose of punk, as well, whether it's coming from the Clash or one of the many mix CDs in the box. Rounding out the lineup? Soundtracks from Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly and the reggae-centric The Harder They Come, as well as country from Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.