Happy Place: Sam's No. 3, 1500 Curtis Street, 303-534-1927
The Hours: Daily from 2 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $2 domestic drafts; $2.25 bottles and margaritas; $3 cocktails; $3.50-$5.99 food specials
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Denver boasts its fair share of greasy spoons, where you'll get plates speckled with egg creations doused with green chile served by a waitstaff who's seen it all. But few places reach institution status -- those legendary breakfast joints that are forever embedded in the brains of the late-night drunks and mid-morning hangovers. Sam's No. 3 is one of these places. Smack in the heart of downtown, it's cleaner than your average diner, but there's the same kitsch you'd expect from an eatery that's frequented by all walks of life. The bright, vivid hues and convivial family chatter of the main dining area give way to the darker, more tavern-esque bar in the back. And, frankly, the vibe in the bar is a bit ominous. It's the kind of place you'd go for an afternoon drinking binge or after a night of too much tequila, and the patrons match the ambiance so well it's scary.
The Verdict: "You wanna get drinks where?" My happy hour companion didn't understand why I thought happy hour at a diner would be remotely worthwhile. Instead, she wanted to go somewhere with good wine and refined men, but after promising we could up the ante after one round, she reluctantly obliged.
Unfortunately, my whimsical vision of eclectic day drinkers and fascinating stories didn't pan out. The crowd at Sam's was tired and distracted, a mix of the middle-aged men drinking solemnly and regulars downing beers before traipsing out to the sidewalk. Our bartender was friendly enough, but she wasn't particularly knowledgeable about the happy hour menu or what appetizers were on special.
We ordered a plate of the chile cheese fries, a decent platter of crispy potatoes drenched in verde and heaps of melted cheddar, which tasted even better after a couple of pints. The other happy hour eats are typical: wings, nachos, onion rings and fries. Sam's might be great on a rainy day when you're looking to catch a game on the television, but on this particular adventure, the Sam's experience left much to be desired.
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Overall Grade: C