Our Best of Denver 2020 Readers' Poll is now live, giving you the chance to vote on more than 100 favorite people, places and things around town...including Best Dive Bar.
Dive bars are becoming an endangered species in the metro area, as development gobbles up many of the town's best watering holes. Fortunately, many continue to pour, including the 2019 winner of Best Dive Bar: Columbine Cafe.
The Columbine Cafe opened the year Prohibition ended, in a former barbershop near a patch of horse pastures at 15630 South Golden Road in Golden. The closest landmark was the Coors brewery, and workers from that plant kept the place in business for many years. They still frequent the bar, which has exactly two beers on tap: Coors and Coors Light.
Today, Golden sprawls just down the road, but the Columbine still feels like an out-of-the-way discovery: There's a beer garden in back — the site of summer barbecues — horseshoe tournaments and music performances. (In the winter, a fire pit keeps things cozy.) There's sometimes live music in the tiny bar space, too, though the only nod to the "Cafe" in the name are occasional breakfast burritos supplied on Sundays. But who needs food when the ambience is so satisfying? The walls display decades of memorabilia, including a plaque honoring last year's Best Dive Bar win.
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This is the kind of place where everyone knows your name...long after you've forgotten it.
The bar was founded by Mike Hatzis, a Greek immigrant and World War I veteran; his nephew, Harry Artemis, and his wife, Alice, ran it after that. Today, Hatzis's great-nephew Chris Artemis is usually on hand; he also runs a ski-tuning and -waxing business out of the building.
Which means that the Columbine Cafe is already a top contender to win Best Place to Get Both Soused and Waxed in the 2020 Best of Denver.
Have ideas for other Best of Denver categories not on the poll? Places that deserve awards, but almost beyond categorizing? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline to vote is 11:59 March 18; the Best of Denver will hit the streets (and the web) on March 26.