The music never really stopped at 554 South Broadway, where Syntax Physic Opera transitioned to the Broadway Roxy under new ownership earlier this summer. And along with the new name came a new menu and bar program worth a visit even if you're not staying for a show.
Owner Paula Vrakas brings the Roxy to Denver from Encinitas, California, where the concept was launched in 2016 (though the venue itself dates back to 1978). One of the first order orders of business was hiring a chef, so Vrakas tapped Christopher Rasmussen, formerly of Highland Tap & Burger, to run the kitchen. His slate of small plates, sandwiches and salads is both booze-friendly and light enough to encourage a night of dancing while offering enough substance for those wandering in specifically for the food.
Pastrami sliders on housemade pretzel buns are a good start, along with some fried Brussels sprouts with parmesan and bacon jam. Carnitas tacos and meatballs — a blend of beef, pork and veal — also come in small-plate size so you can have a little variety without overdoing it. Lamb or falafel patties are the choices if you go the burger route.
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The Roxy's dining room is surprisingly bright and airy when the sun is still out, making it more inviting than the standard music-hall bar. A library-style bar reaches nearly to the ceiling, and live plants share space with antiques and curios. The theme goes well with the 1920s-inspired cocktail list, comprising mostly simple mixed drinks along the lines of martinis, gin rickeys and even a Bees Knees.
"When you do live music, everyone comes in at once, so you have to make things quickly," Vrakas explains. And even if you won't see bartenders fussing over five-minute cocktails, you can still get your Aviation, or a Boston Sour, made with bourbon, egg white, lemon juice and a Luxardo cherry.
The bar and kitchen open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays will be added this fall. Visit the Broadway Roxy website for a music schedule, or call 720-456-7041 for more details.