Our desire for patio pleasures doesn't fade with the coming of fall. In fact, Denver loves its cool-weather patios: The opportunity to don hats and scarves while wrapping our beers in mittened hands reminds us of mountain nights around a fire. But while we love the cool, open air, it's helpful to find a patio that shelters us from the elements. That's not solely why my friends and I love Cap City Tavern, but it's one of the few places where you can find a heated, covered patio with a huge TV.
We go to Cap City for many reasons (full disclosure: one of those reasons is that my fiancé's sister works behind the bar), including some of the best bar food in town. In fact, I shouldn't even call it bar food. Although Cap City appears to be a bar with a side of restaurant, the food alone is worthy of a night out. The menu includes burgers, pizzas, entrees and a nightly special, even on weekends: Sunday's special is all-you-can-eat spaghetti. But my favorites are the mac and cheese and gyros.
The truffle mac and cheese is probably the best you'll ever have. Pasta and two types of mushrooms are smothered in melted Gruyere cheese, served piping hot in a deep bowl. The dish is so rich that I recommend getting a half order, or sharing the entree.
Cap City's gyros can compete with the famous Pete's dynasty: the lamb is thickly cut with housemade tzatziki sauce and fresh veggies surrounded by a warm, always-fresh pita. Partner the gyros sandwich with a side of sweet-potato fries, and you have the meal that sustained me through many a football game last winter.
The drinks are plentiful and fairly priced, including the Bloody Mary bar ($5 for well, $6 for Infused Pickle Vodka or Stoli Hot Vodka) on Saturdays and Sundays.
We visit Cap City occasionally in the summer, but football season is when you'll find my friends and me there every Sunday. The back patio is like a tented tailgate: The plastic tarp lets the light in but keeps the cold from smacking you in the face. The heaters lining the ceiling are spaced so that you actually feel the heat throughout the patio, unlike at those patios where just a few seats get the heat while friends shiver. Some of the tarp is rolled up, too, to let in a little breeze. After all, what's patio time without a tickle of the elements?
Everyone's watching the most popular game on the patio's 72-inch television. If you're team isn't on the patio's TV, you can park yourself in front of one of the seventeen others inside. If you're not into televised sports, you can play lawn games, life-sized Jenga, or the Stump game -- which consists of hitting other people's nails into a stump of wood, where the last man (nail) standing wins. It sounds weird, but it's a great distraction between games, especially if you need to vent anger due to a team loss.
Plan ahead and get there early during Minnesota Vikings or University of Nebraska games; both fan bases make Cap City their home, so you'll have trouble getting a table inside or out if you stroll in once the whistle blows.
The crowd is a fun mix, too, since it's across the street from the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum. It may be one of the few places where art and sports lovers mingle, along with Golden Triangle locals.
At a time when many restaurants start packing up their patios, Cap City's extended patio season is the perfect excuse to head over on your next night out -- that and the addictive mac and cheese.
Best Deal: Taco Mondays! $1 tacos after 5 p.m. and $1 off all drafts.
Beat Feature: Heated, enclosed patio with a 72-inch television.
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