When Chinook Tavern shuttered its longtime home in Cherry Creek North back in the summer of 2008, many regulars were left crying in their one-liter steins, wondering where they would ever find another place to drink German beer and eat veal wiener schnitzel.
Now they have their answer: The new Chinook Tavern that opened last month on South Fiddler's Circle in Englewood (after a doomed attempt to open in the Landmark project). As I sat down at the enormous bar, I overheard the woman next to me say, "I love this new place, it's just so very Colorado." And she was right.
The old Chinook, what was located in a basement, was dark; this new Chinook, all 9,000 square feet, is intensely bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. Patriarch Manfred Georg designed the space; his wife, Lieselotte, an artist, provided much of the decor; son Clemens is the manager and son Markus is the executive chef. Gorgeous, wide-plank floors stretch throughout the space (I later learned later they're not real wood, but they look more authentic than any faux wood floors I'd ever seen before); the ceilings are real wood, and designed to minimize the noise, with beautiful bubble lights cascading down.
And I'm far from the only person to appreciate the new Chinook. A staffer said it's doing great business with lawyers in the area who drink three shots of Stranahan's at lunch without blinking (lawyers still do that?); Newmont Mining execs use it like their corporate dining room. And being next to light rail has helped business: Chinook has a coffee bar that sells java and pastries in the morning, and the bar fills weeknights with commuters who want a quick pop before they get on the train to head home.
Although I was tempted to order a one-liter stein of Paulaner Hefeweizen (at $10, it holds almost the equivalent of three twelve-ounce beers), I instead asked to see the cocktail list. Alas, there was no such list -- so I asked the bartender to make me a summery cocktail that she likes to drink.
She returned with a Cool Cucumber ($8.59) made with Hendricks Gin, a splash of Sprite, soda and muddled lemon cucumber. The bartender explained that she hates gin, but was committed to making a gin drink that even she would drink. I, on the other hand, love gin, and while this wasn't the most inventive cocktail I'd ever tasted, it was a good light, summery drink.
Still, when I return I'm going for that one-liter beer, if just so that I can repeat the line those savvy commuters were all preparing to tell their significant others: "But honey, I only had one beer...."
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.