After several drives along West 38th Avenue recently, I realized that there was a rare neighborhood bar in Denver proper that I had yet to visit. A friend and I remedied that situation with a stop at Ginger Sports Bar, a spot that was previously part of the small ’Bout Time Pub & Grub chain.
Ginger has been around since the summer of 2018 and will soon be celebrating its two-year anniversary under the same owners as the Thai Basil "Hangout Grill" location that was, until recently, located just down the street. So you can consider it somewhat of a replacement, only as more of a neighborhood drinking establishment with food than a dinner spot with a bar.
Most of the interior decor is left over from the bar's ’Bout Time days, making it feel more like a standard sports bar than an Asian-fusion restaurant. Colorado DIY style in dark woods, corrugated steel, a collection of sports memorabilia representing every sport under the sun, and a covered patio with big garage windows make the place feel familiar; there's something similar in nearly every Denver neighborhood. With plenty of large TV screens (26, to be exact), a pool table and a few arcade and patio games, Ginger is homey and unpretentious enough for longtime residents of the area, but with just enough style to appeal to the young, affluent families who have moved in more recently.
The clientele on our recent visit was mostly older folks in jeans and puffy jackets, but a younger generation was also present, and a Hispanic couple who clearly knew their way around the menu was kind enough to recommend a few dishes to us.
Ginger's assortment of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes are a highlight, along with a few Thai curries thrown in for good measure. Our server noted that the pho is popular, as well as various appetizers and Chinese classics like General Tso's chicken and beef and broccoli. We decided to sample some pot stickers and sesame wings, which were sweet and tangy. Both dishes made a good addition to the world of bar snacks beyond traditional fries, nachos and Buffalo wings.
It was Saturday evening at the tail end of happy hour, which goes down from 3 to 6 p.m. every day, so we took advantage of two-for-one well drinks, house wines and draft beers, a vodka soda for me and a reasonable house white wine for my friend, who also perked up at the sighting of Tuaca and Dr. Pepper, a rare, if saccharine-sweet combo we've only run across a few times in our bar travels. The bar also offers an extensive cocktail slate for when you're feeling fancy, and a mix of craft and domestic draft beers.
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College basketball played on several TV screens, along with, inexplicably, commercials for some sort of historical country music concert CD compilation. The commercial kept catching my eye as the awesome rhinestone outfits flashed by on ’80s-era country singers like Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. The TV sound was off, though, so pop hits from the TouchTunes jukebox mingled with the low murmur of conversation.
The bar doesn't stay open too late, but midnight, even on a Friday and Saturday, feels much later in a residential neighborhood that tends to turn in early. The rest of the week, Ginger is closed by 11 p.m., and even earlier on Sundays. This place knows its audience, which is mostly ready to call it a night after a couple of glasses of wine and some orange chicken.
Pan-Asian food mixed with billiards and big-screen sports makes for a pretty exiting evening out in West Highland, so I won't hold it against anyone who's just here for cocktails, conversation, a bite to eat and an early exit.
Ginger Sports Bar is located at 3392 West 38th Avenue in Denver, and is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 303-477-4090 or visit the bar's website.