During the heyday of indoor malls in Denver, Tiffany Plaza and Tamarac Square faced each other across East Hampden Avenue, drawing shoppers, diners and movie-goers. On the south side, Tiffany Plaza was eventually replaced mostly by a Whole Foods (though there's still a discount movie theater there), and on the north side, Tamarac Square was completely demolished to make way for a Target. Strip malls still surround both locations, though, hiding quiet shops and bars off the main drag. Extra Innings is one of those unassuming little spots in the Tamarac Shopping Center; to find it, you have to loop back behind the Target and duck into a parking lot past a venerable Benihana that has witnessed many changes on the block over its lifetime.
After navigating the parking lot maze, I was surprised to find the dark interior of Extra Innings full of customers and with a welcoming ambience presided over by skilled bartenders churning out drinks and greeting regulars — as well as strangers like me.
“If anyone doesn’t give you a good time in here, tell me,” one of them joked, since it seemed that a good time was all but guaranteed.
Christmas season was still in high gear, and many of the women in the place sported ugly sweaters and headbands with Christmas lights. Mixed in were a few long-haired dudes and older guys wearing golf shirts. Drinking seemed to be the primary activity, but a few customers were playing pool or watching sports. There was also a Golden Tee video game and a dartboard, unused throughout our visit. Along with the usual college football bowl games and hockey, a fair number of guests were also inexplicably watching World Chase Tag — inexplicable until my friends and I became engrossed in the new sport that combines the best of bro culture and canine agility courses (but without dogs, unfortunately).
We eventually tore ourselves away from the TV to make some new friends at the bar over cheap drinks. Extra Innings serves a few highbrow beer selections on draft, but regulars stick mostly with PBR and Coors Light, or strong and unpretentious mixed drinks. There’s no food to speak of here (an out-of-order popcorn machine promised snacks for another visit), but you can order in from a number of restaurants in the shopping center.
Corrugated steel and reclaimed wood — attempts at modernizing the bar — mixed with standard dive bar elements: threadbare carpet and a random assortments of chairs. One of the regulars, a metal fabricator, has contributed decorative touches, including a large tin man statue. Other random decorations — military flags, sports memoralia, an antelope head — all had back stories that in some way honored other regular customers.
Current owner Bob Lee took over in 2007 and has kept things the way folks around here like it: cheap drinks, friendly bartenders and lots of sports. There isn’t an extensive events calendar, though I was told that Extra Innings was one of the first bars in town with a women’s fantasy football league. One other annual tradition is a golf tournament against local “rival” bar Milo’s. Extra Innings doesn’t win often, but this year was an exception, as a trophy in the form of a massive metal flask over our table proved.
Tamarac and Tiffany Plaza have been transformed over the years to accommodate modern shopping tastes, but Extra Innings has held steady, with prices and service that take drinkers back to an earlier era.
Extra Innings is located at 3333 South Tamarac Drive in Denver and is open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and noon to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Visit the bar’s Facebook page or call 303-337-4075 for more information.
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