The West End Tap House, amid a sea of other Tennyson Street restaurants, bars, boutiques and even a cat cafe, is a little more upscale than your standard neighborhood bar, but that's what the Berkeley neighborhood is about these days. The tap house, though, isn't a pretentious or trendy spot that's going to be gone within a year; it's been holding things down for the past six years and welcomes a solid neighborhood crowd.
Owners Steve Waldo, Bob Armstrong and Kurt Von Reiter treat both staff and customers like family, whether they're pouring drinks for the late-night party crowd bar-hopping down Tennyson or catering to regulars on quiet weeknights. When a friend and I stopped in on a football Sunday, Broncos fans in the house were numerous, but the small place was filled with a variety of folks: a family with young kids eating lunch by one of the garage windows, a line of old-timers at the bar, a few young couples and bro groups of many sports affiliations.
The menu here takes its cues from Denver's thriving restaurant scene as well as from the classics of the bar-snack canon, so you can choose from burgers and fries with fancy twists, wagyu beef cheesesteaks, tuna tartare, elk chili and entree-sized salads, for starters. You really can't go wrong, which is why the West End earned our award for Best Sports Bar for Food and Drink this year.
The mac and cheese, funnel cake fries and Belgian fries are all house specialties. But I had heard good things about the Brussels sprouts with bacon, so we started with those and then added the Belgian fries, which come with two picks — ours were roasted garlic aioli and sriracha lime — from a long list of dipping sauces. The large basket of tasty, crispy fries and plate of roasted Brussels sprouts formed just the right combination of semi-healthy and completely unhealthy vegetables (because fries count as veggies). To go along with the large-portioned apps, we took advantage of the $5 tequila deal and a hard seltzer on tap, which made us imagine that maybe we still had a little summer left, despite the snowy October.
The Broncos game gave way to other teams' contests, but the bulk of the West End crowd stayed put on the chilly Sunday. The bar was bright despite the cloudy day; large garage windows let in plenty of light, and the blond wood and pale tones of the place keep things from getting gloomy. The furnishings still look new and comfortable, and the whole place has attractive, Colorado-style trimmings (that is, the DIY wood and steel decor so common in Denver), along with framed images of mountains, aspen trees and other Western art. The high ceiling undulates with cross-hatched designs in wood, adding visual interest.
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West End seemed to be staffed mostly by women in their twenties wearing Broncos gear, who served up Sundays specials including $5 Bloody Marys, mimosas and Cazadores tequila shots, $4 rotating beers of the day, $3 Tullamore Dews, $3 Coors Lights, and $2.50 PBRs from noon to 6 p.m. Sometimes, when there's a big game going on, the kitchen will cook up regional food in honor of the teams playing, such as specials on Chicago dogs for Chicago teams.
Beyond Sunday, Taco Tuesday is a big draw, with $6 fried tacos, $5 tequila shots and margaritas, $3 Imperial cans, and a $7 "Deer and a beer" — otherwise known as a Jägermeister shot and a beer. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays and all night on Mondays, with $1 off Colorado spirits and craft cocktails, $4 wells, $2 domestic drafts, $1 off craft beers on tap and $5 glasses of the wine of the month.
After so many fries and drinks, it was time for a Sunday nap, though pulling ourselves away from the comfortable bar wasn't easy. For elevated bar grub, a diverse clientele, friendly service and a Sunday sports vibe, the West End Tap House makes lingering on Tennyson an easy task.
The West End Tap House is located at 3945 Tennyson Street and is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, noon to 2 a.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays. Visit the bar's website or call 303-433-4759 for more information.