My day job is just down the road from Jack Rabbit Slims, a neighborhood bar at 2222 Bruce Randolph Avenue that I have somehow missed out on until just recently. The bar is easy to pass over because it looks more like a suburban storefront, with tan brick and large plate glass windows facing the street, than a place to stop for a drink.
The address was vacant and gutted when Sue Freeman and her family took it over three years ago and built Jack Rabbit Slims from scratch, using shipping pallets and other reclaimed wood to construct the bar and filling the small space with pool tables and other games, TVs, a projection screen and plenty of bar stools and tables for neighbors. The open kitchen at the back of the bar, complete with fresh herbs under grow lamps, gives customers a view of dough being tossed for handmade pizzas.
The Freemans named their bar after the Jack Rabbit Slims in Pulp Fiction (like many other establishments around the country over the past 24 years), though the similarity to the movie version ends with the name.
Several generations of the Freeman family, who moved to Denver from Frisco to open the bar, work here. The whole place is bright with daylight, creating a welcoming vibe that's equal parts pizza parlor and neighborhood bar. While we were there, families came in for pizza, subs and ice cream, and sports fans sat down for beers and football. The clientele reflected the diversity of the neighborhood in terms of age, race and even sports team allegiances.
My roommate and I were there on a Sunday afternoon, and the place was filled with Minnesota Vikings fans loudly enjoying a game on TV. Our bartender told us that Sue Freeman hails from Minnesota and is a Vikings fan, so the bar always plays Minnesota games in addition to all the Denver sports teams. On Saturdays, Slims offers buy-one-get-one-half-off appetizers, $1 off all canned beers and $3.50 Coors Light drafts to attract college football fans.
We were pleased to discover that Sunday brings happy hour all day, with ten-inch, one-topping pizzas for $6, two-for-one well drinks, and $1 off all beers and house wines. Happy hour also runs from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. We ordered drinks and pizza, springing for an extra topping of jalapeños on our $6 pepperoni pizza special. You can't really go wrong with bar pizza that you can watch being tossed in the air just a few feet away. Apple-cinnamon-infused whiskey and pickle shots were also available, so I got a pickle shot (because I've really been into those lately).
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A couple who lived down the street sat down next to us and gave us the hot tip that there's a new specialty pizza each month, and November's is Thanksgiving turkey pizza. Gluten-free crust is always available, and Jack Rabbit Slims does a healthy takeout and delivery business, with GrubHub, Postmates, Slice and Uber Eats offering their services. In addition, Slims carries liquid-nitrogen ice cream made by Eskimo Brothers, a local company owned by Chuck James, who is also an employee of the bar. Regulars sitting next to us rattled off their favorite flavors — chocolate fudge brownie, birthday cake and cookie butter all getting votes — but I was already too full of pizza (and over-sugared from the past few days of Halloween candy) to consider dessert. If you're craving sweets but can't make it into the bar, you can have your Eskimo Brothers ice cream delivered.
Slims offers several other discount nights, including service-industry night every Wednesday, with free pool after 9 p.m., $3.50 PBRs and Jim Beam and Fireball shots, and $7 pizzas. Comedy nights, pool tournaments and hip-hop DJ nights are part of the regular entertainment. New this month is a hot-wing challenge for the brave happening every Tuesday night. The challenge is to eat eight wings of increasing heat levels to win bragging rights and a picture on the wall if you survive.
An aquarium filled with fancy goldfish was a soothing and decorative element next to our table, and there was also a shelf full of board games and a giant Jenga set. On the other side of the two pool tables and dart board, there was a game I had never seen (a real rarity, considering the number of bars I've visited around the city) called "A-Hole," which appeared to be a wall-mounted version of cornhole, where the object is to throw bean bags into holes in a triangular box with a clear plastic front. (We were on our way out the door when i spotted it, but next time it's going down, a-holes!)
A new game is only one of many reasons for me to come back. Now that I know that such a great little bar exists so close to my work, I can envision returning for happy-hour pizza and beer with co-workers. Or maybe I will see if I can survive the hot-wing challenge, or experience that nitrogen cookie butter ice cream. Whenever I stop by, I clearly won't be alone; I will be joined by many Cole area neighbors who call Jack Rabbit Slims their local watering hole.