Skippy's Bar & Grill, at 7545 East Iliff Avenue, just celebrated one year in business this April but has already gained a steady following in southeast Denver, drawing patrons from the nearby Hampden and Goldsmith neighborhoods. The bar's owner, Tom Cardiff, is no stranger to this part of town; he used to own W.T. Shorty's, just five minutes north of Skippy's. His daughter, Lindsay Cardiff, and her partner, Joe Conway, now own and run Shorty's, while Tom puts his efforts into Skippy's.
A friend of mine who lives nearby was familiar with the bar from back when it was known as the Beaver Dam, under different ownership. We stopped in for drinks on a Sunday afternoon, and the place was comfortably quiet, with just a few clusters of older folks around each side of the square bar. My friend, who also introduced me to Devon's Pub & Cigar Bar, recognized a couple she knew from Devon's, which makes sense, since the cigar bar is only three and a half miles away (and sometimes you have to mix it up to keep your neighborhood-bar game from going stale).
We started things off strong with shots from the jar of pickle-infused vodka beckoning to us from the bar top. The familiar boozy burn mellowed by pickle flavor is something I've come to appreciate, especially on gloomy days like our rainy Sunday outing. After the bracing shot, I went with well vodka sodas, on special for only $2.50 each, and my friend tried out the Skippy's house lager, which had a tap handle shaped like a phone receiver and tasted like Budweiser or Coors Light.
We split an order of chile-cheese fries smothered in flavorful green chile that stayed crispy because cheese was melted on top rather than queso being poured over. The portion was big enough that we both ate our fill and had extra to take home. Our bartender also told us that the wings were particularly good as well, and my friend enjoyed a soft pretzel along with the fries.
After stuffing our faces, we exchanged light banter with a few of the regulars: an older guy who inexplicably had a whole pineapple in a bag at the bar, a forty-something Latino couple looking at a tablet together and talking about buying new shoes, and a couple in their twenties who seemed as intent on their lunch as we had been. A few families with young kids came in and sat at the booths on the lower level by the two pool tables, and some other middle-aged guys joined the folks seated at the bar and at the high-top tables on the upper level next to it.
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It's clear that the place was spiffed up when it was reopened as Skippy's; the tables and bar are all new and matching, in the generic, restaurant-supply style common in working-class spots around town. The patio was strung with lights and looked peaceful and secluded off to one side, where trees and lawn separate the parking lot from apartments behind the shopping center. Rows of TVs lined every wall inside; there are apparently 38 in total. Among the many sporting events being shown throughout the bar, we found ourselves drawn to a televised cornhole tournament. Beyond discovering that such a thing even existed, we learned that professional cornholers wear what look like extra-fancy bowling shirts, and that "you can't spell sausage without U-S-A," a fact shared by the tournament's sponsor, Johnsonville Brats.
In most other respects, Skippy's is not unique. Customers entertain themselves with billiards, Golden Tee and a bowling video game, or they come in for trivia on Wednesdays (courtesy of Triviality) and karaoke on Thursdays from Rosefly Productions, the same company that holds beer pong tournaments every Saturday night. Mondays, though, offer $8 all-you-can eat spaghetti, something not found at just any old neighborhood bar.
Skippy's is open from noon to 2 a.m. on Monday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Visit the bar's Facebook page for more details.