I had heard a few things about The Castle Sports Bar & Grill before I made the trip down to the edge of Littleton to take a look for myself. Mainly, that it's shaped like a castle, and also that it's one of very few locally owned neighborhood joints in an area full of chain restaurants and extra-bougie grocery stores.
A friend and I arrived ready for some grub and happy-hour drinks on a Monday night. The Castle's parking lot was already getting full, but we managed to snag a spot and took in the building's lovely stuccoed castle architecture. "Happy Hour 4 to 7!" the large scrolling LED sign proclaimed; a quick glance at the clock indicated we were just in time. A couple making out at a booth in the window didn't seem too concerned about ordering more discount drinks, though.
We sat down at the comfy sunken bar, which wraps around the pit in the middle of the room where a bartender was mixing up drinks and chit-chatting with regulars. A padded rail around the whole bar provided a perfect elbow rest for hoisting beers.
The place was full, but not overwhelming so, with church-lady types at one of the booths and a smattering of old men — the sort who can be found in any classic neighborhood spot — drinking beers served in their own personalized mugs. A guy in business attire with a ponytail mowed down a burger, while a couple of other youngish guys and gals chatted with each other and intermittently with the whole group around the bar. Sometimes the place lapsed into companionable silence, and the sound of country music on the jukebox mixed with the rap songs the cook was listening to in the small kitchen as he flipped burgers and fried wings.
People also came in periodically to pick up food to go, and in the corner, a couple of guys played pool, not far from an unoccupied Golden Tee and a fireplace — an excellent touch, even if there wasn't a fire going during our visit.
An entire wall was dedicated to shelves filled with personalized mugs, the same kind the old guys at the bar were drinking from. You don't need to be a lifelong customer to score your own twenty-ounce mug; they can be had for $20, but they're yours forever, and a fill gets you four extra ounces of beer for the same price as the pints the bar normally pours. Regulars dress their mugs up with stickers and other artistic flourishes; I was intrigued by a row of mugs adorned with ThunderCats stickers and various nicknames (having been obsessed with the cartoon cats myself as a child).
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Happy hour landed us fifty cents off drafts and $3 wells. I stuck with vodka sodas, my friend with Blue Moons. The beer list wasn't trying too hard, but it got the job done. The food special for the night was beef stroganoff, but the bartender told us there was only one serving left. We didn't mind, opting for wings and nachos, which came with some house hot sauces, instead. The bartender was quick and efficient — even with a full bar and no other servers in the house. She said she'd worked at the Castle for about ten years, as had most of the other staff. Ten years ago was also when the Castle changed ownership; Tapp and Kara Smith bought the bar, upgraded the menu and spruced things up overall while still keeping the old-school charm of the place alive.
While we enjoyed our drinks, a young woman came around with Bingo cards and explained that we could play for bar tabs and tasty food prizes. Monday-night Bingo may have lured in a few customers, but other events such as Friday and Saturday karaoke, free billiards on Thursdays and trivia on Wednesdays guarantee that there's almost always something to do throughout the week. Weekly food specials include two-for-one burger Tuesdays, barbecue Fridays, and fifty-cent wing Thursdays.
There's a patio at the back of the Castle, accessible through the kitchen, where drinkers drift in and out for cigarettes, so the place was filled with the steady shuffle of people coming in through the front door or heading back for a smoke break. This part of Broadway, cutting through Littleton after leaving Denver and Englewood, lacks the personality of its northerly blocks, but the Castle stands out as a fortress of friendly neighborhood character in the south suburbs.
The Castle Bar & Grill is located at 6657 South Broadway in Littleton and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Call 303-798-5981 or visit the bar's website for more details.