Best of Denver

The Ten Best Neighborhood Watering Holes for Bar Games

Duffer Haus has a giant billiards game called Gamböl.
Duffer Haus has a giant billiards game called Gamböl. Facebook/Duffer Haus
It's cold outside, football season is nearing an end, and with the lack of wintertime outdoor activities that involve drinking, if you are competitive like me, you might find yourself indoors and in need of some entertainment in the form of bar games. Here are ten of Denver's best neighborhood bars for unique and plentiful bar games.

click to enlarge This Over the Top arm-wrestling game isn't something you find at just any bar. - SARAH MCGILL
This Over the Top arm-wrestling game isn't something you find at just any bar.
Sarah McGill

Bannock Street Garage

1015 Bannock Street
303-534-7000

The Bannock Street Garage stands out for punk-rock ambience with a neighborly vibe — and that extends to bar games. You can keep it mainstream by shooting pool or playing a little Golden Tee, or you can try out a challenging ring toss game, or wrestle a fiberglass arm in a game called Over the Top. (I've been in a lot of bars, and I've never seen another one like it.) If you're too hard-core to arm-wrestle mere humans, try your luck with this robot arm. You can enjoy your games with an occasional side of live music or DJs, or two-for-one drinks  — if you work at nearby Denver Health.

click to enlarge Barry's on Broadway knows how to market two key highlights: cheap drinks and the possibility of winning shots with your Skee-Ball skills. - SARAH MCGILL
Barry's on Broadway knows how to market two key highlights: cheap drinks and the possibility of winning shots with your Skee-Ball skills.
Sarah McGill

Barry's on Broadway

58 Broadway
303-722-8489

Barry's isn't the only watering hole in town with Skee-Ball, but to my knowledge it's the only place where Skee-Ball skills pay off in more than just bragging rights. You can win a free shot if you score high enough on a given day. There are also pool tables, if that's more your speed, and Barry's still reigns as one of the most affordable spots to get your drink on in the Baker district. You might also meet owner Barry Zadikoff, who can teach you a thing or two about Denver history after you enjoy your bar game of choice.

click to enlarge There are games inside and out at the Dive Inn. - WESTWORD
There are games inside and out at the Dive Inn.
Westword

The Dive Inn

1380 South Broadway,
720-242-6157

The Dive Inn offers plenty to do, both inside and out. Pastimes include old-school arcade games, billiards, darts and ping-pong. On the patio, even in winter, cornhole sets are available, and during Broncos games you can try your luck at throwing a football through a tire. If you're feeling competitive and need to play for keeps, there are weekday ping-pong and cornhole leagues you can join. If you get tired of all those games, relax and drift away in the boat that's located in the middle of the bar, perhaps while enjoying some fried chicken from Cluck Chicken, which you can order fresh from the window at the back of the bar.


Dougherty's Restaurant and Pub

5 East Ellsworth Avenue
303-777-5210

Dougherty's is another worthy stop in the pursuit of games. Hammerschlagen is the highlight here; you may have heard of it if you're from the Midwest or Germany, where the game is said to have originated. Buy yourself a few nails from the bartender, grab some friends and gather around a massive tree stump riddled with previous players' attempts. The game is all about hammering in other people's nails in one shot, which is far more fun and challenging than something that at first seems invented for wood-shop dropouts. Hard-core hammerschlagen enthusiasts flip the hammer in the air before making their moves; consider it a safer alternative to those crazy ax-throwing bachelor parties that are starting to become a thing. Also available to keep you occupied at Dougherty's: a pool table and lots of Irish food and beer selections.

click to enlarge The opportunity to play human-sized billiards is worth the trip to Englewood's Duffer Haus. - SAMANTHA MORSE
The opportunity to play human-sized billiards is worth the trip to Englewood's Duffer Haus.
Samantha Morse

Duffer Haus

3470 South Broadway, Englewood
303-353-9917

Two words: giant billiards. Duffer Haus is pretty new on the neighborhood bar scene but is rapidly building a following. Here, you can shoot pool on a traditional table, or you can experience a soccer-billiards combo called Gamböl, which you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Kick off your shoes and hop on a turf-covered platform resembling a pool table to try your luck kicking (instead of using a cue) miniature soccer balls into the pockets. It's $10 for a half-hour and $15 for an hour of Gamböl, or play for free on Tuesdays.

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Sarah McGill is a contributor to Westword's Food & Drink section and can be found exploring Denver's neighborhood bars. She is also a ghost story and karaoke enthusiast. Despite not being from Colorado, Sarah and Denver have been in a long-term relationship, and it seems like this one might be for real.