Happy Place: Interstate Kitchen & Bar, 901 West Tenth Avenue, 720-379-8829.
The Hours: Daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and midnight to 1:30 a.m.
The Deals: $2-$3 can and draft beer specials; $3 whiskey shooters; $4 whiskey cocktails and wines by the glass; $1-$4 small plates.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Interstate Kitchen & Bar is alluring no matter which direction you're coming from. An oasis among scores of art galleries and theaters along Santa Fe Drive, the patio beckoned us from a half block away on a Sunday afternoon. Sunny hipsters and neighborhood regulars were scattered across the wooden picnic tables enjoying cold pints and tiny plates of upscale snacks. The interior, a mod juxtaposition of '50s diner-cum-highway roadhouse, has something for everyone: A long bar where booze hounds can belly up to a dangerously large variety of whiskey; a lounge featuring plush leather couches with end tables constructed from old suitcases; and a pristine dining area that maintains the concept while kicking it up just a notch.
The Verdict: On what may have been the last warm day of the year, we found ourselves happily sipping Genesee Cream Ale and pouring over the ridiculously cheap happy hour menu at Interstate. Macy Gray's "On How Life Is" trickled from the speakers, and the couple next to us was sipping green vodka slushies from the Slurpee machine behind the bar. Our bartender, clad in a t-shirt that read "What whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for you," took a break from chatting up his patrons to place an order of fried pickles for us. We were home.
Interstate is a delightful place to enjoy happy hour, and here you can do it twice in one night if you'd like. The happy hour treats are unique (where else can you find fried chicken livers on a bar menu?), and all pair frighteningly well with domestic beer and a shot of bourbon. The fried pickles, thick-cut slices of dill drenched in a light golden batter and served fresh out of the fryer along side a thousand island dipping sauce "without pickles," were fantastic. And we love any place that serves deviled eggs, and we enjoyed a small plate before moving on to the rest of the menu. The sweet potato tamale was a perfect change-up, although slightly bland, and the lap dogs (a buck each) made their way out of the kitchen to nearly everyone at the bar. Our bartender was gregarious and witty, a dude who clearly enjoyed his work and had become very good at pouring a stiff one.
Overall Grade: A-