Happy Place: Pete's Satire Lounge, 1920 East Colfax Avenue, 303-322-2227.
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Deals: $1.25 draft beer, $2.75 well drinks, $1.50 tacos, $4 nachos and burritos.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: There are places to drink along Colfax -- Mezcal and the Atomic Cowboy, for instance -- where the crowd stays fairly tame compared to the street folk wandering by. And then there are the dive bars that provide the true Colfax experience, places like the Satire Lounge, the Lion's Lair and the Nob Hill Inn. Gritty pubs that have been Denver institutions longer than many of us have been able to legally order a cocktail, they lure the weathered and weary in for the same glass of bourbon they've been sipping from the same bar stool every day for years on end.
Pete's Satire Lounge is cleaner than you'd expect, but the sanitary illusion lasts only until you belly up to the bar. The scent of Mexican food permeates the room and combines with the stench of stale cigarettes and body odor that wafts from the patrons. Everyone seems to know each other, and those who prefer to drink alone are left in peace. At five o'clock in the afternoon, this bar is more lively than any other saloon we can think of, and the people-watching is some of the best in the city.
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The Verdict: Grateful for the rear parking lot, we sprinted through the torrential downpour past the jovial men smoking cigarettes in their raincoats and skidded onto a couple of barstools. The woman tending bar greeted us warmly and introduced herself. She was a nurturing, maternal soul, but we were well aware that she could likely kick some serious ass if need be. We ordered pints of New Castle and took comfort in being dry.
The Mexican grub featured on the happy-hour menu at the Satire Lounge isn't the best in the city (contrary to what the menu claims), but it's pretty damn delicious, and a screaming deal to boot. After scarfing down a heaping plate of nachos, we split a bean burrito: hearty refried beans wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and smothered in Pete's signature green chile, melted cheddar, lettuce, and tomatoes. It took all the willpower we could muster to resist slamming shots of tequila mid-burrito.
To some, the crowd at the Satire may seem abrasive; we think they only add to the experience. The folks who congregate around the bar at the Satire have stories to tell if you're willing to listen, and the bartender remembered our first names -- as well as those of the folks around us -- up until the moment we paid our tab. This may not be our favorite happy hour in the city, but it undoubtedly commands respect.
Overall Grade: B