Shelby's Bar & Grill is a highway roadhouse, a suburban hangout, a mirage you might see over the horizon — implausibly plopped down in the middle of high-rise office spaces. In a building dating back nearly to the turn of the 19th century, Shelby's is a wood-and-brass neighborhood pub, the kind that aren't made anymore, but are too pervasive to truly die out. Shelby's happy hour, served from 4-6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, has been the source of many interesting stories for the patrons taking advantage of cheap beer and liquor. Here's one more.
Like a similarly beloved institution across town, Charlie Brown's, Shelby's boasts a two-for-one happy hour for well drinks and domestics. I saddled up to the rail, under a board of random Colorado trivia, and went for my go-to drink, a gin & tonic ($4.50). It was served in a pint glass, strong enough to peel the paint off an El Camino, and as I slowly drained it, I realized I did not need another. I had neglected to notice the banner that promised "Double-tall wells" at happy hour, but in this blur the Budweiser promotional banners, knickknacks and photos that coat the bar seemed charming instead of cheesy.
There aren't any happy hour food specials here, but thankfully, a hearty burger managed to soak most of the drink up. It's the signature dish at Shelby's, which has the same bar food/Mexican-American/fried stuff served at dives all across the country. The Tijuana burger ($8.95) was topped with some tasty guacamole, held in place with a slice of jack cheese, on top of a surprisingly bun. Plus, the 'fries' here are really golden brown, thin sliced potato wedges, a damn good idea for injecting a little life into bar grub.
As I rounded out my time at Shelby's with a draft of Bud ($3.50), I was subjected to the most nutballs insane playlist I've ever heard at a bar. "Tears In Heaven", followed by a Gram Parsons barnstormer, segueing directly into LMFAO's "Shots" at glass-shaking volume. Legend has it that Shelby's venerable building is haunted — let's hope that it was a long-dead bootlegger controlling the jukebox and not one of the sleepy-eyed regulars. But that's part of the anything-could-happen appeal of Shelby's. It's location attracts office workers letting off steam and whiskey bottle veterans, all rubbing elbows. The service was curt, but not rude. And the place promises to be open 'til 2 a.m. each night. It's a neighborhood bar in the wrong neighborhood, Cheers among the Peach Pits.
Perfect For: Shelby's opened in 1979, so any baby boomer active in LoDo around that time might have some tales to spin around it. Take a relative, co-worker or friend, get a couple of drink in them and press for juicy details.
Don't MIss: Not many places in the central business district can match the value per ounce of the happy hour draft beer special. There are even a couple microbrews on draft like 90 Shilling for a touch of class.