LoHi SteakBar is in an enviable position in Highland: by the standards of this ever-changing 'hood, the modern steakhouse is an elder statesman, about to celebrate six years at 32nd Avenue and Tejon Street. But it's also facing competition up and down the street, a quiet, polite battle that only gets more and more heated. New owners Joe Pettenger and Taylor Drew revamped the space and menu in hopes of keeping SteakBar relevant — and brought a promising pair of happy hours to the table.
The menu revisions are a good start, transforming the restaurant's offerings from upscale yet traditional steakhouse fare into a more diverse menu with new sauces, more seafood and main courses that actually look appealing. Happy hour at LoHi SteakBar includes a number of these new and revised items; you can try them out from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close every single day. Both late night and afternoon offer the same discounts and menus, and the kitchen stays open until 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 'til midnight Friday and Saturday. I imagine that SteakBar gets plenty of action from neighborhood stalwarts and spillover traffic from nearby Williams & Graham, but a late weekday night is not where the party's at — but at least you can find an actual parking spot.
Quiet suits SteakBar though. With sexy red accents glowing all around and garage doors that open up to the wonders and weirdness of twilight on 32nd Avenue, the stage is set for an artery-clenching evening. Delightfully enough, just about everything on the happy hour menu is fried or made with red meat. One exception is oysters on the half shell, shucked and served for $1 a pop. The east coast oysters I got were big old suckers, meaty and a little funky. LoHi SteakBar doesn't have a full-blown raw bar, but $1 oysters are the fuel for many a good happy hour.
I must admit that I'm no expert on steak. The differences between a Flatiron and a filet mignon are mostly lost on me, but this happy hour menu doesn't demand a lot of comparing and contemplation. Operating on no higher functions than hunger and animal instinct, I opened with an order of chicken-sausage poutine ($8). The cheddar cheese curds had the necessary squeak, but there was no spark in the chicken sausage gravy or frites. If I'm going to stack fats on fats on fats, I hope for a little more satisfaction.
But spoiler alert: I still left the restaurant fat and happy, thanks in part to the mini Blue Smoke burger ($3), a sultry little slider that takes its inspiration from NYC's Blue Smoke, the godfather of modern meat. No mini burger can truly capture the greatness of Blue Smoke, but this one comes close, with bacon, blue cheese, tender caramelized onions and a tasty burger all settling into a nice mash together. And even steak neophytes like me can appreciate the mini steak sandwich ($4). Toothsome tendrils of steak are tossed on halved toast, melted over with gruyere cheese and spread with onion jam. This will be SteakBar's signature happy hour item, a flash of what the steaks have to offer, topped with some perfectly calibrated condiments.
Along with two-for-one drafts, wines and wells, LoHi SteakBar's happy hour provides a solid and shareable experience for less than the price of a New York Strip, and the fact that it's available after 10 p.m. is just gravy. I'm raising a glass to LoHi SteakBar in the hopes that it will hold down this block for many more years.
Perfect for: LoHi SteakBar aims for a broad swath of potential diners, so you'll be pleased whether you're escaping the crowds at Williams & Graham or Linger, or you just need a good late-night bite. Highland Tap & Burger is a close rival for good midnight snacks, but SteakBar has a little more sophistication and a less rambunctious crowd, if that appeals to you.
Don't Miss: If you wish to sample steak at a cut-rate price, $16 gets you a ten-ounce Flatiron and frites at the bar only.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.