Memories Flow After Fire Closes Carioca Cafe, Best Denver Dive Bar | Westword

Reader: Bar Bar Was Always an Adventure, and the Best Dive Ever!

While the Carioca Cafe is closed because of fire damage, memories continue to flow.
Bar Bar is a dive through and through — which means it's not for everyone.
Bar Bar is a dive through and through — which means it's not for everyone. Molly Martin
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The century-old Carioca Cafe, better known as Bar Bar because of the redundant, glowing red sign over the door of 2060 Champa Street, has survived tough times. Over the past few years, it survived the pandemic shutdown that closed bars, survived a city crackdown on its liquor license, survived a burst pipe and an inaccurate report that it had closed for good, and survived being in the center of a host of homeless encampments, one of which even set up its own illegal bar.

It survived all that, in the process reclaiming the title of Denver's Best Dive Bar in the 2023 Best of Denver. But now it must overcome another disaster: a fire.

Early on June 24, the Denver Fire Department put out a blaze that started in the entryway and then moved inside, doing enough damage that the place is now boarded up, pending estimates of extensive repair work...and the conclusion of a department investigation for potential arson. In the meantime, fans have started a fundraiser to save "a staple in the community for decades as a trusty watering hole, a punk rock venue and a catch-all for Denverites and tourists alike."

"We stand a pretty good chance of raising a decent amount of money," says Richard Granville, a musician who frequented the bar, then started working there, bartending and booking bands, and is now fighting to save the place. In the meantime, memories of Bar Bar continue to flow in comments on the Westword Facebook post of news of the fire. Says Anthony:
Well, shit. Now they gotta rename it Char-Char.
Responds Art:
Sad to say, but that place probably should have been condemned years ago. Years ago, we happened to stop in and were pretty sure there was caution tape on the urinals.
Adds Philip:
One of my favorite places. I can smell the bathroom through this picture.
Suggests Matthew:
This place is dive-bar theater at its finest!
Offers Joe: 
Always an adventure. The best dive bar ever!
Responds Christopher
If you can't find a dive in this town, you aren’t looking.
Replies Daniel:
A dive where a band from overseas plays? On a whim? Where do I see people roll in from all over? Like really awesome killer bands from the underground? Not hippie crap.
Concludes Ed:
Heartbroken by this news. One of my most favorite spots on my solitary bar crawl. It had a custom-made back bar that had a small office at the end, by the door, for cashing checks and settling accounts, and a beautiful wooden telephone booth, all made by the same company that crafted the bar at the old Corner Pub on Pearl and Mississippi, my old home bar. When I first went to the Carioca Club in the very early '80s, it had a lunch counter on the side, soon removed. The clientele was LoDo industrial workers and day laborers, which I was at that time.

A great and tragic loss. And congrats to you, Patty, for all you’ve done in this town. Had I been less crazy, I might be there yet.
Have you ever been to BarBar? What other great dive bars are left in Denver? Post a comment or share your thoughts at [email protected].
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