Ride the Rails to Westrail Tap & Grill in Lakewood

Westrail Tap & Grill has plenty of space for happy hour, dinner, or even private parties.
Westrail Tap & Grill has plenty of space for happy hour, dinner, or even private parties. Sarah McGill
Although Lakewood's Westrail Tap & Grill embraces a railroad theme (as in steam engines), it's actually not too far from modern rail travel. Using the light rail W Line, you can get off at the Federal Center station and be within easy walking distance of the Lakewood bar and eatery. Most people probably drive here, however, judging by the parking lot.

The bright, spacious main bar is accented with brick walls and filled with booths and high-top tables for groups of all sizes. There are also several murals of trains, some of them historically accurate and others more cartoonish. My friend and I watched large, multi-generational families chow down with Grandma and baby together, while solo dudes and older couples sat at the bar watching college basketball. We were in between, in a row of high-top tables that split the middle of the large room.

There was a private party going on in the side room, so we didn't venture in until it was wrapping up to check out the long, wrap-around bar, billiard tables and little arcade room in the back. A few stragglers from the party finished up their drinks and playing Golden Tee or Big Buck Hunter when I finally ducked in for a look. Private parties are frequent and well fed, since owners Jamie and Linda Shotton not only own the Westrail, but also local catering business A Perfect Bite, event venue Baldoria on the Water, and Flying Pig Burger Company, with locations in Arvada and Littleton. So this family knows its way around a catered party.

click to enlarge The party room shows off railroad-themed artisitc flair at the Westrail. - SARAH MCGILL
The party room shows off railroad-themed artisitc flair at the Westrail.
Sarah McGill
The Shottons also know their way around a beer list, offering 25 local Colorado beers, with many of those from nearby Westfax Brewing Company. I opted for a pint of the Blootylicious from Westfax, a blueberry wheat that wasn't overly sugary, which I appreciated. The food menu comprises upscale, scratch-cooked versions of bar staples, with Mexican options like carne asada fries and street tacos, and unique burger offerings like the Locomotive (with pulled pork and a fried egg) or the Spicy Elvis (with peanut butter, bacon and fried jalapeños). There's also fancy Adult Mac and Cheese with Brie and sun-dried tomatoes. A small but mighty brunch menu is popular on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the staff.

Other than eating, drinking and private-partying, guests enjoy Geeks Who Drink trivia every Tuesday at 8 p.m. and a selection of board games for a little more brain exercise. Daily food specials also draw a crowd, especially on Wednesday night, with a $16 prime rib dinner for beef lovers and 20 percent off the tab for all hospital employees, aimed primarily toward health-care workers from nearby St. Anthony Hospital.

Happy hour runs from 3 to 6:30 p.m. every weekday, with various food and drink specials, most notably a bevy of drink choices for only $2.49, from house margaritas and Fireball shots to craft beers. On Sundays, Westrail offers a variation on a BOGO special; you have to buy two drinks to get your third one free, but it applies to libations of any variety. You can also sign up for the VIP email list for member specials, and there's a drawing for a $500 prize coming on April 1, which you can enter by writing an online food review.

click to enlarge All aboard! The Westrail Tap and Grill never misses an opportunity to execute its railroad theme. - SARAH MCGILL
All aboard! The Westrail Tap and Grill never misses an opportunity to execute its railroad theme.
Sarah McGill
Typical bar celebrations are also not forgotten at Westrail. St. Patrick's Day isn't a huge to-do, but green beer and Irish dishes can help get everyone in the spirit — and turn the staff's fingers green, as our lightning-fast server told us between rapid trips up and down the rows of seating in the bar. The neighborhood crowd, she shares, is friendly and family-oriented, and things around here stay pretty calm. It's also not a super late-night destination; the bar stays open until 11 p.m. most days, and only until 10 p.m. on Sundays. But then again, this part of Lakewood is more of a dinner-and-drinks-after-work locale than a late-night nightlife hub — and guests want to be able to bring their babies and grandmas.

So if you need a spot to watch the game, eat some bar food with a little extra flair, or choose from an extensive selection of Colorado craft beers, some of which might be $2.49 if you time it right, Westrail Tap & Grill should be your next light-rail stop.

The Westrail Tap & Grill is located at 195 South Union Boulevard in Lakewood and is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 303-986-2200 or visit the restaurant's website.
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Sarah McGill is a contributor to Westword's Food & Drink section and can be found exploring Denver's neighborhood bars. She is also a ghost story and karaoke enthusiast. Despite not being from Colorado, Sarah and Denver have been in a long-term relationship, and it seems like this one might be for real.