The Lakewood Grill, at 8100 West Colfax Avenue, has been around even longer than the city of Lakewood itself. The bar was built in 1950 and poured its first drinks under a liquor license in 1951, back when this stretch of Colfax was just unincorporated Jefferson County. Lakewood became a city in 1969, and the Grill was there for that, too. Over the years, the bar has been through plenty, including a period when the apartments upstairs were used by ladies of the night. (There are still apartments upstairs, but the prostitutes are long gone.) There have been various owners over the decades, but the Lakewood Grill name has remained the same.
Thu and Van Tharn, a sister-and-brother duo familiar with the bar biz, bought the place in 2012, adding a fresh coat of paint and a fresh menu that still includes some classic recipes from the ’50s. There is nothing frozen on the menu here; our bartender jokes that the kitchen staff sometimes wish they could just fry up some frozen mozzarella sticks, but no dice. But customers appreciate the fresh food, and many come just to eat, even if the atmosphere is primarily that of a bar.
The front bar and dining room are bright during daylight hours, with plenty of light streaming in from the glass block windows. The neon sign outside is a reminder of times gone by on Colfax, and ’50s pinup girls adorn the many tables in the front, with a few framed pictures of Marilyn Monroe for good measure.
On a recent Sunday, my drinking companion and I made the mistake of stuffing ourselves at brunch elsewhere, when we should have been enjoying the Grill's weekend breakfast (which is served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) instead of just capping things off with early-afternoon drinks. But there were plenty of people smarter than we were, eating tempting breakfast burritos and other egg-based creations. One specialty that's been on the menu since 1951 is called the Postman, a combo of chile rellenos, hash browns and eggs smothered under a blanket of cheese and green chile. Breakfast also involves drink specials — namely, $5 double Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers.
We settled in for beers and vodka drinks alongside a rotating cast of regulars seated along the bar watching NFL playoff games. Nearly everyone knew each other by name, and waves of folks came and went while we lingered over our drinks. There were cowboys in hats and boots, a guy with a bright tie-dyed bandanna on his head, preppy-looking fellas decked out in baseball hats of their favorite teams, multi-generational families buying Super Bowl squares together, young dudes with extreme beards, old dudes with extreme beards, and blond girls in North Face jackets.
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Both the main bar and diner-style front area were filled with drinkers and breakfast guests, and a back room with a second bar and a plethora of games (billiards, Big Buck Hunter, Bonus Hole, Golden Tee, and even Skee-Ball and a couple of those claw machines where you can snag a prize) was busy, while smokers took to the patio in groups.
Weekly events include pool tournaments on Wednesdays, dart leagues on Thursdays (dart boards are located in a side room with red vinyl booths), karaoke on Fridays and live music and DJs on Saturdays. Happy hour is quite an event in itself, drawing a crowd every Sunday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Folks from local businesses stop in for lunch, too, choosing from affordable $7 to $9 sandwiches and burger-and-beer specials.
The vintage aesthetic of the bar even extends to the hallway that leads to the bathrooms; I was drawn to the historic photos of Denver landmarks framed on the white tiled walls. The menu explains that the bar was around when Jack Kerouac and his crew were cruising Colfax; they may have even drank a toast here, as we did on our visit to the Lakewood Grill.
The Lakewood Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call 303-237-8051 for more information.