The crowd was definitely mixed that night: Young and old men and women representing nearly all of Aurora's ethnic and racial diversity had selected Noonan's for no better reason than to don sports gear and glue their eyes to whatever televised events were showing on the bar's many TVs, whether the college-basketball NIT or a spring-training baseball game. A precise row of high-top tables in the main dining room lined up just right with the row of TVs above the sprawling bar; at each table sat someone intently monitoring the evening's sports.
I pored over the laminated menu crammed with so many food and drink options that it took some concentration to really absorb them all. The long list of signature cocktails with puns and other cute names was more than what I was looking for, so I just selected a Dry Dock Brewing Apricot Blonde. The folks at Noonan's are clearly fans of the local Aurora brewery, as there were three Dry Dock beers on the menu (small numbers for big-city beer bars, but impressive for a suburban joint).
Daily happy hour at Noonan's is one of the longest I've seen yet, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Happy hour (or happy day, as it should be called) offers many drinks specials, but on this particular night, we were interested in the deal that gets you 20 percent off nearly all appetizers from 3 to 7 p.m., which makes it more of a true happy-hour offering. The appetizer selection was as intimidating as the drinks menu, but we managed to narrow things down to a sampler that included fries, fried cheese curds, boneless wings, potstickers and bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, which were the highlight of the platter, offering something grilled to balance out all the fried fare.
Food has generally been an afterthought at many of my recent neighborhood bar stops (where frozen pizzas and bags of chips have not been uncommon), but Noonan's serves breakfast dishes all day, as well as Mexican entrees, burgers, salads and loaded bowls, which are bowls of tater tots smothered with everything from Buffalo chicken to green chile to eggs and gravy. My friend rates the mac and cheese, green chile and burritos stuffed with chile rellenos as favorites. For braver palates, Rocky Mountain oysters are also available. We topped off our super-healthy meal with some Irish cream cheesecake from the kitchen's selection of monthly rotating desserts.
Our waitress, a newcomer to the joint, told us what she knew about Noonan's, which proclaims itself the spot "where there's always something happening!" The statement seems accurate, given all the chalkboards announcing holiday buffets, comedy shows and events, and specials every night of the week, including karaoke, Texas Hold ’Em poker tournaments, trivia, beer pong and bingo.
Noonan's takes care of its regulars, but also makes sure to "take care of those who take care of us," giving 20 percent drink discounts to service-industry workers as well as medical and veterinary professionals and off-duty military, police and firefighters. When on duty, these folks get 50 percent off food.
Noonan's is at 13521 East Iliff Avenue in Aurora and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 720-246-0309 or visit the Noonan's Sports Bar & Grill website for more information.