Second Helpings

Royal Hilltop

When I reviewed Royal Hilltop in April 2003, it was barely six months old -- a non-smoking, British-themed pub crammed in among the multiplexes and taquerías of southeast Aurora, a joint that catered to the neighbors of a neighborhood sorely lacking in neighborhood bars. I complimented owners James and Tina Pachorek on having found the one commercial strip left in America that didn't already have a faux-British pub and then putting a pretty good one in, one with proper twenty-ounce pints, real Scotch bangers, shepherd's pie and a fine fish fry.

After finding an even better fish fry at the British Bulldog (see review), I returned to Royal Hilltop to see how it had stood up over the past few years. And after a couple of those pints and another fish fry, I'm happy to say that I still like it. Granted, I don't like it as much as I do the Bulldog, but that's largely because of the Bulldog menu's unusual geographic focus and that saloon's own geography, in a building that comes with more than a hundred years of history -- while the Royal Hilltop, to date, has accumulated only four. But the batter-jacketed cod here is still what it ought to be: crisp and greasy and redolent of childhood and Catholicism. The chips are fresh-cut, excellent with a couple shakes of malt vinegar. And the Murphy's stout off the tap is thick and black and creamy. Most important, the Hilltop was packed last Thursday night -- every table full and standing room only at the bar. It was loud and warm and close, the crowd a mix of weekend drinkers getting an early start and families having a night out, the vibe friendly and welcoming. Four years ago, the Pachoreks set out to create a bar for the neighborhood. Today, it's clear they've succeeded.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan