"It's not Pony Up," says Angela Neri, referring to the LoDo eatery and bar she opened over four years ago, which has become a late-night industry favorite for its French dips and solid cocktail game.
It's Side Pony, an all-day cafe and bar that debuted on March 6 at 4635 West Colfax Avenue, in the middle of the corridor between Meow Wolf and the soon-to-be rebooted Casa Bonita.
Neri partnered with Jen Sevcik, owner of fitness concept Duality and IV lounge/med spa Original Glam (Side Pony's next-door neighbors), on the project. "All three of these have become our little Colfax collective," Sevcik says. "It's like a lifestyle — gym, IV, med spa, coffee, cocktails. All three of those together give us a nice West Colfax community feel that I think the area really needs.
"We're really just trying to bring some more fun for the neighborhood. Somewhere fun, flirty. Somewhere you can go before or after dinner," Neri adds.
In order to optimize the small, 1,000-square-foot space, there is no kitchen on site — which means that no, Pony Up's popular French dips aren't part of the lineup. But there are plenty of small plates and snacks on hand for both day and evening noshing. Options include breakfast burritos from Bonfire in Golden, pastries from Reunion Bread, a Belgian waffle with honey butter, avocado toast and a lineup of boards, including one with nut butters made by Naughty Nutty Love, a Colorado Springs company owned by the mom of one of Side Pony's employees.
The beverage focus is on coffee during the day. Side Pony has partnered with Queen City Collective Coffee, which also stepped in to help with staff training. Krista Orlebeck, Pony Up's head bartender (and the recent winner of the season eleven Southwest division of the Speed Rack bartending competition), designed the cocktail menu. Offerings ($14) include a smoother, sweet take on a mezcal negroni, dubbed the Mez Around & Find Out; an espresso martini made with Queen City's nitro cold brew; the coconut-spiked Sloans Lake Sky Water; and Sevcik's favorite margarita recipe, called the Jenny From the Block.
With floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, the space is filled with sunlight during the day. Although the bar is the main focus visually, there are fun details throughout. At Pony Up, a portrait of Neri's dog by Denver artist Patrick McGregor is a decor staple; at Side Pony, a colorful painting of Sevcik's dog, Wilson, also by McGregor, oversees the action. "You have to check out the bathrooms," Neri enthuses. Each is decked out with a different look: Whimsical wallpaper covered in mythical creatures is the highlight in one, while the other sports horse-related images in gold frames.
As Casa Bonita's much-anticipated May reopening under new owners, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, gets closer, this neighborhood is poised for change, and Sevcik is excited to see what the future brings. "I just love this area," she says. "I watched all the duplexes being built, all the people walking around the lake. We see 6,000 clients a month at Duality, so we want to give them a home, someplace to hang out afterward and someplace to support hyper-local."
Side Pony is located at 4635 West Colfax Avenue and is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information, visit sideponydenver.com.