Happy Place: Washington Park Grille, 1096 South Gaylord Street, 303-777-0707
The Hours: Daily from 3 to 7 p.m.
The Deals: $3 select house wine, draft beer, and well drinks; $1 off imported draft beers; half price appetizers.
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The Digs: Ah, the old standby. If you live anywhere near Old South Gaylord Street, hang out with someone who does, or consume alcohol on a regular basis in Denver, then you've probably been to Wash Park Grille, a long-standing fixture for brunch, lunch, drinks, dinner, and everything in between.
It's a classy restaurant boasting a long, shaded patio (one of the best in town), a simple dining room flanked with dark woods, glossy tables and booths and a chic lounge area with warm orange walls, wrought iron décor and modern couches. And in the middle of it all is the bar, a horseshoe that's stocked with a whole lot of liquor bottles overseen by bartenders slinging drinks as fast as they can. The scheme works -- and it works well.
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The Verdict: It was St. Patrick's Day, and the bartender was on her eleventh shift in nine days. The people next to us had been drinking since noon, and the woman next to them had just declared that she was going to start shooting whiskey by herself. It was a recipe for destruction, and we were happy to be there.
Given that it was a holiday, where the only expectations are to drink heavily and pinch people, we decided that we should give our bellies a good base from which to consume. We ordered two pints of Guinness and the peach grilled cheese sandwich -- a snack that ended up eating fairly well considering that peaches aren't even close to being in season. This didn't really matter, however, because you couldn't taste them anyway. Salty prosciutto, grilled arugula, and creamy, melted brie snuggled in between slices of buttery, custardy grilled bread? Who cares about peaches?
The sampler platter arrived just as Miss Jameson was packing her bags and moving on with her whiskey adventure. The plate held small bites of calamari and bruschetta, as well as a crab cake and a small Caprese salad. There was nothing spectacular about any of those nibbles, but it was the perfect amount of grub to follow the grilled cheese. We had to ask for both a wine list and food menu -- annoying -- but the bartenders are seasoned and capable of serving loads of drinks quickly and efficiently. The bar is cozy, too, and we often stay long after happy hour commences. And here's a tip: If you have trouble finding parking, there's a free valet halfway down the block after 5 p.m.
Overall Grade: B