Best of Denver

The Ten Best New Bars in Denver in 2015

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5) Finn's Manor
2927 Larimer Street
When Finn's Manor opened at the end of summer on Larimer Street, the main draw was the expansive outdoor space devoted to food-truck pads where customers could linger over drinks and street food in the waning warm days. Those days will return, but in the meantime the colder weather gives us chance to explore the indoor bar, built from the shell of a brick house that was once part of an auto salvage yard. If you like whiskey (or whisky), a chat with co-owner and barman Robert Sickler will set you on the right path through his extensive collection. His partners Noah Price and Thomas Taylor provide additional hospitality and rare international beers on tap. 

4) Occidental Bar
1950 West 32nd Avenue
What could have been nothing more than a waiting room for Williams & Graham became a draw in its own right when barman Sean Kenyon opened the Occidental next door to his world-famous cocktail salon. The new bar offers simpler cocktails at a lower price point as well as more beer — by the bottle, can or pint — than W & G, along with a scattering of punk-rock references and CBGBs-era decor. A short menu of bar-food classics helps soak up the booze and a wooden deck in the back adds to the feeling that you're just hanging out at Kenyon's pad listening to mix tapes. 

3) Recess Beer Garden
2715 17th Street
Just down the alley from the Occidental's back deck, Recess is LoHi's new back yard. Beer is the focus here, with a tap list split evenly between Colorado and just about everywhere else. There's nothing going on here that could be accused of being sophisticated, just outdoor games under the shade trees, kill-the-keg nights and roast-your-own s'mores with cheap shots of Jameson's. Food comes in grilled, smoked or fried form, and there's a mac-and-cheese menu with a dozen or so add-ins. Still, with the demographics skewing younger, it's exactly what the neighborhood needed.

2) Globe Hall
4483 Logan Street
Jeff Cornelius purchased a run-down dive bar — the Sidewinder in Globeville — and turned it into exactly what the building was calling out for: a slightly less run-down dive bar. But he also added a Texas-sized smoker out back and is already on track to become a top contender in Denver's growing barbecue scene. The food service is in keeping with the setting; brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken are served atop butcher paper on cafeteria trays with slices of white bread and simple picnic-style sides. In the dance hall next door (which doubles as the dining area), the sounds of live blues, Tejano and bluegrass can be heard on weekends for minimal cover. In a space that's been a gathering spot for drinkers for more than a century, Globe Hall stays true to its roots while offering the neighborhood something new.

1) Rhein Haus
1415 Market Street
A Seattle restaurant team took over the former Old Chicago space on Market Street and built it out into an impressive, two-story homage to a German beer hall. There's enough square footage to include indoor bocce courts on both floors along with impressive, mahogany-stained bars and Bavarian hunting decor. While you can hoist a stein for ein prosit, there's also plenty of traditional German fare to soak up the suds. 
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation