Best of Denver

The Ten Best New Bars in Denver in 2016

What makes a great bar? Neighborhood appeal is always important, along with friendly, professional staff and a well-rounded drinks list. Mostly, though, it's that indefinable feeling when you set yourself on a bar stool, feel instantly at home — and then never want to leave. Whether you call for a pint of beer or a clever craft cocktail, the best bars encourage conversation among your pals and fellow patrons — or help you feel at ease if you're just stopping in for a drink by yourself. Here are the ten best new bars in Denver (and the surrounding suburbs) that welcomed us over the past year, in alphabetical order.

715 Club
715 East 26th Avenue

Corey Costello, Sudhir Kudva and Michael Reilly resurrected this long-vacant Five Points joint, originally owned by Charles Cousins, and opened it in September. They kept the retro charm and are keeping prices appropriately low. The 715 was at its best in the 1940s, but closed in the ’80s after becoming a rundown shell of its former glorious self. The new incarnation is a comfortable canteen that pays respect to the past in a resurgent neighborhood.

Briar Common Brewery + Eatery
2298 Clay Street
Kent and Greg Dawson opened Briar Common in a former corner grocery store in Jefferson Park at the beginning of October, adding a brewpub-style destination to the up-and-coming neighborhood. Beer is obviously the beverage of choice, but there's wine, too, if you're in the mood. Small plates with international flair complement the clean, well-crafted brews, and bigger plates await hungrier appetites. What makes this taproom stand out from the vast selection of other Denver breweries is the lived-in feel of the space and the warm, welcoming atmosphere of the ground-floor bar. For more intimate drinking, there's a smaller bar upstairs and a great rooftop patio overlooking the park across the street.

Englewood Grand
3435 South Broadway, Englewood

More and more, downtown Englewood is becoming a destination for drinking and dining. In March, Phil and Erika Zierke added the Englewood Grand to the mix on South Broadway, giving the neighborhood a much-needed meeting place for sipping and socializing. The Grand is a simple and straightforward bar with little else in the way of distractions. Sure, there are a few house cocktails and craft beers from nearby breweries, but you don't need to be an expert on mixology to enjoy a few rounds with friends in the atmospheric joint, which evokes saloons of days gone by. Need food? The Grand runs occasional specials like a shot of Japanese whisky paired with a cup of instant noodles, "crocktease" nights with crockpot favorites, or occasional food trucks out front. Live music and cocktail theme nights (like a tiki takeover) round out the experience.

Hudson Hill
619 East 13th Avenue
Hudson Hill is bright, airy and inviting — almost the exact opposite of a dive bar. But owner Jake Soffes manages to make this Cap Hill newcomer feel casual and lived-in, with records spinning on the turntable, comfortable wrap-around banquettes and a roster of delicious drinks. Come in early in the afternoon and try an espresso for a quick pick-me-up before rounds of drinks, then hang out over meat-and-cheese plates, bowls of almonds and olives, or pork terrine wrapped in bacon. Not to be missed is the inside-out grilled-cheese baguette: a crusty, cheesy, buttery slab of grilled goodness.

New Image Brewing Co.
5622 Yukon Street, Arvada

Olde Town Arvada's New Image pours barrel-aged beers brewed in-house, creative styles for adventurous palates. But there's also a full bar offering cocktails made with beer ingredients, so you'll find, for example, housemade syrups and bitters flavored with individual hop varietals blended into seasonally inspired drinks. The small-plates lineup feels equally ingredient-driven, with Spanish-style shrimp, lamb lollipops and pork-kimchi tacos as examples of the decidedly non-brewpub menu. New Image gets props for creativity in a sea of craft-beer choices.

Keep reading for five more great new bars.

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.