1. The Crafty Fox Taphouse & Pizzeria
3901 Fox Street
Kyle and Angelique Moyer opened the Crafty Fox in February on the same corner as their liquor store, Bogey's Beer & Wine. The couple is putting their industry connections to good use by bringing in rare, seasonal and one-off kegs from top breweries not just in Colorado, but from all over the U.S. — so you'll find your favorite local brews next to beers that are unavailable anywhere else in town. The selection is constantly rotating, so there's always something new to sample; a menu of pizzas, sandwiches and other snacks made with beer ingredients (hops, barley malt, wort and yeast, for example) gives the food beer-friendly appeal. Spacious outdoor patios offer an unobstructed view of downtown and are perfect for a summer evening with beer in hand.
2. 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? Check out front for the El Tep food truck, or ask about fun specials, like a shot of Japanese whisky paired with a cup of instant noodles.
3. 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 for 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: the inside-out grilled-cheese baguette, a crusty, cheesy, buttery slab of grilled goodness.
4. Illegal Pete's
2001 East Colfax Avenue
We're all familiar with Illegal Pete's and its menu of hefty burritos, mix-and-match tacos and other Mexican fare. Each of the eight Front Range fast-casual cantinas has its own unique appeal, but the new Colfax outpost is best suited as a hangout for beers and margaritas. An indoor/outdoor bar, a shady patio facing Denver's craziest thoroughfare, and a mezzanine where you can settle in for the night — and maybe catch a live band or two — all make for excellent bar time, even when it's also burrito time.
5. Kline's Beer Hall
7519 Grandview Avenue, Arvada
Housemade sausages and a smattering of Eastern European small plates are the primary dinner offerings at Kline's, which makes sense for an old-world beer hall. But Kline's keeps from sliding into oompah-band kitchiness with its austere, DIY decor and comprehensive list of craft beers divided into "featured friends," rarities on rotation, staff picks and seasonal specials — like this month's "summer of sours." You won't see sudsy steins being waved in the air here; instead, brews come in sensible portions to make sampling your way through the selection that much easier.
Keep reading for the rest of the list...