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Wash Park Underground brings late-night eats to the neighborhood

After two months of pouring drinks, Wash Park Underground, a new bar and restaurant literally underground at 266-B South Downing Street, in the alley behind

Mecca Grill

, is now serving burgers, sandwiches, sliders and a small assortment of other items from its subterranean kitchen.

"What we're shooting for is a really basic menu," says co-owner Eddie Morrissey. "I wouldn't say we're really a gastropub, but we've got a few set items that we want to be really, really good and consistent, something the neighborhood will like."

Morrissey snagged chef Judd McDonald, a recent University of Denver graduate who has worked in Italy and Napa Valley, to helm the kitchen. In addition to his regular menu, McDonald is also featuring several daily specials -- recent ones include a pulled pork sandwich and sausage with sauerkraut.

The restaurant also has a full liquor license, with five beers on tap -- including 1554 -- and happy-hour specials featuring $2 Bud and Bud Light, $3 well drinks and $4 wines by the glass. A late-night happy hour that includes food will follow in upcoming weeks.

Morrissey, who also owns The Garage, bought the space with business partner Tom Allen. He says he saw potential here, a need in the area for a true neighborhood bar. Previous occupants of the space -- Morrissey rattles off a list of bygone enterprises -- failed to really "get" the area.

"None of that stuff fit the neighborhood," Morrissey explains. "The one thing it wasn't was a nice, Wash Park neighborhood bar."

Morrissey and Allen aim to change all that. They've installed a poker table, shuffleboard and TVs, and a foosball table is on the way to sweeten the deal for patrons. "We're just trying to listen and see what the neighborhood wants," he adds.

Particularly key are the restaurant's hours: The kitchen offers a pared-down version of its full menu till midnight, a true novelty in the neighborhood, Morrissey notes.

Wash Park Underground is currently open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; within the next few weeks, the hours will expand to include Sunday. For more information, call 303-635-6691.

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