Denver's five best dive bars

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Inside the Kentucky Inn, Denver's best dive bar.
Denver is littered with dive bars, all boasting at least a handful of loyal regulars who while away the hours while they nurse a drink....or twelve. In the Best of Denver 2011, our pick for the Best Dive Bar in the city was the Kentucky Inn, a spot we'd never want to see in the light of day that boasts a great jukebox, a great bartender and a great cross-section of patrons, drinking everything from PBR to Strongbow in a can to Fernet-Branca.

We've got other favorite saloons around the city, though. Here are four more joints that round out our list of the five best dive bars:

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Photo: Hunter Stevens
Nob Hill Inn
Booths surround the horseshoe-shaped bar at the Nob Hill Inn, a Colfax watering hole that has history practically seeping from the walls. This joint, which has been around in some form for over seventy years, has played host to politicians and famous musicians, including Bob Dylan. Today it has a crowd of interesting regulars who all seem to know each other, and some of them have been drinking in the place for almost fifty years. Which makes for excellent people watching -- even if you're a little too intimidated to join the conversation.

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My Brother's Bar
My Brother's Bar won our Best Brother's Bar nod this year, and it's also one of our favorite dives. Once a beat haunt, the oldest bar in the city now packs in a crowd of regulars that range from industry folk just off their shifts to families to club-hoppers starting or ending their night. The bar has no sign, plays classical music all day and sells Girl Scout cookies year-round.

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El Chapultepec
Located in the heart of what's now Denver's club and sports-bar scene, El Chapultepec has held down this corner for almost eighty years, offering up a nightly roster of live jazz acts. Dark and tiny, it's a no-frills contrast to its hipster neighbors, and a convenient escape if you're downtown but over the scene.

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The Squire Lounge
Colfax may very well be the center of the Denver dive-bar universe, where PBR and whiskey joints dot the landscape, block after block. But none of them are quite like the Squire. On any given night this grubby hall, lit with neon signage, can take a turn for the weird. Cheap drinks and an eclectic crowd usually provide more entertainment than the warped shuffleboard table; live comedy replaces the jukebox jams one night a week.

Have another favorite dive bar? Tell us below.

More Best Of Denver Lists:
- Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates

- Top five martinis in Denver -- good, better, Best!

- Denver's five best burgers

- Denver's six best pizzas



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20 comments
Tsuzumi
Tsuzumi

wow...not a dive bar on the list.. my brother's bar was NEVER a dive...as for the rest, they were before silly lists like this

Pterhune
Pterhune

Rustic Tavern - hands down best dive in town

dan5280
dan5280

My five favorite Dives in no particular order:

Stadium InnBrown BarrelGaborsPS LoungeEZ Pickens

Sorry, Dons and My Brothers are just too nice now to call dives.

joey b
joey b

No love for Don's?

Weege
Weege

How about Sam's on Leetsdale and Oneida. That's pretty Divey.

Joel C Waller
Joel C Waller

Looking at the Kentucky Inn I can tell it is not a "dive" bar. Maybe that term is being poorly used these days....hhmm? Now cool, clean, clickiy, trendy fest bars are being considered "dives". I'll make sure to update that on my smart phone....or what ever. :)_-_-*

Joel C Waller
Joel C Waller

Carioca Cafe - Bar Bar 2060 Champa StDenver, CO 80205Neighborhoods: Five Points, Northwest......................true "dive" bar. Go there on a Friday or Saturday night and find out for your self. Just hope you don't have to use the bathroom.

BRADMANN
BRADMANN

THE WHITE OWL...yall mufuggas be sleepin

Cee
Cee

Satire. It's so bad it's good. Well, not really...

Sal Siraguse
Sal Siraguse

I agree, My Brother's Bar is NOT a dive bar. In my day, a DIVE BAR was a little dirty maybe, questionable clientele, staff not all that caring, cheap drinks, very little if any food (and not very good). But.... a Dive Bar can be a lot of fun!!!

Jenni S
Jenni S

I'm partial to the PS Lounge

Scott
Scott

My Brother's Bar is a dive bar? Could of fooled me.

Frank
Frank

Gabor's is one of my two standbys (Lion's Lair is the other) but it hardly is a dive. A rough-around-the-edges neighborhood bar, mmmmaaayyybe, but not a dive.

Ted S
Ted S

If you think K.I. is "cool, clean, clicky and trendy" then you clearly haven't been there. It's definitely a dive. Try going to the bar before bashing it as trendy and clean!

Mantonat
Mantonat

What else would you call it? Is there some sort of official definition of dive bar that it doesn't fit? Could have fooled me!

Stephanova
Stephanova

I agree. Anywhere that both sells Girl Scout cookies, and that I'd feel comfortable bringing a Girl Scout sort of disqualifies it in my book. This is not so say I don't love My Brother's Bar, but I wouldn't call it a dive bar. Instead, I think I'd substitute the Lancer Lounge. Or Brown Barrel.

Mantonat
Mantonat

OK, I get it now. Definition of a dive bar: the owners and customers aren't nice people.I've got a better definition: an old bar where the owners and customers don't care what you think. They are only surly if you act like they should care.

Stealth2
Stealth2

Dive bar: a "new" bar discovered by hipsters that isn't shiny, clean and new. Also known simply as "the bar" by the regulars who will soon be forced out when the owner notices the sudden popularity, hires that young, hip bartender with the tattoos (usually a female) to make them feel at ease and restocks the jukebox

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