The dozen best dive bars in Denver

Categories: Best of Denver

CariocaCafe-inside.jpg
Punks at the bar at Bar Bar. All photos by Jim Wills.
Several of our favorite dives have dried up over the past few years. Fortunately, the Denver area still has an abundance of old-time dives, which we visited while researching the Best of Denver 2013. But who are we kidding? We'd be bellying up to these bars, anyway. Here, in no particular order except for #1 (winner of the Best of Denver 2013 Best Dive Bar award) are the metro area's dozen best dive bars.

See also:
- Denver's ten best new bars
- Denver's ten best new restaurants of 2012
- Denver's ten best plates of chicken and waffles

HillTop-outside.jpg
12) Hill-Top Tavern
4907 Lowell Boulevard
A favorite hangout of comedian Bill Murray, the Hill-Top's got Busch on tap, Bowie on the jukebox and a bar that stretches from wall to wall. Be sure to bring cash, and if the phone rings, don't answer it.

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11) Rocky Flats Lounge
11229 Highway 93, Boulder
This bar gives a whole new meaning to getting lit -- at one point, it was the payroll office for the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, the federal facility right across the highway that started producing plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs in the early '50s and operated up to 1989. But the Rocky Flats Lounge has a lot more going for it: gritty ambience, great drinks, a deck with expansive views of the Foothills (and future wildlife refuge going into Rocky Flats) and fish fries on Friday nights.

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inside the Ace-Hi.
10) Ace-Hi Tavern
1216 Washington Avenue, Golden
For more than sixty years, the Ace has been by far the best reason to get wrecked -- and subsequently stranded -- in Golden. 

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9) Candlelight Tavern
383 South Pearl Street
Separated by a safe stumble along Pearl Street from the neighboring Kentucky Inn, the Candlelight Tavern is a down-home dive that offers greasy grub, the full gamut of bar games and open-arms attitudes from staff and regulars alike.

Continue reading for more of our top dive bars.

Location Info

Map

Hill-Top Tavern - CLOSED

4907 Lowell Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Rocky Flats Lounge

11229 Highway 93, Boulder, CO

Category: Music

Ace Hi Tavern

1216 Washington Ave., Golden, CO

Category: Music

Candlelight Tavern

383 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Candlelight Tavern

383 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Kentucky Inn

890 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

El Chapultepec

1962 Market St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Rustic Tavern

5126 W. 29th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Squeeze Inn

5395 W. 48th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Nob Hill Inn

420 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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47 comments
Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens

Interesting list -- FYI The Squire undergoing renovations, completely gutted.

Michelle1018
Michelle1018

The Welcome Inn off 38th and Brighton Blvd by the Pepsi plant. Went there last week for the 1st time. True dive bar...the bartender's dad used to own the bar when it was a lesbian bar. Half the ppl in there had more tattoos than they had teeth. lol. but the beer was cheap!

Bret Ahroon
Bret Ahroon

I always knew bar bar would make me famous. I just figured it would be me getting stabbed.

Brandon Charles Haug
Brandon Charles Haug

I really don't get who's running their online division. Rarely post new/relevant articles and re-post obscene pictures of half naked girls from old unusual events. That's not even the worst.. articles that could be written very well are all about the writers take on the event... Sometimes even seems like Yellow Journalism.

poe1g_love
poe1g_love

what?  no lions lair on colfax or badgers??? come on. 

Grady Hines
Grady Hines

Well...these bars are most likely going to be full of Lodo types now. Thanks Westword.

Danny Green
Danny Green

Hofbrau off Santa Fe.....my kinda Dive.

Chris Chango
Chris Chango

the dozen best dive bars in Denver...#10 is in Golden and #11 in Boulder....oh, Westword, you're a fucking joke.

Daniel Laplante
Daniel Laplante

Candle fight and Kentucky both have lost there mojo if you have been in there within the past year

Nick Dolan
Nick Dolan

Andrew Jones and Bret Ahroon you dudes are famous.

Paul Emery
Paul Emery

I remember the Terminal Bar and Grill. RIP

Jason Beck
Jason Beck

I'm so bummed Soncho's didn't make the list, that place was like home to me in my early 20's. Wait is that bad?

Bill Knox
Bill Knox

How did Don's Club on 6th not make the cut either?!?

kylee60
kylee60

My dad owned Squire Lounge from the 1950's until his death in 1993! In its hay day it was a bar just like 'Cheers' "where everybody knows your name"! Seeing it on your list brings back many fond memories :)

invisiblebizwoman
invisiblebizwoman

I can not believe you missed WT Shorty's, 990 S Oneida St. I've been going there for so long, it feels like my second home. Great bartenders and waitresses, decent bar food, and a free buffet every Friday.

BrianMartinez
BrianMartinez

I still say nothing beats the Skylark in its old location.

visigothhorde
visigothhorde

Too bad the Lancer closed. I miss Gabors too.

Michelle Pearl Mobley
Michelle Pearl Mobley

Was the Irish Rover, but since the remodel it is way to fancy to be a dive...I'll miss it.

Jean Hawk
Jean Hawk

Don't have one...most are populated by drunks like those pictured here!!!

Shane Linart
Shane Linart

If most of the patrons bellied up to the bar will turn around and toast your camera you aren't in a dive bar.

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

I know that bar been in their once it was awesome. The Hangar woohoo

jamesh
jamesh

Celebrate Bar Bar's win by checking out the band Dirt on Saturday, April 6

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@Blair Bones 

That place already made the list.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Shane Linart It's also not a dive bar if it's located in one of Denver's most expensive real-estate neighborhoods.

wyrob
wyrob

@Mantonat but, if it's populated at 9:30 am by folks spending the change they panhandled from morning commuters, then it's dive status transcends neighborhood. (carioca / "bar bar")

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