Fifteen best bars on Larimer Street
Before Dana Crawford got the idea of turning the 1400 block of Larimer Street into Larimer Square, the place was full of bars -- bad bars, since this was Denver's skid row. Today, Larimer Square is still full of bars, but the old denizens of the neighborhood wouldn't recognize the place -- or the rest of the street, for that matter. Larimer Square is now just the start of a twenty-block stretch of some of this town's best restaurants and best bars -- some plain, some fancy, some upscale, some definitely down and dirty. And there are more coming every day. Last week we served up Larimer's twelve best restaurants; now it's time to celebrate the fifteen best bars on Larimer.
15) Green Russell
1422 Larimer Street
The swinging pie-shop doors that act as the front for the intimate, speakeasy-inspired Green Russell open into an underground spot that mixes expertly crafted drinks. The space is sultry, filled with red-leather bar chairs and nooks with armchairs; the buzz of conversation is everywhere. This Larimer Square bar pioneered Denver's cocktail movement, and it remains on the forefront.
14) Phil's Place
3463 Larimer Street
A true neighborhood dive in a city where dives are increasingly scarce, Phil's Place serves up your typical selection of domestic beers along with killer Mexican food, made in the kitchen all day long by Phil's mother, Junie, who once ran the kitchen at the Bamboo Hut. Regulars know to head in for a Broncos game, a few beers and a plate of enchiladas.
13) Infinite Monkey Theorem
3200 Larimer Street
RiNo's urban winery pours the fruit of its back-alley production in the form of petite sirah and cabernet franc, as well as sparkling white and red varieties in tall-boy-esque cans. The gritty feel of the laid-back expansive tasting room is an interesting contrast with the Wine Lab's truly profound knowledge of wine and wine-making. Tours can be scheduled on the website for $25 a person.
2701 Larimer Street
The Meadowlark's secluded, treehouse-like back patio makes this one of the town's best outdoor destinations -- and its red-lit interior is one of the most intimate live-music venues in Denver. Drinks are mixed by a host of tattooed bartenders, and the work of local artists graces the wood-paneled walls.
11) The Armoury
2048 Larimer Street
The Armoury, which opened its doors earlier this year in a space that has been many, many other bars before, is dubbed a "Euro pub" because of its penchant for soccer, dark beers and homey fare (like meat and cheese plates and rustic flatbread pizzas) from chef/consultant Brian Laird. When the big screens roll up after World Cup and MLS matches, a stage is revealed, boasting live DJs on the weekends and local indie, funk, soul and reggae groups.
10) Ocean Prime
1465 Larimer Street
For a more elegant night of imbibing, get in the swim at Ocean Prime, which has an expansive, 100-seater bar that handcrafts upscale cocktails with an inventive twist. (There's a second bar upstairs, with a great view of Larimer Square.) The happy-hour menu offers such late-afternoon delights as Chilean sea bass and chips and kobe beef sliders, along with discounted wines by the glass and cocktails.
9) Whiskey Bar
2203 Larimer Street
Whiskey Bar, as the name suggests, boasts over 200 whiskeys, including a handful of rare and special releases. The Ballpark neighborhood bar occupies what was once the Burlington Hotel, designed by Frank Edbrooke, the same man who brought the Oxford Hotel and Brown Palace to life. Now the aged-brick bar is home to hordes of after-work and pre-game crowds.
8) Ginn Mill
2041 Larimer Street
This watering hole is low-key and friendly on relaxed weekdays. But on the weekends, the landscape changes: a steady stream of drinkers crowd the bar from open to close. Located on one of Denver's oldest commercial blocks, the Ginn Mill takes advantage of history, imbuing the place with a sense of nostalgia for times past, from the frontier-inspired windmill on top to the Model T truck parts inside.
7) Herb's Hideout
2057 Larimer Street
Herb's is an unpretentious spot tucked away from some of the hipper up-and-comers that permeate Larimer -- and that's how the staff and patrons seem to like it. A diverse crowd, divey atmosphere, strong drinks and a host of live-music options keep throngs coming through the door any night of the week.
6) El Charrito
2100 Larimer Street
El Charrito has been running off and on since 1962, but it's really gotten in gear recently, dubbing itself downtown's "five star dive bar." And a classic dive it is, with Mexican bar fare, $1 PBRs on weekdays, karaoke on the weekends, and an old-school vibe. On Sundays, the bar hosts game day and a special viewing of The Walking Dead.