The ten best dive bars in Denver -- Summer 2014 edition
Are Denver's dives an endangered species? Over the past year, dives featured on our 2013 list of the dozen best dive bars in Denver have lost their divey status or disappeared altogether. The latest casualty is the Thunderbird Lounge, which just closed in east Denver; the owners of the property, Larimer Associates, are deciding what to do with its strip-mall location. Another favorite, the Hill-Top, was transformed into Rocky Top Tavern -- a perfectly fine place, but not a dive. And last summer the Squirewas renovated almost beyond recognition --- and certainly beyond dive status. Fortunately, there are still dives where we're happy to belly up to the bar. Here, in no particular order (until our Best of Denver winners at the end), are the metro area's ten best dive bars -- including one twofer.
Punks at the bar at Bar Bar. All photos by Jim Wills.
See also: Rocky Top Tavern opens in former Hill-Top
10) 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.
9) Ace-Hi Tavern
inside the Ace-Hi.
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.
8) Candlelight Tavern
383 South Pearl Street
Separated by a safe stumble along Pearl Street from the 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. The facade got a clean-up this past year, but the look remains classic dive. And for the second part of this twofer:
8a) Kentucky Inn
Putting a few back at the Kentucky Inn.
890 South Pearl Street
The fact that the Kentucky Inn managed to keep its down-home dinge through an ownership change (it's now a sibling of the Candlelight) earned it the top dive-bar slot in the Best of Denver 2011.
Keep reading for more of our best dive bars.
1216 Washington Ave., Golden, CO
383 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO
890 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO
1962 Market St., Denver, CO
5126 W. 29th Ave., Denver, CO
5395 W. 48th Ave., Denver, CO
3416 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO
721 Quebec St., Denver, CO
420 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO
2060 Champa St., Denver, CO
2375 Sheridan Blvd., Denver, CO