The ten best dive bars in Denver -- Summer 2014 edition

Categories: Lists

CariocaCafe-inside.jpg
Punks at the bar at Bar Bar. All photos by Jim Wills.
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.

See also: Rocky Top Tavern opens in former Hill-Top

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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.

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inside the Ace-Hi.
9) 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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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:

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Putting a few back at the Kentucky Inn.
8a) 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.


Location Info

Map

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

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

P.S. Lounge

3416 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Spitfire Grill at the Thunderbird Lounge - CLOSED

721 Quebec St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Nob Hill Inn

420 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Carioca Cafe (Bar Bar)

2060 Champa St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Lakeview Lounge

2375 Sheridan Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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97 comments
Luke James
Luke James

Melissa Henry the rustic in is on here lol

B-rad K. Evans
B-rad K. Evans

Tippers inn in Arvada and The Filling Station on Brighton Blvd should be here

Sarah Jane
Sarah Jane

Great advertising. The bartender it throwing a gang sign. Super excited to join that crowd!

Jimmy Ruggles
Jimmy Ruggles

So awesome that lakeview lounge is #1. Walkable distance!

Liv Elgethun
Liv Elgethun

Certainly, not at the bar at the top of the page. Those boys look like they were still Y chromosomes when I had a fake ID. We have gen X & gen Y, what comes after that? Cause I think we may be in triple digits. And I'm not talking IQ!!!

Ali Jarrott
Ali Jarrott

Christopher G. Becker, let's have our wedding at one of these.

Nick Hummell
Nick Hummell

Honorable mention in the first year or so. Killin it. Jack McTavish

Carmelo Clandestine
Carmelo Clandestine

I don't know but if I walked into a bar and saw those douchebags from the picture above I'd turn around and leave. And probably set fire to the place on the way out.

Lech Kobak
Lech Kobak

The Polished Tavern, but it's not much of a dive =)

r9robles
r9robles

So the title says "10 best dive bars in Denver" and one is in Edgewater and three are in Boulder?  I have a place, Dive inn, on South Broadway and Arkansas!

Bret Ahroon
Bret Ahroon

My name is Carmelo Clandestine you have killed my father prepare to die

Desmond Moon
Desmond Moon

Why in the fuck you keep bitching about it knowing damn well this has been the schtick of Voice Media rags for years?

Mitch Hendrix
Mitch Hendrix

yeah thats most definitely our jabroni asses ha

Shauntel Archuletta
Shauntel Archuletta

Are there any cool ones downtown? I'm visiting but want to just hang out and play pool. Any recommendations?

Jesse Walsh
Jesse Walsh

Why is every article a top ten or some bullshit like that. Why aren't you reporting on how stupid the Michael Brown protesting is. You're worse than TMZ.

Jesse Asch
Jesse Asch

Lyza Joyce Posey your in one of the pics.

Ilea Soler
Ilea Soler

#1 dive bar is right by my house...we're going Kristin Friese Blaine Sonia Moser

c.burnett
c.burnett

Next Door on 17th is my favorite dive bar.

Carmelo Clandestine
Carmelo Clandestine

I enjoy dive bars, but I wouldn't go into a bar if those assclowns were sitting there.

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

But pre-made leather ' punk ' jackets are not.....

Toni Trujillo
Toni Trujillo

Tequilas Rose (aka) (The Hook Up) was a Nasty Bar! So happy it's closed! Owner never took care of it!

Jessica Shrewsbury
Jessica Shrewsbury

Only those that are constantly drunk, probably like yourself. Those that can't function without being intoxicated all the time. Those that have a job only to pay for their habits. Ass munching cuntbag, ha! You shouldn't talk about your mom like that.

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