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

Categories: The List

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.

AceHi-inside.jpg
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:

Kentucky-inside.jpg
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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51 comments
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.

Septimius Prime
Septimius Prime

Jesus Christ lady? Because someone goes to a bar their life sucks and they should kill themselves? How bout you go fuck yourself you ass munching cuntbag!

Jessica Shrewsbury
Jessica Shrewsbury

Of course someone had to throw religion into it. What's next, politics? Shows how dumb people are because I don't even believe in God. And until your life has been ripped apart by the effects of alcohol and bars overserving patrons then you have no right to judge my opinion. I'm not judging your opinion. Cheers!

Sammy River
Sammy River

Sleepy and tired looking always wins over people.

Sammy River
Sammy River

Good advice now run along and execute it bible thinler.

Jeff Noble
Jeff Noble

there are no more good dive bars thanks to hipster douche bags. long live the 80's!!

Wendy Hett
Wendy Hett

~sigh I miss the Lancer. And the jukebox at One Eyed Jacks.

Jessica Shrewsbury
Jessica Shrewsbury

Bars are so dumb. Save money and drink at home or better yet go to AA meetings or check into rehab. Denver is full of lame drunks. If life sucks so bad you have to go through it intoxicated then do us all a favor and eat a bullet.

Jason Dennee
Jason Dennee

That's because the bros and beckies keep driving out us hard living degenerates that just want to be ignored. And then some shitty local rag keeps doing "dive bar" pieces...oh wait. Awkward.

Brian Burke
Brian Burke

Andrew is that you on the cover photo

retsyn_99
retsyn_99

some fun bars on the list to be sure, but when you're more worried about hepatitis than getting a beer there's a problem.... bar bar is one sketchy ass joint

Clara Madrid
Clara Madrid

As soon as I was able following major surgery, I went to the Lakeview Lounge for a life affirming cold cerbeza. Best beer of my life.

Bräd Männ
Bräd Männ

The actual dive bars in Denver--the ones that make you feel unsafe--will never make this list.

Toni Trujillo
Toni Trujillo

Tequilas!!!! By far! But it's finally closed!

realeyez81
realeyez81

Best Dive: Barry's on Broadway.!! I f*cking love that place.


Linda Largent
Linda Largent

Luv the photo at bar bar. Mutha friggen Joel Day and Renfro.

Stephanie Marie
Stephanie Marie

The Kentucky inn is awful! I've been there quite a few times and the scene is just shit. And the bartenders are assholes. They even stole chairs from a salon that used to be across the street. Not a good place. Not good people. We used to watch all the drunk drivers leave there. And I mean DRUNK! Like they could kill someone. Then there was the KY prostitute with her fanny pack, there everyday giving different men a ride in her vehicle to who knows where then she would come back and stretch and go for a new guys. Always wearing a tank too and skort. Lmao....

Mitch Hendrix
Mitch Hendrix

Haha that's great, if everybody only knew we were off to the jabroni olympics right after that though.. Lol

Eric Schleeter
Eric Schleeter

Wow might have to steal that hair style.... Jk its terrible and he's not fat enough Lol

Bob Purcell
Bob Purcell

The Rocky Flat Lounge was one of my favorites when I was sent to Rocky Flats from Oak Ridge, Tennessee forty years ago. It was a much as a legend as Oak Ridge's 'Reactor Room' among DOE contractors. Aces High, is also a hell of a dive. Two thumbs up.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

If it doesn't smell like puke and piss, it ain't a dive bar.



sballardo672
sballardo672

I'm sorry your life was ripped apart, but does that give you the right to judge others?  I had a woman rip my life apart, so does that give me the right to call you a cold-hearted and controlling shrew, or would I be better served getting to know you before making a decision? 


My suggestion, al-anon.  Might help you deal with your anger and resentment.  Good luck.

sballardo672
sballardo672

Rephrase:  If like sucks so bad you have to go through it angry and full of hate then do us all a favor and get some help (al-anon) so that you can truly experience the greatness of life.

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