Food & Drink

13 Great First Date Bars in Denver

Published On 06/04/2015 Published On 06/04/2015
Ruth Tobias
Z Cuisine
Kari Cummings
Bar Car
Laurie Smith
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
The Cruise Room
Lena
Adam Larkey Photography
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Truffle Table
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Bonanno Concepts
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1. À Côté Bar à Absinthe 2239 W 30th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

We can’t fathom what you’d have to do to screw up an evening at this artsy, moody ode to 1920s Paris: from the first absinthe drip to the last bite of fromage, Z Cuisine’s adjacent bar was made for living la vie sexy.

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2. Ace Eat Serve 501 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203 (Uptown)

High-energy hot spot in an old garage for pan-Asian chow, cocktails & table tennis, plus juice bar.

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3. The Bar Car 819 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80206 (Congress Park)

The Bar Car has the winning combination of retro ambiance, laid-back attitude, a generous happy hour, and bar snacks nobody can deny. It has a railroad-era antique look but the jukebox is loaded with ’80s tunes -- so if you’re shy, you can let a power ballad express what you’re feeling. (Or just wait until the boilermakers kick in).

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4. Central Bistro and Bar 1691 Central St, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

Central Bistro and Bar set out to be a true American restaurant and they met their goal with flying colors by serving classic and modern American fare (and a full bar) in a trendy atmosphere in Highland.

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5. The Cooper Lounge 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202

Nested above the Terminal Bar you'll find The Cooper Lounge, a high-end cocktail bar with deep armchairs and strong drinks. They put out a sleek, '30s lounge-vibe paired with an array of original cocktails that feature local spirits from Leopold Brothers, Breckenridge Bourbon, and Peach St. For example, try the Palisaide Sour with Peach St. Pear Eau de Vie, egg white, lemon, and black walnut bitters.

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6. The Cruise Room 1659 Wazee St, Denver, CO 80202 (Lodo)

Located in the historic Oxford Hotel's lobby in downtown Denver, The Cruise Room appears almost exactly as it did in 1933. The whole place is styled after a lounge room on the Queen Mary and waitresses are dressed in the requiste flapper girl garb, which makes Cruise Room's legendary martinis and whiskey cocktails taste truly authentic. Order a Red Widow -- peach vodka, champagne, St. Germain, and jalapeño -- and be sure to ask your bartender about the hotel’s infamous ghost stories.

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7. Leña 24 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203 (Speer)

Housed in a former furniture store, Leña serves dishes that seamlessly weave together the flavors of Latin America. Expect dishes in forms you already know but with an extra level of innovation: empanadas with green plantain dough and poblano, goat tacos, and chicken chilaquiles. While Leña isn't a tapas bar per se, small plates are the go-to order, and most groups (at least the ones who know what they're doing) end their meal with a shared plate of gooey chocolate pelotas fritas made with yucca flour and served with a glass of horchata.

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8. RiNo Yacht Club 3350 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216

RiNo Yacht Club is a cocktail/raw bar located right in the middle of The Source, with a menu that's thoughtfully divided into "Eastern Medicine," "Western Medicine," and "Trusty Companions."

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9. Ste. Ellie 1553 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202 (Highland)

This speakeasy-style cocktail bar under Colt & Gray emits more of a party vibe than an air of seclusion. Plus there’s something kind of awesome about the fact that the restaurant’s own butchering and meat-curing facility operates just down the hallway. So before you take a sip of your bartender’s choices or grower Champagne, be sure to raise a toast to good salami, which you can sample on the cheese and charcuterie board.

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10. Stem Ciders 2811 Walnut St , Denver, CO 80205

With its half-hidden location and its rustic-industrial atmosphere, its bluegrass lineup and of course its terrific hard ciders, this little taproom is so damn charming that it basically serves as a litmus test: anyone who isn’t hooked probably can’t be trusted with human feelings. Of course, if neither of you like it, congrats… you deserve each other.

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11. The Truffle Table 2556 15th St, Denver, CO 80211

This suave, twinkling wine-and-cheese bar is perfect for a first date. In fact, one couple not only started out here, they got engaged and married here too. You can’t argue with a track record like that. Especially if your mouth is full of melted cheese: on Wednesday nights, all-you-can-eat raclette for two comes with bread, salami, and dessert for $40.

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12. Union Lodge No. 1 1543 Champa St, Denver, CO 80202 (Cbd)

Cobblers, crustas, blazers, fizzes, knickerbockers: you’ll definitely have some fun just pouring over the well-annotated menu at this urbane 34-seat spot in the CBD. Focusing on pre-Prohibition cocktails, Union Lodge is kind of place where bartenders are "mixologists" and the decor hearkens back to a vintage Americana vibe. The extensive menu got you reeling? Order a Ramos Gin Fizz, marvel at its foamy head, and know that you’re enjoying the drink the way it was intended to be served.

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13. Vesper Lounge 233 E 7th Ave, Denver, CO 80203 (Capitol Hill)

Carrying on the vibe and spirit of The Lancer Lounge, its newborn little bro The Vesper Lounge is filling its shoes with beer/ shot combos, hefty bar bites, and signature cocktails.

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