The Absolute Best Sports Bars in Denver
The Olympics are here!
It’s been a few years since a professional sports team from the Mile High City has hoisted a championship trophy, and yet Denver remains a passionate base for athletic action. Fans who have moved to town from all over the world congregate next to natives clad in orange or purple. The following watering holes cater to all manner of game-watching, whether it’s for March Madness or the big game on Sunday—or the Olympic Games, which finally here. Don your lucky item, sidle up next to some strangers, and order a bucket or four.
This is a real Bronco’s legacy bar, having been opened just blocks from the stadium in 1983. It feels like an entirely hallowed space, having originally been constructed nearly a century earlier in 1896. This is a place where people have watched much of the trajectory of a true Denver dynasty, with fans celebrating the victories and lamenting the losses year after glorious year. Every bar staple can be expected, with quesadillas, chicken fingers, BLTs, and burritos all keeping it decidedly unfussy.
Tom’s Watch Bar recently hit McGregor Square as a new big boy on the block. Claiming over 155 TVs, a full stadium screen, and golf simulation rooms courtesy of Top Golf, this is a truly mammoth ode to the viewing of all things athletic. Cocktails like the Cactus Ass Kick and the Cocomojito are joined by pickle brined crispy chicken, a Rockies green chili burger and a fully developed taco menu that doesn’t shy away from stacking one of its tortillas with butter-poached shrimp and lump crab.
If hockey, a long list of Czech drafts and minty spirits, and schnitzel, kielbasa, and beef goulash is your idea of a well done evening, SOBO 151 is the place. The lights are dim, the ashtrays generally on their way towards filled, and the crowd is almost always set to mingle. This place is inarguably bold, built for people who are ready for a little friendly confrontation, and the joys of making your opinion known, whatever the consequence.
Capitol Hill, North Capitol
Stoney’s has established itself as a major hub for folks trying to enjoy any number of games in an appropriately raucous setting. Its OG Cap Hill location on Lincoln is staggeringly large, with room after room of TVs, fried food, and huge plastic cups full of suds. A second location, dubbed Stoney’s Uptown Joint, is more lowkey, though not by much. As the world inches back towards full sports fervor, both locations are starting to show signs that nature is healing.
Sports Column is as old-school as it comes. The spot, just a (Hall of Famer!) Larry Walker-throw away from Coors Field celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and we’re pretty sure they haven’t changed as much as a barstool since opening day. And that’s all fine by us. In the ever-changing landscape that is LoDo, it’s comforting to have a dependable stalwart—one with cheap drinks, suitable fare, free popcorn, and every goddamn game under the sun properly cast across a full range of colossal televisions.
Virginia Village, South Park Hill
Esters has an admirable formula and has made it work in two neighborhoods, nearly taking over the surrounding area as the go-to spot for, well, just about everything. They have amazing pizza (many of which are named after Phish songs), plentiful brews, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a killer brunch menu. And about those sports. Esters comes correct, with Sunday being as lively as anywhere else in town. The TV set-up at the latest location in Park Hill is particularly impressive.
RiNo Beer Garden is one of the best places in the neighborhood to enjoy the game while knocking a few back on the place’s 4,000 square foot crown jewel—the patio. It also boasts a massive tap list with an endless array of brews both local and big name, and more than a few ciders and hard seltzers. Perhaps best of all is the weekend brunch, featuring robust plates of corned beef hash, biscuits and gravy, and black forest pancakes with chocolate mousse, cherry compote, chocolate chips, and whipped cream.
The College, as it is affectionately known, has been slinging beers on its corner of east 8th Avenue since 1958. As the neighborhood around it has grown, College Inn has stayed mostly the same, sticking to its guns as one of the last great truly unapologetic dives in the city. Cheap drinks and daily specials dot the blackboard as regulars look upward to the sports on the many TVs. If you’re feeling nostalgic, the green chili is basically a window back in time, providing good evidence that the city always has had its priorities straight.
While Occidental, the more visible sister bar to neighboring Williams & Graham, may not have many of the trappings of a traditional sports bar, it definitely is a good place to enjoy a range of sports. As the pigskin gets tossed around on the big screens behind the bar, metal or punk is sure to be blaring on the speakers. Vibe aside, Occidental certainly has some of the best nosh—with items running from poblano guacamole, to kimchi tots, and especially for the Jersey transplants, a Taylor Ham Sandwich.
It should come as little surprise that The British Bulldog is a good place to watch soccer. This is a solid bar for proper bouts, with all day specials never straying from $4 wells and $6 shots of Jameson. From there the week covers international staples done in proper English pub fashion, with Monday’s saag and a soda special preceding Pakistani Tuesday, a Chappali Kebab meal on Thursday, and fish and chips rounding out the week. This is a place for vigorously cheered pints, be it the World Cup or an entirely average afternoon.
When you walk into Society Sports and Spirits, the first thing you’ll notice is TVs. Lots of them. We’re talking three projectors, 28 flat screens, four sound zones, all major sports packages, and the capacity for 16 different games at once. The Texans, Steelers, Iowa State Cyclones, Arkansas Razorbacks, UH Cougars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chargers, Broncos, Avalanche, Rockets, and Nuggets all are welcome here, with the spot acting as an official alumni bar.
Blake Street Tavern holds a special place in the heart of any Denver-bred sports fan—especially Rockies fans. Located just a few blocks from Coors Field, Blake Street has been an important stop on many a pilgrimage either to or from the stadium. The huge, 18,000 square foot space has plenty of room to accommodate the inevitable throngs, all enjoying the TVs, bar games, heaping plates of nachos and what appear to be endlessly flowing taps. Blake Street is run less like a restaurant and more like a Ford assembly line, which is fine by us. Keep it coming.
We’ve heard tell that there are walls at Choppers behind all of its televisions, but we cannot confirm. The venerable institution is named after former Nuggets trainer, Robert “Chopper” Traviglini, who renovated the old Rick’s Cafe in 1996 with his partners. Besides just about any game on the sun being broadcast across the visual array, the Chopper’s menu is full of the kind of classics built to soak up long nights—well-stacked burgers, spicy Philly eggrolls, wings, and meatloaf abound.
The regulars who frequent “the” Spot may be a little miffed to be included on this list. Why? Because it’s an under-the-radar neighborhood gem. Size is relative, here, with the smallish joint packing in as many people, taps, and TVs as can be. The congenial vibe and cramped surroundings make any game a hoot. The twice-daily happy hours don’t hurt either.
Highland, West Colfax, Tech Center
At all three locations of Tap & Burger’s locations, the team sticks with a tried-and-true formula—juicy burgers, a massive stable of rotating beers on tap, and sports on plenty of well-positioned TVs. In recent months, the specials have been getting increasingly creative, with burgers rarely sticking to the straight and narrow. There’s also bubbling plates of fully customizable mac and beer cheese, and a surprisingly show-stealing set of salads.