The feel of a classic saloon with wood-slat flooring and a wood-topped bar invites patrons in for a cold pint and a comforting burger. The menu opens with a prologue of starters such as the southwestern-chicken egg rolls infused with chicken, black beans, corn, spinach, and jack cheese ($6.95) and fried-pickle spears ($5.95) for staving off hunger's vanguard. Try your hand at a sandwich such as the bagel Reuben ($8.25) or heft a vegetarian-black-bean burger served with southwestern slaw ($6.25). Diners can also be the architects of their own burger ($4.95), starting with a choice of 15 add-ons ($0.75+ each)—including fried egg, goat cheese, applewood bacon, and brie—before attempting to build an entire city out of ground beef. When the sun shines, many guests find seats in an outdoor patio reminiscent of a German beer garden as they drain a glass of sudsy sustenance.
Smokin Joes BBQ heaps plates of beef brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork and other menu items slathered in sauce that’s at once sweet, tangy, tart, and spicy. Other sauces include the spicy barbecue, sweet and tangy mustard sauce, and the Carolina sauce, which blends vinegar, brown sugar, and a hint of cayenne pepper ideal for whole-hog cooking. Signature milkshakes cool off the tongue with inventively sweet flavors, such as the birthday cake shake with Funfetti cake mix, milk, and vanilla ice cream. Smokin Joes can also cater for events such as company picnics, class reunions, and weddings, especially weddings where they toast with barbecue sauce instead of champagne.
Throughout the summer months, el Camino's rooftop garden blossoms with organic cilantro and mint leaves, providing ultra-fresh accouterments for the eatery's Mexican feasts. And though the small garden doesn’t cultivate all of el Camino’s ingredients, the rest of the bounty originates not too far from Highland. For example, the eatery's chefs stuff housemade tamales, tacos, and other lunch and dinner specialties with all-natural chicken, beef, and pork from local vendor Anderson Meats. They create guacamole, salsa, and each and every dessert completely from scratch, using produce supplied by two Colorado companies, Red Hat Foods and Arroyo Produce. Beyond supporting the local economy, el Camino tries to preserve the entire ecosystem by operating on 100% wind power and recycling all of its cans, bottles, and cardboard cutouts of Al Gore.
While satisfying hunger with decadent, locally sourced food, including a daily brunch, el Camino sates rippling thirsts for both beer and entertainment. The bar pours drafts from the likes of Del Norte, Avery, and Great Divide breweries, and mixes up potent bloody marys, mimosas, and sangria. Every night of the week brings a different treat, such as $1 street tacos on Tuesday and the Tito Del Barrio Malaga flamenco band every Saturday.
The bartenders at 12 Volt Tavern bolster its dive-bar cred with a daily two-for-one happy hour, pairing suds and spirits with a punk-rock-heavy jukebox that helped earn it Westword's Best Dive Bar in the ‘Burbs award in 2007. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the daily happy hour lobs beer bottles ($2.75–$4.50) and cans ($2.25–$5.50) to those longing to grip longnecks or crush something other than Pringles cans against their heads. Draft beers ($2.75–$4.50) cascade from foam-flecked taps as imbibers sip to the refrain of rhythmically clacking pool balls and whizzing darts. Mad Dog 20/20 and its 10 electric libations glimmer and gleam over the bar’s pale light, headlining the top shelf of 12 Volt’s library of liquors and spirits ($3.75–$8). On weekends, local punk and rockabilly acts storm the intimate stage, blaring tunes that ricochet off the wall’s aluminum PBR signage and the ceiling’s bottle-cap frescos of Johnny Rotten’s boyhood pony (a cover charge applies to live shows).
What comes after setting a Guinness World Record for longest journey on a mini motorcycle? For Ryan Galbraith and Chris Stinson, the answer is opening a sports bar that celebrates Colorado’s thriving action-sports scene. The duo renovated Cheapskates Action Sports Bar themselves to create a haven for local sports lovers, and now pour beers for their enthusiastic customers. Fans of dirt biking, snowboarding, and other extreme sports sip Shock Top and Schlitz at Cheapskates’ two locations Aurora and Arvada, which also serve specialty shots and cocktails. In the kitchen, cooks hand-weigh and season burgers such as the AntiVegan, a bacchanalia of beef, cheese, bacon, and a fried egg, and stir homemade Hobo chili with railroad ties. Cheapskates maintains a festive atmosphere throughout the week with sports broadcasts, happy hours, karaoke performances, ladies night, industry night, and its signature birthday special, which bestows patrons with 20 pitchers of domestic beer for $25.
Holiday Bowling & Billiards houses 30 smooth, wooden lanes primed for hurling spheres of fury at unsuspecting pins. For more than 50 years patrons have been swinging through Holiday Bowling to sport a chic pair of kicks and vie for the seemingly unattainable perfect score, aiming their bowling orbs with as much precision as an archer targeting an enemy's inflatable bounce-castle. Before or after the four-way pin-smashing session, bowlers can replenish with a large, two-topping pizza and four sodas with free refills. Although not included in today's Groupon, guests can also visit the on-site billiards room, which boasts eight well-maintained tables and a veteran pool shark who always lets the children win.
Pizza Public’s dining area takes on two different looks during any given business day: it’s a family-oriented "craft" pizzeria by day and turns into a full lounge and bar at night. Amid soft lights and flat-screen TVs, daytime diners and families nibble on house pizzas fresh from the kitchen that can be decked out in traditional pepperoni or more daring toppings such as goat cheese or mango. When the sun goes down, the eatery’s bar comes to life as patrons sip on cocktails or a large selection of Colorado craft beers. The full menu is available all day, with gluten-free options for all pizzas and a tapas list that includes bruschetta and the eatery’s inventive prosciutto puffers.