Getting tipsy on trains — it’s a pastime as old as the rails, a time-honored tradition of vagabonds and modern suburbanites alike.
If you live in metro Denver and like to go out in the city, you might not be unfamiliar with drinking on the train. But put away your flask, because it’s time to ride the rails in search of the best bars at each train stop. If you’ve got the time, the stomach and the stamina, you could hit a bar at almost every stop. We’re thinking selecting a few is a safer and smarter plan. What follows is a guide to doing just that.
The bars and restaurants were chosen mostly for proximity to the stations. One-way regional fare is $4.50, but there are limits on transfers, so trying to swing the whole trip on that ticket won’t work. If you’re making a run at a bar crawl by train, you’ll want the day pass instead, which at $9 covers the cost of the round trip.
But which line gives you the best booze for you buck?
Cheers to the southern suburbs — the C/D Lines have it all!
These lines have everything. Through a dozen stops, you can visit the restaurant with the state’s first liquor license or a bar with one of its most recent. You can try craft beer and creative cocktails, or stick with the cheap basics. These spots offer bar games, lawn games, live music, comedy and even burlesque. Take your time and enjoy the ride.
C Line: Littleton to Union Station
Last train out of Union Station: 8:19 p.m. Monday through Thursday
(This line only runs a limited, northbound schedule on weekends and holidays.)
D Line: Littleton to 20th & Welton
Last train out of 20th & Welton Station: 1:05 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and holidays, 2:05 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Littleton Mineral Station
Start the night right at Ted’s Montana Grill in Aspen Grove, 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, #610, where the burgers are made of bison and the martinis are big enough to put down a bison.
Littleton Downtown Station
Main Street is just a block or two away from this station. There are plenty of options there, but McKinners, 2389 W Main St., is a good bet, especially if you want to pad your stomach with pizza. The well-stocked bar has something for all tastes and, if you can let go of your dignity for a moment, you can order something called Tubbies Nummies.
Cross Oxford Avenue and Santa Fe Drive to get to Red & Jerry’s Sports Bar, 1840 W. Oxford Ave., Sheridan. The main attraction here is off-track betting, and you don’t have to put money on a horse to get into it. Heads up: The bar is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Blondie’s Firehouse Pub & Restaurant, 3435 S. Inca St., Englewood, is in the Englewood Civic Center next to the Englewood Public Library, and it’s not as quiet as its neighbor. Blondie’s is open an impressive 15 hours a day, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, and offers bar games and weekly karaoke, poker, trivia and ’90s music nights.
This is the stop for craft beer lovers. Declaration Brewing, 2030 S. Cherokee St., is just a couple blocks from the station. The main feature here, besides more than a dozen beers on tap, is the 5,000-square-foot patio with lawn games and designated food truck space. If it’s a beautiful day, you might just get stuck here.
I-25 & Broadway Station
This stop is in a bit of a dry zone, for now, but the nearest option is a great one. Syntax Physic Opera, 554 S. Broadway, is a few long blocks away. As the embodiment of the art and literary review Denver Syntax, the venue offers nightly entertainment including music, comedy and burlesque. The creative food and cocktail menus are worth the walk, if you’re up for it, and the sultry, old fashioned decor make it a great place for impassioned conversations about art over said cocktails. Go on. Tell someone how you really feel about Radiohead.
This stop is about the same distance from Syntax, but it’s much closer to the White Whale Room, 415 S. Cherokee St., #125. The coffee shop and bar is located in the ground floor of the apartment building directly next to the station. The brand new spot serves coffee and cocktails, so you can opt for caffeine here if you need it. (At this point in a bar crawl, you probably do.)
10th & Osage Station
This is the last stop before the C and D lines split, and it’s near Denver’s most famous steakhouse. Even if you aren’t hungry for a whole meal, Buckhorn Exchange, 1000 Osage St. is a can’t-miss stop. But you should arrive hungry if you can. At this National Historic Landmark (open since 1893), the selection of game meats is almost as varied as the taxidermy that covers the walls. And, speaking of which, you better get comfortable with the idea hundreds of dead animals watching over you as you eat.
This stop puts you in the far-west corner of the University of Colorado at Denver campus and in another good spot for craft beer. But skip it. The next two stops circle in closer to the main attraction.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Station
Skip this one, too.
Pepsi Center -Elitch Gardens Station
Here’s where you get off. The beautiful Tivoli Brewing Co. is on the Auraria campus, at 900 Auraria Parkway, right by this station. The historic brewery first opened in 1859 as Sigi’s Brewery, but closed in 1969 as the second longest continually operating brewery in the state. A group of born-and-raised Coloradans reopened Tivoli in 2012 and opened the tap house last August. There are now has 42 beers on tap.
The renovation of Denver’s 120-year-old train station didn’t just change transportation, it created a new hub for dining and nightlife and served as a milestone in the city’s growth. Inside, you can get ice cream at Milkbox, go back in time at The Cooper Lounge, try your luck getting in for brunch at Snooze, have a meal from an award-winning chef at Stoic & Genuine and much more. But to really take in the historic station’s atmosphere, order a drink from the Terminal Bar. The specialty cocktails are on the pricier side, but you won’t be disappointed. Order at the walk-up window and enjoy your drink out in main hall.
Colfax at Auraria Station
Different Auraria stop, same Auraria attraction. This one will get you to Tivoli Brewing Co., too.
Theater District – Convention Center Station
You could end your journey here and have plenty of places to check out. If you only pick one, the nearest and best option is The Corner Office, 1401 Curtis St. The creative cocktail menu includes specialities like the Gangs of New York — Alberta rye whiskey, lemon, simple syrup, egg white Dubonnet Rouge apertif wine, shaken. It’s pretty weird and pretty delicious.
16th & California Station
The 16th Street Mall is your booze-soaked oyster. Among the nearby places: Rialto Cafe, 934 16th St.; Paramount Cafe, 519 16th St.; Marlowe’s, 501 16th St.; Henry’s Tavern, 500 16th St., #184b; and Appaloosa Grill, 535 16th St., #110. They’re all pretty moderately priced, they all have happy hours and the latter two have occasional live music. The crowds are about half tourists and half employees from the nearby offices. Take that as you will.
18th & California Station
If you’re prefer a dive bar to the tourist spots, skip the mall and ride a couple blocks further for Shelby’s Bar & Grill, 519 18th St. It’s an actual neighborhood bar, as opposed to the places nearby that are just bars in a neighborhood. And, for what it’s worth, it’s a Panthers bar.
25th & Welton Station
Continue on to this stop if you want to catch some live music at Cervantes Masterpiece & The Other Side. The bill leans heavily on hip hop, electronic and jam bands, and every combination and variation thereof. Cover hovers around $10 and it’s not often the charge exceeds $25.
Did we miss a great, station-adjacent bar? Send us your suggestions at [email protected].