There are 4 things necessary for a pub to become a great sports bar.
First, and this is a must, there has to be an abundance of TVs. Not just any will do. There must be big screens and flat screens as far as the eye can see, or at least that can be seen from everywhere in the bar.
Next is the food. Bar food seems easy enough (burgers and fries, fish and chips and of course buffalo wings), but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to watch a game with a pile of greasy nachos or a plate of wings that leave a lot to be desired. Not fun. I don’t need anything gourmet, but when I belly up to the bar for a three hour game, I want tasty appetizers, and an entrée that leaves me satisfied.
Third is good beer. This is pretty self-explanatory. The final requirement for a good sports bar is atmosphere. If I want to sit quietly and watch a game, I can do that at home. What makes me go to a sports bar is a room full of like minded people.
I don’t need to overhear business deals being made, or a conversation about the movie you saw last night. I want cheering at the appropriate times, high fives, and of course,questioning the bonehead call the ref just made. Otherwise, it’s a bar with a TV on, not a sports bar.
With that said, here are (in no particular order) the Top 5 Sports Bars in Denver, as voted on by me.
Choppers Sports Grill
80 S. Madison Street
Denver, CO 80209
Choppers Sports Grill has the TVs — 50 flat-screens to be exact. It’s more than enough to watch whatever game you desire. The only drawback is that if yours is not the “main game” of the night, you won’t get to hear it. As an extra feature, Chopper’s even has a small TV in the restroom, so you never have to miss a play. Good food? No question. The nachos are solid, the wings are spicy and flavorful, and the dinner menu is full of great options. Do yourself a favor, order the Krunch Burger. It looks odd on the menu, but it quickly became one of my favorite burgers.The beer menu is just as stocked. Chopper’s has plenty of selections on tap, and quite a few more in bottles. The atmosphere at Chopper’s is tough to beat. If you’re there on the right day, it’s hard to find a seat, let alone a table, and everyone is focused on a big screen. In short, Choppers is a sports fan’s sports bar.
Blake Street Tavern
2301 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80205
The Blake Street Tavern is huge. It has several rooms, a tailgate area that can be reserved on game day, and a game room that includes ski-ball, pop-a-shot and a couple of pool tables. There are also plenty of TVs always tuned into whatever game you want to see. They also have one feature that (as far as I know) is unique to Blake Street Tavern. Drum roll please? Individual speakers! You never have to worry about your game being drowned out by the crowds, because you can tune in the audio for whichever game you want right at your table.The food and beer selections are nothing short of fantastic. Burgers range from a lower fat turkey option to buffalo, and the nachos are piled high and tasty. And again, the beer selection is vast. Did I mention that Blake Street Tavern is huge? That could mean that there isn’t enough of a crowd to really get into the game, but that’s not the case here. There are always plenty of people. The people all seem to be interested in a game, and whether you hit the bar alone or with a group, you will find yourself high-fiving after a great play. Again, real sports fans have helped create a great sports bar at the Blake Street Tavern.
Jackson’s All-American Grill
1520 20th Street
Denver, CO 80202
Jackson’s All-American Grill is in just the right spot. As they say in real estate, location is everything, and Jackson’s has one very big advantage before you even walk in the door. It’s right across the street from Coors Field. That’s not all that makes the Denver staple a top 5 sports bar, but it sure helps. The food is good bar food, and once again, the beer selection is abundant.There are plenty of flat-screens around the bar, and there is always a game on, especially during college football season. They don’t have as many screens as, say, Choppers, but you never have to worry about craning your neck to check out a Nuggets game at Jackson’s. Oh, and there isn’t anywhere better to get ready for a Rockies game in the middle of the summer than on the enormous rooftop patio at Jackson’s.
The Sports Column
1930 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80202
The Sports Column has a little smaller menu than I typically like to see at a sports bar, but what they do have is solid, especially the wide variety of wings. There aren’t any such problems with the drink menu. There is more than enough beer on tap and in bottles, and there are plenty of other “adult beverages” readily available. The drawback to Sports Column is the crowd. There are times that it has the real sports bar feel I look for. It’s a great place to catch a college football game (or three) on a fall Saturday. However, later in the evening it becomes harder and harder to just catch a game. A different crowd rolls in and it turns into more of a “club” feel. All that being said, I’m a fan of Sports Column, and while it’s not a “traditional” sports bar, it’s a pretty good one.
Fox and Hound
9329 Park Meadows Dr.
Lone Tree, CO 80124
Lest you think that all of my choices are limited to Downtown Denver, I did wander south for my final selection. The Fox and Hound in Lone Tree cracked the top 5 for a few reasons. It’s a great place to watch Monday Night Football. They offer trivia on Monday nights, which helps both the prices (free stuff) and the atmosphere.The biggest reason to venture to the south end of town to the Fox and Hound is that they are a sports bar with good food. Not just good bar food, but good food. And, once again, a plentiful beer supply. And there is no shortage of flat screens. No matter where you sit, you have a good view of the game, and a good crowd around you. I’ve never been there when there is an especially boisterous crowd, but, I’m told, it’s a great place to catch a Nebraska football game. As a CU alum, this made it difficult to add Fox and Hound to my top 5, which should tell you how good it is.
– Brett Heinzerling is a sports producer at CBS4.