While the Denver Broncos epically lost their bid to play in the Super Bowl, their defeat hopefully didn't deflate your desire to tackle some bar grub in honor of Super Bowl week. From street-style tacos and soft pretzels glistening with butter to elevated corn dogs and burgers, these seven Denver restaurants, all with bars (and some with TVs), serve refined eats that are hard to beat.
RiNo Yacht Club, the centerpiece bar inside The Source, pours mind-altering cocktails, and Acorn, one of the culinary showroom's anchor restaurants, provides small plates that change nightly and are wheeled around on carts, dim sum-style. Acorn exec chef Redzikowski offers four to eight dishes, priced between $4 and $12 each, and if you happen to wander in when he's serving his butter-soaked and salted soft pretzel (pictured below) with sides of mustard and jammy mustarda, you'll wonder why his pretzels aren't served in stadiums across the country. The Source plans to show the Super Bowl on a jumbo TV, which can be viewed in RiNo Yacht Club's comfy lounge. 3350 Brighton Blvd.; 720-485-5581.
Chef Jennifer Jasinski's playful Larimer Square gastropub unleashes a parade of innovative bar bites, including Buffalo-style frog "wings" sidekicked with blistered shishito peppers and ranch. The super-popular pad Thai pig ears, cloaked in a tamarind chile sauce and festooned with scallions, peanuts, egg, sprouts, mint and cilantro, are worth the price of admission, as are the kitchen's Thai-style mussels and brûléed bone marrow, (pictured below) which, in case you haven't heard, also serves as the vessel for the joint's famous bone-marrow luge, a Manhattan cocktail that you shoot down your throat. 1317 14th St.; 303-595-4255.
Along with a superb stockpile of mezcals and tequilas, some of which you won't find anywhere else in Denver, this lively Latin-inspired cocktail spot and restaurant in Baker turns out excellent bar bites and small plates, including ceviche, housemade soft corn tacos (we love the goat tacos, pictured below), three variations of empanadas paired with a delicious chimichurri sauce and, for a healthy alterative, a quinoa salad with edamame beans, mango and red onions glistening with an orange-scented dressing. 24 Broadway; 720-550-7267
Two words: Scotch egg. Argyll's dedicated fans are justifiably addicted to the crisp-crusted marvel (pictured below), but the pub menu, available only in the bar, boasts touchdown after touchdown. To wit: a bacon-studded macaroni 'n' cheese with Gouda, tandoori-style shrimp paired with a curried yogurt, housemade charcuterie boards, briny oysters and whiskey-cured smoked salmon, all of which are the handiwork of exec chef John Broening. And if you cozy up to the bar to watch the game on one of the two televisions, take note of the smartly assembled craft-beer menu and whiskey-focused cocktail list. 1035 E. 17th Ave.; 303-847-0850.
Chef Alex Figura offers a multitude of high-brow tastes for between $2 and $5. They're all part of Figura's always-changing one-bite "Each" section of his board, and our recommendation is to tuck into a seat at the bar, sip a boozy Sazerac and order every single offering that's inked on the board (pictured below). Whether it's his corn dog with housemade mustard, or the smoked pig's ears sided with pickled Fresco chiles, the selections are uniformly stellar. 2020 Lawrence St.; 303-942-0262.
This Five Points newcomer makes the most of its elegantly rustic bar, pouring potent cocktails (some of which are barrel-aged on-site) and craft beers to enthusiastic revelers, who also come for chef Joshua Bitz's small but charismatic menu, which features, among other dishes, the ultimate bar burger (pictured below). Stacked on a house-baked brioche bun, the burger arrives topped with strips of candied bacon, a plump onion ring, cheddar cheese sauce and a soft egg that erupts with yolk. 2705 Larimer St.; 303-953-1815.
Along with a remarkably diverse selection of burgers, this citywide favorite in LoHi turns out terrific nachos (the white corn chips are made in-house) heaped with sofrito black beans, pickled jalapeños, a blend of cheeses, salsa verde, crema, scallions, tomatoes and a choice of pulled chicken or marinated steak. The Parmesan-dusted duck-fat fries, sliders topped with pork soaked in root beer and meaty chicken wings (pictured below) smoked in Stranahan's whiskey barrels, and sided with house made chunky blue cheese and the signature "tap" sauce, are huge crowd-pleasers too. 2219 W. 32nd Ave.; 720-287-4493.