Denver/Boulder Bar Bites for Grown-Ups

By Ruth Tobias  |  March 19, 2014

Welcome to the Zagat #BarBlitz, our one-day celebration of all things shaken, stirred and sipped. Remember to keep the party going all day long on Twitter and Instagram!

Poppers, tots and tenders have their time and place - but listen, we’re all adults here. So think of it this way: would you rather belly up to a bar next to Harold and Kumar or James Bond? The snacks in this slide show evoke glamorous nights in worldly destinations, not drive-thru windows.

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    À Côté Bar à Absinthe's Poitrine de Porc Braisée au Cidre en Salade

    Amid Art Deco flourishes and the flicker of old black-and-white films screening on one wall, Z Cuisine’s adjacent absinthe bar in LoHi turns out French comforts par excellence, including this robust staple of cider-braised pork belly over lentil ragout. 

    2239 W. 30th Ave.; 303-477-1111

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Cholon Modern Asian Bistro’s Kaya Toast

    It came as a surprise even to chef-owner Lon Symensma that his luxurious take on a Singaporean daytime snack would become such a sensation. But no meal at this glam Asian fusion LoDo destination is complete without an order of toast slathered in pandan-coconut jam and accompanied by a sous-vide “egg cloud” for dipping. 

    1555 Blake St.; 303-353-5223

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Corner House Neighborhood Eatery’s Octopus Confit

    While octopus is spreading its tentacles everywhere these days, this Jefferson Park haunt recently introduced a truly original showcase for the mollusk. Here, its almost-buttery flesh is chopped and tossed with a vibrant mix of olives, tomatoes, almonds, capers, red onion and more, then served with a splash of gazpacho broth. 

    2240 Clay St.; 720-287-1895 

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    The Curtis Club's Rabbit Rillettes

    Rabbit usually gets the kid-glove treatment but not at this super-hip Ballpark saloon, where it’s the basis for lusty, earthy rillettes spread on toast points and garnished with deviled quail eggs. 

    2100 Curtis St.; 720-420-9898

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Gozo’s Boquerones

    Given the dearth of Spanish tapas in this town, Baker's brand-new, already-hot Mediterranean neighborhood spot is filling quite a void via morsels like these, zesty with white anchovies and red peppers. 

    30 S. Broadway; 720-638-1462

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Guard and Grace’s Oak-Grilled Beef Heart

    Since sampling it at the opening of Troy Guard’s splashy new downtown steakhouse, we’ve grown mildly obsessed with this appetizer of sliced, deftly grilled beef heart set atop potato rösti and daubed with romesco. If you’ve never tried heart, trust us - the flavor is far more like steak than like, say, liver. 

    1801 California St.; 303-293-8500

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Humboldt Farm Fish Wine's Acme Oysters

    Generously topped with breadcrumbs and broiled in tarragon-lemon butter, these Chesapeake Bay oysters go down oh-so-easy alongside the right, light-bodied glass of Pinot Noir. In fact, the hardest thing about happy hour at this contemporary Uptown eatery can be finding a single seat at the jam-packed bar. 

    1700 Humboldt St.; 303-813-1700

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Lower48 Kitchen's Beef-Brisket Fritters

    There's not an item among chef Alex Figura's ever-changing, brilliantly conceived selection of small plates we wouldn’t welcome whole-heartedly into any lineup of nibbles. But the brisket fritters garnished with a smidgen of garlic pudding (pictured left) have emerged as a signature for a reason - you could down a whole slew of these two-bite pops of crunchy, creamy, beefy goodness in a matter of minutes. 

    2020A Lawrence St.; 303-942-0262

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Machete Tequila + Tacos’ Prehispanico Taco

    Deeply earthy, funky huitlacoche gets its due tossed with oyster mushrooms and queso fresco on a homemade poblano tortilla at this rollicking Cherry Creek cantina - whose LoDo sibling is in soft-opening mode as we speak. 

    2817 E. Third Ave.; 303-333-1567

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Sushi Tora's Mushroom Tempura

    Speaking of mushrooms, this suavely tranquil Boulder sushi bar has long been our go-to for exquisite tempura featuring organically grown beauties from Hazel Dell, alongside a dish of green-tea salt for sprinkling.

    2014 10th St., Boulder; 303-444-2280