I want to be the things I see: Denver Edition
May 12, 2015 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to experience Denver as an entrenched local rather than a tourist. Any suggestions?

I'll be visiting Denver for a week starting May 25th to May 29th and I'd like to go off the beaten path as much as possible. In terms of shops, events, locations, etc. what are your recommendations/resources? I'll be downtown mainly, but am willing to travel to the outskirts a bit. Here is what I am interested in:

Oddity shops/museums (I have Atlas Obscura for this as well)
Arcades/Barcades (already scoped out 1Up, anything with pinball is highly desirable)
Book shops/comic shops/etc.
Hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are otherwise amazing or other interesting/adventurous dining experiences
Local music (specifically I am into metal and some shoegaze...what's the local scene like?)
Interesting events that may be occurring but not heavily marketed online
Hidden gems of other varieties/anything worth noting

Many thanks well in advance!
posted by Young Kullervo to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you really want pinball in Denver I would make the trip to Lyons Classic Pinball. They've got a really nice collection.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:01 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If driving a little over an hour is doable, the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade is a nice spot for pinball too.
posted by banwa at 12:12 PM on May 12, 2015

Best answer: Others with later experience than mine (~1978) will have opinions, but if I could go to one dive it would be the Satire Lounge on E Colfax.
posted by LonnieK at 12:16 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Casa Bonita is an oddity museum disguised as a Mexican restaurant. Also, check out Pinball Jones in Ft. Collins if you can get up that way.
posted by sleevener at 12:20 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Denver has not one, but two (at least?) metal themed breweries: TRVE and Black Sky. I haven't been to either of them because metal makes me want to curl up in a corner and/or punch things, but I hear the beer is quite good at TRVE, and going to a taproom is definitely a Denver experience.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:25 PM on May 12, 2015

Best answer: Trve is a great brewery, metal or not. Avoid Black Sky. Atmosphere is worse, and the beer is waaaay worse.

Westword is the go-to source for concert listings. Plug in your dates and see what might strike your fancy. Most venues are pretty accessible from downtown, and they all have their own atmosphere.

The Columbine Lounge is my favorite hole in the wall cheap steakhouse restaurant. Both the lounge and grill sides are great. This is the dive on Federal, not the place in Littleton.

The Tattered Cover isn't off the beaten path, but it's a world-class bookstore. Mutiny is a pretty good anarchist bookstore on S. Broadway. Swing by The Historian, and maybe Buffalo Exchange while you're in the neighborhood (it's also my neighborhood).

If the weather is nice, pick up some amazing meat and cheese from Tony's or Marczyk's and some great beer or cider from Argonaut and go to Cheeseman, Wash, or City Park, or maybe the Botanical Gardens for a great afternoon.

We also have tons of microbrewiers scattered all over the place. Some of my favorites are Gravity (up in Louisville), Spangalang, Epic, Beryl, Trve (mentioned above), Great Divide, Lost Highway, Grandma's House, Strange, Crooked Stave (if you like sours). Freshcraft is my favorite beer nerd beer bar, though Falling Rock is better-known. Stem is also a great cidery.

There is an art district along Santa Fe that is worth checking out, though you'll miss the First Friday art walk.

Tuesdays and Thursdays you can find a huge food truck gathering in Civic Center Park over the lunch hour. Otherwise they tend to be scattered around, though they often setup shop outside of breweries for dinner.

If you're still wondering about other food and drink options, here are my opinions on many things.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh hey, craven_morhead is in my hood. If you're going to go down South Broadway to check out the beer scene, I like grabbing empanadas at Maria Empanada and then taking them two doors down to Former Future, where you can enjoy their lineup of 6 or so beers-that-aren't-IPAs and eat your food at a bar constructed from the wings of a Cesna pulled out of a scrapyard.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:57 PM on May 12, 2015

I see this is marked as answered, but I'd like to chime in- hope you don't mind.
Recommended is, in no particular order:
Larimer Lounge- fairly grubby dive but populated largely by college students- a wonderful venue for the up-close band experience, and the bartenders have always been really nice to me, despite my unhipness
The Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys - I have never been, because I forget. Please go for me
The indie-ish movie theaters often feature good stuff- although I'm partial to The Alamo Drafthouse, which has shown me many delights
and Sweet Action Ice Cream, uniquey
2nd-ing Columbine Steakhouse
Have fun!
posted by JulesER at 6:14 PM on May 12, 2015

every time i return home for a visit i MUST have a burrito from Illegal Pete's. my friends that still live there are eager to join in as it's incredibly delicious.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 6:38 PM on May 12, 2015

Visit Santiago's for breakfast burritos and Kilgore for books and comics.

Some other things you might like:
* Great Divide brewery tour
* Falling Rock Tap House
* Stranahan's distillery tour
* Black & Read for used books (located in Arvada)
* Dry Dock tasting room (located in Aurora)
posted by neushoorn at 10:30 PM on May 12, 2015

Response by poster: These are all wonderful! I perhaps was a bit impetuous with marking best answers. Please continue to post recommendations!
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2015

I don't think anyone has mentioned my favorite little bookstore, Kilgore Books. They have a nicely curated selection of comics.

And my favorite bar, (and best website) My Brother's Bar.
posted by subtlemel at 7:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I'll give you my standard warning about Denver breweries, especially Great Divide, try to avoid going there on evenings and weekends because they get overrun.

For beer (and I'm not sure you specifically mentioned beer, but everyone seems to be giving suggestions anyhow) I like to go to The Cheeky Monk, it's more low-key than the downtown tap houses and has an INSANE selection of mostly Belgian beers.
posted by subtlemel at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2015

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