Secrets of the Suburbs

From gourmet pizzerias and beer gardens to eclectic boutiques and Asian markets, our Mile High suburbs are overflowing with places worth discovering. We’ve pulled together an assortment of spots that embody the vibrant, appealingly quirky spirit of our city’s outlying areas. 

April 2011

Day Trippin’

If you’re heading south to Castle Rock, get your gas money’s worth and spend the day: Start with a trip to The Barn (www.thebarncastlerock.com), a building more than 100 years old that houses a slew of antique, specialty, and home decor shops that could occupy you for hours. Next, take your retail-weary bones around the corner to the tranquil Copperfalls Aveda Spa & Salon (www.copperfalls.com) for a rejuvenating Caribbean Mud Therapy Treatment. Once your mind and muscles are sufficiently sated, time to work on the appetite: Amble another couple of blocks to the Old Stone Church Restaurant (www.oscrestaurant.com) for a leisurely meal in what was once Castle Rock’s first church building, constructed in 1888. Don’t miss happy hour at the attached Chaplain’s Bar for $5 apps and drink specials.


Rockin’ The Suburbs

Beyond denver’s lighted stage. By Brian Roundtree

As a suburban father—of six, mind you—with a demanding city job and a lengthy commute from Highlands Ranch, I’m rarely able to leave my cookie-cutter home to sample the nightlife and hang with friends. However, I do happen to front a basements-only (so far) rock band in my sporadic free time, so I jumped at the chance to investigate the live music scene in the suburbs—which, of course, required that my incredibly patient wife handle the children for a week’s worth of post-work outings. I’m not above a little healthy bribery, so one new set of long-coveted silk sheets later, I had her blessing to rock.

My tour kicked off on a Wednesday night. I jumped in my white Dodge Grand Caravan, popped in my new CD, Blah Blah Blah Plus Tax (recorded by fellow “ ’burb bro”—yeah, you heard it here first—Bill Leirer with his band, Sloan Valve), and headed north on I-25 to catch the dueling pianos of Landmark’s Chez Cirque. Over the next few days, I zigzagged from Greenwood Village to Lakewood to Parker to Centennial, with various ’burb bros riding shotgun on my quest to find the musical underbelly of suburbia (see “Follow the Beat” below).

By the time Sunday hit, I was blissfully exhausted (and inspired) from venue-hopping, so I got my fix at home with my own band’s rehearsal. Our group is comprised of six cats with a passion for playing classic rock and blues, and writing original tunes. All of us have played in cul-de-sacs and garages, and almost everyone balances busy careers with carpools to dance recitals and baseball practices by day, while churning out lingering 12-bar blues chord progressions and smashing cymbals at night.

Music, for me and for basement rockers all over, was born in suburbia. We play because we’re inspired; because we have the space; because we love it. I’ve always imagined the day when our band steps out of the basement and onto the stage. But as we ramped up for our newest set, I thought about the musicians I’d heard all week, playing the unpretentious taverns of suburbia, because they were inspired. It wasn’t about the size of the stage or the cost of the cover. Under those lights, their music was the only thing that mattered.

My tour ended with a trip to Greenwood Village’s Slam Bar on Tuesday night to hear the acoustic samplings of songwriter Craig Haller, who provided a Shawn Mullins–esque soundtrack to the subdued early-week atmosphere. At the end of the night, I parked the minivan in our driveway and let the last notes of Sloan Valve’s chugging rock anthem “Local Motive” trail off before killing the engine. I quietly slipped into the house to keep from waking the kids and cuddled up with my sleeping beauty of a wife, noticing she’d made the bed with the shiny silk sheets. I spied the receipt on the nightstand with a note scribbled on it: Thanks for the new sheets, rock star—don’t forget to let the dog out.

{Editor's Note: Brian Roundtree's band got out of the basement and is now playing gigs in Denver. Visit facebook.com/FujitaScale to learn more.}

Follow The Beat

Think the city is the best place to catch live music? Think again. Here, what my journey through suburbia uncovered. —BR

  • Night one: Greenwood Village
    >Chez Cirque
    Lead piano player (and owner) Jimmy C. and “Naked Pete” tickled the ivories with drummer in tow.

    Baker Street Pub & Grill
    Two blocks from Chez Cirque, the address is technically Denver—but the duo-acoustic gig by Jason Vigil and Stu Miller was too captivating to omit.

  • Night two: Lakewood
    >Eck’s Saloon
    Denver’s heavy-metal heroes, Five13, prompted a night of healthy head-banging.

  • Night three: Parker, Lone Tree
    >Tailgate Tavern
    The fun-loving Tripping Griswolds jammed tirelessly at this humble pub in Parker.

    Lone Tree’s swanky sports bar hosted the Bill McKay Band’s deep, Delta-infused blues.

  • Night four: Centennial
    >Rhythms Sports Bar & Grill www.rhythmsbarandgrill.com
    Jungle-boogie time with the Nacho Men’s ’70s disco tribute.

  • Night five: Greenwood Village
    >Slam Bar
    Singer-songwriter Craig Haller brought my tour to a close.