If, in all the holiday craziness, you missed the opening of Vesper Lounge , now's the time to check it out. A quick refresher: Vesper used to be Lancer Lounge, the old-school dive bar that was seized for back taxes in October. Frank Bonanno  (who owns Bones  and Mizuna , which bookend the space) took over the lease and, after a serious cleanup and a modest facelift, opened Vesper Lounge on December 7.
Despite outcry that Bonanno might just ruin this local watering hole, Vesper retains the low-key, casual vibe that the Lancer carried forth for more than 45 years. Bonanno is emphatic that Vesper isn't a restaurant: it's a bar, but that doesn't mean there isn't a small menu. Look for snacks (dips such as hummus and a bang-up artichoke-chickpea spread), sandwiches (like gyros and cheeseburgers), and kabobs that come with couscous and tzatziki. The food is very good (if expensive) and the excellent cocktails—especially those on tap—are suitably potent.
Don't Miss: The crispy fries, seasoned with a "house spice blend" (which tastes like garam masala to me), could easily be the city's best.
233 E. Seventh Ave., 720-328-0314
—Photo courtesy of Scottie Davison