SubscribeAvailable Now
40 West Arts District. Photo courtesy of Dave Rein/40 West Arts District (“Aligning Energies” by Steven Teller)

Top of the Town 2019: Culture & Nightlife

The kids are at Grandma’s, your best friend flew in for the weekend, or you just need to shake up your social life. Whatever the occasion, your perfect night out starts here.

|

New Brewery

Editors’ Choice
Cervecería Colorado
Mexican-style lager is trendy these days—but when Denver Beer Co. opened an offshoot brewery next to its LoHi taproom in May 2018, it sought to honor our southern neighbors by using traditional ingredients like cinnamon, nopal, agave, and lime in Cervecería Colorado’s brews. (The Poblano Pils is made with smoked poblano chiles.) Moreover, Cervecería Colorado collaborates with eight Mexico-based breweries—including Cervecería de Colima, on its Cocolimón Sour—ensuring its drafts are true reflections of a vibrant culture. 1635 Platte St., 720-279-8248

Readers’ Choice
Station 26 Brewing Co.
7045 E. 38th Ave., 303-333-1825

Advertisement

Band

Wildermiss. Photo courtesy of Jeff Davenport

Editors’ Choice
Wildermiss
This Denver quartet’s self-described brand of “shimmering indie anthemic rock ‘n’ roll” has been earning fans from the Centennial State—and beyond—since 2016. But 2019 is looking like a breakout year for (pictured, from left) guitarists Joshua Hester and Seth Beamer, frontwoman Emma Cole, and drummer Caleb Thoemke. January began with back-to-back sold-out New Year’s shows at the Larimer Lounge, followed by the release of the group’s newest single, “Fallin’, ” on February 1 and then two national tours in the spring. If that weren’t enough, the band hopes to release new music this fall. Denverites who haven’t heard Cole’s effortless and approachably pop-y voice can remedy that this month at the Underground Music Showcase (July 26 to 28), the Mile High City’s largest music festival. “We’re working on some fun things for UMS,” Cole says. “We can’t give anything away yet, but 2019 is going to be the festival’s best year yet.” We’re pretty sure the same can be said for Wildermiss.

Readers’ Choice
Shelvis and the Roustabouts

New Bar

Editors’ Choice
Brass Tacks
The proprietors of LoDo’s Brass Tacks swear there are no ghosts (“There’s no ghost” is actually painted in gold on an emerald wall). Whether or not an ill-fated saloon girl roams the basement as legend contends, there’s no doubt the team behind this five-month-old bar has given new life to the historic Blake Street Vault building. From the creators of Denver Central Market’s Curio and Green Seed Market, Brass Tacks—like any good specter—is whatever you want it to be. We’ve celebrated a friend’s birthday over draft cocktails (try the perfectly balanced Paloma). We’ve chased nachos with cans of Montucky on opening day. We’ve sipped IPAs and sours with co-workers over a brainstorming session. Somehow, the casually elegant decor and informed but laid-back counter service (from bartenders who look, well, casually elegant in gray aprons adorned with fun pins) feels right every time. 1526 Blake St.

Readers’ Choice
Wild Corgi Pub
1223 E. 13th Ave., 303-832-7636

Festival

Editors’ Choice
The Denver International Festival
When entrepreneur and event producer Yoseph Assefa immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia as a teenager, he found the best way to get to know people was sharing cuisine, music, and art from his home country. That idea inspired this free four-year-old festival, which features food trucks such as Mile High Thai, performances by the likes of Mexican flamenco guitarist El Javi, and art representing more than 15 countries. At the 2019 iteration on August 3, the 15,000-plus expected attendees will be treated to the Kids Village—full of DIY lava lamps and slime, face painting, bouncy castles, bilingual story time, and a giant Jenga tower—as well as an expanded wine and beer tasting tent where $20 gets you unlimited samples from the dozen-plus international selections for two hours. Civic Center Park, 101 W. 14th Ave., 720-319-8441

Advertisement

Readers’ Choice
Denver Greek Festival
4610 E. Alameda Ave., 303-388-9314

Theater Company

Editors’ Choice
Local Theater Company
Attending a performance by this Boulder ensemble is the stage equivalent of farm-to-table dining: The eight-year-old company produces only new American plays, often born at its March festival, Local Lab. Without any freeze-dried Shakespeare on the menu, the performances feel contemporary and often very much of the Centennial State, like this past June’s Discount Ghost Stories, an immersive musical that spun Rocky Mountain lore into a kind of folk-rock concert held on the back patio at Trident Booksellers & Cafe. All of this innovation earned the tiny troupe a National Theatre Company Grant for emerging theater in the fall of 2018; it was one of only 10 companies in the country to receive one. Founding artistic director Pesha Rudnick says the money will go toward operational costs so Local Theater can continue to “invest in living writers.” See those sentient scribes’ work for yourself this fall with Rodney Hicks’ Flame Broiled. or the ugly play, which runs from October 27 to November 17 at the Carsen Theater in Boulder’s Dairy Arts Center.

Readers’ Choice
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
1101 13th St., 303-893-4100

Place to See Art

40 West Arts District. Photo courtesy of Dave Rein/40 West Arts District (“Aligning Energies” by Steven Teller)

Editors’ Choice
40 West ArtLine
This new, roughly four-mile art trek combines our loves of hitting the trail—in this case, a green painted line that winds past 70-plus pieces of public art in Lakewood’s 40 West Arts District—and gallery shopping. Short on time? Start near Casa Bonita and tackle the two-mile western portion of the loop. There, the trail passes by an interactive exhibit from Timothy Flood titled “Affirmation Station,” a transportation-themed sidewalk mural by Yulia Avgustinovich, and “Unearthed Plates,” which looks like the spine of a stegosaurus protruding from Aviation Park. The path then leads to a smattering of galleries, including Pirate: Contemporary Art, which came to Lakewood in 2017 from Highland, where the pioneering co-op helped anchor the Navajo Street Art District for more than 35 years.

Readers’ Choice
Denver Graffiti Tour
719-491-4949

Advertisement

Happy Hour

Editors’ Choice
Narrative
It’s difficult to describe the taste of happiness—that is, unless one has experienced the happy hour menu at Narrative, the 10-month-old New American restaurant inside Cherry Creek’s tony Jacquard Hotel & Rooftop. Laced with big flavors—Sriracha-lime popcorn, citrus-marinated beets—and audaciously low prices for both food (from $5) and drinks (drafts are $4 and glasses of wine are 50 percent off), the well-curated bill of fare has been drawing bargain-seeking sophisticates since it opened. Narrative tends to get busy during happy hour, and your best shot at snagging one of the 20 tan leather bar chairs is to go on Sunday. Fortunately, happy hour begins at 2 p.m. daily, giving you four hours to revel in all the sweet-salty-spicy-tangy-umami bliss you can stomach. 222 Milwaukee St., 720-571-8080

Readers’ Choice
Bar AC
AC Hotel Denver Downtown, 750 15th St., 303-825-2888

Place to Watch the Game

Editors’ Choice
The Rooftop At Coors Field
The Rooftop is marking its fifth birthday this season, and we’ll be there again and again this summer to celebrate. Yes, you have to stand the entire nine innings if you don’t have a perch in the stands (any ticket grants you entrée to the 46,000-square-foot space). But the deck’s panoramic views of the Rockies—both the sluggers and the mountains—are well worth the sore feet and $16 admission, which includes a $6 credit for merch, food, or drinks. For the best views, stake out a spot near the front of sections L307 or L308. If you need nourishment from the Rooftop’s Smashburger or Jack Daniel’s Terrace, send an emissary. Do not—we repeat, do not!—abandon this real estate. It will immediately be overtaken by your rowdy fellow Rooftoppers. 2001 Blake St., 303-762-5437

Readers’ Choice
Twin Peaks
Multiple locations

Artist

Editors’ Choice
Thomas “Detour” Evans
This creator of abstract pop art is known for his colorful depictions of community members and celebrities, such as the mural of a scowling Maxine Waters (a U.S. representative from California) he did as part of RiNo’s 2017 CRUSH Walls urban art festival. He was also tapped to create likenesses of Jay-Z and David Letterman for the latter’s 2018 Netflix series. Don’t dismiss Evans as a paint-based paparazzi, though. He’s quickly gaining a reputation for creating textured, multilayered work—especially with music. Last year, his untitled mural at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ In Sight On Site show, for example, displayed sharp, bright streaks of color that featured, upon closer inspection, chords that ran the length of the work. Patrons were encouraged to approach it and press those strings to create their own songs. His ability to give viewers these sorts of personal, singular experiences makes Evans, in our view at least, a star in his own right.

Advertisement

Readers’ Choice
Edgar L. Page

Author

Editors’ Choice
Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Fajardo-Anstine’s Sabrina & Corina didn’t arrive quietly on bookshelves this past April, instead announcing itself with stellar reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and the New York Times. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering her background: The 32-year-old Colorado native is influenced by an extended family of strong, creative indigenous and Chicana women. Her debut collection of short stories is a beautiful testament to them as well as other marginalized people. Sabrina & Corina’s tales trace the lives of women struggling with family and strangers who have been forgotten by the state. Its bright, often melodic prose is punctuated by haunting scenes, creating a textured, tenderly drawn portrait of Colorado and its citizens, particularly those who too often have been quietly blurred into the background. We can’t wait to see where Fajardo-Anstine shines her poignant spotlight next. (Spoiler alert: Her first novel, which doesn’t have an official release date yet, draws upon the history of the Ku Klux Klan in Denver.)

Readers’ Choice
Erik Palmer

Bartender

Alex Jump. Photo courtesy of Elliott Clark for Death & Co.

Editors’ Choice
Alex Jump
It takes a special kind of passion to move across the country for a job—especially one that doesn’t exist yet. But two years ago, Alex Jump relocated to Denver from her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, because she heard the famed New York City cocktail bar Death & Co planned to put an outpost in the Mile High City. Upon her arrival, she crafted drinks for RiNo Yacht Club (now shuttered) and Mercantile Dining & Provision, making a name for herself with her creative, playful tipples and winning both regional and national bartending competitions. Those successes helped her land her dream job as Death & Co’s head bartender when it opened in the Ramble Hotel in RiNo in May 2018. Since then, Jump and her team have been dreaming up the swanky locale’s seasonally rotating list of 30 original cocktails. One of our favorites? The Bounce House, comprised of vodka, fino sherry, strawberry, aloe, and lemon. 1280 25th St., 720-330-2660

Readers’ Choice
Brendan Weir
Que Bueno Suerte, 1518 S. Pearl St., 720-642-7322

Advertisement

Cocktail Menu

Editors’ Choice
Lady Jane
Some might call the offerings at this 10-month-old Highland lounge “simple.” Owner Jake Soffes would quibble with that word, preferring “approachable.” The fact that the house cocktails feature few ingredients was the result of a deliberate choice general manager A. Minetta Gould (formerly of Ste. Ellie) made with Soffes (also the proprietor of Hudson Hill) when designing the menu, so that customers would be familiar with and understand their orders. For instance, when we were there, the Haunted By Waters paired lime and cinnamon with Pueblo Viejo tequila, and it tasted just the way you’d expect: fresh and summery. Gould and Soffes also make sure their drinks don’t suffer from poor execution: Every employee undergoes rigorous training to ensure that each cocktail contains the same amount of ice or is stirred for the same length of time. It’s that sort of precision that has us approaching this bar again and again. 2021 W. 32nd Ave., 720-328-9288

Readers’ Choice
Mythology Distillery
3622 Tejon St., 720-458-0501

Patio

Editors’ Choice
Joyride Brewing Company
On the Front Range, stunning views are as common as sunshine. But waterfront vistas are scarcer, which makes the March opening of Joyride’s rooftop patio a welcome summer development. The space is ideally positioned to provide a clear panorama of Sloan’s Lake and downtown. If you’re in the mood for mountains, on clear days patrons can catch a distant glimpse of Pikes Peak. The only downside about such remarkable outlooks is they attract a crowd. Luckily, Joyride designed the space not only to be vast, at just over 2,300 square feet, but also to be efficient: If the seats at the railing are all taken, there’s likely room to rest your Ice Cutter KÖlsch on one of the five patio-length tables. 2501 Sheridan Blvd., Edgewater, 720-432-7560

Readers’ Choice
54thirty
1475 California St., 303-893-1888

Music Venue That’s Not Red Rocks

The Fillmore Auditorium. Courtesy of Alive Coverage

Editors’ Choice
The Fillmore Auditorium
We get it: There’s no comparison for a natural amphitheater with expansive views and room for about 10,000 music lovers. But if you’re looking for something a little cozier (and without the headache-inducing post-concert exodus), consider another—newly spiffed up—iconic Denver music venue: the Fillmore. This legendary Capitol Hill concert space invested millions in a face-lift between 2017 and 2018. Celebrating its 20th year, the 3,900-capacity music house now sports risers in the rear to improve sightlines, a state-of-the-art sound system, and new bathrooms. The improvements ensure the Fillmore will remain a top venue to see the nostalgic bands of your youth (Live and Bush on August 3) as well as smaller acts (Jon Bellion on July 21) that sound even richer in such an intimate space. 1510 Clarkson St.

Advertisement

Readers’ Choice
Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club
1330 27th St., 303-295-3333

Person of Note: Florence Müller

Florence Müller. Photo by Morgan Rachel Levy

The Denver Art Museum’s curator of textile art and fashion helped the Mile High City land the first showing of Dior: From Paris to the World, a retrospective of the iconic French fashion house that ran from November 2018 to March 2019. Müller organized more than 200 couture dresses into an experience that flowed powerfully through the brand’s seven decades and attracted so many fans, the museum extended its run by two weeks.

Winter in Colorado

Newsletters

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

Sign Up