Tulum. Mykonos. Palm Beach. Ibiza. You may never have traveled to any of those sunny spots, but Bar Helix owner Kendra Anderson has and she wants to help you get there—no plane ticket required. To perform this magical feat, she has transformed her sexy Larimer Street cocktail bar into a tropical paradise, known for the entirety of summer 2020 as Cabana X

Beginning on Thursday, June 18, you can reserve your spot in the figurative (and most likely also literal) sun at Cabana X. Anderson, known in the local hospitality industry for throwing glamorous pop-ups, has your getaway all planned out for you. She and her team—including director of hospitality Christine LeMieux and executive chef Samuel Barraza—have moved the party outside, situating Cabana X (for now) outside the main entrance of Bar Helix; once the city approves Anderson’s application, the al fresco dining area will expand and move to the former Chuburger patio space on the north side of Bar Helix. Amid teal and white patio furniture and glittering string lights, Anderson and her team have created three destination-inspired three-course prix-fixe menus ($24 to $42) that reflect the poolside cabana offerings you might find in each tropical locale, with myriad summery cocktails (priced separately) available to pair with your meal. 

Cabana X’s Pink Devil cocktail. Photo by Denise Mickelsen

Say you’re craving the vibe and flavors of Tulum, Mexico: When you make your reservation, you will choose that city as your destination. On the day of, you’ll dine on dishes such as spice-rubbed pork al pastor tacos with Campari-roasted pineapple; chicken tinga tostadas; and butter-poached shrimp cocktail with avocado and a gazpacholike cocktail sauce. To drink? Refreshing sippers like mojitos, margaritas, and rose sangria—or crushable Aperol spritz or watermelon vodka shaved ices—all made with the care and quality Bar Helix is known for. (Yes, you can order à la carte from all three cities, and the entire menu is available for take-out, too.)

Or maybe Palm Beach is more your speed, in which case you’ll tuck into crispy-crunchy-gooey Cuban sandwich made with house-smoked pork, River Bear American Meats ham, swiss and white cheddar, and homemade cucumber pickle; a gussied-up corn dog made with River Bear’s hot links and a Tajin-spiked batter, ready for swiping through a tomatillo crema; or, in a nod to Bar Helix’s obsession with all things luxe, a plate of caviar toast, dressed with lemony crème fraîche, grated hard-boiled egg, and juicy capers. Pro tip: Try the vodka-Aperol-passionfruit Make-Up Sex cocktail, a Cabana X original, with any of the above. 

Anderson felt the need to completely reimagine her bar and restaurant due to the capacity restrictions of the city’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, which made serving guests inside Bar Helix’s narrow main room untenable; she also noticed that people weren’t ordering as many stirred, boozy drinks for takeout as they did when they were able to sit at Bar Helix’s glittering bar. “We decided that we had to make a total change,” Anderson says. “Cabana X is like Bar Helix on vacation in tropical destination cities around the globe. We can’t really get away right now, so we’re bringing the tropics to Denver.” Every month, the three-city theme will change, from the opening lineup of Tulum, Martha’s Vineyard, and Palm Beach to Ipanema, Mykonos, St. Barths, Ibiza, Saint-Tropez, Phuket, and the Hamptons. 

Anderson will save about 20 percent of Cabana X’s tables for walk-ins, but it’s safest to make reservations for your getaway experience, just like you would for an actual vacation. Your party will be able to lounge and nosh and sip for about 90 minutes, so Anderson and her team have enough time to properly clean each table for the next group of travelers. 

Bar Helix owner Kendra Anderson (left) and director of hospitality Christine LeMieux at Cabana X. Photo by Denise Mickelsen

“The only real joy I’ve felt in recent months was when Cabana X started coming together,” Anderson says. Book your tickets to her fabulous summer-long party here. 

Cabana X (at Bar Helix), 3440 Larimer St., 720-449-8587; Wednesday and Thursday, 2 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2 to 11 p.m. By the end of the summer, Cabana X plans to expand into happy hour, lunch service, and weekend brunch.

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.