Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s review series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).
In the late spring of 2021, while Denver was still hesitantly emerging from the early pandemic quiet, a beautiful thing popped up near the corner of East 17th Avenue and North Downing Street. In what used to be the Midwestern-inspired Shanty supper club, three hospitality veterans — Leigh Jones and Margaret Moore, owners of Denver’s beloved Horseshoe Lounge and Embassy Tavern, along with Kiendl Smith — opened Dew Drop Inn, and this corner at the edge of Uptown and City Park West suddenly became a lot livelier.
There’s not really a shortage of places to eat and drink on this stretch of 17th, but there was a shortage of dark, approachable, neighborhood-centric bars focused on surprisingly inexpensive cocktails and gastropub fare that’s way too good for any regular old dive. And that’s what you’ll find at Dew Drop: $9 French 75s, $10 Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, and a dimly lit Midwestern vibe from the stunning 130-year-old back bar salvaged from the previous concept.
Unlike the uber-trendy watering holes in this part of town, Dew Drop Inn — with its overlap among Horseshoe Lounge regulars — is a place to actually meet your neighbors, not just dine surrounded by business bros and out-of-towners. And the biggest draws for these regulars, same as at Horseshoe, are the hospitality and the prices. Dew Drop’s $8 beer-and-shot combo keeps a lot of these locals happily lubricated.
But it’s the surprising food menu that keeps us coming back most often. We expected dive bar snacks and pizza, similar to The ‘Shoe, but instead, you’ll find a thoughtful menu of Parisian-style mussels ($16), impossibly crispy chicken karaage ($18), and a muffaletta you can order New Orleans-style (with spicy olive tapenade) or New York-style (with dressed mixed greens, both $16).
In 2022, Denver bars tend toward the trendy, showy and Instagrammable — with rooftop views, selfie-friendly neon art and over-the-top cocktails — and that’s all well and good until you just want a strong, cheap drink surrounded by friendly neighbors. Dew Drop Inn offers all that and more, and it’s time Denverites beyond Uptown and City Park West are let in on this boozy little secret.
Dew Drop Inn, 1033 E. 17th Ave., 720-612-4160, dewdropinndenver.com. Open 3 p.m.-close daily, happy hour 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close daily.
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