In recent years, Boulder has become popular for much more than its college town presence and proximity to ski areas in the Rocky Mountains. Littered with cyclists, hikers, and boaters of all kinds, Boulder defines itself as an active, green city. From Downtown to Pearl Street, the city is booming with shops, restaurants, live music, and much more. The bar scene reflects the city’s diversity and local flavor, with everything from craft breweries to speakeasies, so hop on your bike and check out the best bars in Boulder.
The Avery Brewing Company in North Boulder offers a rotating list of seasonals, stouts, imports, and local craft beers. From the outside, the state-of-the-art facility looks more like a science laboratory than a brewery, but the Tap Room soon dismisses this notion with a casual atmosphere and welcoming staff. The Avery offers upscale pub fare, guided brewery tours, an outdoor patio, and cleverly themed take-away beer packages. Hopheads shouldn’t miss the Maharaja IPA from the ‘Dictator’ package!
The Dark Horse is not your usual dive bar. The decor alone is unusual, the ceilings are cluttered with bicycle wheels, sleds, gears and other odd trinkets, the walls are covered in caricature murals, and the bathrooms are even a bit strange, suffice it to say it’s likely you’ll walk into the wrong one! A full bar with rotating beer, wine, and cocktails is available and bar games from pool to air hockey are in the back. The menu is traditional American fare with some unusual twists, like the ‘Jiffy Burger’ with melted cheese, peanut butter, and bacon. The Dark Horse is a delightfully bizarre experience not to be missed in Boulder.
In the middle of University Hill behind an unmarked wooden door is one of Boulder‘s best kept secrets. It has no name at all, though locals generally call it the ‘No Name Bar,’ and the mysterious tone carries on inside this quasi-speakeasy. A low-lit oak wood bar is surrounded by rich mahogany paneling, a towering wine rack, and a live music stage. The No Name is a breath of fresh air amidst college bars with cheap tap drinks, serving craft beer and old-fashioned tequila cocktails. This spot has no telephone number, so drop in to learn more about the bar. Address & Phone Number: 1325 Broadway Ave, Boulder, CO, N/A
Surrounded by boutique shopping, microbreweries and live music bands is the Pearl Street Pub and Cellar. This is a delightful dive and an oasis of local company and affordable drinks. The interior is exposed brick decorated with campy Western paraphernalia that can only be associated with classic Colorado watering holes, and the upstairs has a full bar with a considerable collection of craft beers, spirits, and cocktails as well as a live music stage. The cellar is a game room complete with foosball, pool tables, pinball, and darts. Happy hour is on all week with great offers.
The Bohemian Biergarten is a locals’ favorite that brings a slice of Germany to Boulder. An airy interior with exposed brick and high-beamed ceilings opens up to an outdoor patio with picnic table seating, and bar-goers can enjoy family-style German comfort food from salted pretzels to potato pancakes in this quotidian bierhaus. Happy hour is one of the best deals in town, with $10.00 half litre imported beer and sausage combos and much more.
In the heart of Downtown Boulder is Attic, a catch-all spot for phenomenal food, drinks, and entertainment. This is a cozy hangout with gigantic flatscreens, pool tables, and foosball, as well as a live music stage. Craft beer and unique cocktails are available, including the famous ‘Fat Albert’ made with vodka and Kool Aid (yes, Kool Aid). Attic also has excellent happy hour deals from Monday to Saturday, 3:00PM to 6:00 PM, which include $3.00 well drinks and drafts. Swing by Attic any night of the week for stellar food and drinks at bargain prices.
The Bitter Bar serves cocktails done the old-fashioned way, with fresh ingredients and simple, clean flavors. The bar stocks wine, spirits, craft beer, and of course, signature cocktails. The menu offers seasonal light bites such as charcuterie and marinated olives, and the outdoor patio has a staggering view of the mountains. Happy hour includes $5.00 house wine and cocktails, from a simple Negroni to the Bitter Bar’s trademark ‘Blue Velvet’, made with vodka, creme de violette, lemon, and orgeat, served on tap.
The Sink is king of University Hill, and is certainly a top contender for one of the best bars in Boulder. This greasy-spoon joint is covered floor-to-ceiling in graffiti and funky art murals, most of which were drawn by students from the nearby CU Boulder. The Sink at almost 100 years old it is simply one of the best dives in the city, bursting with local flair. Famous visitors flock to the Sink to try their famous burgers, pizza, and microbrews, including Anthony Bourdain and even President Obama. This place is a Boulder institution, and a must-see for tourists. Address & Telephone Number: 1165 13th St, Boulder, CO, (303) 444-7465
West End Tavern
Restaurant, American, $$$
With over 25 tap and craft beers and 75 bourbons stocked just in the main bar, the West End Tavern is off to a great start, but this bar goes far beyond booze with delicious American comfort food to enjoy on the rooftop patio overlooking the Flatirons. The patio is open year-round, with heaters buzzing in the winter and a satellite tap room on the first Tuesday of every month, which includes local craft beer tastings. Come down to the West End and take in Boulder’s stunning scenery with a heady brew and great company.
Although the Centro Latin Kitchen is faced with some stiff competition as a Mexican cantina in the West, it certainly holds its own among the heavyweights. This bar is bold in everything it does from drinks to decor, and the flavors of the food and drink are clear and distinct. The food menu is, of course, Latin in theme, with everything from Baja-style tacos to classic pollo asada,and the cocktails are concentrated toward tequila and rum bases. Don’t miss the charming outdoor patio open all year-round.