The largest city in the nation's Rocky Mountain region, Denver has a thriving bar scene, including a number of gay hangouts situated in different neighborhoods all over town, plus several mixed and very friendly lounges, and a terrific dining scene that tends to emphasis casual decor and a laid-back vibe along with well-crafted regional American food and high-quality craft spirits and beers. It's a pretty fun city to fill up your tank, whether with booze or food, and if you're looking to partake of racier endeavors, you can always check out the Denver Gay Bathhouse Guide.
With that in mind, read on below and on the following pages for an alphabetical survey of great, gay-friendly nightclubs, lounges, coffeehouses, restaurants, and other inviting places to hang out in the Mile High City.
01 of 07
A cheerful and attractive neighborhood bar on Denver's east side (just a block off of East Colfax), Aqua Lounge (1417 Krameria St., 720-287-0584) presents live concerts from time to time and hosts a number of other fun events - dart tourneys, Thursday karaoke, go-go dancers on Wednesdays, and video bingo. As is true of plenty of ostensibly gay bars in Denver, Aqua welcomes all types - men and women, gay and straight, and usually a pretty big cross range of ages and styles.
02 of 07
Situated amid Lower Broadway's antique row, this swell-elegant spot is itself an antiques store during the day. In the evening, Crown Social (1446 S. Broadway, 720-577-5827) assumes the role of a quite charming, sumptuously decorated cabaret, with piano, jazz standards, show tunes, and occasional drag and burlesque shows. There's a nice small-plates food menu, too - antipasto, artisanal cheese plates, truffle pate, tiger prawn mirliton with remoulade sauce. Drinks include an extensive selection of wines by the glass, and a fine cocktail list. It's one of the more unusual - and memorable - places in Denver for enjoying live music and conversation, and it draws a wide-ranging crowd (it's a favorite of the gay community, but the crowd is actually pretty mixed).
03 of 07
Strippers, strippers, and more strippers! Boyztown (117 Broadway, 303-722-7373), which has long been an anchor of the boisterous and now quite hip South Broadway (aka Baker) district, proclaims itself as presenting "Denver's Hottest Male Revue," and indeed, they book some pretty hot dancers in this place. The go-go boys twirl and twist around the stripper pole six nights a week (Monday is the lone dancer-less evening), with shows starting at 10 pm. Earlier in the evening, and especially during happy hour, it's just a fun place to drink up and hobnob, perhaps cruise a little. Like a lot of gay strip bars, Boyztown does pull in its share of bachelorette parties, to the dismay of some, and the amusement of others.
04 of 07
Just south of downtown, between the museum district situated around Civic Center Park and the hipster-y South Broadway area, you'll find Broadway's Denver (1027 Broadway, 303-623-0700), an amiable and easy-going gay neighborhood dive bar that's especially fun after work for happy hour. There's dancing on Saturdays (Top 40 tunes, which make it popular with a somewhat more seasoned bunch), and some camp-happy drag shows on Wednesdays. There's also a nice little patio.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
A longtime fixture in what's become a hipster haven of vintage clothiers, quirky bars, nifty design shops, and the like, Compound and Basix (145 Broadway, 303-722-7977) were part of the South Broadway scene before there really was much of a South Broadway scene (these days, the neighborhood is routinely compared to Brooklyn and Portland). In fact, the Compound (aka the 'Pound) is sort of a queer history lesson still standing - back in the '30s, the building was home to the "Gay Inn". The current incarnation of the club dates to 1987, with the Compound a still quite popular bar drawing a mostly but not exclusively male crowd and serving quite potent drinks at reasonable prices. The Basix part of the establishment housing a large dance floor that's gets pretty packed on weekends. There's also a covered patio
06 of 07
Fringing lively Larimer Square, Euclid Hall (1317 14th St., 303-595-4255) is the gastropub wing of exceptional chef Jennifer Jasinski's and restaurateur Beth Gruitch's trio of outstanding eateries (the other two, which are also in Larimer Square, are Bistro Vendome and Rioja). This lively, bi-level restaurant is a great spot for a full meal, or late-night drinking and snacking. The beer list here is what sets Euclid Hall apart from most of the dining and drinking options in town - it's immense and features a rotating tap, a long and interesting list of bottles and cans, and several unusual "beer cocktails," including the Fresh Prince (pear brandy, Mandarin vodka, lemon, and Avery IPA). The crowd is as diverse as the menu, which includes a selection of "hand-cranked" sausages, several over-the-top poutines (try the one with carnitas, tomatillo green chile, cheddar curds and goat cheese, cilantro, and chile-lime fries), dan dan noodles, chicken-and-waffles,... pad Thai pig ears, and plenty of other curious treats.
07 of 07
There are few larger full-time gay nightclubs in the country larger than Tracks (3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326), and few that have been humming happily and steadily for as long as this one has - Tracks opened back in 1980 and used to have sister establishments in DC, NYC, and Tampa. The others have all closed, but this establishment in what had been back in the '80s a somewhat out-of-the-way and desolate industrial district has only thrived. Interestingly, the neighborhood has thrived with it - it's now known as the River North Art District (RiNo), and it's home to a number of cool galleries, loft studios, and several trendy bars and restaurants - there's even another very popular gay bar nearby, the Denver Eagle. If you love to dance, people-watch, and cruise the crowds, Tracks is your best bet in town. The enormous club has a big main dance floor and an additionally huge event space that hosts major parties and various goings-on. Some of the top DJs in the region spin... here, and the various theme parties are lots of fun - these include the city's biggest 18-and-over night on Thursdays, massively attended First Friday women's parties, Second Friday "Haus of Flesh" parties featuring top gay porn stars (and music by top DJs), Last Friday "Drag Nation" parties, and the always pumping and throbbing weekly Elevated Saturday dance parties. The club also draws some major live acts. Given that it's such a great venue for music and dancing, Tracks also pulls in plenty of heteros, especially on Saturday nights, and everybody basically gets along just fine.