Favorite

Bar Hopper 

click to enlarge BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott

Check it out: We've done the homework and put a handful of establishments into categories that really matter. C'mon get happy covers happy hours and even happier people. Local pride is all about the great neighborhood bars in town. Penny pinchers is for those who have to save up to do laundry. Soldier joy shows where local military folk would be, if they weren't all shipped out overseas. And finally, Sports nut is just that places where those who don't play professional sports can scream instructions at an oversized TV. Enjoy!

PENNY PINCHERS

Bijou Bar & Grill 2510 E. Bijou, 473-5718

Hugs and laughter make a happy hour -- cheap drinks, friendly staff, and kickin' pool tables are just icing on the cake. The Bijou Bar and Grille is home to women hugging women, men hugging men, and lots and lots of laughter. This queer-friendly joint is devoid of pretension, and that's worth being happy about.

Walkabout Pub & Grill 1919 E. Boulder St., 471-1188

click to enlarge CHRISTIAN A. MANZO
  • Christian A. Manzo

Walkabout is not for the faint of heart, but who cares about the faint of heart? The parking lot is full of motorcycles, and the bar is hopping by 6 p.m. It's not unusual to see a couple slow-dancing to the jukeboxes at this time of night. $1 fried treats and two-for-one drinks make this a popular hangout for bikers and neighborhood folks.

This Is It Lounge 1367 N. Academy Blvd., 597-9969

With a multitude of Chinese takeout places and a laundromat nearby, this is a perfect place to stop in and enjoy a $1.50 Coors Light. The bartender could be described as grizzled, but that doesn't make him unfriendly. It isn't glamorous but as far as strip mall bars go, it's it.

MacKenzie's Chop House 128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536

click to enlarge SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton

The classic smell of olives, gin, cigars and meat hearkens back to simpler times when a martini at the end of the day was the perfect elixir. It still is, of course, but MacKenzie's is politically incorrect enough to still defend that position, and their expert mixologists are soldiers in the cause who make happy drinkers feel sophisticated and indulgent all at once.

Duffy's Tavern 4861 N. Academy, 599-7739

Formal happy hour is from 4 to 7 Monday through Friday, but for those working in the restaurant biz, it's half off all the time. Darts, pool, poker, big-screen TVs, a smokin' hot bartender -- no wonder the place has a lot of male regulars. It's tucked away, like its sister bar, The Place in Back, and just as worth a visit.

-- Bettina Swigger

click to enlarge CHRISTIAN A. MANZO
  • Christian A. Manzo

LOCAL PRIDE

The Ancient Mariner 962 Manitou Ave., 685-5503

Manitou's Ancient Mariner features live music, mellow bartenders and a good jukebox. Local and visiting patrons play pool, pick each other up, or snuggle with their honeys on the wooden dance floor. Stand Up or Shut Up open-mic nights are popular for erstwhile comedians, and the coolly delicious fresh fruit daiquiris are the pride of Manitou. --JNN

Cleats Sports Bar and Grill 6624 Delmonico Drive (where Woodmen turns into Rockrimmon), 548-8267

There's always something going on at Cleats: 50-cent pool on five tables (leagues and tournaments), darts, cribbage, poker, all-you-can-eat Friday nights, a taco bar on Mondays. Cleats has a homemade food menu, shows college games all the time on DirectTV, and calls itself "The Friendliest Neighborhood Bar In Town." --JNN

The Ritz Grill 15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484

click to enlarge SUNNIE SACKS

If downtown has a neighborhood bar, it's the Ritz. You'll see the same folks at the same stools on the same night, week in and week out -- it's a place where everybody truly does know your name. One patron even has a personalized brass plaque mounted on the booth where he has dinner several nights a week. Characterized by excellent service, the Ritz sets the standard for quality food and drinks and a friendly night out. --KCE

Mill Hill Saloon 1668 S. 21st St., 632-6932

Don't rock the jukebox ... I wanna hear some Jones. Then get down to the Mill Hill Saloon, a classic honkytonk perched high on the crest of a hill on 21st Street on the Westside, impossible to miss -- just look for the lifesize bucking bronco perched on the roof. This is a knock-back-a-few-after-work kind of bar, friendly and loaded with regulars. The live music leans toward Nashville and Austin. --KCE

Bon Ton's Cafe 2601 W. Colorado Ave., 634-1007

click to enlarge Head up to Woodland Park and check out the relaxing - atmosphere at the Martini Hut. - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Head up to Woodland Park and check out the relaxing atmosphere at the Martini Hut.

More about the food than the drink, Bon Ton's is nevertheless a perfect hangover stop, with full bar service first thing in the morning. Belly-easy Bloody Marys and fresh juice screwdrivers are soothing when drunk on the (heated) patio, under umbrellas, in the heart of Old Colorado City. --JNN

PENNY PINCHERS

Suffern' Bastards 632 Peterson Road, 596-6326

Within sight of Peterson AFB's main gates, Sufferin' B's is a smoky little hole in the best sense of the phrase. With a slew of weekly specials, including $1 schnapps, $5 pitchers and big ol' 32-ounce drafts for $4, the place caters to military clientele as well as a healthy blend of bikers and neighborhood regulars. "The best part," a former regular wrote me, "is that you'll never, ever get fucked with." Thanks for that, B's.

click to enlarge Jack Quinns shrine to Guinness. - CHRISTIAN A. MANZO
  • Christian A. Manzo
  • Jack Quinns shrine to Guinness.

The Place in the Back 2370 Academy Place, 573-0672

Gotta love a place where you get in and out for $3. Inside a North Academy strip mall and done up in corrugated steel that makes an Indy staffer feel right at home, the Place is clearly a regulars' joint. An adorable bar staff doles out super-cheap drafts along with microbrews and top-shelf bevvies.

Bristol Brewing 1647 S. Tejon St., 633-2555

Colorado Springs' own local microbrew juggernaut, Bristol produces some of the greatest beers in the state. Serious drinkers and aficionados belly up to the bar on Mondays, when all beers are $2, and Tuesdays, when their Edge City beers are $2 as well. These micros are macro, bro.

click to enlarge The Blue Star is a perfect mix of fine dining and even - better drinking. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • The Blue Star is a perfect mix of fine dining and even better drinking.

Royal Tavern 924 Manitou Ave., 685-9916

The Royal Tavern is a bar for those who've got serious drinking to do. Just outside the penny arcade in Manitou, the Royal's got a clientele of mostly bikers and construction workers. Sometimes $1.50 drafts are worth a bit of a duffing up. Your call.

Red River Saloon 32 S. Tejon St., 955-5664

Upstairs at Red River is a chalkboard on which is written, in two dauntingly long columns, their shot prices. Those shot prices are dangerous. Add to that the 10 to 11 p.m. 75 cent Coors specials, and you might end up thinking you're from Texas. Or just sounding like it.

click to enlarge Bill Davis (left) and Tom Greco enjoy cowboy eats at - the - Red River Saloon. - CHRISTIAN A. MANZO
  • Christian A. Manzo
  • Bill Davis (left) and Tom Greco enjoy cowboy eats at the Red River Saloon.

-- Aaron Retka

Soldier Joy

Rascals 1785 B St., 576-2238

The place just screams "hole in the wall." Rascals (by Fort Carson) is situated in between liquor stores and oriental massage parlors, but is a treasure trove of pool tables, Sunday afternoon football potluck, and a well-stocked jukebox that would never get old. Live music is often featured, and jumping Jehoshaphat free foosball!

click to enlarge Swing into the Yukon  a bar celebrating 28 years. - Just - leave your axe at home. - CREIGHTON SMITH
  • Creighton Smith
  • Swing into the Yukon a bar celebrating 28 years. Just leave your axe at home.

Paul's 310 S. 8th St., 520-9737

Paul's is a good place that doesn't deserve to be in a strip mall. On a weekend night, the place gets sorta nutty, but on weekdays, it's rather relaxing. The usual pool and darts are available, TVs abound, but it's the great seating and cheap drinks that draw regulars.

Rum Bay 20 N. Tejon, 634-3522

It's five bars in one massive sensory overload, but since it's packed every weekend, they must be doing something right. Have a grand ol' time Hunter S. Thompson-style, as the different music competes for brain space and the drinks are crazy expensive. Head for the karaoke bar for a palate (and soul) cleanser.

click to enlarge Cassandra Elliott practices her pool-shark skills at the - Prime Time Tavern. - CHRISTIAN A. MANZO
  • Christian A. Manzo
  • Cassandra Elliott practices her pool-shark skills at the Prime Time Tavern.

Cowboy's Country & Western 3910 Palmer Park Blvd., 596-1212

Get'cher Wranglers on -- it's time to boot-scoot boogie at Cowboy's. A huge bar that has pool tables galore and an impressive two-tier dance floor, the only thing better than watching the mesmerizing line dancing is the friendliness of the patrons. Oh, and the beer's pretty cheap, too.

Penalty Box Lounge 3045 Jet Wing Drive, 391-9906

The Penalty Box, located just off of south Academy and across the street from a huge neon "JESUS" sign, is a classic strip mall bar. The atmosphere and dcor is reminiscent of the rec room that your Dad never got around to finishing, but lawdy, they have tons of drink specials.

click to enlarge The folks at Bennigans are flair-free and happy to - serve. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • The folks at Bennigans are flair-free and happy to serve.

-- Kara Luger

SPORTS NUT

Fanz Sports Grill 817 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1226

Former Peppertree chefs make this year-old baby your gourmet sports option. Aside from cheap pints and pitchers, pick your own New York strip or try calamari, seared ahi or crab-stuffed mushroom appetizers -- all reasonable priced. Fanz gets the job done with a cozy bar, eight televisions, and the seasonal football package. Don't just drink -- eat.

Sports Page 965 Summer Games Drive, 444-8500

click to enlarge Try Irie Rastas good and wicked rum punch. - SUNNIE SACKS

For the aesthetic sports nut, Sports Page offers coverage with a beautiful view of the city and the family-friendly option of a smoking or non-smoking room. Enjoy a huge bar with TVs galore and admirable eats as well as outdoor volleyball courts. This is a get-what-you-pay-for establishment; if you dig comfy sports viewing, make this your nest.

Frankie's Bar & Grill 945 N. Powers Blvd., 574-4881

This is the place where the softball players and league teams sport their dirtied jerseys after the game. TVs are abundant and so are pool tables and sports arcade games. Frankie's offers good food with basic drink specials to make the innings, periods, and quarters hold a bit more foam.

Good Company 7625 N. Union Blvd., 528-8877

Owners Bob and Nancy give this bar a true family feel. Good Company boasts the staple big screens for every sightline and is perfect for any sports need or a drink after work. They offer great food and drink prices with a full menu and generous specials, a gorgeous patio, Golden Tee Golf and other games -- and most importantly there's ample ventilation. This ain't your average barstool sports pub.

The Hatch Cover 252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-5223

The Hatch is your loyal Broncos fan enclave. There's no better place to pray for a miracle while sucking down beer and snacks. Not so many televisions and not really a full-on sports bar per say, but it has the right spirit and is a good place to be on game day.

-- Matthew Schniper

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