Sunday, June 21, 2009
Brewery Bar II / III / IV ~ Denver, Colorado ; Lone Tree, Colorado ; Aurora, Colorado
The BB II (bee bee eye eye) is everything that the RJG looks for: Local, kind of divey, popular but definitely not hip, unique food, friendly and consistent service, and most importantly, great taste. This is the place where the cops, politicians and mobsters share a meal together - and maybe make a deal on the side. Where local sports celebrities may show up at the bar, and be treated with all the spectacle of a local neighbor. Where the lazy journalists hang out all day and get more scoop over a bowl of green chile, than a whole day of pounding the pavement. Judges and councilman plot the future of the city right here - over a smothered chile relleno. One time we were with a friend who locked his keys in the car. Two minutes later someone was walking by that just "happened to have" his lock pick kit with him. Gee, what luck! Yea-huh.
The original location was in the old Tivoli Brewery near downtown (thus the name), and when they shut it for renovations to add yuppie stores and shops, the exceedingly low budget Brewery Bar needed to move on. The "II" was born. They could not have found a better spot - an old closed down tacky strip joint just west of downtown in a seedy section known today as "Baker", but what locals would have called a "no go area". From the parking lot, you can see a grain elevator, warehouses and the railroad. Hardly the picturesque mountain scenery of your travel brochure. Jack Kerouac would've loved this place. This is the real Denver......man.
So what's all the fuss about anyway? Green Chile. Bowls of it. And hot enough to blow your head off. You will sweat and you will cry. And you love every minute of it, as the flavors become more vibrant with each bite. You can smother your burrito or chile relleno with it. Hell, you can smother anything in it. It's not even really a green chile at all - it just happens to have lots of very hot green peppers buried in there. No one in New Mexico would recognize their state dish. This is the real Denver.....man.
I don't think you can have a bad meal at the Brewery Bar. Even the crunchy ground beef tacos are world class, loaded to the top with tasty meat and cheese. And you get a yummy unique taco sauce to go with it, not just the chips table salsa. And make sure you wash everything down with a Colorado beer. A "big bowl of green, two beef tacos and a tiny Fat Tire" is my idea of heaven. (tiny = 24 oz).
Fussy yuppies complain that it's "dirty", that it's not like Chili's or any other pre-fabricated corporate dining experience. Well so sorry Amber, but the Brewery Bar wasn't designed with you in mind. It was made for Bill and Alice - and they don't give a rats poop what you think. Bill and Alice don't know how to ski either, and you're ruining their Denver.
Over the years, The Brewery Bar became too popular for its own good and getting into the place for lunch was near impossible unless you showed up before 11 or after 2. So they surveyed the folks on where they came from. No surprise that the Denver Tech Center (DTC) was a main source of the crowds. Hell, me and a few friends alone probably contributed to that. Not a week would go by where the blue shirt, tan pants, beeper (pre cell phone days) crowd would make our weekly pilgrimage. The locals even liked us - sort of. So they opened the BB III in the DTC. Only the Brewery Bar could open a new place that looked like a dive. Surrounded by corporate restaurant hell, the Brewery Bar III is a beacon for all that is good with the world.
Finally they opened the BB IV (eye vee) - now how apropos is that? Because indeed one does feel the need to I.V. the chile after awhile. This location is in Aurora near the intersection of Arapahoe and Parker (Hwy 83). And again, the Brewery Bar sits amongst the publicly traded restaurants - and once again it has become the most popular restaurant in the area. This is the location we go to, out of convenience more than anything else. Besides, it still looks and feels like a dive.
Funny enough, they did capitulate a bit on the heat levels for their new restaurants. And they now offer a mild and a half and half. Oh pu-leeze. Just go for it.
Want the real Denver? Go to the BB II, and have a bowl of green, and don't wimp out on the heat. John Elway may be the guy sitting next to you at the bar. And no one cares - he's a regular.