The music was loud enough to pull people in off the street.
It was mostly a crowd of students, some of them coming from class and some of them on their way to it. They were all headed to the rooftop of K’s China, a long and narrow two-level patio where the bar reads, “Cash only” and the Flatirons stand tall behind the homes and trees on the Hill.
“It’s a nice little pit-stop on the way to class,” said Ty Shelton, a 21-year-old sophomore English major, who was studying at one of the tables at K’s.
K’s feels like something in between a dive and a tiki bar: the environment is informal and relaxed. The music is generally decent and loud, and the beer is always cold.
For those looking for more of Boulder’s elevated nightlife, they need only take a walk down to Pearl Street Mall to find many options. The best place to start is on the west end.
Across the street from Chipotle and past the west end of the mall is the suitably-named West End Tavern. Typically, there are more locals to be found here than at K’s. The staff came off as friendly and relaxed. The crowd was older, and some of them appeared to be using the tavern’s rooftop as a booze-friendly coffee shop, working on projects as they drank a tall can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
The West End Tavern comes off as more of a hangout bar, with an impressive variety of unique beers and bourbons. It has a reputation for being a bourbon bar, but general manager Mike Lawinski said, “The spirit we focus around is bourbon, but we don’t like to say we are just a bourbon bar.”
The rooftop is split into two parts. There’s an outside dining area and a covered bar region with retractable plastic windows to allow for open air. The outside dining area, which is small but comfortable, has a clear view of the mountains to the south and is surrounded by aesthetically pleasing flowers and grasses planted in dirt.
Across the street from the West End and a little to the east is Bácaro Venetian Taverna, where the rooftop is barely noticeable from the street. Tucked in between three red brick walls that look out onto Pearl Street, it feels more like a balcony than a rooftop. Bácaro fosters a more eclectic crowd than the other bars. Tile floors and stylish lights hanging from the ceiling give Bácaro a fancier feel. The view of the Flatirons is obscured, but the view onto Pearl is better than most.
About two or three blocks east on Walnut is the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. The Rio Grande cultivates a festive environment for Mexican food and a variety of margaritas. The rooftop is spacious and calm. Brightly colored lights hang from lampposts around a central brass fountain covered in decoratively placed blue and teal tiles. It is clearly more of a restaurant than a bar atmosphere. The owners can also visit website for more decorative pieces to amplify their space.
Finally, the last stop on the trek east is The Foundry Billiards Club. On the south side of the rooftop bar there is a long black granite slab where people place their drinks. There are tall glass tables surrounded by high dark wicker chairs in the front, and behind them a crop of square and round white textured table tops. These features give the bar a somewhat distinguished air.
Formal but not too formal, the rooftop is a calmer than the inside and offers a breath fresh air when needed. Winter is approaching fast, but the prevalence of heat lamps promises to offer some refuge from the cold. There is usually a good mix between college students and locals at The Foundry.
“I am a fan of rooftops, so it is usually a good time,” said Matthew Califano, a recent anthropology graduate from CU.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Seth Gitner at Seth.firstname.lastname@example.org.