I walked by My Brother’s Bar in Denver’s South Platte neighborhood many a time and could not fathom what might be happening behind the white half-curtains. This Denver landmark has a symbol outside but no sign. I was, I confess, a bit intimidated. Would it be one of those bars where a bunch of paunchy men turned around in unison and squinted at me?
Now I’ve been there twice, both times with company, and I can confidently say that I wouldn’t mind going there by myself and taking a seat at the bar. Though I’m not sure how long I would stay, because the round-back chairs are nowhere near as comfortable as the atmosphere.
My Brother’s Bar, at 15th and Platte Street, just northwest of the South Platte River, is known for being “Denver’s oldest saloon still serving booze on the original site,” according to Tom Noel. An establishment called “Highland House” opened there in 1873 and served Denver’s Italian immigrant community. In the late 1800s, the neighborhood sometimes called Lower Highlands and sometimes called the Central Platte Valley (even though the river is named the South Platte) was sparsely settled. Since then, several different bars have come and gone in that corner building, and the neighborhood is one of Denver’s trendiest.
The bar has a reputation for making good burgers, so when Todd and I went there one Saturday, that’s what we ordered. I chose the jalapeno cream cheese burger, and Todd negotiated with the waitress over a chili cheeseburger. She said she could bring him a cheeseburger and a cup of chili, but not the two together. When she brought our order, we understood why: the burgers are served wrapped in paper rather than on a plate. Saves washing dishes, I guess.
Todd and I liked our burgers well enough, but many of the ingredients seemed to have come out of a can or a box: definitely the chili, and possibly the jalapenos in this cream cheese.
Although the onion rings and fries looked good, the rings were too crispy.
I got a kick out of this condiments caddy, which has 2 sides so you can put it in the middle of a table and let people dress their burgers without fighting over the onions and relish.
If you want a great burger, I recommend Larkburger (there are locations in Boulder and Greenwood Village). If you want atmosphere, go to My Brother’s Bar, where the host says, “Have fun!” and the servers are mellow and Girl Scout Thin Mints are stacked along the front wall and up the stairs. The menu offers a variety of bar food, including vegetarian items. You can drink a glass from a small but quirky wine list or a craft beer such as Twisted Pine or Samurai or order from the full bar.
My Brother’s Bar is on the Beat Poetry Driving Tour of Denver.