What: Charcoal Restaurant
Where: 43 West Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80204
When: Happy Hour food is available Monday-Friday from 4:00-6:00 pm, Happy Hour drinks are available everyday from 4:00-6:00 pm
Don’t Miss: The Bacon Wrapped Dates ($1 each) and Truffle Fries are both killer food options. Wine drinkers will like the Angeline Pinot Noir ($4) or the Tin Roof Chardonnay ($4).
Charcoal Restaurant has been a favorite of mine for a while now. I find myself coming back to the Golden Triangle restaurant again and again, sometimes for brunch and sometimes to grab an early dinner before a visit to the Denver Art Museum. This says a lot because let’s face it, sometimes I struggle to leave the culinary heaven that is the Highlands. Despite the fact that Charcoal holds a special spot in my heart, it’s never been featured in the Happiest Hour column because until recently, Charcoal only offered drink specials during happy hour. Luckily for me, they’ve since amended this policy and their delicious small bites are now available Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.
Charcoal offers happy hour on their patio, bar, and lounge area. On my last visit, I settled into a table on the patio to enjoy the warm fall sunshine. There isn’t a specialty cocktail menu on happy hour, so if you are looking for a complex martini you should probably go elsewhere. Instead, Charcoal offers two stellar wines by the glass during happy hour, one beer (Kronenbourg 1664 Lager), and a good selection of wells, all for $4. I particularly enjoyed the Angeline Pinot Noir, which was full bodied enough to taste much more expensive than $4 but not so overpowering that I couldn’t drink a glass or two. The highlight on the wells list is definitely the Fireside Colorado Bourbon, but gin drinkers will be pleased with Broker’s London Dry Gin as well.The happy hour drink selections are all solid choices, but the food at Charcoal is what will really impress. Let’s just go straight to the top: the bacon wrapped dates. At $1 a piece I can guarantee that you need to order at least 2-3 per person. The dates are stuffed with Humboldt fog goat cheese, wrapped in salty sweet bacon, and finished with a concord grape reduction. I don’t think I’ve ever dined at Charcoal without ordering these delicious little morsels, so I am thrilled that they made it on the happy hour menu. The other must-order item is the truffle fries ($4). The shoe-string cut fries are a large enough portion to share and these things are addictive. Topped with herbs and truffle salt and served with a tasty horseradish aioli, these fries also go great with Charcoal’s homemade grilled beer bratwurst ($5). The bratwurst is only available at happy hour and is plated on top of a mustard coleslaw that is miles away from the nasty version you tried at the last summer BBQ. I’m always looking to turn happy hour into a cheap early dinner and Charcoal delivers. Between the dates, fries, and the bratwurst, you’ll leave happy and satisfied, if a little lacking in the vegetable department.
You really just can’t go wrong with the happy hour at Charcoal. Sure, there are other restaurants that have fancier cocktails and more of a “scene.” But Charcoal is that neighborhood joint that just makes you feel welcome and relaxed from the second you arrive. So grab a glass of pinot and let the work worries melt away. The bacon wrapped dates alone are worth a visit.