To be a successful bar or restaurant in Denver, concepts need to deliver a unique guest experience. Your run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant won’t cut it anymore — guests are looking for a larger draw. Federales has that draw. The open-air concept with a retracting roof, a lengthy list of margaritas to choose from and delicious tacos only begin to scratch the surface here. Open as of Wednesday, August 11, you’ll be fighting for a seat at Rino’s newest watering hole.
If you’ve walked along Larimer St. over the past few months, you’ve likely noticed Federales coming to fruition. Once a gas station, the new bar and restaurant is easy to spot in its location at 29th and Larimer. “We’ve had so many people try to come in prior to being fully open,” said manager Ryan Egloff, “this location has so much foot traffic, people are excited to come check it out.” If the lively music and open-air concept don’t draw you in, the ice shots will. Not only can you get shots of tequila in shot glasses made of ice, after you take the shot you get to throw the ice glass at a large metal bell to celebrate your job well done — and let everyone else know about it. “Everyone in here gets involved and people come in off the street to order a round of ice shots. It’s a great way to get you out of your seat and have a good time,” said Egloff.
Even if you don’t do an ice shot, you can still enjoy your time at Federales. The margarita list alone is a reason to visit. From spicy watermelon to mango to hatch green chile, there’s a margarita for everyone. Each guest can choose the rim they want — spicy, salt or sugar — and all of the juices and purees are pressed in house, making it super refreshing and perfect for your individual palate. “You can get a pitcher and everyone can get the rim they want, it’s great for groups,” explained Egloff. In addition to the margaritas, the bar serves a frozen Mexican or French bulldog — complete with an upside-down Coronita — micheladas, palomas, sangria, a tequila mule, an aperol spritz and several old fashioneds.
Not to be overshadowed by the drinks, the food is just as delicious. The quesadillas are made with Oaxaca cheese, the housemade tamales are made with queso fresco and the queso will give you that coveted cheese pull. The tacos include traditional variations like pork carnitas and steak — each served with the simple toppings of onion and cilantro on a housemade corn tortilla — as well as more unique styles like spicy chicken, vegetarian mushroom and wood-grilled shrimp. If you’re in the mood for a larger entree, you can get a green chile burrito, smoked chicken enchiladas or a torta with chicken and chorizo, black bean spread, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle aioli, guacamole and Oaxaca cheese. You can also order food to-go from the “caja window.”
Whether you come to Federales for the margaritas and stay for the ice shots or come for the ice shots and stay for the food, you’ll find it hard to leave this lively spot. As Rino’s newest bar, it’s sure to be busy all summer long.
Federales is located at 2901 Larimer St, Denver. Open Monday – Thursday 4 p.m. – 2 a.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 3 a.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Kitchen closes at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on Saturday.
All photography by Kori Hazel.