Tucked along a tree-lined neighborhood street in Uptown lies the welcoming front porch of the Dew Drop Inn. Opened in May 2021, the restaurant is the latest in a line of Denver staples from Leigh Jones, Margaret Moore and Kiendl Smith.
Jones and Moore are known for opening some of Denver’s most classic dive bars including the Horseshoe Lounge and the Embassy Tavern. Some locals might recognize Smith from her time at Sancho’s Broken Arrow or the Goosetown Tavern. But, the Dew Drop Inn is a new concept entirely. While it retains the friendly atmosphere of their previous endeavors it is an undeniable step up in class. The exposed brick walls and long wooden bar invite diners to stop in for a cocktail, chat with a friendly bartender or have a glass of wine with a book on the way home from work.
“We set out to become a part of the Uptown neighborhood and to make regulars,” Smith said.
What started as a cocktail bar became a gastropub. The idea was originally a neighborhood spot for great drinks and unique shared plates including mussels and charcuterie, but the menu has expanded significantly since then. Hired in April of 2021, the head chef, who goes simply by Fush, brought some of his own inspiration to the menu with a strong emphasis on local vendors and seasonal cuisine.
“We are all using the relationships we’ve cultivated over 20 years of doing business in the Denver community,” Fush said.
The menu is 85% gluten-free including the breading on the Kaarage Chicken ($15) and the gravy for their Poutine ($12), giving people the chance to eat what is usually out of bounds to the celiac and gluten-sensitive crowd. The blend of rice flour and potato starch in the Kaarage makes for a delicate crispy chicken that brings out the Asian roots in the dish.
“My wife is gluten-free, and I wanted everyone to feel they could eat here,” Fush said.
As a whole, the menu is incredibly diverse with dishes ranging from Tunis style Mussels with Harissa and Fire Roasted Tomatoes ($15) to a stellar Cubano with house pickled veggies and homemade mojo sauce ($14). The pork is sourced from River Bear Meats, a favorite of Fush’s. The Dew Drop’s focus on local and seasonal ingredients means the food and cocktails are liable to change with the seasons, but many regulars already fear their favorite dish being removed.
“We went into the menu with an attitude of ‘Let’s see what sells and rotate the rest.’ But after three or four months we realized it all sells,” Fush said.
The cocktails are still the star of the show, and the dedication to local ingredients shines through here as well with the Bee’s Knees ($12) featuring honey harvested by neighbors Queen Bee-atrice & Co. The rotating list of seasonal cocktails includes an Espresso Martini ($11) during the winter months as well as takes on other classics like the French Seventy-Five ($9), highlighting local distiller’s The Family Jones Juniper Jones Gin.
For all of its upscale charm, the Dew Drop Inn stays true to its roots with all-day beer + a shot specials ($8) and an excellent happy hour running from open until 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close. This local gem will continue to quietly build a community in Uptown for those looking for classic drinks, great food and a neighborhood vibe.
The Dew Drop Inn is located at 1033 E 17th Ave., Denver. Open daily from 3 p.m. – midnight on weekdays and 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. on weekends.
All photography by Jackson Davis.