By Steve Graham
Sure, the occasional pub crawl is fun. And sometimes it’s worth planning an elaborate night out with some beers at your favorite brewery, dinner at the neighborhood bistro, and a movie at the multiplex.
On the other hand, there’s all the driving and parking, the separate reservations and the tricky scheduling. If only you could just spend a whole evening in one spot. Well, we found three Front Range joints that cover all your bases — good food, craft beer and entertainment aplenty.
“You can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup. I’m talking about a glass of beer,” raved Vincent Vega in the classic movie “Pulp Fiction.”
Vincent Vega can skip the international flight and get a glass of great local beer, along with a truly gourmet “royale with cheese,” at the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Littleton.
The three-year-old South Santa Fe Drive location has a rustic taproom with full bar, or you can order beers to your comfortable theater seat. A second location near Sloan’s Lake is scheduled to open this year.
The theater has 64 taps, including 20 rotating beers, as well as a solid list of bottles and cans. They also make adult milkshakes with Left Hand Milk Stout or Breckenridge Vanilla Porter.
The Drafthouse focuses on Colorado breweries, and has tapped a few exclusive brews. Odell created the Beyond IPA for the Drafthouse chain in conjunction with the most recent Star Trek movie, then went a step further with the exclusive Tweaked Beyond Repair double IPA.
Odell also brewed the Good Night Sweet Prince for a screening of “The Big Lebowski” attended by Jeff Dowd, the real-life inspiration for The Dude in that cult classic.
The theater screens first-run movies, as well as classics and other repertory fare. Seating is reserved, and the theater replaces the standard ads before each film with short films and other content related to the feature. Rules against talking, texting and arriving more than 10 minutes after a film’s start time are strictly enforced, which may be a drag for casual viewers or perpetual latecomers. Also, servers may interrupt the movie from time to time.
The food menu goes far beyond Twizzlers and popcorn (although bottomless popcorn is available with herbed parmesan cheese and real clarified butter, not that sketchy squirt-on stuff). The Drafthouse serves gourmet pizzas, sandwiches and entrees, with plenty of gluten-free or vegetarian choices — and that royale burger, topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and aoli.
Dungeons & Drafts
If you would rather play Battleship than watch the movie, Manny and Melissa Garza have you covered. They are the owners of Dungeon & Drafts, a gaming mecca in central Fort Collins.
The Garzas are former military intelligence analysts who relocated from Washington, D.C., to open a restaurant and bar that combines their passions for craft beer and board games.
The bar opened in 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped buy sturdy wooden gaming tables, a professional-grade smoker, and the armor, crests and other medieval décor.
Just inside the front door, you will be greeted with an ever-growing collection of more than 200 board games — and expert staff that can help you find a new favorite game (if you think Risk and Monopoly are the best options, you are missing the current golden age of board games).
The games are a mixed blessing for staff and customers. Long game sessions can lead to lingering patrons. An early attempt at table fees wasn’t well received, but Dungeons & Drafts imposes time limits on some busy nights.
The bar also has 30 taps of all Colorado craft, including some cider and mead (you know, to fit the medieval theme). Manny Garza said he keeps a handful of permanent mainstays on tap.
The rest of the tap list is a rotating tour of northern Colorado breweries, including City Star, Zwei, Snowbank and more. For the bar’s first anniversary, Horse & Dragon Brewing Co. brewed two exclusive firkins of their popular Sad Panda coffee stout, flavored with cherry and hazelnut.
Manny said part of his role is supporting breweries and other local businesses.
“Little people should help other little people out,” Manny Garza said.
The kitchen makes salads, fried pub fare, gourmet made-to-order baked mac and cheese, and a variety of smoked burgers, brats and other meat, including whole turkey legs for that five-senses Settlers of Catan experience.
Think of Punchbowl Social on South Broadway as a giant playground for grownups, which includes a hot, gourmet lunch and a water fountain that flows with Breckenridge Agave Wheat.
Punchbowl Social combines Southern-inspired diner food with a full bar and a bowling alley, but also has ping pong, vintage arcade and pinball games, bocce, magnetic wall-sized scrabble, private karaoke rooms, skeeball, marbles and more.
It can easily suck you in for a full evening of entertainment and drinking.
“We call it the ‘sticky factor’ where guests often come to Punch Bowl Social for a quick drink or bite to eat, spend time watching others have a great experience and end up staying much longer than originally planned,” marketing director Jodi Collier said.
The bar has 12 taps, and at least seven flow with Colorado craft beers. The bartenders also make their signature new-school cocktails and namesake punchbowls with whiskey and other spirits from Breckenridge Distillery, Leopold Bros. and Stranahan’s.
Collier said the food menu is “inspired by southern home cooking.”
So settle in for some sweet tea-brined chicken and roll some bocce balls.
Steve Graham is a Fort Collins freelance writer who would love to challenge you to a game of Seven Wonders Duel at Dungeons & Drafts.