• Cliff Grassmick / Colorado Daily

    Ty Chapman decks out his burger at the Dark Horse.

  • Colorado Daily staff

    Aubree Thomson, Tom Pilla, Alyson Cumella, Walter Cummings, and Matt Vendetti, celebrate Pilla's birthday at the Rio Grande.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Colorado Daily

    The name's the Dark Horse Bar and Grill, but the decor is anything but dar.



Some folks think ramen diets and washing clothes with dish soap while in college are just myths or exaggerations. We who have been there and done that know better. We are always in search of a cheap (or free) meal and laundry service, and love finding ways to cut back on costs.

Which makes living surrounded by craft breweries and local restaurants that make you drool just looking at the higher-priced menus can be almost rudely tempting.

Never fear, this town knows the struggle is real. If you know where to look, you’ll almost always find a happy hour or nightly special that makes it OK to head out with your equally poor pals. Here are a few to get you rolling next time your wallet’s lacking.

The Goose Bar / Fatty J’s Pizza

1301 Broadway St.


The Deals: Tuesdays, ladies drink free from 9 p.m. to midnight. Wednesdays, get 45-cent wings, $6 Coors pitchers and $3 Fireball. Thursday, Wheel Night offers a new deal every 15 minutes, from $3 Car Bombs to $2 Sour Skittles, and cornhole tournaments for the bag-tossing set. Friday, get half-off draft beers from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Why go: I’m not saying this is the classiest joint in town — “Babe Night” sums that up — but it’s a fun spot to get some great deals. It’s Hill-adjacent location makes it a perfect stop on what I can only assume is an awesome night out with friends. And you don’t need to be in search of booze to enjoy it. Fatty J’s pizza has deals such as 12 wings and two sodas for $12. Or a 12-inch, three-topping pizza for $9.50. Plus, the outdoor patio lets you enjoy the night (and subsequent entertaining people-watching). It’s certainly an experience understood by those who frequent The Hill.

The Dark Horse Bar

2922 Baseline Road


The Deals: Mondays, snag $2 Miller Lite drafts, $2 Bacardi and $2 Cuervo. Tuesdays, Trike Nights will let you 21-and-ups relive the glory days, racing custom trikes around the bar. You’ll also get $3 Jager, $7 Bud/Bud Light pitchers and $2.50 Smirnoff. Show off the pipes Thursdays at karaoke night, with a $3.25 New Belgium pint in hand. Or try for the big prize on Fridays, with bingo starting at 9:30 p.m. and $3 tall Long Islands and $3.25 Boulder Beer pints.

Why go: It’s no high-end bar, but it also is not quite the chaos and “college kid” feel you’ll find on Pearl Street. Sure it still has pool and foosball, but it also has a laid-back environment that’ll let you unwind after a long day of classes and responsibility. The Dark Horse offers up casual fun, whether you’re sitting at the bar or trying for the best trike-ride time. Plus, it’s got a bunch of TVs for sports addicts looking for the day’s scores. Oh, and the menu has things like Zuchs and Shrooms and Rocky Mountain Oysters, so … that’s nice.

The Walrus Saloon

1173 Walnut St.


The Deals: Mondays, check out Rock and Roll Bingo at 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays, the estrogen set will nab free drinks all night, and enjoy the fine musical stylings of DJ Petey. And on Thursdays, rock out to the ’80s/’90s tunes of (some of your) youth while sipping on $2 “U Call Its” starting at 10 p.m.

Why go: Take a dive bar, add in some pool and air hockey and a dance floor and sprinkle peanut shells everywhere. That’s the Walrus. You walk downstairs and into the epitome of a college town bar. You’ve got the bar that’s almost always crowded, and a bucket of beer closer to the door for the cash-ready. Bins of peanuts help stave off the munchies, and the dance floor helps you sweat out the last few drinks. Don’t worry, there are plenty of booths and seats along the stretch of the bar, but it’s hard to stand still here. Plus, it’s just off Pearl Street (and a couple hundred feet away from The Rio and The Absinthe House dance hall), perfect for a complete night out.

The Attic Bar and Bistro

949 Walnut St.


The Deals: (Each deal runs from 9 p.m. to close) Mondays are $3 wells or a “$5 burgers and $3 Dale’s drafts” combo. Get $3 Fat Alberts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday, you’ll get $9.95 all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs and $15 bottles of wine. Head over Friday for $5 PBJs (a 14-ounce PBR and a shot of Beam), and $1 Silver BBs (8-ounce Coors Light cans) on Saturday.

Why go: By day, The Attic has a menu with things such as a South of the Border burger smothered in green chili and the Attic Cheesesteak sandwich. It has appetizers that’ll fill you up without breaking the bank. But head over post-sunset and you’ve got a place with pool and video games and couches to settle your bum in as you sip on Fat Alberts with your pals. (No, I won’t spoil what those are. Just get one.) It’s cramped and usually crowded and limited seating. But it’s always blasting the music and has an environment you can just settle into for an hour or two on your bar-crawl night. Just watch your step on your way up.

The Rio Grande

1101 Walnut St.


The Deals: From 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, folks at The Rio offer $1 off their margaritas (which pack a punch), $3 drafts for those avoiding tequila, $3 tacos and $5 guacamole, chile con queso and queso deluxe. Yum. Thursdays, from 9 p.m. to close, you’ll get $4 Rio margs, $2 Cuervo shots and $4 half-quesadillas.

Why go: The Rio in Boulder is known for its rooftop. With its lights, heaters in the winter and picture-perfect view of our beautiful Flatirons, it’s always worth the trip. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time at the always-hopping bar or restaurant. You can wind around, finding seats that’ll overlook the bar or nestle away from the chaos. The food is reliably tasty — I’m a big fan of the enchiladas — and when it goes on special, it’s even better. No tequila necessary to make this place a must-go-to. (Of course, if that’s your scene, try the pineapple-infused tequila shots. I’ve seen first-hand how happy they’ll make you.)

Alexandra Sieh writes about Boulder nightlife for the Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter:

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