The dive bars in Boulder are rather few and far between (regardless of the fact that Guy Fieri has come here a couple times)– but the two named Saloons in Boulder: Sundown and Outback, definitely fit the dive bar bill.
The Sundowner (as locals call it): find it down a dank stairwell, and with one right turn you’ll find yourself ready to play foosball, shoot some stick, and knock back some affordable beverages. Not your accustomed posh craft bar of Pearl Street, the Sundowner is your answer for where to find booze on the cheap, and play pool the while.
The Outback: located on 28th Street, just north of the much hipper and newer Rayback, tucked away behind the MayBee Shop and Bookworm used book emporium, the Outback (not to be confused with the slick chain steakhouses of the same name) has all the shuffleboard, old popcorn machine, cheap pub grub and beers, and pool that you could ask for. In fact, Boulder’s billiards leagues play there, which tells you something.
Since the closing of the Walrus, and the revamping of many of our sports bars, Boulder is lacking significantly in pool tables these days. The Sundown Saloon and Outback Saloon are both exceptions, however. Shiny and hip, the are not. Old, grungy, and comfortable? That they certainly are, and their availability of inexpensive, unpretentious brews & pool just makes them that much more fun to hang out at for all hours of the night—unlike most of Boulder’s bars that close at midnight, these two saloons close at 2am, like a good dive bar should.
As far as billiards go, there’s a whole row of pay tables at Sundowner, and during the daytime, the tables are free and the beer is cheap. Grab a stick (or bring your own) and you’ll be at one of the prime destinations for shooting pool in Boulder. Sundown’s tables stay pretty well maintained and you can usually find more than one straight house stick to shoot with. Usually. If you can’t, we can recommend showing up on Whiskey Wednesdays where you can grab a mug of PBR and a shot of whiskey for only $3 – that should make the warped pool cue seem just a bit straighter.
The Sundowner has been a Boulder staple for a long time—no matter the reputation Boulder has for the high hippie vibe, long term Boulderites and broke college students alike throng this underground of Pearl Street Mall at all times.
If you’re looking for glam, you won’t find it at the Sundowner. And that’s just the way Boulder’s dive bar fans like it. After all, Boulder Weekly’s Best Of Boulder Awards gave Sundown Saloon the gold level award for best place to play pool. And if Boulderites voted that way, you know they know what they’re talking about. It’s true— The Sundowner is a great place to catch up with friends, grab a cheap pitcher, talk smack over a pool game, and escape the hum of Pearl Street up above. It may be rough (and can sometimes get a little rough), but it’s a great place to go nonetheless.
Called “Boulder’s most unpretentious bar” by more one than one travel site, The Outback is the place to go in Boulder for playing pool in particular. Not just for casual players, either—Boulder’s Outback hosts a pool league on Fridays, and is looking to build an APA league day on Tuesdays. Their tables are plenty and pretty well maintained for a crunchy dive bar scenario, and their couple dozen beers on tap as well as their booze selection is always on the cheap. No wonder The Outback Saloon was voted the Best of Boulder bronze level award for best place to play pool.
Billiards and booze isn’t all the Outback has in store for its patrons, though: unlike the Sundowner, the Outback has a decent menu with cheap, tasty, and mostly fried bar food that helps fuel your laid-back Outback time. Shuffleboard, darts, and one of Boulder’s most famous karaoke nights all add to make the Outback the dive bar to dive into almost anytime you need a comfortable and inexpensive night out with your pals.
Even their open mic night is beyond the pale: not your typical one-dude-and-a-mic affair, the Outback’s open mic night offers participants a full drum set, multiple mics, a guitar, bass, keyboards and amplifiers so that this open mic event is more like open whole band! No doubt about it, sometimes the comfy dive bar scene is the best, even in Boulder.
Where do you like to go drink cheap bevvies and shoot pool? Tell us all about it in the comments.