Trey Stewart wanted to create a gay bar that was an upscale destination for anyone looking for a solid place to spend the evening eating and drinking. It’s the simple guiding principle behind SIR Denver, Stewart’s recently opened hotspot in the Mile High City.
Stewart had done this before in Texas, opening Mr. Misster in Dallas in 2019 as a bar. With SIR, he wanted to see if he could tackle food, too.
“Denver has such a good LGBTQ+ community, and a lot of that community is downtown,” he says. “I found a great spot in LoDo and started crafting what SIR would be.”
Opened in February, SIR was Stewart’s COVID brain child. Denver was a place he loved going to, and, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he felt it needed an upscale gay bar in the heart of downtown.
At first glance SIR appears to be a steakhouse. With options including a 10-ounce bavette steak, double-cut rack of pork ribs, a 14-ounce Angus NY strip steak, a signature burger with secret sauce, and roasted Brussels sprouts with nuoc cham and peanuts, it’s not surprising one might think it’s a meat market. But the team is pulling away from the steakhouse vibe a little by slowly adding other dishes to the menu, Stewart says.
“We wanted to create something more on the fine-dining side,” he says. “Something that we put a little more thought into than just throwing in the fryer.”
Overseeing the menu is chef Marissa Hardman, who has added plates such as tahini-laced cauliflower and a lineup of hearty bruschetta during brunch service. Sunday brunch, bookable as an OpenTable experience, includes bottomless mimosas, a drag queen host, and a plate of those aforementioned bruschetta featuring duck pate, artichoke, brie, short rib, and more.
Aside from bubbles, drinks also play a big part in the experience of SIR. There are cocktails on tap, craft beer, and a curated wine list. Stewart says the idea was to make a place where you could go have a nice glass of wine solo, meet a friend, or make a whole night out of it.
“I wanted to serve more than just vodka soda,” Stewart says. “The bartenders get to be creative; it’s not just a [vodka soda]—unless that’s what you want.”
“It’s a popping area, but there’s not a good gay bar,” he says. “This used to be an iconic Denver restaurant; it has natural brick and a lot of history.”
Now, there are movable booths so the area can change based on what’s going on at SIR on any given night. Push them to the side and you have a late night dance party, or put the seats in the center of the bar for dinnertime dining. The large cylinder structure that used to house the serving station at Vesta is now a DJ booth. Dark red lights make the mood more nightclub-like, but to keep it bright there’s a rainbow light shining along the exposed brick wall.
SIR is open every day except Monday. Anytime is a good time to go, Stewart says, though the Sunday drag queen brunches with Lacey Vanderpump is especially popular. Tuesday brings all-day happy hour and $3 tequila shots and drinks, Wednesday is $4 you-call-it drinks, and on Thursdays, SIR celebrates industry professionals with 40 percent off the tab.