The Pioneer – a restaurant/access review

A divey bar with excellent food and access to the roof deck – what could be better?!

Tim and I have been coming to The Pioneer for a couple of years now. It’s not far from our house and had a nice patio where you could chill with good drinks and snacks in Colorado’s dry summer air.

It’s a college bar – hence the name, after the University of Denver Pioneers – but if you go early enough, you won’t be overwhelmed with students and it has terrific Colo/Mex food – far better than the décor would suggest. And the margaritas are fantastic – so fantastic that I only go there on my bike.

Image: photo of purple girl's bike locked to railing around patio in previous photo.

Sometime last year, we noticed that they were adding a roof deck on top of the patio. “Oh well,” we sighed, “I’m sure it won’t be accessible, but then it’s an old building and we can still drink margaritas on the patio.”

This week we’re on staycation, chilling at home, getting various house-related things accomplished, avoiding work email, and — when the mood strikes us — wandering up to The Pioneer in the middle of the afternoon.  We settled in at a patio table and then, just for the heck of it, asked if they had an elevator.



“Yes, we do, but someone needs to find the key.”  I was so blown away by the fact that they’d installed an elevator that I did not stop to comment on the fact that it would be great if their disabled customers could use it independently.

Morgan — our extremely friendly & helpful waiter — found a key and, well, “elevator” turned out to be a mild exaggeration.  Here is the door to the “elevator” on the roof deck.

Image: photo of the door to an open-air wheelchair lift.

And the, um, view from the “elevator” at the roof deck level:

Image: View from top of open air wheelchair lift toward the houses beyond the roof deck.

Tim:  “Am I almost up?”

Me:  “Yes, if by ‘almost’ you mean ‘about halfway.'”


Once we got there, we were glad we’d asked, and so very glad The Pioneer had installed an “elevator.”

Image:  left side - a bar under an awning; right side - picnic tables with umbrellas.  A white man in a flowered shirt and using a wheelchair sits at one of the tables.

Short restaurant review:  I had the goat cheese quesadillas — they were spectacular.   Tim had the veggie burrito (shhhh don’t tell) with mushrooms, poblanos, and potatoes.  Also really really good.  And margaritas all around.  And you canNOT beat the view:

Image: view over the railing of the roof deck to a 7-Eleven store.

Seriously, as a restaurant we can walk/roll to and stumble/weave home from, with delicious food and a friendly staff, we love the Pioneer.  Slightly less sarcastic photo of the view looking south:

Image: panoramic view of roof deck.

And of course, The Pioneer himself:

Image: larger-than-life-sized figure of a "pioneer" a white guy with a beard and a DU sweatshirt, holding a stein of beer in one hand.  His arms are open to the roof deck and he is smiling.


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