Soccer fans Jill and Chris at Eck's Saloon: Jill and Chris enjoy a beer or two while watching the Euro 2012 final at Eck's Saloon in Lakewood.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Even though Euro 2012 is over, there's still plenty of soccer on the tube with the Colorado Rapids in the thick of the MLS playoff race and the Olympics around the corner. To get you primed, Burgundy Wave continues its series of reviews of Colorado's best soccer pubs. Do you have a favorite place to watch footy? Suggest it for review in the comments!
LAKEWOOD (KIPLING & GIRTON) -- You've no doubt heard of 'Breakfast at Wimbledon'. Well, for the past several weeks I've enjoyed 'Brunch at Euro'. The featured item on the menu isn't strawberries and cream. It's massive -- nay, gargantuan -- breakfast burritos and cold, cold beer.
The place for this delectable sustenance? Eck's Saloon, a needle-in-the-haystack gem for the hungry soccer fan out on the southwestern edge of Lakewood.
I don't know how my Sunday morning footy compatriots found this joint tucked behind a liquor store on a nondescript block just a stone's throw north of Hampden (and a short jog east of Kipling on Girton), but I'm grateful they did.
After huffing to the sidelines at nearby Schaefer Park, a dozen of us or so convene at a table in the center of Eck's where we are waited on by Jessica Johnson, a first-rate bartender. Jessica, who usually unlocks the door at 11 on Sundays, opens early for us mostly middle-agers who traipse in on the brink of death (especially in this heat).
"As soon as we see the whites of your eyes, we open up," Jessica says.
We took over Eck's for the Euro Final on Sunday, tucking into the mountainous burritos as Spain carved up the Italians.
After gorging on a half-order breakfast burrito, which fills my plate, I ask Jessica and Christine, the cook, what they put in these things. "Sausage, eggs, tater tots and it's smothered in cheese and homemade green chile," Jessica says. "You don't go home hungry when you eat here."
Uh … burp ... for sure.
Also, because the footy loyalists arrive en masse and run up a decent tab, we get our first pitcher free. Another beauty of Eck's? Happy hour runs all day, every day -- 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
As far as soccer atmosphere goes, we basically provide it. The sweaty lot of us, some guys today wearing their Spanish colors, give the only soccer flavor to Eck's. This is a neighborhood saloon that, quite frankly, caters to guys who like their football commercial-laden (NFL), their cars loud (Nascar) and their clothing camo (bass fishing & hunting shows).
Eck's, in its 31st year of operation, proudly unfurls its ethos with a logo of well-endowed bull and slogan that's plain-spoken: No Balls, No Glory.
If soccer comes on, Eck's is happy to show it. Jessica no doubt became quite familiar with international footy after the Euro run.
"Sometimes we can't get some of the soccer (on TV) -- we just have Comcast -- but we'll show whatever we can get," says Jessica. The saloon's bank of TVs is vintage -- everything from sets made in the '50s with requisite snow and static to the crisp, big-screen monitor on which we watch the feed from Europe.
Our table this morning includes a couple wives, who brave the man-cave lair to support their husband's footy habit.
Jill and Chris sit at my table and Jill confesses she's not much into Eck's. "It's kind of a guy's place, a man's man atmosphere. It's kind of a redneck place. But I do like the patio. There's no shade though."
Eck's does have a spacious patio, where some of our players go to enjoy a smoke.
Chris says Eck's reminds him of a football and Nascar bar, but on Sunday mornings in the NFL offseason, "it's a good, casual place to watch soccer."
The domestic, mass-produced beers are on special this morning, and, as usual, Jessica steers us to the Killian's because, for a darker beer, it's cheaper than the Fat Tire.
She explains that Eck's has been operating for 31 years. It used to be more of a biker bar, she says, but now it's mainly a sports-rock bar. Bands play Wednesday through Saturdays, including a house band on Thursdays.
While the soccer crowd is a bit of an oddity at Eck's -- the regulars give us some curious glances -- there's a genuine symbiosis that occurs here on Sunday mornings. We commune in cleats for our religion; Eck's provides the altar.
Did I mention that the insanely large breakfast burritos -- better than communion any day -- are only $6 on Sundays?
"Sundays are dedicated to our soccer guys," Jessica says. "We want to keep you guys coming in."
Amen to that.
Pub Rating Guide
0 - Awful, horrible. You call this place a soccer bar?
1-3 - Poor. You trying to model your bar after Toronto FC?
4-6 - Decent. A reasonable joint, but you could have done a lot better.
7-9 - Great place! Did nearly everything right with few mistakes
10 - Perfecto!
This place rocks the food better than any pub I've found. From massive burritos to "heavy metal" burgers to outrageous Philly cheesesteak, Eck's has you covered. Also, don't miss the "ass-kickin' sauce" on the chicken tenders and wings and Longs Peak-esque nachos and chili cheese fries. Oh, and tater tots with the house tartar sauce. Delicious!
Beer selection is decent but not fantastic. If you're looking for an IPA, you won't find one here.
If you like your bars well lit and a bit on the trendy side (like prone to serve IPAs), don't come here. If you like a place that's rough around the edges and no-frills, you'll like Eck's.
Very friendly and prompt service. A bar that opens early on Sundays to let the soccer players in? Worth an extra three points right there.
You'll pay $7 for the breakfast burrito ($6 on Sundays), but the thing is so gargantuan it's well worth it. Easily feeds two grown men. Other prices are similar, in the $7-$10 range, but portions so big you don't mind.
Soccer friendliness: 7.5
On the plus side, if it's the football (American) off-season, they'll readily dial up soccer. On the negative, during the fall, you might not be so lucky. No footy regalia on the walls in this joint. But high marks for opening early when the soccer crowd shows up Sunday mornings.