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Restaurant Review: Gray’s Coors Tavern, a plate of Pueblo history

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restaurantreview-4.jpgThe restaurant review goes retro for the second week in a row, coming to you this time from the cozy confines of Gray’s Coors Tavern.

Located at 515 W. 4th St. in downtown Pueblo, “Coors” is said to be the home of the famous Pueblo “slopper,” an open-face cheeseburger smothered with green chile. If that doesn’t get your blood flowing and then slowing, nothing will.

Coors is best approached by car from Elizabeth street. From I-25, take the 6th street exit, turn left on Elizabeth, go down about a block and a half and turn into the parking lot.

The lot itself is bumpy and unmarked, so do your best to park in an inoffensive manner. Try not to block anyone in, at least. Make your way in through the side door near the beer garden, and have a seat at the bar or at one of the booths on either side of the doorway.

The servers are attentive and helpful, and someone always brings you a menu just moments after you take a seat.

The inside is easy enough to navigate once you get situated. The space above the long, narrow bar is lined with sports memorabilia and old baseball gloves, and patrons will find additional memorabilia unique to Pueblo above the booths and tables. It all serves to enhance the old-school Pueblo feeling that Coors exudes. The place doesn’t seem like it’s trying too hard, and the theme is appropriate and apparent.

More importantly, the food is delicious. The slopper is the anchor of the menu, and its word-of-mouth reputation spans generations. The meal, which exists in many forms at restaurants around southern Colorado, supposedly originated at Coors, and it has been a consistent treat for decades.

Because the slopper doesn’t exactly have the most appealing name, a technical explanation is in order. Picture, if you will, an open-face cheeseburger served in a shallow bowl and topped with Pueblo green chile. Onions and french fries are optional extras, and they really add something to the dish in terms of both flavor and heart burn.

The slopper isn’t the only meal available at Coors, and the place prides itself on doing a bang-up hamburger, hot dog, Runyon Field sandwich, french dip or grilled cheese sandwich. Green and red chile are available to eat or take away in different sized bowls, and salads are available as well.

Coors also provides the obligatory bar grub in the form of a wide array of appetizers: taquitos, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, french fries or chips and salsa are standard. The bar is also fully stocked with enough liquor, beer and spirits to please any crowd.

What brings most young people back to Coors over and over again, though, is the slopper. It is available with the aforementioned extras as well as oyster crackers, but the dish comes with some other customizable features as well.

The slopper can be ordered as a half-size, regular, double, or triple meal. However, the regular should satisfy most hearty appetites quite nicely. The double pushes the limits of “comfortably full,” and this reviewer has never seen a triple slopper in his young Coors career.

Slopper meals at Coors usually run about $8 a head, depending heavily on drink orders. A schooner of draft beer and a regular slopper will tip the scales more toward the $10 region, and additional drinks will make the bill more expensive. Sandwiches and lighter meals are less expensive.

The verdict: Coors has been around since the mid 1930s, and an old steel mill hangout aura does infiltrate the place a bit. Still, the slopper is a Pueblo legend in itself, and most people feel as if they owe it to their town to at least see what all the fuss is about. Do yourself a favor and snag one after finals. You won’t regret it.

Four stars out of five (based on quality of food, service, location, atmosphere and sophistication)

Phone number: 719-544-0455