Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar, 1514 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202

My buddy and I were cruising around on our scooters on a warm summer afternoon when we decided to stop into Hapa Sushi, for a beer and snack.  “X” opted for the Hapa beer on tap and I had a Sapporo, draft.  When you’re thirsty for a beer, having one of your favorites on tap is the best way to go.  It was cold, delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day.  Yay to fresh beer!  The place was quiet, with just a few people at tables scattered about, we sat at the corner of the bar.  It was about 2:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday. 

Hapa is centrally located in Downtown Denver in Lodo. They have a decent happy hour during the day, but also a late-night happy hour 10pm to Midnight, which is great for a late meal.  I always order my favorite things here and today was no exception, we ordered a few appetizers including the Colorado Style Hamachi (yellowtail). Seven fresh and buttery slices of tender yellowtail sashimi in a bright citrus yuzu soy sauce, each piece served with slivers of fresh jalapeños, and a single cilantro leaf. It’s pretty and tasty.  The flavors go together perfectly with a little bit of wasabi. The creamy fresh fish is cut by the citrus, the sweet, salt and heat balance it out perfectly.    

If I were rating this restaurant for flavor on this dish alone I’d rate it a five… Unfortunately, we also had a white tuna roll and Jay had a seafood salad. The white tuna roll was underwhelming way too much rice to fish ratio. Tasted dry and sticky without much fish flavor. I think the chef rolling rolls on this specific day was an amateur. The seaweed Salad was predominantly a bed of salad greens topped with about a tablespoon of seaweed salad.  Service (on this day) was mediocre. It was a Sunday afternoon, in Lodo maybe I shouldn’t expect so much.  Downtown tends to be pretty isolated on a Sunday.  Our bartender was young, not super experienced as a bartender, or knowledge of the menu.  There was a guy behind the bar who looked like he had a rough night, or perhaps rough weekend.  Sloppy, unshaven, gracing the restaurant with full on open mouth yawning.  He kind of looked like a full-grown infant who did the walk of shame straight into work.  I don’t really want to see you lean against the bar I’m sitting at, scratching your belly, yawning behind your mask as if you’re in your living room.  Decorum definitely lacking, but it wont keep me from going back.  It’s reliably fresh fish, good sushi.  In this time of Covid-19, restauranteurs are having difficulty retaining qualified and experienced staff, therefore I’m issuing a 1 point covid-19 handicap for service. The environment is soft-swanky, high ceilings, high top tables, a small street front sitting area, typical bistro style dining.   

Atmosphere: 4, great for casual meal, nothing fancy. 

Service: 3

Quality of Food/Drink: 3

Value for your money: 3 

Overall Impression:  3.25, a solid C

Recommended: Yes!  Service is hit and miss depending on the day/night you come.  Food is reliable and fresh with some creative dishes and sauces, the space is more on the casual side, so not recommended for first dates if you’re trying to make an impression.