The Speer neighborhood can feel overshadowed by its better-known neighbors, lively South Broadway and scenic Wash Park. But overlooking this slice of Denver would be a mistake. This centralized area may not be the Mile High City’s top nightlife destination, but between its historic homes, inviting eateries, and quirky shops, it’s the perfect place to spend a laid-back Saturday.
Boundaries: Seventh Avenue to the north, Downing Street to the east, Alameda Avenue to the south, and Broadway to the west.
The Vibe: This quiet, residential neighborhood is home to lifelong Denver families and twenty-something transplants alike. It’s generally fairly quiet, though it isn’t a bad spot for a casual night out with friends.
Main Drag: East Sixth Avenue is home to fun, quirky shops and plenty of casual eateries.
Start the Day Right: Endure the wait at Lucile’s Creole Café by sipping a mimosa or chicory coffee next to their outdoor fire pit. The Cajun brunch spot dishes out platters of homemade biscuits and gravy, classic pain perdu, and fresh, fluffy beignets. Not interested in waiting for a table? Treat yourself to a latte and a surprisingly spicy chile-smothered breakfast burrito at Café Europa. Bonus: While you’re noshing, check out Europa’s rotating art gallery.
Get Creative: The Art Students League of Denver has classes for kids and adults alike, and it’s a great place to try your hand at life drawing or take up oil painting again. If you’re more into viewing art than making it, get inspired by visiting a group exhibition at the league’s historic Grant Street home. (Pressing Matters, a collection of original prints, starts on February 26.)
Eat Cheap: Speer plays host to several tasty lunch spots where you can stretch a dollar. Fresh New Mexican fare from Socorro’s Street Tacos off Bayaud Avenue is always affordable and delicious. (Say hello to Carlos!) We recommend the Santa Fe torta filled with carnitas, avocado, and salsa or the deluxe St. Anthony burrito smothered in vegetarian green chili. If you’re all-you-can-eat hungry, visit Little India for a daily lunch buffet filled with colorful curries, many of which are vegetarian. Don’t miss the earthy dal makhani or rich saag paneer. And if pizza is more your style, you can’t miss the tasty Neapolitan-style pies at Pizzeria Locale.
Relax: Thanks to its laid-back vibe and eclectic collection of Victorians and historic bungalows, Speer is an excellent destination for an afternoon walk. When you get tired, head over to one of neighborhood’s never-crowded parks. Check out the monument at Hungarian Freedom Park, or spend some time kicking back in Alamo Placita Park, which is filled with its namesake cottonwood trees and lovely flowers in the spring.
Caffeine Fix: Pablo’s Coffee has been serving its own unique roasts for two decades, so it’s the perfect place to snag a cup of Joe. Browse their collection of coffee table books as you sip on a latte or cold brew, or grab your favorite blend of beans to take home. If coffee isn’t your preferred cuppa, stop by Platform T for a wide variety of choose-your-own loose-leaf teas or a unique signature drink, such as the earl grey chai or spicy spiced cider.
Shop: Find artisan beauty products and herbal remedies at MoonDance Botanicals, a combination boutique and classroom for aspiring herbalists. Then stop by the Herbery, a decades-old plant shop, and browse a variety of succulents, ferns, and cactuses.
Date Night: For an easy-going night out, Table 6 offers American comfort food with a spin, including tasty fried chicken with orange gravy and a curry-cauliflower raviolo. No matter what you order, we recommended the tater tot appetizer, an addictive tangy plate of tots, cheese curds, bacon, apple butter, and malt vinegar. Another option: Try the delicious Japanese and Korean entrees at Uoki. After dinner, take your date to a movie at Esquire Theatre—it’s right on the border of Speer, and it’s been playing avant-garde flicks since before 1930.
Grab a Drink: Telegraph offers a full menu of colorful cocktails, including the Bye Felicia (whiskey, lillet rouge, and rhubarb), and Lala’s Wine Bar & Pizzeria, which serves a yummy house red and pizzas to share, is an excellent destination for girls’ night out. For a no-frills evening, Don’s Club Tavern is a quintessential dive bar, complete with brown leather booths, shuffleboard, and pool tables. And if you’re on a budget, you can’t beat the happy hour at Govnr’s Park Tavern—two-for-one wells, drafts, and house wines between 4-7 p.m. and 11 p.m.-1 a.m.