This sugar-, salt-, caffeine-, and booze-fueled ritual has become more than just an excuse to day-drink bottomless mimosas. From where to take Grandma and the kids to splurge-worthy spots to 5280’s very favorite bites (and sips), consider this your guide to the best brunches in Denver.
Let’s do brunch! Indulge in a sweet and savory menu from the top brunch spots in Denver, enjoy fun cocktails, and mix and mingle at the 5280 Brunch Event, taking place Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Jacquard Hotel & Rooftop in Cherry Creek. Tickets are available now.
More from our March 2019 Issue
Best Eggs Benedict
Sassafras American Eatery | Multiple locations
We’ve eaten more Bennys than we care to count, but Sassafras American Eatery’s Deep South Benedict charmed us from bite one. Jalapeño cornbread replaces the English muffin, and a mess of tender pulled pork and collard greens stand in for the Canadian bacon. Although Sassafras hasn’t altered the hallmark runny poached eggs or hollandaise sauce, house-made pickled chile jam brings welcome acid and heat, saving the dish from falling into the too-rich trap that plagues so many other Benedicts. sassafrasamericaneatery.com
Best Bloody Mary
Ultreia | LoDo
It makes sense that Ultreia has figured out the ideal formula for a Bloody Mary—tomatoes are a Basque staple, after all, as are briny, spicy, and boozy ingredients. Ultreia’s bar team employs Spanish manzanilla sherry for nutty, saline notes that commingle with spicy, from-scratch “piri piri” (a Portuguese chile sauce), harissa, and that classic base, V8 Vegetable Juice. A “gilda”—a skewer holding a plump white anchovy, half an olive, and a pickled Basque chile—and paper-thin slices of lemon and lime serve as the garnish on this stellar drink, which whets your palate for Ultreia’s tapas-style brunch menu. ultreiadenver.com
Best Brunch Dish We Didn’t Know We Were Craving
Onefold | City Park West
Until recently, fried rice wasn’t the first, or even second, thing we thought about when we contemplated a big, brunch-y bowl of carbs. We typically reserved those daydreams for biscuits, pancakes, or hash (find our favorites below). But then we devoured a heaping serving of Onefold’s spectacular fried rice with Chinese sausage (“lap cheong”), and all that changed. The rice is toasted in duck fat—which the kitchen also uses to cook eggs and crispy hash browns—then seasoned with garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and a touch of chile oil. Garnished with sautéed slices of sweet, meaty lap cheong (or duck, ham, or bacon) and two fried eggs, it’s a satisfying surprise that we intend to eat on repeat. onefolddenver.com
Julep | RiNo
Nearly every food writer in Denver has extolled Kyle Foster’s biscuits—and here we go again. Julep’s biscuits are extraordinary. They are baked to order and have crusty edges that shatter just so when you bite into them. They are tender inside, salty, and oh-so rich. They have the requisite flaky texture, yet they’re also somehow pillowy and certainly hold more butter than a typical biscuit. Foster is, simply put, a biscuit genius. So head to his Larimer Street restaurant, where the bourbon milk punch is creamy and potent and the biscuits go with everything from fried chicken to sausage gravy. And please tell Foster that, this time, 5280 sent you. juleprino.com
Brunchin’ Round The World
Should you tire of American-style eats, explore another side of breakfast.
If you love: Chinese food
Go to: Star Kitchen on Mississippi Avenue for the best dim sum in town. You’ll wait for a table on weekend mornings, but the pan-fried turnip cake with XO sauce, shrimp-stuffed eggplant, and congee with duck egg are worth it. Star also has a liquor license should you need something stronger than tea. starkitchenseafooddimsum.com
If you love: English food
Go to: The British Bulldog, because if you’re going to spend your weekend mornings watching Premier League matches, you may as well do so over a full English breakfast—two eggs, a “banger” (sausage), “rashers” (bacon), mushrooms, beans, fried tomato, and toast—at this 12-year-old Five Points pub. britishbulldogdenver.com
If you love: Ethiopian food
Go to: Colfax Avenue’s Africana Cafe, which opens at 9 a.m. daily to serve traditional breakfasts such as the fried-egg-topped “ful” (crushed fava beans spiked with onion, jalapeño, olive oil, and tomato) and “chechebsa,” a comforting dish similar to a savory bread pudding that’s infused with berbere-spiced butter. africanaethiopianfood.com
If you love: Vietnamese food
Go to: Pho 95 on Federal Boulevard for—what else?—a steaming bowl of its signature brothy noodle soup, a common breakfast in Southeast Asia. The Pho 95 special, with filet mignon, brisket, and flank, is a classic Denver hangover cure. pho95noodlehouse.com
If you love: Filipino food
Go to: Aurora’s Sunburst Grill, where a hearty plate of “tocino” (Filipino-style bacon cured with pineapple juice), eggs, and rice costs just $7. Pair it with a glass of calamansi juice, a tangy twist on OJ that tastes like a combination of lime and tangerine.
Best Coffee & Pastries
The Bindery | LoHi
Cradling a porcelain mug of steaming joe inside the Bindery’s bright, bustling space on Central Street is a beautiful way to greet the day. The beans come from Denver’s Queen City Coffee Collective, which has been seducing local java lovers with its artisan, direct-trade coffees since 2007. The organic Oaxacan blend—La Mixteca—currently being poured is especially smooth and rich, with notes of chocolate and citrus that offset talented pastry chef Arielle Israel’s exquisite croissants and other morning pastries to soul-warming effect. thebinderydenver.com
Best Avocado Toast
Steuben’s | Uptown & Arvada
We’re confident avocado toast has nothing to do with millennials’ low homeownership rates, but paying more than $10 for the trendy staple isn’t a great idea for anyone’s wallet. Luckily, Steuben’s Avocado Goddess Toast will only set you back $5—and it’s absolutely divine. The kitchen toasts ciabatta, slathers it with a rich, herby, sour-cream-based schmear, tops it with thin slices of buttery avocado, and garnishes it all with shaved radish and a drizzle of olive oil. The result is so rich and satisfying, you’ll almost feel guilty paying so little. Almost. steubens.com
Urban Farmer | LoDo
We’ve eaten scores of leathery, flavorless omelets over the years—which, in a town known for the dish, is more than a little disappointing. Thank goodness for Urban Farmer, then, where the Denver omelet gets its due. Available during weekend brunch and weekday breakfast, chef Chris Starkus’ iteration is studded with chunks of roasted green chiles, red pepper, and local ham and topped with a generous (if nontraditional) pour of béarnaise sauce. The omelet itself is a marvel of technique—voluminous and fluffy without a trace of browning. Finally, we can lay claim to an omelet worthy of our city’s good name. urbanfarmerdenver.com
Best Fried Chicken
The Post Brewing Co. | Multiple locations
Not only is the Post’s fried chicken consistently spectacular, with a superbly crunchy, perfectly seasoned crust and juicy meat within—a mighty fine meal all on its own—but the homey restaurant’s a.m. menu also grants our wish for multiple brunch-acceptable ways to eat the humble bird. Try it atop cheesy grits, or crowning a buttermilk waffle with a drizzle of chile-cherry chutney and gravy, or piled on a tender biscuit with over-easy eggs, or stuffed inside a green-chile smothered burrito, or…well, you get the idea. postbrewing.com
Wendell’s | Berkeley
It’s easy to put pancakes—filled with chocolate chips or jam, drenched in fudge sauce or whipped cream or whatever over-the-top condiment sweet-toothed guests may consider tempting—on a brunch menu. What’s more difficult is to make a pancake that tastes good solo. Wendell’s, the upscale diner that took over the original DJ’s Cafe space on Tennyson Street last year, has achieved the latter with its massive buttermilk beauties, which are lightened with whipped egg whites and flavored with brandy, vanilla paste, and lemon zest. There are three topping combos to choose from, each one an elevation instead of a disguise: maple butter and maple syrup; crunchy maple pecans, butter, and lemon zest; or (our must-order) seasonal fruit compote with clotted cream and fresh thyme. wendellsbreakfast.com
The Big Deal
Whether you’re on a budget or breaking the bank, there’s a Mile High City brunch for that.
Methodology: To assign a price per person for each of these meals, we totaled the average cost of an entrée, a coffee, and a cocktail or beer.
Garden Terrace at Hilton Denver Inverness: $55
Bust out your (fancy) stretchy pants before tackling the Sunday brunch buffet at this hotel near the Park Meadows mall. The price includes live jazz, bottomless mimosas, and an all-you-can-eat buffet with made-to-order omelets, a raw seafood bar, and carved prime rib. hilton.com
Edge Restaurant & Bar: $45
Opulence is the key word when you’re dining at the steak house in the Four Seasons downtown; dishes such as tres leches French toast and crab cake Benedict complete the picture. Its proximity to matinée shows at the nearby Denver Performing Arts Complex merely adds to the appeal. edgerestaurantdenver.com
Quality Italian: $34
This Cherry Creek stunner inside the Halcyon hotel offers unique, Italian-inspired brunch fare—including the signature chicken Parmesan and light-as-air gnudi—and fresh-juice Bellinis (cucumber-lime, white peach, grapefruit-pomegranate) are mixed tableside from a roving cart. qualityitalian.com
Olive & Finch: $26
You’ll find all of the brunch essentials without any of the fuss at both locations (Uptown and Cherry Creek) of this family-friendly restaurant/bakery. Our go-to: a $6 Bloody Mary and the Fettster (seeded rye toast with caper cream cheese and smoked salmon) with an egg on top. oliveandfincheatery.com
Bacon Social House: $25
With pop-art-bedecked walls and a large roster of boozy drinks, this two-story Sunnyside spot is perfect for families and revelers alike. Order a bacon flight as you debate between ordering the Costa Rica Benedict (smoked pork belly, jalapeño cornbread, pineapple salsa, chipotle hollandaise) or the bacon shrimp and grits. baconsocialhouse.com
Denver Central Market: $20
Customize your brunch on the cheap at this airy RiNo hangout. Grab a coffee from Crema Bodega, a cocktail from Curio—we like the rum, apple brandy, and citrus concoction called Dead Presidents—and a massive cinnamon roll from Izzio Bakery to enjoy at one of the food hall’s long community tables. denvercentralmarket.com
Rise and Shine Biscuit Kitchen & Cafe: $15
Get the most bang for the least buck at the Sloan’s Lake outpost of this popular counter-service spot. Pair your breakfast sandwich (it comes on a fluffy, house-baked biscuit) with a cup of locally roasted Pablo’s Coffee and your choice of local brew from eight rotating beer taps. riseandshinedenver.com
Annette | Aurora
It’s nearly impossible to choose just one item from Annette’s brunch menu, but when pressed to do so, chef Caroline Glover’s waffles float above the rest. Their light texture comes from a yeasted batter Glover rests overnight for ultimate flavor development and loft. Eggs and plenty of butter go into the mix in the morning, and then the batter bakes in a Belgian-style waffle iron that imparts crisp edges and deep wells. Even better, the topping combinations change weekly and with the seasons, from apples with salted caramel and whipped cream in the fall to blackberries with lemon curd and whipped cream in the spring. annettescratchtotable.com
There Denver | LoHi
Meals at There Denver are often riotous affairs, especially if you go during brunch, when the restaurant offers rotating entertainment with themes like burlesque, yoga, and bluegrass music. And while many brunchers are, ahem, there for the bottomless sangria and party vibes, we’d happily make a special trip to indulge in the quirky eatery’s wonderful brioche doughnut holes. For $7, you get three heavenly fried orbs that are crispy on their cinnamon-sugar-coated outsides, feather-soft within, and generously filled with tart, house-made raspberry–Pinot Noir jam. Brunch with a side of burlesque dancing may not be everyone’s thing, but we’re pretty sure these doughnuts are. therehospitalitygroup.com
Best Vegetarian Lineup
City, O’ City | Capitol Hill
Vegetarian and vegan Denverites need not suffer through bland tofu scrambles and butter-free toast, thanks to Cap Hill’s hipster institution, City, O’ City, where the entire a.m. menu (served daily, not just on weekends) is plant-based-diet friendly. A meatless morning meal here looks like gluten-free kimchi pancakes topped with pickled carrots, sesame seeds, and sweet soy sauce. Or waffle sliders with barley “sausage” and maple aïoli. Or tempeh “bacon” hash with caramelized onions. There’s even a full bar to sate all of your kombucha mimosa needs. cityocitydenver.com
Best French Toast
Early Bird Restaurant | Westminster & Greenwood Village
Truly transcendent French toast is a rare slice of heaven, indeed. Daniel and Kristen Cofrades, chef-owners of Early Bird Restaurant, exalt the classic by soaking slices of tender sourdough in a vanilla-and-cinnamon-scented crème brûlée custard before coating the bread with coarse sugar and griddling it to golden, caramelized crispness. Even if you order it unadorned, you may find yourself fighting with your tablemates over the last few bites. And we probably don’t need to tell you that it’s next-level delightful when topped with sliced bananas, peanut butter, and toasted coconut. earlybirdrestaurant.com
Best Caffeine-Infused Cocktail
Death & Co. Denver | RiNo
Leave it to the booze pros at Death & Co. Denver to devise the ultimate brunch beverage. Bar manager Alex Jump’s low-alcohol take on the Italian “caffè corretto” (corrected coffee) includes chocolatey, not-too-bitter Nardini amaro, creamy coconut milk, a hint of vanilla, a shot of local Middle State Coffee’s Doggery Blend espresso, and a sprinkle of sea salt over pebble ice. We wish we could start every day with one, and, thanks to the fact that DC/AM (Death & Co.’s daytime lobby cafe) in the Ramble Hotel is open daily, there’s nothing stopping us from doing so—apart from retaining gainful employment, that is. deathandcompany.com/denver
On the Line
One food editor investigates a local mystery: Is brunch at Snooze worth the wait? —Denise Mickelsen
9:57 a.m. We find a parking spot about a block away from the Snooze on Colorado Boulevard and Seventh Avenue. I’m unenthused—I’d rather cook breakfast for our hangry child in my pajamas than hang out with strangers on a street corner in the 32-degree December air. But I’d been wondering about this Denver phenomenon for years: Why, oh why, do so many people wait in line for brunch at Snooze? I needed an answer.
10 There’s no one in line! Seriously? I ask for a table for three, commenting to one of the fresh-faced hosts about the lack of a wait. She raises an eyebrow and points to the side entrance. “Everyone is in the hallway getting coffee,” she says. “It’ll be 25 to 30 minutes.” We slink through tables filled with happy people who got out of bed earlier than we did and join our 15 compatriots in the hall. My phone dings with a text from Snooze asking me to reply with “pancakes” if we leave to eat elsewhere. Cute, but not exactly encouraging.
10:10 We loiter outside, sipping the free coffee Snooze doles out to offset long waits and playing a cornhole/bowling hybrid our son has just invented using the wooden pins and cornhole game set out near the entrance. Are all Colorado Snoozes built to ensure that the morning sun will warm their waiting guests? This one is—and it’s actually quite comfortable standing on the sidewalk as the cars whizzing by drown out the insistent rumblings of our stomachs.
10:50 My phone dings: We’re in.
10:52 Our Snoozer (as the staffers are called), who goes by Ninja, pours us fresh coffee. The little one orders apple juice, chocolate-chip pancakes, and sausage links; we request cocktails. Sitting on the east-facing patio puts us back in the sun’s path. I switch seats with our son to take the brunt of the rays.
10:55 I am starting to sweat and use my menu as a sun shield. Thankfully, our drinks arrive. My Rummosa is watery and sour, but I’m grateful for the ice.
11 Ninja returns and we order: ancient grain porridge, sweet potato hash with poached eggs and gochujang, and a hash brown plate with spinach and rosemary sausage gravy.
11:16 Our offspring eats a pancake with his hands, like an animal. No one seems to notice.
11:22 Adult food arrives. There’s plenty of it, it’s hot, and it tastes good. The poached eggs are runny, and the sausage gravy is just salty and spicy enough. The sleeper hit is the creamy porridge, topped with lots of sweet berries and banana slices, almonds, and hemp seeds.
11:36 Ninja boxes up our leftover sweet potatoes, pancake, and hash browns. He drops the check: $67.50.
11:52 As we walk by the host stand on our way out the door, I ask how long the wait is now: about 45 minutes. Would I wait that long again? Yeah, I would. And I think I finally understand why Denverites love Snooze so much. It’s that magic formula of upscale diner menu plus friendly hospitality plus celebratory vibe. In other words, Snooze is solid brunch gold.
Photo by Aaron Colussi. Prop styling by Natalie Warady.
Brightmarten | Belcaro
What could be better than a bottomless mimosa deal? Answer: Brightmarten’s $24 mimosa flight. It comes with a full bottle of Domanda Prosecco, a carafe of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and two more carafes containing the juices of your choice; options include grapefruit, blood orange, strawberry-lemongrass, and peach purée (which technically transforms your drink into a Bellini, which is fine by us). You’ll see this setup on just about every table at the charming neighborhood restaurant during weekend brunch—amid plates of hulking short-rib chimichangas and brioche French toast—because Denverites are no dummies. brightmarten.com
Best Huevos Rancheros
Revelry Kitchen | West Highland
While the churro doughnuts, lobster BLT, or chicken-fried steak with French toast might tempt you, regulars at three-year-old Revelry Kitchen on West 38th Avenue know not to ignore the humble-sounding Northside Rancheros. The kitchen resists the urge to reinvent, instead perfecting all of the dish’s elements: The scratch-made red chile sauce is earthy, rich, and not too spicy; the black bean purée is smooth; the two eggs are always cooked precisely to your liking; and the black bean and corn salsa is a fresh counterpoint to melted queso asadero and tender corn tortillas. revelrydenver.com
Best Smothered Burrito
La Loma | Central Business District
Brunch demands something more majestic than the foil-wrapped breakfast burritos we turn to on harried weekday morning commutes. Enter La Loma’s hulking, fork-and-knife-required smothered version, only available on Saturdays and Sundays. It takes two house-made flour tortillas to contain the generous portion of scrambled eggs and bacon, while a thorough drenching of gravy-esque green chile, a sprinkling of cheese, and a side of potatoes put it over the top in all the right ways. Pair it with a michelada (your choice of beer combined with Worcestershire sauce, clamato, jalapeño, lime juice, and bitters) and prepare for the inevitable post-brunch afternoon nap. lalomamexican.com
Jelly | Capitol Hill & University
This charming breakfast-all-day restaurant is a local brunch classic for myriad reasons: doughnut holes in eight flavors, from-scratch jams and jellies, strong coffee, and vintage-cereal-box-chic decor. But if we’re being very honest, it’s Jelly’s hashes we love the most. Made with small-diced spuds and root vegetables—and the perfect amount of succulent bacon, spicy chorizo, or house-made corned beef—each plate is an ode to the glorious trifecta of carbs, fat, and salt. eatmorejelly.com
Best Egg Sandwich
Smōk | RiNo
Cushy brioche bun? Check. Fluffy, well-seasoned scrambled eggs? Yep. Garlicky, spicy, maple-syrup-infused pork sausage patty nestled under a thick layer of melted sharp cheddar and a swipe of chipotle aïoli? Hell, yes. Smōk’s decadent breakfast sandwich ticks off all the boxes. Pair it with a boozy frozen slushy—including one made with brewed-on-site New Belgium beer—for a simple but totally satisfying weekend meal. denversmok.com
We considered all the reasons Denverites go out for brunch in order to find the ideal spot for your occasion.
On a Date
A Parisian-inspired menu, French press for two, and dreamy, secluded patio off Larimer Square make Bistro Vendôme the most romantic brunch venue in town. bistrovendome.com
With Everyone from Grandma to Aunt Jane
The extensive brunch menu at 36-year-old stalwart Racines means that even your pickiest, allergy-prone family member will find something to love. Plus, its servers always handle large-party headaches—split checks, complicated orders—like pros. racinesrestaurant.com
Treating the Kids
Located at the Centennial Airport, the Perfect Landing boasts direct views of planes as they land and take off, keeping your future pilot entertained between bites of blueberry pancakes. theperfectlanding.com
Entertaining the In-Laws
On Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., bassist Matt Skellenger treats Breakfast on Broadway brunchers to original songs and Frank Sinatra classics. The cream-cheese-stuffed French toast tastes even better with tunes. breakfastonbroadway.com
In Search of Cheap Cocktails
Perfect for brunching with out-of-town visitors, 13th Avenue’s nearly three-decade-old Dozens is conveniently located near some of the city’s best museums—and the mimosas are just $3.75 a pop. dozensdenver.com
Hungover and Bleary-Eyed
At Call, RiNo’s fast-casual, Scandinavian-influenced cafe, you and your comrades in regret can order salmon tartines and “æbelskivers” (pancake bites) online for pickup and be back on your couch before the shakes set in. call-denver.com
Just Slightly Hungover
Hashtag’s libations—especially the Fruity Cougar, made with vodka, fresh berries, seasonal kombucha, and lime juice—and hearty hashes are the ultimate hangover-banishing combo. hashtag-restaurant.com
Looking for Beer
Pair the brewed-on-site Sour Seoul (an Asian pear and kimchi sour) or the Bee’s Knees (raspberry honey blonde ale) with your chicken and waffles at Briar Common Brewery & Eatery in Jefferson Park. briarcommon.com
In Search of All the Drinks
With a full cocktail bar (Moo Bar), dedicated wine bar (Cellar), and craft beer taproom (Stranded Pilgrim), it’s safe to say LoDo’s convivial Milk Market food hall is the ultimate Sunday brunch spot for boozers. denvermilkmarket.com
Photography by Aaron Colussi; Prop styling by Natalie Warady