The Neighborhood: Jefferson Park

When it comes to Denver’s noteworthy neighborhoods, it’s easy to overlook Jefferson Park—at least until recently. This diverse and up-and-coming hood has spent years in the shadows of its neighbors, West Highland and Highland (LoHi). But now, with many residential and commercial development projects completed (and countless more in progress), Jefferson Park is poised to become one of the city’s most popular places to eat, drink, play, and live.

(Check out 5280‘s Neighborhood Guide series)

Boundaries: Speer Boulevard to the north, Sports Authority Field at Mile High to the South, between Federal Boulevard and the South Platte River.

The Vibe: This is a neighborhood in transition. While young professionals are drawn to the area for its proximity to downtown and cheaper property costs, there are still a lot of families who grew up in the area, creating a unique mixing pot.

Main Drag: Most of the action takes place on Eliot Street, between 25th and 23rd Avenues, where numerous businesses have popped up in the past year. But there’s also a lot of traffic east of I-25, where bikers and walkers connect to the Platte River Trail.

Your Itinerary:

Grub: Start your day with some comfort food from Sassafras American Eatery, located in the historic William J. Dunwoody House, built in 1889. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but we’re fans of the beignets, the biscuits and gravy, and any of their grits. For lunch, travel just down the road to La Loma, a fine-dining Mexican restaurant located in a beautiful historic mansion. Everything on the menu is top-notch, but may we suggest the fajitas (served with fresh tortillas made in view of the main dining area), chile rellenos, and enchiladas—all topped with flavorful green chile, of course. Don’t forget a Margarita de la Casa, which comes in four sizes.

For dinner, don’t miss Sarto’s—a newly opened Northern Italian eatery and bar located in a 4,000-square-foot space on the corner of Eliot Street and 25th Avenue. Everything from the service to the decor to the food is nothing less than pristine, with meals that appeal to both classic and adventurous eaters. As a bonus, at the establishment’s adjoining enclave, the Pantry, you can purchase pasta and sauces made on site, have a glass of wine, or grab a panini to go. Another dinnertime dining option is Amass, a French-inspired bistro located across from Jefferson Park on Clay Street, where you can enjoy classic entrees such as Coq au Vin and Boeuf Bourguignon along with a glass of wine from their perfectly curated list.

Sip: For a neighborhood bar experience, head to Jefferson Park Pub on Eliot Street. Here, you can kick back and watch a game or catch up with friends while sipping on a brew, cocktail, or glass of vino. During warmer months, the patio is the perfect place to enjoy happy hour while munching on snacks such as spinach and artichoke dip or a Baker Street pretzel. If you’re looking for more food to fill your belly while you imbibe, head to Federal Bar and Grill. With more than 20 beers on draft and an epic Build Your Own Burger menu, as well as a decent selection of board games and trivia, you might as well settle in for a long evening. Looking for a less-boozy option? 2914 Coffee on 25th Avenue serves up the neighborhood’s best caffeinated beverages, as well as delicious treats (including a rotating selection of Little Man Ice Cream).

Work Out: In this area, there’s no shortage of spandexed bikers cruising down 23rd Avenue on their way to the Platte River Trail. But if biking or city-hiking isn’t your thing, visit Blunt Force Training, located on Bryant Street just north of Mile High Stadium. Here, you can take boot camp, which incorporates cardio and strength training, hire a personal trainer, sign up for yoga or Pilates Reformer classes, or try boxing. If you’re looking to add a little more intensity to your WOD, check out CrossFit Jefferson Park, located on Eliot Street.

Kids Corner: Just east of I-25, you can find two of Denver’s best kid-friendly attractions. The Children’s Museum of Denver is a world-class facility that offers numerous, ever-changing exhibits to enrich a child’s mind. Just next door at the Downtown Aquarium, kids can learn about exotic fish (including sharks), explore caves, watch a tiger eat lunch, and take in a Mystic Mermaids show.

Shop: While Jefferson Park isn’t necessarily a shopping destination, we would be remiss not to mention the recently opened Sully & Co. This Eliot Street shop features high-quality, American-made menswear and accessories and is geared toward Denver’s sartorially inclined gentleman. For adventure seekers, visit Guerrilla Gravity for state-of-the-art trail and downhill bikes—all manufactured on location—gear, Colorado-branded accessories, and more.

Erin Skarda
Erin Skarda
Erin is a Denver-based writer and the former digital editor for 5280.