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Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood has enjoyed a revival recently, thanks to an influx of development, restaurants, breweries, and new residents who are migrating north from the overly saturated Highland district. The area is primarily residential, with a mix of historic bungalows and modern homes that locals have grown accustomed to seeing pop up throughout North Denver. But Sunnyside offers more than real estate. Its unique mix of amenities provides a clue that the neighborhood is on the verge. And why wouldn’t it be? With its quiet tree-lined streets, welcoming front porches, proximity to highways, downtown, and other popular areas, as well as a light rail station coming in 2016, it’s safe to say that Sunnyside is poised to be Denver’s next hot neighborhood.
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Boundaries: I-70 to the north, Union Pacific Railroad line to the east, 38th Avenue to the south, and Federal Boulevard to the west.
The Vibe: This North Denver neighborhood is just that—a neighborhood. Expect to see children playing, next-door neighbors chatting, and people biking through the narrow streets. Although the eastern and northern sides of the hood are more industrial, that will continue to change with the introduction of the light rail and more new businesses.
Main Drag: There really isn’t one—at least right now—save for the busy stretch of 38th Avenue, which is lined with many of the locals’ favorite restaurants. A few blocks north, 44th Avenue is likely to become the hood’s hidden go-to area, but it hasn’t rounded out its offerings quite yet.
Grub: First and foremost, head over to The Universal and get your breakfast, brunch, or lunch on. This small eatery offers a locally inspired spin on classic breakfast fare. Try their blueberry pancakes, or biscuits topped with spicy pork sausage gravy. But if you go on a weekend, prepare to wait—this place is no secret. Just down the street, you’ll have better luck getting a seat for brunch at Lou’s Food Bar, which serves up authentic comfort food any time of day. Their brunch-time Bloody Mary bar allows you to build-your-own beverage (don’t skimp on the chicken tenders), or try a Man-Mosa, made with vodka, OJ, and Hefeweizen. During dinner hour we have two words for you: fried chicken. Lou’s does it right, with three flavor options (naked, medium, and hot), and delicious sides like mac-and-cheese, braised kale, and confit red bliss potatoes.
Another option is Sunnyside Burger Bar. This recently opened restaurant on the Southwestern corner of Lipan and 38th Avenue (which is technically in Highland, but we’ll let that slide), grills up all-natural beef, turkey, and veggie burgers with an eclectic mix of toppings. For added gluttony, enjoy your burger with one of their boozy shakes. Just across the way, you can savor just about anything smothered with green chili at the Original Chubby’s (we suggest the burrito). Or if you’re craving a deliciously cheesy pizza with fresh dough and handmade sauce, visit Ernie’s Bar & Pizza, which was originally established in 1943 and re-opened in 2009. Last, but definitely not least, head over to Big Country BBQ—the brick-and-mortar location for the highly addicting food truck you’ve probably chased around Denver.
Drink: You won’t lack for sudsy options in this hood. Start with Diebolt Brewing, a family-owned and operated brewhouse and tasting room combo, and try one of their session-able beers, many of which are French inspired. We’re digging the Anton Francois French Ale and the Perk French Saison with Coffee. If you’re making a tour of it (as you should), your next stop is Factotum Brewhouse, which is based on a unique business model. Created by brother-and-sister duo Christopher and Laura Bruns, this brewery is open to guest brewers of all skill levels, who can rent the equipment and sell their beer on tap. The result? An ever-rotating selection of unique beers (and a chance to meet the brewers). The Sunnyside beer tour concludes at Denver Beer Co. Canworks, the local favorite’s production brewery and canning facility. Stop by for a tour on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, enjoy a freshly poured beer from the taps, and pick up a sixer to take home.
If beer isn’t your cup of booze, Sunnyside offers another option: wine. Visit Bonacquisti Wine Co., Denver’s first urban winery. Opened in 2006 in an industry warehouse space near I-70 and Pecos, Bonacquisti’s tasting room pours wine on tap, and is open to the public Thursday through Saturday. Check out Friday Uncorked, an evening event that pairs wine drinking with live music and food trucks. You can also fill a jug and take their wine home. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Get Caffeinated: All this eating and drinking must be making you tired. Head to one of the neighborhood’s coffee shops for a jolt of energy. Common Grounds on 44th Avenue is a Denver standby (relocated from West Highland in 2013), offering freshly roasted coffee blends, fresh teas, ice cream, and snacks. Huckleberry Roasters famed beans are roasted in a large garage space off Pecos and 43rd Avenue. The adjoining (and spacious) café also offers an outdoor deck to enjoy the Colorado sunshine. But if you really need to wake up, head to Buchi Café Cubano and order a double shot of their Cuban espresso (and while you’re there, you might as well get a Cuban Mix sandwich).
Jam: In 2000, a local couple hosted a neighborhood party they called the Sunnyside Bluegrass Festival in their backyard. It began with two bands, two kegs, and 50 people. After the couple moved away in 2004, the festival died off, much to the dismay of locals. So in 2007, a few members of the community applied for two small grants to revive the storied event, which they renamed Sunnyside Music Fest and moved to Chaffee Park on 44th and Tejon. Now in its fifth year, the festival is hosted the Saturday after Labor Day (this year it’s September 12), and has raised more than $10,000 for charities in the community.
Shop: There aren’t many stores in Sunnyside just yet, and that makes Sub Rosa Mercantile all the more unique. The bright and minimalistic space on 44th Avenue stocks a perfectly tailored collection of tiny plants, embroidered clutches, intoxicating soaps and oils, and delicate jewelry, as well as a smattering of vintage pieces and home goods. You can also swing by independent grocer Sunnyside Natural Market, which boasts a small deli (and a great menu of sandwiches, we might add), fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade baked goods, artisanal accouterments, and more. You can also brighten up your day with a visit to Diz’s Daisys, a lovely local flower shop that creates breathtaking arrangements and offers delivery.