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As a big fan of old-school diners, I was crushed when DJ’s Cafe closed its Tennyson Street location last December, after 12 delicious years. But I’m also a big fan of brunch—yes, you can have space in your heart for the austere, bad-coffee-and-eggs sustenance of a diner and the mimosa-fueled extravagance of a trendy brunch—so I was excited when Kade Gianinetti (The Way Back, American Grind, Method Coffee Roasters) and Patrick O’Neill (Avanti Food & Beverage) opened Wendell’s in the former DJ’s space a few weeks ago.
Wendell’s bills itself as “modern diner,” which is to say that the offerings fall somewhere between no-frills breakfast fare and higher-end brunch repasts. In developing the menu, chef Eric Lee (formerly of the Kitchen, Jax Fish House, and Linger) looked to the standbys of his favorite greasy spoons, including Rupert’s at the Edge and Boulder’s Village Coffee Shop, done right. At Wendell’s, brandy-and-citrus zest-spiked pancake batter is made fresh every morning; English muffins for Benedicts are baked in house; and Lee leans on “herbs, tomatoes, beets, and kale” to add much-needed color to “typically brown” plates of food. “It’s classic diner, but brighter and more modern,” he says.
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Lee also takes sourcing seriously, stocking the pastry case with pies, Danishes, and croissants from nearby Wooden Spoon Cafe & Bakery and Füdmill; bringing in breads from the Denver Bread Company and Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen; and sourcing the restaurant’s grass-finished Colorado beef from Western Daughters Butcher Shop. Which means that both the classic two-egg breakfast with hash browns and the seeded toast topped with avocado, pickled beets, and herbed ricotta is made with care from great ingredients.
There’s also booze (including a loaded Bloody Mary flanked with an optional Miller High Life pony) and Method Roasters’ espresso drinks. So whether you go to Wendell’s for a blowout brunch in the freshened up dining room or a simple weekday breakfast on the sunny patio, like me, you’re sure to be charmed by Tennyson’s new addition.
If you go: Wendell’s is open from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
3838 Tennyson St., 720-485-3901