Cafe Max, once one of my favorite coffee shops and cafes in the city, has slowly and thoughtfully evolved into something even better. Co-owner Max Hopewell-Arizmendi recently changed the name to Bar Max and is adding what he calls an “extra layer” to the experience. “My dream has always been to have sophisticated cocktails, beautiful coffee, and elevated specials.” Hopewell-Arizmendi says. “The third year is a charm, we have to grow.”

And grow it does. The 2.0 version is a full-service European-style bar with expanded lunch and dinner offerings (Bar Max opens at 11 a.m., and yes, it still serves coffee). Square tables have been replaced with graceful round ones, the front counter has been transformed into a clean-lined bar with stools, the front communal space has become more lounge-y, and the food and drink menus have been lengthened. Bartender Raffaele Stuparitz (who used to work for Daniel Boulud in New York City), pours simple, balanced drinks from a small well, and asks questions such as do you have a whiskey preference, a sugar preference, do you want fruit—all for an old fashioned, and all without sounding pretentious.

“Eat, drink, and converse, that’s what this place is about,” Hopewell-Arizmendi says. “It’s really just an evolution of what we’ve been doing.” Order a cocktail and a cheese plate (an astoundingly generous selection of manchego and Camembert with nuts, fig jam, olives, cornichons, and caper berries for $18), and sit back and relax into the experience.

P.S. With this growth, Hopewell-Arizmendi asks laptop users to work in the downstairs space. This is especially true after 5 p.m. “There has to be a time for no work,” Hopewell-Arizmendi says. “We have to have a time when we don’t see the blue light.”

2412 Colfax Ave., 303-333-0003

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.