Local culinary pros have made this weekend ritual more fun—and delicious—than ever before. From the tastiest fried chicken to the fluffiest pancakes, here are our picks for the best brunch fare in the Denver metro area.

Editor’s Note: This is a living list that was last updated on May 9, 2022. Did we miss your favorite? Email us at dining@5280.com.

Best Pancakes

Apple Blossom | Downtown
The abundance of excellent choices on the menu at Apple Blossom inside the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver—from chicken confit poutine to burrata on toast—make it difficult to settle on what to order. But skipping the buttermilk pancake is a crime. To make the beloved breakfast classic, executive chef Russ Fox cooks the vanilla-infused batter in individual skillets with plenty of butter on top of the stove and in the oven. The resulting masterpiece is the fluffiest, crispiest pancake you can get in Denver. Add the seared foie gras for an extra-indulgent topper. 822 18th St.

Best Doughnuts

Jelly | Capitol Hill & University

This charming breakfast-all-day restaurant is a local brunch classic for myriad reasons: from-scratch jams and jellies, strong coffee, and vintage-cereal-box-chic decor. But if we’re being very honest, it’s Jelly’s doughnut holes we love the most. Made to order and available in eight flavors—including crème anglaise, lemon-filled, maple bacon, and cinnamon sugar—each morsel is an ode to the glorious duo of carbs and sweetness. Bonus: Gluten-free doughnut bites are also available. 600 E. 13th Ave., 1700 E. Evans Ave.

Best Caffeine-Infused Cocktail

Death & Co. Denver | RiNo

Leave it to the booze pros at Death & Co. 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 Queen City Coffee Collective 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. 1280 25th St.

Best Breakfast Pizza

Croque Madame pizza and breakfast board at Cart-Driver. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Cart-Driver | LoHi 

Every wood-oven-fired pizza on the menus at Cart-Driver’s two locations is worth ordering, and the pies on the brunch menu (exclusive to the LoHi outpost) are no exception. Our go-to pie is the Croque Madame, crowned with mornay cream sauce, ham, Gruyère, and two jammy eggs. But the Shakshuka, loaded with paprika-seasoned red sauce, roasted peppers, egg, oregano, scallions, and cilantro, is also a great way to start your weekend on a delicious note. Both pair well with the fast-casual spot’s early-day cocktails; the Caffè Montenegro, a mix of rum, amaro, cold brew, and lemon sparkling soda, is just the pick-me-up you need. 2239 W. 30th Ave.

Best Biscuits

American Elm | West Highland

An afternoon nap is always a welcome weekend highlight, and the biscuits and gravy at American Elm will knock you out in the best possible way. At the West Highland haunt, the diner-style fave is composed of two giant, flaky brown butter biscuits shrouded in chunky gravy flecked with River Bear American Meats sausage and accompanied by smashed tater tots. Ask for your spuds “Elm style”—entangled in smoked cheddar, pickled Fresno peppers, sliced scallions, and bacon bits—because sometimes brunch just calls for  decadence. 4132 W. 38th Ave.

Best Omelet

The Primavera omelet at Cattivella. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Cattivella  | Central Park

Featuring bright, fresh ingredients, chef Elise Wiggins’ omelets at Cattivella are celebrations of the seasons and American and Italian flavors. The Primavera—a medley of rich Cotswold cheese, pickled roasted red peppers, spring peas, baby spinach, asparagus, dill, mint, and basil enveloped in voluminous, ultra-fluffy eggs—brims with the best of spring’s bounty. If you’re craving something meatier, the Angus Short Rib variation with marinated tomatoes, sage, roasted mushrooms, mozzarella, and provolone will hit the spot. Accompanied by Tuscan rosemary potatoes and grilled bread, they’re a delicious reason to put on pants and leave the house before noon on a Saturday or Sunday. 10195 E. 29th Dr. (Due to staffing issues, Cattivella has temporarily discontinued brunch service.) 

Best Brunch Dish We Didn’t Know We Were Craving

The Ethiopian breakfast platter at HiRa Patisserie. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

HiRa Patisserie | Aurora

Ethiopia native Hiwot Solomon debuted HiRa Cafe & Patisserie in 2019, introducing Denverites to the cake-and-coffee culture—and tasty breakfast dishes—of her homeland. At the small, light-filled, strip-mall spot, patrons can pair Solomon’s house-baked cakes with single-origin Ethiopian coffee, a tradition in cafes Solomon frequented in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. But for a heartier early-day meal, we recommend the breakfast combo. The entrée comes with enkulal firfir, scrambled eggs cooked with diced jalapeño, tomato, and onion; chechebsa, pieces of flatbread seasoned with fragrant berbere, garlic, and fenugreek and drizzled with honey; and kwanta firfir, morsels of torn injera soaked in a berbere-zinged sauce and mixed with bits of beef. The shareable dish is a symphony of flavors and textures worth driving to Aurora for. 10782 E. Iliff Ave, Aurora

Best Fried Rice

Onefold | Uptown Area & Downtown

Until Onefold debuted its first location in the Uptown area six years ago, 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 lap cheong (Chinese sausage), and everything 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. 1420 E. 18th Ave., 1919 19th St.

Best French Toast

The pain perdu with brûlée bananas at Famille, which opened in Westminster in March. Photo by Daliah Singer

Famille | Westminster

One-year-old Famille is Westminster’s only day-to-night French bistro, offering polished fare in contemporary, sunshine-drenched  space furnished with white tile, plants, and plaid booths. On the breakfast and brunch menu, we’re smitten with the pain perdu, thick slices of baguette soaked in cinnamon crème fraîche batter and griddled until custard-y on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Finished with brûléed bananas, strawberry coulis, and caramel sauce, the dish is best devoured with one of the restaurant’s lavender-kissed lattes or a mimosa with Chambord, bubbles, and fresh lemon. 8875 Westminster Blvd., Westminster

Best Mimosa

Sunday Vinyl | Downtown

At Sunday Vinyl at Union Station, killer playlists and beverages are the heart of every meal, including brunch, when classic menu items receive simple yet elegant makeovers. The wine bar’s take on the mimosa—which is produced with Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, instead of Champagne or prosecco—is a case in point. Cava tends to have more balanced citrusy notes than its effervescent peers, making it ideal for pairing with fruit juices. Whether you choose to order your mimosa with orange, pineapple, or grapefruit juice, the cocktail may inspire you to reconsider your love for the cheaper, bottomless varieties. 1803 16th St. Mall

Best Chilaquiles

Bellota | RiNo

Chef Manny Barella crafts the greatest hits of Mexican breakfast fare, updated with refined touches, at Bellota. Start with the Verde Bloody Maria: tequila mixed with a zesty, umami-packed juice made with tomatillos, jalapeño, cucumber, garlic, lime, cilantro, celery seed, and Maggi seasoning. Then dig into the chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish of tortilla chips simmered in a savory sauce. Barella’s version features chips coated in your choice of salsa ranchero, salsa verde, or a combination of both (what we recommend), cotija cheese, crema, and refried beans. The right amount of tangy-spicy sauce makes every bite flawless, especially if you drag your chips through the runny yolk of a fried egg, a must-have add-on. The Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd., Suite 150

Best Smothered Burrito

Garibaldi Mexican Bistro | Englewood

We’re not sure what we love most about Garibaldi Mexican Bistro’s breakfast burrito: the fillings or the value. Stuffed with freshly made scrambled eggs, crispy hash browns, house-made green chile, and your choice of chorizo, sausage, or bacon, the tortilla-wrapped beauty only sets you back $7; and for just $1.50 more, you can get it blanketed with mild, pork-studded green chile. In addition to its excellent tacos and Aztec-style specialites, the burrito is just another reason this gas station joint is a charmer. 3298 S. Broadway, Englewood (attached to the Conoco)

Best Hash

The corned beef hash at Tangerine. Photo by Gavin Harrison

Tangerine | Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmont

Since chef Alec Schuler opened Tangerine in north Boulder in 2011, the restaurant has expanded its breakfast empire to Lafayette and Longmont. The generously portioned corned beef hash—peppered with giant chunks of the tangy brisket, bacon bits, strands of caramelized onion, and crispy, gently charred potatoes—is a staple at all three locations. Brimming with salty, fatty, and starchy flavors, it’s rib-sticking sustenance at its best. 300 S Public Rd, Lafayette; 2777 Iris Ave, Boulder; 379 Main St., Longmont

Best Egg Sandwich

Tessa Delicatessen | Park Hill

The egg sandwich at Tessa Deli. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

At first glance, chef Vince Howard’s egg sandwich may look ordinary, but one bite will prove otherwise. The keys to the stacker’s magic include a jammy basted egg (cooked in hot fat), thick bacon, herbaceous pesto, melty provolone, and nutty arugula; the extra-squishy house-made milk bun doesn’t hurt either. There’s also an option with ham, scrambled egg, and cheddar on ciabatta. Both are priced at just $10, so you can easily add a $5 glass of wine or brew or $9 bloody mary to your order without breaking the bank. 5724 E. Colfax Ave.

Best Bloody Mary

Baba & Pop’s Pierogi | Aurora

Baba and Pop's
The loaded Buddy Mary at Baba & Pop’s Pierogi in Aurora. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

The Buddy Mary from Polish restaurant Baba & Pop’s is best enjoyed with, well, a buddy (or several). The monstrous, 50-ounce fish bowl comes topped with everything you could ever want in a bloody—and maybe more. To get to the juice, you first have to maneuver around accompaniments like fried chicken kabobs, potato-and-cheese pierogi, an entire kielbasa sausage, bacon slices, and skewers full of pickles, olives, pepperoncinis, and cheese curds. At $48, this cocktail is practically a meal in itself, and one we’re happy to indulge in. 9945 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora

Best Bagels

Zaidy’s Deli & Bakery | Washington Virginia Vale

The smoked fish plate at Zaidy's. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
The smoked fish plate at Zaidy’s. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

When 35-year-old Zaidy’s closed in October 2020, it left a void in the Jewish restaurant scene. But in 2021, father-and-son duo Max and Joel Appel resurrected the popular a.m. joint with the help of local bakery pro Beth Ginsberg. With the blessing of original owner Gerard Rudofsky, Zaidy’s relocated to South Holly Street, where regulars gather once more for bottomless coffee, potato latkes, and of course, bagels. Our go-to order is the smoked fish platter with house-cured salmon, served with a bagel of your choice (go for an everything) accompanied by airy cream cheese, capers, tomato, onion, and coleslaw. Be sure to take home a baker’s dozen and a loaf of challah from the market on your way out of this carb-lover’s paradise. 600 S. Holly St., Ste. 114

Best Crêpe

Le French | Southmoor Park

The Poulet Pistou crêpe at Le French. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
The Poulet Pistou crêpe at Le French. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

At this three-year-old, Parisian-inspired bakery and cafe, Senegalese-French sisters Aminata and Rougui Dia dish out brunch comforts like perfect omelets, quiches, and tartines, and the can’t-miss fried chicken with yassa sauce (a Senegalese preparation of slow-cooked onion and lemon) over French toast. But when only a melt-in-your-mouth rolled pancake will do, turn to the array of sweet and savory crêpes, which are naturally gluten-free. We like the Poulet Pistou, a bright, springy rendition stuffed with tarragon roasted chicken, plump cherry tomatoes, wilted baby spinach, basil pistou (a French pesto), and gooey Gruyère cheese. 4901 S. Newport St.

Best Hangover Cure

La Diabla | Ballpark

Pozole Rojo at La Diabla. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Pozole Rojo at La Diabla. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

James Beard Award–finalist Jose Avila dishes out traditional Mexican specialties like chilaquiles (tortilla chips simmered in a cheesy chile sauce) and huaraches (a masa flatbread topped with meat and eggs), and at this humble pozoleria. To ease the sting of last night’s adventures, we recommend a bowl of spicy pozole rojo made with slow-simmered pork broth and topped with pork and crispy, thick-cut chicharrones. Also don’t skip the Blood in Blood Out michelada—a hair of the dog concoction made with a house tomato blend, tequila, and Modelo Especial that soothes even the sharpest of headaches. 2233 Larimer St.

Best Waffles

Nurture | West Highland

Superfood waffles at Nest Café inside Nurture. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Superfood waffles at Nest Café inside Nurture. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Waffles can be finicky. They’re often too sweet, too mushy, too dry, or too plain. But Nest Cafe’s Superfood Waffles would be Goldilocks’ choice—and they’re ours, too. The firm-but-fluffy, gluten-free stackers are made with adaptogenics including ashwagandha and reishi mushroom powder, as well as health-boosting ingredients like cinnamon, lemon juice, and a blend of almond, tapioca, and rice flours. Piled with fresh banana, gooey berry compote, airy whipped coconut cream, and just the right amount of maple syrup, the dish is a breakfast indulgence that you can feel good about eating. 2949 Federal Blvd.

Best Fried Chicken

Split Lip | RiNo

When nothing but the crispiest, juiciest fried bird in town will do, mosy to RiNo’s Number Thirty Eight, where Split Lip has been slinging sandwiches and regionally inspired burgers since last September. Grab a drink from one of the warehouse’s many drink portals and nosh on finger-licking specialties like the fiery-as-you-like hot chicken sandwich, which comes in your choice of sauce(if you’re a heat-seeker, go for the XXX) and layered with slaw and pickles. For those with a sweet tooth, the brunch-centric plate of fried chicken over a house-crafted funnel cake is an absolute must-try. Number Thirty Eight, 3560 Chestnut Place

Best Toast

Stowaway Kitchen | RiNo

Inside Stowaway Kitchen. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Inside Stowaway Kitchen. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Stowaway Kitchen’s rotating toast is always a thoughtful nod to the best of the seasons and the creativity of its chefs. Prior iterations have included the sardine-topped Beans and ’Dines, and the current iteration of mushroom tartine is a sourdough showstopper slathered with deep pink beet hummus and piled high with sautéed cremini and oyster fungi, eggs of your choice, and almond dukkah (a roasted spice and nut blend). Don’t forget to grab a gluten-free cookie or brownie on your way out the door. 2528 Walnut St., Ste. 104

Best Eggs Benedict

Sullivan Scrap Kitchen | City Park West

Even though brunching at Sullivan Scrap Kitchen means technically eating leftovers—the underutilized ingredients from chef-owner Terence Rogers’ catering service, TBD Foods—the team’s commitment to sustainability and fine flavors make the dishes some of the best in town. The smoked-trout-topped eggs Benedict are made with a sourdough english muffin and cured fish filets along with local mixed greens, local eggs, and roasted garlic Hollandaise sauce. 1740 E. 17th Ave.

Best Coffee & Pastries

The Bindery | LoHi

Green chile hand pie and a croissant at the Bindery. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Green chile hand pie and a croissant at the Bindery. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

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, a custom blend crafted for the Bindery—currently being poured is especially smooth and rich. Its notes of chocolate and citrus offset chef-owner Linda Hampsten Fox’s baklava, Portuguese custard tarts, and babka, treats inspired by her travels and time living abroad. 1817 Central St.

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 waffles with bourbon-brined chicken-fried cauliflower. Or a vegan omelet with chives, roasted onion, peppers, and shiitake bacon. Or tempeh “bacon” hash with caramelized onions. There’s even a full bar to sate all of your kombucha mimosa needs. 206 E. 13th Ave.

Brunch for Every Occasion

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. 1420 Larimer St., unit 1705

With Everyone from Grandma to Aunt Jane
Part restaurant, part market, part coffee shop, the Feedery is a welcoming Englewood eatery that serves rotating, farm-to-table comforts for all palates, from elevated breakfast sandwiches to locally sourced mushroom pot pies. 900 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood

Hungry for Meat
Carnivores can revel in a menu full of meat at Bacon Social House, which serves flights of its signature slices, as well as bacon-laced bloody marys, BLTs, breakfast sandwiches, and salads.

Treating the Kids
Acova’s on-site playground is the ultimate kid-pleaser while the Highland eatery’s commitment to gluten-free fare gives all gluten-averse Denverites—and those who love them—reason to celebrate. 3651 Navajo St.

Entertaining the In-Laws
On Sunday mornings, bassist Matt Skellenger treats Breakfast on Broadway brunchers to original songs and Frank Sinatra classics (weather dependent; call 303-788-9998 to confirm). The cream-cheese-stuffed French toast tastes even better with tunes. 2901 S. Broadway, Englewood

In Search of Cheap Cocktails
Perfect for brunching with out-of-town visitors, 13th Avenue’s three-decade-old Dozens is conveniently located near some of the city’s best museums—and the mimosas are just $4 a pop. 236 W. 13th Ave.

Hungover and Bleary-Eyed
Head to Uptown’s Steuben’s to shake off what’s left of Saturday night with an order of Steubie Snacks (powder-sugar-coated hunks of crispy pork) and a fried-chicken-stuffed biscuit smothered in gravy. 523 E. 17th Ave.

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. 10155 E. 29th Dr., #120

Looking for Beer
Pair the brewed-on-site Green Chile Das Bueno (German-style Mexican lager) or the Bee’s Knees (raspberry honey blonde ale) with your chicken and waffles at Briar Common Brewery & Eatery in Jefferson Park. 2298 N. Clay St.

In Search of All the Drinks
With a robust roster of house cocktails, craft beers, and wines—and dedicated frozen drink bar (the Big Chill at Wolf Bar)—it’s safe to say Avanti Food & Beverage in LoHi is the ultimate Sunday brunch spot for fashion-forward boozers. 3200 N. Pecos St.

On a Weekday
Die-hard brunchers can enjoy loaded waffles, open-face omelets, and signature breakfast sandwiches (go for the hot chicken biscuit) every day from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at one of two Early Bird locations. 11940 Bradburn Blvd #400, Westminster; 5425 Landmark Place, #101, Greenwood Village

The 5280 Brunch Event

Taste sweet and savory offerings from local brunch hotspots featured on our lists; enjoy build-your-own mimosa and bloody mary stations; and groove to a live DJ.

May 21, 2022 | 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
The Jacquard, Autograph Collection
222 Milwaukee Street, Denver, CO 80206

Get your tickets here.

Read More

Brunch Around the World at These 7 Restaurants and Bakeries
The Best Over-the-Top Brunch Buffets in the Denver Area
Denver’s Best Bars

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to be overseeing all of 5280 Magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane is 5280's digital strategy editor and writes food and culture content. Follow her at @riane__eats.