Denverites love to brunch, flocking to sun-soaked patios for the Vitamin D and sticking around for the Vitamin C in the bottomless mimosas.
Actually, the first breakfast rush here hits before the sun even comes up. When the bars let out on the weekends, locals snap up breakfast burritos that are being hawked by vendors from coolers in Lower Downtown (or LoDo). The coolers, by the way, were around way before the food truck movement, and those hot egg and potato burritos hit the spot at 2 a.m.
Whether you're powering up for a day exploring Denver or the only thing you've got on your itinerary is brunch, here's where you can find the best breakfasts in the city. There's something for everybody, whether your like sweets (Team Pancakes!) or savory (mmm breafast tacos with chorizo). For this round-up, we took the menu and the vibe into consideration to determine the best of the best.
It’s the weekend. Your toughest decision is what to order to drink off the brunch menu. OK, we may have underestimated just how hard that is to do because the bartenders here have a knack for taking a classic drink, giving it a new spin and piquing curiosities. Bloody Mary enthusiasts, we dare you to try the tart take on your favorite drink. The Verde Mary is made with a blend of tomatillos and gets the tajin treatment on the rim. The bartenders put a spin on mimosas, using blood orange juice.
As for the brunch menu, you’ll notice a French Quarter influence with offerings like crawfish beignets filled with spicy red pepper aioli and pimento cheese grits (although served with an arugula salad). But really, the chefs are borrowing from some of the country’s best food regions, with other items like a “Hot Tamale” made with adobo pork, sunnyside up egg, salsa and creme fraiche.
The vibe: The restaurant itself is unassuming from the outside. But step inside and it feels like you’re in a fairytale, with soft lighting and reclaimed Aspen trees elevating brunch into an experience that feels like you’re in a dreamy treehouse.
Our pick for best breakfast: We give a confident vote to the Shrimp and Grits, which could compete with the best in the South. Poached shrimp, tasso ham, pickled peppers, greens and an egg combine for savory bites.
The location: 38 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
This is a breakfast spot that is self-aware. To ease the burden of long waits, the restaurant will occasionally pass around pancakes like they're hors d'oeuvres at a cocktail party. The pancakes? Well they're more “cake” than anything else. Case-in-point: The sugary Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes made with caramelized pineapple chunks, a vanilla cream and cinnamon butter.
Snooze also has an array of games, like cornhole, set out so you can make the most of your #SundayFunday while you sip mimosas and wait for a coveted table. The small chain has a few spots in Colorado; one in the Ballpark neighborhood by Coors Field, another smack-dab downtown in the Union Station train depot and another in East Denver. Outside of the city, there’s a Snooze in Boulder and another one in ‘burbs at the Streets of Southglenn in Littleton.
Snooze has announced it has plans to expand, opening up two additional restaurants in Westminster. The first one will be at the Westminster Promenade (which is across from the Butterfly Pavillion, where you can visit and hold “Rosie the Tarantula”). The other will make its debut at 144th Avenue and Interstate-25.
The vibe: Like hipsters teleported into the 1970's. Lots of handlebar mustaches!
Our pick for best breakfast: Sweet potato pancakes. They carmelize just a tad and then are topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans for a crunch and ginger butter. If you're carb-loading the hashbrowns, which are served in a compact, round scoop, are also amazing.
The Denver locations: Ballpark location, 2262 Larimer St. in Denver, CO. 80205; East Denver location, 700 North Colorado Blvd, Suite A, Denver, CO 80206; Union Station location, 1701 Wynkoop St #150, Denver, CO 80202.
If you think of biscuits as just a vehicle for gravy, you might be vastly underestimating them. Oversized, buttery and flaky, biscuits are the star of the menu at The Denver Biscuit Company. Here, they team up with buttermilk fried chicken, Colorado honey, mustard and pickles for “The Ellsworth” and do a sweet-and-savory remix with a sausage patty, apple butter, fried egg and maple syrup on The Dahlia.
Gourmet biscuits first ventured into Colorado by way of a food truck, AKA the Biscuit Bus, back in 2009. The business expanded and opened up shop, proving that Denver had long been craving delish biscuits, with lines stretching out the door on the weekends.
The Biscuit Company has added a location at the Stanley Marketplace, so you can get a biscuit fix all day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The vibe: In a word, upbeat. Whether it's the jazz that's reverberating in the restaurant or the friendly (but chill) service, this is a happy place.
Our pick for best breakfast: The Franklin. It's one of the best breakfast sandwiches you'll find in Colorado, with buttermilk fried chicken and bacon sourced from Tender Belly, a Colorado company. Melty cheddar cheese tops this sandwich and its smothered in your choice of a sausage or vegetarian gravy.
The locations: East Colfax location, 3237 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206; South Broadway location, 141 S. Broadway, Denver, CO. 80209; Tennyson St. location, 4275 Tennyson St., Denver, CO. 80212; Stanley Marketplace location, 2501 Dallas St. Aurora, CO.
South Broadway is starting to become its own dining district, with new restaurants popping up along the street that's also lined with hipster bars and antique shops. Morning Collective is Denver's newest brunch spot and it certainly feels fresh with an inventive menu and super-creative cocktails. (Yeah, they've even got things like ice cubes made with wildflower and beet ice to keep your elixers cold without watering them down. Bloody Marys come with their own special cubes. Genius!)
All of the breakfast dishes are made in-house and the restaurant will offer a seasonal menu to keep things fresh. To get a taste of just how creative the menu is, we'll start with the "Sunrise Elixers." For a s'mores one, the bartenders actually burn marshmallows for the froth and it comes with a graham cracker cream and chocolate-flavored ice.The Electric Ice is like an adult Orange Julius with vanilla ice (things just got super 1990's-centric!)
Staples on the menu include stacked benedicts, loaded breakfast bowls and "daily breads" which are made from scratch and have molten centers, like strawberries and cream.
Our pick for best breakfast: Of course the menu is rotating. But we're hoping the Three Lil' Pigs stacked benedict becomes a staple. It shows off the chefs creativity with coffee-braised pork belly. It also comes with ham and an aged cheddar tot, with bacon hollandaise.
The vibe: Farmhouse-chic, with vintage 1950's wallpaper juxtaposed with modern reclaimed steel accents.
The location: 2160 S. Broadway in Denver, CO. 80210.