From greasy spoons to fancy champagne spreads, Colorado knows how to brunch. We asked our readers for their favorite Colorado brunches. Here are their top 19, in no particular order:
The Rainbow Restaurant, Fort Collins
Another long-standing Colorado classic, the Rainbow has been family-owned in FoCo since the mid-’70s. Its location near campus and downtown makes The Rainbow a college hangout. Splurge on pumpkin bread French toast or try something different with the Tempeh Saute. Rainbow is best known for its to-drool-for coffee cake.
Butcher Block Cafe, River North Denver
Butcher Block, in Denver’s River North district, is an excellent greasy spoon with fantastic cinnamon rolls. That’s its specialty. This restaurant has an old town, homey feel and everything’s home cooked. It’s a tried and true cafe. Nothing fancy, no gimmicks, pure comfort. There’s also a branch in Commerce City and another in Denver.
Johnson’s Corner, Johnstown
It’s not often you hear a truck stop on a list of a state’s best brunch destinations, but Johnson’s Corner is something else. Granted, it does have the classic truck stop vibe -- it’s attached to a convenience store -- but Johnson’s Corner claims to have “world famous” cinnamon rolls. It’s been serving them up since the ‘50s, and today it goes through more than 15,000 rolls per month and distributes them in eight states. They’re a Colorado classic.
Fresh Fish Company, Denver
Sunday brunch is all you can eat at Fresh Fish Company, and the menu is lengthy. Fresh Fish serves gluten-free options, and with fish as a specialty, you can expect a great spread of shrimp and snow crab legs. Brunch comes with a glass of champagne or a mimosa and ends with a make-your-own sundae bar, complete with a chocolate fountain.
Lucile’s Creole Cafe, Denver and throughout the Front Range
The locals love Lucile’s. Ask Coloradans where they go for brunch and this Creole restaurant always rises to the front of the list. And for good reason. The quirky Lucile’s has been family-run for more than 35 years, serving up authentic Creole breakfast foods, such as shrimp and grits (served with andouille sausage and red peppers), rice pudding porridge topped with raspberry sauce and currents or eggs Pontchartrain, a pan-fried trout. Beignets for dessert, of course.
The Greenbriar Inn, Boulder
Sunday brunch at the Greenbriar is an occasion, in and of itself. Nestled against the foothills in a beautiful, homey building, the champagne buffet brunch here has all of the goodies: oysters, quiche and chef-carved options, such as lamb, prime rib or roast turkey breast. A Bellini and fresh pastry top off this extravagant way to kick off your day.
Syrup boldly claims to have the best breakfast in Denver, with its signature flavors and handcrafted butters (such as peanut butter and honey cinnamon butter) and syrups (such as butterscotch, Kahlua, and apricot). You must try the aptly named “crack bacon,” made with brown sugar and black pepper. It has multiple locations throughout Denver.
Linger, “Denver’s finest eatery,” is popular at all hours of the day, but its Saturday and Sunday brunch is a must-try. We love that Linger serves smoothies (the Green Horchata includes kale and avocado, with a bunch of other yummy stuff), but you can’t beat a Nutella waffle for a treat. Did we mention bottomless mimosas? Undoing a rough night? The Hangover Ramen is your cure, with pork belly, soft-boiled egg and more.
Breakfast Queen, Englewood
Because sometimes you just want good, ol’ fashioned breakfast. Breakfast Queen is far from presumptuous, but it earns its title for its robust breakfast menu. The Southwestern selection is especially excellent, like the breakfast quesadilla served with green chili. In Colorado, we like to put green chili on everything. Especially breakfast. And everything.
“The Merc,” Jamestown
The Jamestown Mercantile makes everything fresh with local produce. “Gourmet” breakfast here includes green chili breakfast tacos, a green chili breakfast burrito, rellenos with green chili. OK, the Merc offers plenty more classics, too, and can make many items gluten free. Best of all, the Merc is located after a scenic drive up the canyon.
Snooze, Denver and Various Locations
Snooze is an all-time local favorite, which means extreme lines on weekends and even many weekdays. Prepare to wait, but the creative cocktails and fun twists on American breakfast classics make it worth it. Snooze is famous for its pineapple upside down pancakes, made with caramelized pineapple chunks, vanilla cream anglaise, and cinnamon butter. Everything on the menu is fantastic; you can’t go wrong.
Meadow Mountain Cafe, Allenspark
Here’s a hidden gem that doesn’t get all the fame of the bigger Denver restaurants, but absolutely keeps pace. Meadow Mountain Cafe is where you go for brunch with a small-town, mountain feel: a slower pace, no cell service, only a handful of tables, hearty food and an overall feel-good vibe in the woods. This place is quintessential Colorado, and you can get a bottle of water of the best water from a spring right across the street.
Root Down, Denver
Root Down is a rare restaurant that offers a special Friday brunch menu, as well as the weekends. One of the coolest features of Root Down is its on-site gardens that provide seasonal veggies that come straight to your plate. Root Down’s emphasis is organic, local and natural. Brunch features a daily pastry, bottomless mimosas, and some unique spins, like fried chicken and goat cheese biscuits (aka, Root Down’s biscuits and gravy), served with a kale-radish slaw and chili-mushroom gravy.
Star Kitchen Seafood, Denver
Veering off the traditional American breakfast food path, there is also delectable dim sum brunch along Federal at Star Kitchen. Although it’s easy to drive past -- it’s located in a strip mall -- Star Kitchen boasts the best dim sum in the city, and it lives up to its reputation.
Ellyngton’s at the Brown Palace, Denver
Ellyngton’s is iconic, and its Sunday champagne brunches are among the best in Denver. The buffet-style spread includes fresh seafood, baked goods from the Brown Palace’s on-site bakery and classic eggs and waffles. Top it off with a glass of Moet et Chandon or even Dom Perignon, if that’s how you roll. Brunch here tends to sell out, so book far in advance.
Zoka’s Restaurant and Bar, Pine Grove
Zoka’s is all about the atmosphere. It’s located at the foothills of the Pike National Forest in Pine Grove, making it the ideal place to fuel up for a day of hiking or climbing. Bring your pooch. The deck, overlooking the Platte River, is dog-friendly.
Beatrice and Woodsley, Denver
Make reservations for brunch at Beatrice and Woodsley if you want to get in. Food here is made with local, seasonal produce -- and the menu items have interesting names, like Monkey Brains and Tree-Hugger Kisses (granola with Greek yogurt and berries). There are all kinds of brunch beverages, a variety of Bloodies and even some specialties, like Tea Thyme (with Earl Grey-infused gin). From the crab cake benedict to the black-eyed chicken cobbler, one taste and it’s no shock that Beatrice and Woodsley has been named one of the best brunches, again and again.
Jill’s Restaurant at the St. Julien, Boulder
Jill’s specializes in organically farmed American food with a French flair. The restaurant has been named a Forbes four-star restaurant and annual recipient of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Every Sunday, Jill’s offers a buffet-style brunch with everything from prime rib to crab legs. Wash it down with bottomless wine, mimosas, and Bloody Marys.
Kachina Southwestern Grill, Westminster
The brunch menu at Kachina is enough to make it an all-time favorite -- especially the ibarra-chocolate-filled beignets served with a cajeta dipping sauce -- but what makes this restaurant especially outstanding is its indoor play area for kids near the dining room. So parents can sip their mimosas in peace, while the little ones play hide-and-seek in canvas tents beneath flickering party lights.