Maybe it’s the crisp mountain air. Or the fact that we’re hitting the hiking and cycling trails well before dawn. Or maybe it’s just our day-drinking lifestyle. Whatever the reason, we Denverites have a fiendish appetite for brunch. And these 10 spots — all of which have launched weekend service within the past six months or so — are doing a bang-up job of satisfying it.
The brunchtime feast at Linda Hampsten Fox’s convivial neighborhood gem in LoHi starts with the eyes: As you pass the deli case and bakery counter on your way to a table, you’ll be treated to a parade of goodies that includes rustic sandwiches, brioches feuilletées, quiche, Big Night–style timpano and more. But before you demand one of everything, you’d better get a gander at the sit-down menu, highlighting elegantly composed dishes that range from airy, delicate anise beignets with maple syrup and berries in cream to such savory stuff as open-faced croque madames on sourdough (pictured) or creamy, roe-topped soft scrambled eggs on rye with a side of pastrami-cured salmon. (Of course those breads are baked in-house.) While it all calls out for celebratory flutes of bubbly, the stout-laced Irish coffee packs an equally festive punch.
1817 Central St.; 303-993-2364
In a matter of weeks, this tiny cafe has made an outsized mark on RiNo. With its sleek yet bouncy Scandinavian-inspired look and sunny mural-lined patio, it’s the home away from home a neighborhood needs — complete with the kind of food, at once wholesome and inspired, that people hanker for daily, thanks to exec chef Duncan Holmes. Though a dedicated brunch menu may launch in spring, the regular daytime menu already fills the brunch bill with signatures like the light-as-air, creamy-crispy aebleskivers and the array of tartines — grapefruit-feta, curried sablefish–caramelized onion, beet-ricotta and so on — on house-baked bread as well as homey soups, jaw-widening sandwiches and intricate pastries. And now that there’s a liquor license, you can pair it all with kicky, quirky cocktails: Try the 303 with vodka, aquavit, beet kvass and caraway syrup, say, or the Cold Call with espresso, Chartreuse and peppermint ice cream. (Of course coffee and zero-proof quenchers — your tonics, your shrubs — await as well.)
2845 Larimer St.; 303-954-0230
It’s only fitting that Christian Graves has won hearts and minds aplenty since the opening of this Union Station anchor last summer — his food is both hearty and mindful, generous and intricate. Even at brunch — too often treated by chefs as a humdrum gravy train — the loving attention to detail shows, be it in the luscious combination of house-smoked ham, house-baked biscuits and perfectly poached eggs with sausage gravy and pesto (pictured) or in the tender warmth of fresh coffee cake slathered with butter. You could pamper yourself further with valet parking, which is free before 3 PM — except that, take it from us, you do want at least one cocktail from the super-creative bar team. So maybe catch a Lyft instead.
1899 16th St.; 303-323-0017
By day as by night, shooting star Blake Edmunds’s dishes go off like dynamite at this LoHi Pan-Latin sensation. From the chimichurri-spiked, grits-based take on chicken-fried steak (pictured top) and the open-faced misto quente oozing with melted Muenster and tomato jam (above) to the over-the-top Frita Cubana cheeseburger with beef and chorizo patties, bacon, fries and grilled onions, the brunch menu is more staunchly rustic than its dinnertime counterpart — but not a bit less playful or stylish. Besides, refreshments like the frozen Sherry Cobbler and bottomless white sangria cut right through all the richness.
3301 Tejon St.; 720-572-5997
Candela Latin Kitchen
Craving still more Latin flavor? Just a few blocks from Señor Bear, Candela also specializes in Latin cuisine, but exec chef Jesse Vega has his own interpretation — breezy, colorful and street-smart. Take the Puerto Rican–style pegao, crispy-bottomed rice made radiant with a sunny egg, black-bean purée, salsa rosa and avocado. Or the pastelito (pictured), a Cuban pastry filled with guava and cream cheese, here gussied up with caramelized oranges. Or an empanada filled with ham, cheese and egg yolk, and sprinkled with powdered sugar, that you'll wish you were a sleeping bag you could curl up and take a nap in. Or all of the above — washed down with a bottomless mimosa in whisk-you-away flavors like cranberry-pineapple.
1691 Central St.; 303-477-4582
Just reading the menu is a brunchtime blast at this Riverfront Park hot spot, rife as it is with cheekily named dishes like “Sorry I’ve Benedict” and “Insert Salad Here.” Of course, they’re even more fun to eat. Chef Talia Diele strikes just the balance between comfort and creativity that a leisurely morning after a hard night’s partying calls for — think cheeseburgers topped with Taylor pork roll and bacon jam; fried chicken and blue-corn waffles in cayenne syrup and honey butter; or apple Dutch babies à la mode (pictured), plus sides like not-to-be-missed coffee cake. Meanwhile, the bar does right by the hair-of-the-dog crowd with eye-openers like the Cure for the Cure, a tiki-inspired concoction of Ratio lime gose and gin with coconut milk, celery and basil.
1610 Little Raven St. Ste. 100; 720-449-8300
By night, this urbane-meets-genteel newcomer aims to transfigure everything you think you know about Southern food (case in point: deviled snails with saltine salad). By day, chef-owner Kyle Foster snaps your attention back to everything you already love about Southern food. Come weekend brunch, that means Nashville hot chicken platters and luxurious Kentucky hot browns on housemade Pullman toast (pictured); sweet potato–pecan sticky buns and country ham over grits in red-eye gravy; and classic milk punch paired with housemade bologna sandwiches, which come slathered with spiced mayo and a butter bean chow chow that may, in itself, be among the best things we’ve tasted this year so far.
3258 Larimer St.; 303-295-8977
With an on-site butchery and bakery, this LoDo steakhouse from one angle, farmhouse from another presents an array of brunchtime staples whose simplicity on paper proves to be delightfully deceptive. Red kuri squash beefs up a chia-seed parfait here, purple barley spruces up biscuits and gravy there, and bee pollen as well as honey from chef Chris Starkus’ rooftop hives pop up everywhere — as do house-baked English muffins (check out that burger). To drink, skip the usual suspects in favor of something from the regular cocktail list — the chamomile-scented Sun Tea Negroni and the Pinewood Derby combining pineapple rum, Aperol and IPA make every bit as much sense in the light of day as a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
1659 Wazee St.; 303-262-6070
Taqueria, steakhouse, burger joint, raw bar — there isn’t a cuisine or genre Troy Guard won’t tackle with gusto. His jam-packed, sun-splashed daytime diner in Stapleton is no exception. Bringing his penchant for Latin and Asian (especially Mexican and Pacific Rim) flavors to bear on rise-and-shine fare, the menu aims to cover every last craving: egg-chorizo tacos, hangover pho, Hawaiian-inspired Spam-kimchi omelets and coconut-macadamia pancakes with passion-fruit-orange-guava syrup — you name it, it’s on offer alongside a michelada, kombucha cocktail or, for the college-nostalgic, vodka–Sunny D slushie.
10155 East 29th Drive #120; 303-993-6896
Hip yet cheerful vibe, crisp yet kid-friendly service, a menu that’s equal parts hearty and health-conscious, and a bar that pours refreshingly simple cocktails and mocktails alike: This Cherry Creek sibling of The Kitchen was tailor-made for the brunch bunch. On-trend foodies will fawn over shakshuka and toasts with ricotta or scrambled eggs, wild mushrooms and kale; sugar hounds get to indulge in housemade maple donuts and banana French toast in bourbon syrup; and light eaters can count on hummus-and-veggie platters or yogurt panna cotta with poached pears and granola. In short, there’s something for everyone (as for us, we’ll take the bagel-inspired smoked-salmon flatbread every time).
100 Steele St.; 720-642-8292