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 12 spots, all less than a year old, are doing a bang-up job of satisfying it.
Briar Common Brewery + Eatery
Brewpubs tend to be sporty and raucous, but this Jefferson Park newcomer is one for the grown-ups, stylish yet low-key. In keeping with the vibe, the menu skews toward bistro fare rather than pub grub, while the beers show admirable restraint and refinement on brewer Greg Dawson’s part. Which means they’re perfect for leisurely drinking, especially up on the charming rooftop patio (come spring, anyway).
Must-order: Before you say you’ve had enough chicken and waffles to last a lifetime, try these (pictured top) — crunchy and tender, greaseless and buttery, highly seasoned and delicate by turns (with a Liege-style waffle based on a 100-year-old recipe). Equally fine are the sopes Benito, pictured above, with house-smoked pork-shoulder carnitas and sous vide eggs.
2298 Clay St.; 720-512-3894
12 @ Madison
This instant hub of Congress Park has only just kicked off Sunday brunch service, but you know you can already count on the high degree of polish chef-owner Jeff Osaka brings to the table. Along with classic bistro plates like croques madames and roast chicken, the menu shows contemporary flourishes in shrimp and grits laced with mascarpone and salsa verde, or toasted quinoa porridge in warm cream with flaxseed brittle.
Must-order: We love how chef de cuisine Ashley McBrady's adorable basket of house pastries balances the sweet with the savory (pictured are morning buns, mini croissants, maple muffins and drop biscuits). That said, if you're all in for a sugar high, Osaka's partial toward the bread pudding French toast with poached pears and pear butter. Also, how good does a Funny Paper fizz with corn whiskey, cinnamon toast–almond milk and egg whites sound?
1160 Madison St.; 720-216-0190
This sunny market/cafe in RiNo turned out to be the feel-good hit of 2016. Now it’s doubling down with a Saturday brunch featuring DJs and some of our favorite cocktails right now.
Must-order: The Italian Benedict (prosciutto and black-pepper zabaglione on ciabatta) and a Hometown Hero — a sprightly mix of Stem Branch & Bramble cider, peach liqueur and lavender bitters
3040 Blake St.; 303-298-6821
SOL Mexican Cocina
Hitting up Deborah Schneider's Cherry Creek outpost for brunch? Word to the wise: Clear the rest of your schedule for the day. Between the (very) easy-drinking cocktails and the gut-busting eats, you're going to need a long nap.
Must-order: Go for the gusto with the machaca burrito ahogado, boasting easily a pound's worth of ancho-braised and shredded beef, eggs, refried beans and cheese in guajillo salsa, or the more elegantly luscious crab-and-shrimp-cake Benedict (pictured). Wash it all down with a goofy-but-delightful frozen mimosa.
200 Columbine St.; 303-953-2208
This funky LoHi hideaway boasts a brand-new Sunday brunch menu that’s small yet true to its freewheeling style, ranging from an oyster and beer pairing to jelly donuts. Come summer, service may be extended to Saturdays.
Must-order: As big fans of the fab patatas bravas (pictured) also on the dinner menu, we’re taking owner Andrew Tyler’s advice to make ’em rise-and-shine-worthy with the addition of pork belly and an egg. To drink, it’s tough to pass up bottomless sangria, but the signature Apricot Crisp with Campari, litchi juice, apricot jam and a Prosecco float has mimosa-replacing potential.
3254 Navajo St.; 720-500-3254
To coincide with the Denver Art Museum exhibit Star Wars and the Power of Costume, this Hotel Teatro restaurant is hosting a "Mos Eisley Cantina Brunch" every Saturday — and the kitchen clearly had as much fun designing the menu as you will exploring it. Think Chicken and Luke Skywaffles and Jar Jar banh mi, pictured. (If you come for the finale on April 1, wear a costume — there'll be a green-screen booth for photos. May we suggest Princess Leia?)
Must-order: The Nickel’s one of our go-tos for burgers, period. So in the face of a Brunch Burger 8 (get it?) with Gouda, shoestring potatoes, sausage gravy and egg yolk, resistance is pretty much futile.
1100 14th St.; 720-889-2128
Sloan's Lake Tap and Burger
The full menu has yet to roll out, but this westside sibling of LoHi’s beloved Highland Tap and Burger is already crushing it with its extra meaty brunch grub — even the corn cakes come slathered in bacon butter as well as syrup.
Must-order: As winning as the Hangover burger may be — chicken-fried bacon, two cheeses, fried egg, chipotle ranch and all — it has a strong rival in the crispy tender smoked-bison brisket hash (pictured), bathed in zingy salsa verde beneath a fried egg. (Owner Juan Padro himself considers it the “most addictive brunch item” his team has come up with yet.)
1565 N. Raleigh St.; 720-456-6779
If for no other reason, we’d recommend this Lowenstein Complex for the sheer hospitality it shows to the brunch crowd. For one thing, it serves the meal six days a week (Tuesday–Sunday). For another, it's notably friendly toward vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. And finally, it boasts a kids’ playroom to give parents a breather. But there is another, obvious reason it’s one of our top picks: The food’s solid and the drinks are smart.
Must-order: Odd as it may sound, we can’t get enough of the yam mash with mango chutney (pictured). Other staples include the paleo bowl with chorizo, eggs, fried plantains and green chile, and the steak-and-fry salad in blue cheese vinaigrette.
2550 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-355-5445
Departure Restaurant + Lounge
We’ve showered this Cherry Creek mega-hit with so much praise over the past few months we’re almost embarrassed to do it yet again. But considering the brunch menu combines a snazzy array of dim sum–inspired sweets (egg tarts, sesame balls) and clever egg dishes like the Kurobuta pork omelet with many of our favorite lunch and dinner items, we really don’t have a choice.
Must-order: If you pair it with the super-tangy power greens and a turmeric or celery drinking–vinegar soda, you can almost pretend the Wagyu bulgogi burger topped with a fried egg is a healthy choice.
249 Columbine St.; 720-772-5020
This LoDo darling has also ridden a giant wave of love from us since its summer opening. Supplemented by a few lunch staples, its brunch menu sticks to the basics — French toast, eggs Benedict and so on — but the kitchen executes them with a panache all its own.
Must-order: Pastry people are in for a treat with housemade scones (pictured), while the breakfast flatbread and the “neo-gyro” fit the bill for savory palates.
1550 17th St.; 720-904-6711
The Pig & The Sprout
Not only does this gorgeous, bi-level LoDo spot boast just the sort of bright and airy atmosphere you associate with brunchtime, but its kitchen turns out varied, vibrant plates that often don’t get the attention they deserve.
Must-order: Go for broke — or better yet, smoke: The smoked trout plate (pictured) and the smoked brisket poutine with porter gravy and triple-cooked fries are both good bets.
1900 Chestnut Place; 720-535-9719
Bottomless brunch is back and better than ever at the all-Asian revamp of Richard Sandoval’s LoDo longtimer, what with three types of poke and new sushi rolls like salmon and goat cheese to add to the endless parade of passionfruit mimosas and small plates.
Must-order: What's better than a coconut waffle with whipped brown butter (pictured)? An unlimited supply of coconut waffles with whipped brown butter, that's what.
1610 Little Raven St.; 720-904-0965