Denverites love brunching almost as much as they love hiking, skiing, drinking beer, and taking day trips. And the long waits at many of the go-to favorites is a sure sign of that fact. But let’s be real. When a hangover hits, or weekend hunger strikes, you don’t want to have to travel across town to the newest, trendiest spot. So we’ve broken down the Mile High brunch scene ‘hood by ‘hood to give you nearby access to all the brunch essentials, from giant breakfast burritos and bloodies to the flakiest of pastries and bubbly, boozy drinks.
Mercantile Dining & Provision A hub for casual pastries and long, lingering brunch sessions alike In 2014, Union Station reopened following a renovation project. With a lineup of shops, bars, a hotel, and restaurants (including Mercantile), it’s become one of the city’s most popular areas. So what sets this spot apart? Chef Alex Seidel, for one, who was already a local favorite thanks to Fruition, long considered one of the city’s best restaurants, and who has since won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. Awards aside, brunching at Mercantile’s European-style market is all about the ham and cheese croissants and sticky buns. No wait... the breakfast grain bowl with crispy pork belly and fresh pressed juice. Or the rich and cheesy croque madame and Bloody Mary with house made pickles. Well, you’ll just have to taste your way through it all to find out.
Central Business District
Sam’s No. 3 Home to gut-busting burritos and green chile covered-everything This down-to-earth joint has what you need to cure your hangover. The extensive food menu (16 pages!) has seemingly everything from American diner classics to plates overflowing with Greek and Mexican cuisines. There's even an entire page dedicated breakfast burritos, which are as big as your head and covered in Sam’s famous green chile and a ton of cheese, as is Denver tradition. If you’re not Downtown, they’ve also got locations in Glendale and Aurora. Pro tip: Do not make big plans after Sam's.
Señor Bear Latin eats and strong cocktails for those Sundays when pancakes just won’t do The Highlands is basically brunch central. Root Down, Old Major, Duo, The Bindery, and Ash’kara (a new addition from the Senor Bear team that just launched its own brunch menu) all make more-than-worthy runners-up to Señor Bear. But for a meal that sometimes seems stagnant (one can only eat some many benedicts, right?), the offerings here are refreshingly different. Brunch is only served on Sundays, so plan ahead if you want to get a taste of thin and crispy slivers of pig ear, mofongo brightened with papaya cabbage slaw and mango habanero dressing, and boozy beverages like the michelada complete with tequila shot on the side. And for the true hangover cure try the burger, topped with a pile of fries along with bacon, lots of muenster, and grilled onions.
Officer’s Club American comfort food with a classy edge This neighborhood’s got a one-two punch on the brunch scene with sister restaurants North County and newer addition, Officer’s Club. While the former serves up Baja-style eats like breakfast tacos, migas, and more, it’s the later’s classics that will never disappoint -- we’re talking fried chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup. And cinnamon rolls with maple frosting (which pairs nicely with a bacon bourbon Old Fashioned). And shrimp and grits with bacon and cheese scrambled eggs. Expect large portions of classic favorites that have that homemade vibe, but way, way better.
Denver Biscuit Company Towering biscuit sandwiches you have to try Leave your gluten-averse friends at home because everything here is served on a homemade, fluffy biscuit. There are gourmet sandwiches with fillings like fried chicken and pork belly, as well as larger plates like the biscuit French toast, biscuits and gravy, biscuit pot pie, and shrimp and grits served in a biscuit bowl. You get the idea. There's also a full bar, complete with Bloodys and mimosas for washing down all those carbs. Plus you don’t have to be on South Broadway to enjoy these behemoths -- they’ve also got locations at The Stanley Marketplace, on Tennyson, off Colfax in the Bluebird District, and now a new one in Colorado Springs.
Annette A small but mighty menu of rustic, wood-fired options This may be chef Caroline Glover’s first restaurant, but her time learning from longtime industry pros at spots like Acorn and The Spotted Pig gave her the wisdom to create a space that was named one of America’s best new restaurants in 2018 and just earned Glover herself the title of 2019 best new chef by Food & Wine. The brunch menu is small but strong, featuring dishes that sound simple, but deliver big on flavor and execution. The daily buttery biscuit may read as a side-dish afterthought, but it’s good enough to warrant a trip. As is the pork shank hash dotted with pickled mustard seeds, and the standout yeasted waffle. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to choose poorly here, so multiple trips to work your way through the menu is highly recommended -- or opt to go with a gaggle of hungry friends.
Beast + Bottle A sophisticated spot highlighting locally sourced ingredients With a subdued vibe thanks to homestyle hospitality and a touch of class, this spot from the brother and sister team of Paul and Aileen Reilly (the same duo behind Coperta and Pizzeria Coperta at Broadway Market) proves that keeping it simple often leads to the tastiest results -- a point proven with just one bite of the pork shoulder tostada or the chicken cherry sausage. Be sure to go with a large group so you can fully explore the menu.
Lucile’s Creole brunch mecca that’s always worth the wait This Boulder-based family business has built a mini-empire out of the impeccable Creole food it's been dishing out for over three decades (they’ve got locations in Boulder, Longmont, Ft. Collins and Littleton along with the Denver-area University and Speer neighborhoods). For Southern transplants -- or anyone who can appreciate brunch with a side of hot pepper vinegar-doused collards -- Lucile's should be your No. 1 pick. From the giant, flaky buttermilk biscuits that accompany most plates to favorites like po-boys, crawfish etouffee, eggs Rockefeller (like the oysters, but with eggs), and shrimp & grits, Lucile's is the move when your stomach is running on empty.
Snooze A crowd-pleasing destination with options for everyone This Colorado-born chain (with newer outposts in Arizona, Texas, and California) has formed a cult following since opening in 2006. The menu features a plethora of breakfast goodies -- some traditional, some crazy. Breakfast pot pie, breakfast tacos, pancake flights, and prosciutto Benedicts are just a small sampling of the indulgences that await you. But fair warning, be prepared to combat lengthy waits on weekdays and weekends alike no matter which of their nine Colorado locations you end up at.
Star Kitchen The dim sum to rule all others If you think brunch should be about eggs, pancakes, and waffles, you're missing out on some very important options. Namely, dim sum. Star Kitchen repeatedly draws crowds for its weekend brunch, where cart after cart of steamed buns and dumplings (don’t skip the taro version) complement dishes like chicken feet and leek with pork blood. Go with a group to get the most out of your experience (by ordering everything, duh). Dim sum is served daily until 3pm, so if you've got time for a weekday brunch, head here ASAP.
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox Creative cuisine with a side of live entertainment Restaurateur Justin Cucci has the brunch game on lock. Root Down, Linger, Vital Root, and El Five all have their own unique and craveable contributions to Denver's booming brunch scene. But it's Ophelia’s (a former brothel) that we can't get enough of. Beyond the playful menu filled with choices like a bison pastrami Reuben and an arepas Benedict, brunch here often comes with a show. Don't be surprised to find anyone from DJs to folk bands taking the stage while you dine.
Quality Italian An elevated Italian brunch experience with bellini cart Ah, Cherry Creek. In a land of limited street parking and high end shopping, you can find yet another iteration of the Italian brunch. Except this one is tailored to a special occasion (or pretending that it’s a special occasion, no judgement). Start with the bellini cart service where you can choose-your-own juice and Prosecco adventure. Then move on to shareable plates like creamy house-made ricotta and honey, or a beefsteak tomato and stracciatella salad. If you really want to go all in, steaks are available for brunch, but there are plenty of other options like a classic benedict, polenta pancakes, and a breakfast risotto with mortadella, pistachio pesto, and a fried egg.
Devil’s Food: The Cookery at Myrtle Hill Homestyle, made-from-scratch comfort food classics The Devil’s Food bakery has been a neighborhood favorite since 1999, and you can still grab a cup of coffee and a fresh-baked pastry there. But The Cookery is now its own separate dine-in space that looks like it was decorated by the most hipster grandmother ever. The “Myrtle Hill” reference in the name pays homage to the neighborhood's past, and a cell phone-free stipulation on the menu upholds the spot's commitment to honoring simpler times. The menu covers all the basics: buttermilk pancakes, challah French toast, quiche, and eggs Benedict, but the charm makes the dining experience anything but ordinary.
Tokyo Premium Bakery Picture perfect pastries that are so good you won’t even miss the booze Maybe you’re one of those people that think brunch = booze. And that’s fine, because you can always grab an assorted box of baked goodies from this Japanese-style bakery home and sip your bottomless mimosas from the comfort of your couch. Once you get a taste of the flaky croissants and glistening fruit tarts, you’ll be feeling buzzed off the beauty of it all. But if you really want to properly experience this spot, venture off the typical path and reach for some of their unique offerings, like the sweet corn-topped buns, shrimp and avocado sandwiches, and beef curry tucked inside a pillow of soft dough.
Jelly Where you meal must always start with the donuts With walls adorned with retro cereal boxes and a brightly colored interior that’s basically made for Instagram, this spot (and it’s second location near DU) have quirk covered. But the steady crowd is thanks to more than good looks. First, there’s the donuts. Or really donut hole to be accurate, with a variety of fillings like maple bacon, Thai peanut, and salted caramel. Once you’ve tried that, move to to filling entrees like a not-to-be-missed Molly Hot Brown (aka turkey served on savory french toast with a slathering of poblano cheese sauce, bacon, and griddled tomatoes) or their southwest spin on a classic, the Haco Chili Benedict (a fluffy biscuit topped with poached eggs, hollandaise, and a smoky stew of chorizo, tomato, and poblano).
Shells and Sauce An casual Italian-American spot with $3 bloodys and mimosas Now that we’ve got your attention with $3 drinks, settle in. This spot’s not only a place where you can opt for pasta for brunch (say yes to the eggs carbonara), they’ve also got burritos, pulled pork arepas, chili cheese fries, and one of the best chicken & waffles plates around (it’s slathered in bacon and Stranahan’s whiskey butter). And sure, none of these options make sense together. And no one really knows how they can all be so damn delicious. But they are. So go ahead, order one more bloody. It’s only $3 after all.
Call A small spot with big buzz (and also aebleskivers) In one of Denver’s fastest growing neighborhoods -- especially when it comes to restaurants -- brunch choices abound. Standouts include Julep, Stowaway Kitchen, and The Preservery. But when it comes to serving up something both comforting and memorable, Call (which was named one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants 2018), shines. A pork and fried egg sandwich will have you rethinking all your past bacon or sausage debates, and the aebleskivers, a donut-hole like Danish treat, have become a signature dish no matter what variety is on offer. The ever-changing choices you’ll find will definitely make it tough to decide.
Onefold Your destination for globally-inspired brunch dishes They’ve got a take on the ubiquitous breakfast burrito (with the indulgent addition of duck fat fried potatoes). There are breakfast tacos (adorned with griddled mozzarella). There are crepes if you’re craving something on the sweeter side. But what you’re really here for are two dishes that are unexpected and oh-so-welcome for brunch: bacon fried rice and congee. Bacon fried rice is pretty self explanatory, although Onefold’s is topped with eggs fried in duck fat, giving the whole dish an added layer of savory depth. Congee, if you need an introduction, is a rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. Here, they add duck confit, a poached egg, green onions, tamari soy sauce, salted ginger, and a generous swirl of chili. If you’ve never given congee a try, let Onefold help you out.
Sign up here for our daily Denver email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.