Sharp stresses that he never set out to create a Sassafras-like spot, with shrimp and grits and filé powder and such. After all, the restaurant is called the Universal, not the Southern. And the sandwiches definitely have universal appeal, especially the grass-fed burger and the standout banh mi, with nubby tempeh, sambal-spiked mayonnaise, and sweet-and-spicy pickled cucumbers, carrots and onions. So does the Greek-style yogurt, which the kitchen further strains over cheesecloth until it's nearly as thick as camembert, then layers with granola and enough fruit for a fruit bowl.

Location Info


The Universal

2911 W. 38th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: Northwest Denver


The Universal
Biscuit and preserves $2.50
Housemade cornbread $4.25
Veggie Benedict $10
Cornbread rancheros $10
Grits of the day, price varies
Banana-walnut pancakes $10
Custard toast $8
Pulled-pork sandwich $9.25
Tempeh banh mi $9.25
Yogurt and granola $6.50
2911 West 38th Avenue
Hours: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday

Having just celebrated the restaurant's one-year anniversary in a spot that quickly swallowed up many earlier efforts, Sharp is busy making plans for the future. The counter is scheduled for a facelift, its display case soon to be full of Coda coffee beans, T-shirts, chocolate chip cookies and maybe Anson Mills heirloom grits. By the end of the summer, he hopes to have the Universal open seven days a week, and says he's even considering branching out into dinner. Who knows? Maybe Paula Deen's oven-fried chicken won't be too far behind. No fryers required.

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The best fried chicken would be cooked in a cast iron like at my favorite fried chicken restaurant, The Castle Cafe.  No fryer needed!!

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

I take it Gretchen didn't get the memo on Paula Deen - might want to forego all the references to her for a bit.  Probably not the model to which the Universal wishes to aspire.  Although considering the way they treated their opening chef, I could be wrong about that.