Pete Contos came to Denver in 1955, and when he bought his first restaurant here seven years later, it was the start of a restaurant empire. In the Best of Denver 2011, we crowned Pete's Kitchen as the Best Pete's Restaurant: We end a lot of nights at the 24/7 greasy spoon diner that Contos bought in 1988, watching the always-entertaining crowd as we shovel down a plate of eggs and bacon.
Today is Pete Contos' 77th birthday. And if you'd like to celebrate with a trip to one of his eateries, here are the six additional spots that comprise his Mile High City empire.
Pete's Satire Lounge The Satire Lounge is the place that started it all: Contos bought this joint in 1962. Today, the quirky, cavernous East Colfax dive serves a menu dominated by Mexican food -- and caters to an eclectic crowd of drinkers into the wee hours.
Pete's Gyros Place Contos purchased this restaurant in 1991. It's an old-school diner with an aluminum counter and rows of vinyl booths; the fare is gyros -- the cooks shave lamb from the spit right behind that counter -- supplemented by souvlaki, salads and sandwiches.
Pete's Greek Town Cafe This spacious spot with a broad, breezy patio is open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. Through the day, people come in to order from a long list of diner-style breakfasts, then a massive menu of Greek offerings, burgers, sandwiches, pasta and much more, and finally anything that will help absorb all the drinks they've consumed that night.
Pete's University Park Cafe Like many of the other restaurants in the Pete's empire, the Pete's outpost by the University of Denver serves a mix of Greek and diner specialties, including lots of egg dishes, burgers and melts, gyros and steak dinners.
Pete's Central One The most Greek-focused of the Pete's restaurants, this lunch and dinner eatery on South Pearl Street offers saganaki (flaming cheese), kebobs, gyros and avgolemono lemon soup, all served in a small dining room adorned with Greek-themed murals.
The Bank Bar & Grill This dark-paneled space on Colfax was once a real bank. Today, it's a hangout that features typical sports bar fare, including wings, burgers and loaded potato skins. But most people who head to the Bank do so in order to drink, especially when they can watch big sporting events from a spot at the bar or in one of the plush booths.
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