Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl specializes in punches — and activities and games galore — but you'll be bowled over by the Bloody Mary bar offered during the weekend brunches that start at the eye-opening hour of 8 a.m. And you'll need your eyes wide open to take in the incredible array of items that come with this bar: enough veggies and cheeses to make yourself a salad in a glass — topped with bacon, of course. Go ahead and make a pig of yourself; you can dance off your breakfast when the DJ arrives later in the morning.

Steuben's Uptown
Cassandra Kotnik

Your romance started with such promise — perhaps even right next door at Ace. But now all the games are over, and you're ready to break it off for good. There's no better place to deliver the bad news than Steuben's. For starters, the place is always packed and the tables are crowded close together, so your soon-to-be ex might think twice about making a scene. The menu is full of classic versions of comfort food from across the country, so there's sure to be a dish that will offer some solace for each of you. And should things go really badly, the bartenders are not only talented, but friendly; they'll lend both an ear and a hand while mixing a stiff drink to take away some of the sting.

El Tejado's potato tacos
Mark Antonation
El Tejado's potato tacos

Day or night, El Tejado attracts the most eclectic crowd around: Denver cops and paramedics grabbing a quick meal, hipsters making their way through buckets of Coronas, Spanish-speaking work crews slurping oysters and big shrimp cocktails. But our go-to order at El Tejado is the breakfast burrito: a big, fat version stuffed full of scrambled eggs, cheese, and the town's best hash browns, all smothered in a great, pork-studded, gravy-like green chile. If you time your visit right, you may find yourself serenaded by a mariachi band.

La Popular
Danielle Lirette

For more than six decades, La Popular has sold the town's best tamales from an old storefront on Lawrence Street. But when we really need to get our engine going in the morning, we'll stop by and bag a breakfast burrito to go. This is not the dainty little foil-wrapped parcel sold at so many other carry-out spots around town, designed to be eaten behind the wheel, but a hefty package that wraps a housemade tortilla around a mound of scrambled eggs, potatoes, green chiles, cheese and (very) spicy chorizo. If you really need a wake-up call, order your $2.75 burrito and get it smothered with green chile for another $1.50. No charge for the authentic atmosphere.

Moontower Tacos
If you've ever been to South Texas, then you understand the unwavering fidelity of the region's residents to breakfast tacos. So when Austin transplant Brent Thrash opened Moontower Tacos last year with an all-day breakfast board of tacos, it quickly became a go-to joint not just for breakfast, but for dinner, too. Because once you wrap your jaws around a migas taco -- the flour or corn tortilla generously stuffed with soft-scrambled eggs, slices of fresh avocado, oil-crisped tortilla strips and glossy, jalapeño-spiked, three-cheese queso that's the hue of a flaming canary -- you're immediately hooked. The kitchen crowns the tacos with a blot of pico de gallo, and the result is a breakfast novelty -- at least in Denver -- that would be a star even deep in the heart of Texas.
Station 26 Brewing
Danielle Lirette

There's nothing like a firehouse to make someone feel safe and secure. But Station 26 — which opened late last year inside a former firehouse — has its own special glow. The space has been renovated with a beautiful wraparound bar, slick lighting fixtures and a large patio out front through a couple of huge garage doors; there's even a preserved fire pole. And since the brewing equipment is located in full view of the tables, customers can watch the process while drinking the beer that results. Located in a mostly residential area between Park Hill and Stapleton, the brewery has a neighborhood feel — but still smokes on busy nights.

River North Brewery

Day after day, beer after beer, River North Brewery, which opened a few blocks east of Coors Field in 2012, continues to kill it with its Belgian-styled beer and barrel-aging program. Owned by Matt and Jessica Hess, the brewery serves a regular lineup that includes a Belgian-style wit, a Belgian IPA and a quadrupel — which is a high-alcohol beer that many breweries haven't even attempted, let alone perfected. But the barrel-aging program is what really sets River North apart, producing everything from a quad to a stout, a saison to a golden ale, aged in everything from rum to whiskey to Scotch to wine barrels. We can't wait to see what's on tap this year.

BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Many Colorado brewpubs — places that make their own beer as well as their own food — have elevated their beers to Rocky Mountain levels over the past few years, and some of them are trying to match those mountains when it comes to their menus. But BRU handbuilt ales & eats has a bit of a head start, since it was created by Ian Clark, a professionally trained chef who happens to love homebrewing as well. His dining room is laid out in a way that highlights both the beer — a fermentation room is front and center — and the food, prepared in an open kitchen complete with a wood-fired oven. And since Clark designed both, he's blended them together for a contemporary brewpub that's a real reason to toast.

Fooducopia
Facebook/Fooducopia

First, let us shower accolades on chef Richard Glover's decadent cinnamon-apple French toast: a plate of thick, eggy slices of gold-tinged brioche splayed with caramelized cinnamon-dusted apples, real whipped cream and a fistful of nuts. Then there are the eggs Benedict, mounted with thin, salty sheets of prosciutto topped with a cascading river of cranberry Hollandaise sauce. And a wild-Colorado-mushroom omelette with roasted red peppers and goat cheese. No matter what you order at Fooducopia, an engaging weekday and weekend brunch spot in Washington Park that also doubles as a market emphasizing local ingredients (that's where he gets those apples), you'll marvel and swoon between bites. And now that Fooducopia has a liquor license, mimosas and bloody Marys just add to the welcoming wake-up call.

Beast + Bottle

Esoteric, intriguing and fanciful wines were definitely on Aileen Reilly's mind when she and her chef brother, Paul Reilly, opened Beast + Bottle, a rusticated farmhouse restaurant in Uptown where the alluring atmosphere, food that highlights innovative ingredients and flavor combinations, and a beautifully curated wine roster have made it one of the year's smash successes. The mostly European by-the-bottle tour, smartly categorized by price and wisely composed of wines that you won't see on every other list in town, is bolstered by an equally captivating menu that gives oenophiles nearly twenty by-the-pour choices spanning bubbles, pinks, whites and reds, all of which are available by the glass, pot or litro. And Beast + Bottle servers are all well versed in pointing guests to Aileen's selections, which pair wonderfully with Paul's food.

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