Best Brunch 2015 | Providence Tavern | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Teal Nipp

It's no fluke that Providence Tavern's address and its phone number both end in 5280, because brunch here epitomizes everything that's right about Mile High dining: cheap drinks, amazing Benedicts, a view of the game from every seat in the house...and no waits. Somehow this upscale neighborhood bar has flown under the radar, even though it serves up anything but average bar food. The smoked pork benefit (no, that's not a typo, and, yes, you benefit if you order this) is one of the best Benedicts in town, smothered in a chile-rojo Hollandaise that will set your mouth on fire. Then there's the truffled grilled cheese, made breakfasty with a bacon and egg on top, a foodgasm-inducing sandwich. Digest it all in the comfortable, all-seasons room; it's the perfect place to drink away the day with $8 bottomless mimosas or manmosas and $5 Bloodys.

Readers' choice: Snooze

A Boulder institution since the mid-'90s, the Buff finally admitted it had outgrown its original location last year and moved up the block, adding 700 square feet of space and some much-needed parking. While the wait times are no shorter at the new spot, this remains a University of Colorado hangout worth hanging around for. Despite its shiny new facade and some modernization, the Buff maintains much of the look and feel of the original, with wood from the old restaurant repurposed for the walls and booths. And the breakfasts are as good as ever. Go, Buff!

Greg Thow

Affectionately marketed as "adult daycare," the Lobby doesn't mess around when it comes to drinking. The base price for a bottomless mimosa is $10, but you can upgrade to more exotic flavors like pineapple or grapefruit for $1 extra per bottomless glass, or if you want to get really fancy, try a seasonal Happy Leaf Kombucha mimosa for $16. And if you want to see just how big bottomless can be, go with a party of more than five people, because you'll get a giant tabletop full of mimosas. The best part, though, is that this isn't just a brunch deal: Bottomless mimosas are available Tuesday through Sunday until 3 p.m. and again Tuesday through Saturday from 6:30 p.m. until close. You'll want to go early, though, because this place gets slammed and doesn't take reservations after 11 a.m. And you'll want to stay as long as you can before you hit bottom.

Readers' choice: Root Down

Eric Gruneisen

Best-known as a raucous spot for watching the Blackhawks or for legit Chicago-style deep-dish (cornmeal crust and all), Wyman's No. 5 scores on football Sundays with its Bloody Mary garnished with a White Castle slider. Channeling a few bars in Joliet, Illinois, where the owners grew up, the garnish is offered as a hangover helper to add some sustenance to your morning beverage. With no White Castle in Colorado, the source of these delectable little patties is a mystery we're not sure we want to solve. Just keep 'em coming.

At most Bloody Mary bars, you get to augment your drink with a few seasonings and some garnishes, then go on your not-so-very-merry way. But not at Punch Bowl Social. At this Bloody Mary bar to end all Bloody Mary bars, you can choose between five different tomato or tomatillo mixes from the Real Dill and Salty Iguana for a red or green base, then layer on the proteins, veggies and spices. Every garnish and accoutrement — from shrimp and jicama tossed in chile powder to a beautiful charcuterie platter with Tender Belly ham, salami and pepperoni — has been meticulously thought out. There are even three housemade spice mixes — Chinese five-spice, six-pepper and "mouth of the South" — that you can use to doctor your drink for a taste that's often imitated, never duplicated. A Bloody here is a whole meal in a glass.

Readers' choice: The Hornet

When a second Sassafras opened in Capitol Hill last year, in a spot already gifted with a liquor license, the owners didn't take their entrance into the brunch-cocktail game lightly. From neon-green zombie punches to more traditional Nola favorites like the Hurricane, the cocktails here are all to die for, but the real standouts are the four house-infused Bloody Marys. Each features a different tomato base with varying degrees of heat and a smattering of creative garnishes, whether you opt for the signature Sassafras, with a pickled quail egg; the BBQ, with pickled-pig's-feet vodka and bacon salt; or the Garden, with goat-cheese-stuffed peppers. The spiciest of the bunch is made with ghost chiles and pickled-pepper vodka (aptly named after the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau) and features an edible green-pepper voodoo doll that's almost too cute to eat. Fair warning, though: You'll probably want to call a cab home.

Happy hour is a beautiful thing. And nothing goes better with happy hour than sliders, which are filling but not too filling, with just enough protein and carbs to cushion the alcohol without ruining your dinner. The brains behind the Kitchen Next Door know this, which is why the community-hour menu — served daily from 3 to 6 p.m. — includes three versions for you to mix and match. In true Kitchen style, the cheeseburger slider is made of local beef, the slow-roasted pork is accented with salsa verde, and the vegetarian option is a cut above the rest — made not with brown rice and mushrooms, but ruby beets jazzed up with feta, balsamic onions and arugula. The only thing to say when your sliders arrive? "Cheers." And when they're gone? "Another round."

Open since 1966 in a part of the north side barely hanging on to its working-class roots in the face of gentrification, the pink-painted Rosa Mia Inn sits across from Lakeside Amusement Park and is almost as much of an institution. Even though ownership recently changed, little else about the bar has: There's nothing but Bud and Coors on draught, and during twin happy hours — from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. — the beer and wells are some of the city's cheapest. Cheap booze is always nice, but it's the loose, anything-can-happen vibe that puts the Rosa Mia in a different dive-bar category. The cheap liquor attracts regulars salty and sweet, and the jukebox is liable to start a hoedown. Add in some pinball and skill games, TVs for sports-watching and the collected atmosphere of decades of drinking, and the Rosa Mia Inn is home to one of the happiest happy hours around.

Like vampires and Lionel Richie, Vesper Lounge's happy hour is in its element after the sun goes down. A hip cocktail bar with the spirit of a grimy dive, Vesper offers bracing drinks from 11 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursday, after most spots have locked their doors. The thirst-quenchers on offer pair off two tipples for one price, named for the flop films of pop divas. Get a cosmo with a Lady in Pink shot (the "Swept Away") or a "Glitter," with a lemon-drop martini and a kamikaze shot. Before the kitchen closes at 11, you can order from a board of up-tempo bar food, like tasty little gyro and falafel sliders or pork-belly lettuce wraps (Vesper's harissa-dusted fries are a must for soaking up any excess booze). Rising from the grave of the Lancer Lounge, this happening spot will keep the party going all night long.

Readers' choice: Highland Tap & Burger

It's not every day that an afternoon happy hour can challenge your culinary boundaries — but Leña does just that every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., by hopping the border past Mexico and well into Central and South America. The Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorean and other cuisines served at happy hour are old hat to those in the know, but they could be a revelation to South Broadway bar crawlers. Start with some llapingachos — cheese-packed potato cakes smeared with a spicy peanut sauce — which are at once familiar and excitingly different. And while you can find happy-hour tacos anywhere, succulent goat barbacoa and silky, tender bison short-rib tacos are singularly impressive. Cheap drafts, wells and wines round out the offerings. There are welcome little touches and twists even on this limited menu, making Leña's happy hour one of the most interesting ones out any time of the day.

Readers' choice: Highland Tap & Burger

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