Best Bakery in a Garage 2018 | Raleigh Street Bakery | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy Raleigh Street Bakery Facebook page

David Kaminer's bakery isn't an efficient, commercial facility with gleaming ovens and mixers, nor is it an artisan storefront in a trendy neighborhood or market hall. Instead, Raleigh Street Bakery is in Kaminer's garage, behind his house on a quiet residential block in northwest Denver. He built his wood-burning oven with the help of friends and family, got approval under Denver's cottage-industry regulations, and in 2014 began turning out some of the city's most beautiful rustic breads. The baker relies on the time-honored pain au levain method to proof his dough naturally over several days, using heritage grains such as einkorn and blue tinge emmer to build layers of flavor. You can track down his crusty baguettes, dense rye loaves and other creations on Raleigh Street every Friday, at Call to Arms Brewing on Mondays, and at select farmers' markets during summer months.

Courtesy Boulangerie Facebook page

Steven Roland, owner of the Boulangerie, is best known for his baguettes and other crusty French and Italian loaves. But leave it to a guy who once worked as a private chef at the British Embassy in Oslo to put out the best scone in town. These golden, fruit-filled treats are so impossibly tender, you know they're filled with plenty of butter, buttermilk and cream. Flavors vary, so you can drop by for blueberry-almond one day and cherry the next. Settle into the sunny space with something to read and a piping hot Americano and be glad that Roland, a recent transplant, chose to make Denver home.

Whether you drop by Hotbox Roasters Cafe for a shot of caffeine or a beer (taps open weekdays at 7 a.m.), you'll definitely want a doughnut with that. This triple-concept cafe, part of Oskar Blues Fooderies, cranks out roughly twenty hand-cut varieties while you're sleeping, so doughnuts are fresh every morning. Don't miss the glazed, a ring of yeast-raised yumminess that takes two hours to make and is full-bodied thanks to high-protein bread flour. And by all means, venture out of your comfort zone with the Earl Grey-lavender (trust us), with a colorful drizzle of naturally flavored frosting. If you're a cake purist, you'll be hot for Hotbox's cake doughnuts, which are tender but never oily. The blueberry is a fan fave, but we can't resist the vanilla-scented old-fashioned and the chocolate glazed. So don't kid yourself when you're at the front of the line: You'll want a box, not a bag, and whichever side of the raised/cake divide you fall on, you can go home with plenty of both.

Readers' Choice: Voodoo Doughnut

Courtesy Logan House Coffee Company Facebook page

Being a new coffee shop inside the Stanley Marketplace has its advantages and disadvantages. You have a captive audience of market-goers and looky-loos venturing into the cavernous space for shopping, dining and satisfying their curiosity; surely some of them will need a caffeine kick. But hanging out in what's essentially a mall (a really cool reinvention of a mall, to be sure) may not be the standard cafe cool cat's idea of a good time. Still, Logan House has won over suburbanites and hipsters alike with one simple thing: great coffee. While not as bright and acidic as some modern city-roast specialists, the beans are just roasty enough to appeal to those who prefer a mellower cup. Enjoy this great coffee in a sunny, inviting shop where you can spread out to study, work or people-watch, an ideal urban, industrial-chic environment — even if it's miles from the city center.

Readers' Choice: Dandy Lion Coffee

Amethyst Coffee Co. isn't just a cool spot to grab a cup of coffee; it's also got all the fixin's of a cocktail bar, including a beer menu. And while there's no specialty cocktail menu to order from, barista-bartenders can whip up anything you desire, including the classics. Our favorite coffee-inspired beverage is "If You Can Dodge a Wrench," made with vodka, fresh orange juice, Dimmi Liquore di Milano and Marble Moonlight Espresso liqueur and topped with a cold-brew float. It combines two of our favorite brunch drinks into one, effectively killing two birds — and hopefully your hangover — with one stone.

Best Coffee Drinks in a Cocktail Bar

Hudson Hill

Danielle Lirette

When you think like a bartender, even your coffee comes out like a mixologist's masterpiece. Hudson Hill owner Jake Soffes applies his skill at blending complementary flavors to a morning menu of espresso drinks that will make you set aside your plain old latte for something a little more uplifting. Starting with beans from Denver's Commonwealth Coffee, Hudson Hill turns out stellar staples — cappuccinos, cortados and macchiatos, for example — and weekly specials in which you'll find rooibos or Earl Grey tea mingling with coffee, a brûléed sugar crust atop your caramel latte, or a shaken iced coffee punctuated with housemade ginger and hawthorn syrups. When life is bitter, Hudson Hill adds just the right hint of sweet.

Overt is the coffee-shop counter sibling of Vert, the sandwich shop just a couple of doors down. Overt doesn't offer any indoor seating, but tucked behind the building is a patio that you'll wish was behind your home. The secluded space is full of benches and tables with umbrellas, and on a nice day, it's the ideal spot to read a book, enjoy your coffee or a cold beverage with a Vert grab-and-go salad, meet a friend or just work on your tan.

Best Non-Coffee Drinks at a Coffee Shop

Joe Maxx Coffee

Courtesy Joe Maxx Coffee Co. Denver Facebook page

Are you meeting a friend for coffee, but aren't a fan of coffee itself? Lots of shops offer alternatives, such as various teas, chai and hot cocoa. But Joe Maxx, right in the heart of the Art District on Santa Fe, goes a step further, using housemade syrups to liven up tea lattes. Lavender tea latte is made with Earl Grey and lavender syrup, rose tea latte with English breakfast and rose syrup. There's kombucha on tap, too, or you can just skip the drink altogether and order a slice of crepe pie, fancy toast or quiche.

Courtesy ChoLon

You'll do a double take when a steaming latte is set on your table at Concourse. You didn't ask for a coffee drink — and where's that bowl of soup you ordered? The surprise from chef Luke Bergman's kitchen is a savory, creamy vegetable soup topped with foam and served in a coffee cup. The particulars of the creation change with the seasons; a wintertime celery root soup with a cider-maple foam topper has morphed into a creamy spring-pea base with Parmesan foam. The trompe l'oeil is equally delightful either way — and Bergman's skill with surprising flavor combinations ensures that future iterations will continue to please.

Courtesy Avelina Facebook page

Avelina is a stylish downtown grotto that does a fine job catering to the business set at lunch and dinner, with wood-fired specialties that skew Mediterranean. But when the weekend rolls around and this part of downtown gets to feeling a bit deserted, Avelina serves up a stellar brunch that should draw the crowds. On the sweet side, you'll find beignets with a creamy filling along with lovely scones, crepes and breakfast cakes. The savory slate is full of familiar favorites ranging from pork green chile to steak and eggs, but try the breakfast tacos or duck hash for something just a little different. The kicker, though, is the Bloody Mary bar, which lets you go to work on your own boozy breakfast concoction.

Readers' Choice: Low Country Kitchen

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