La Fillette
Mark Antonation

La Fillette was founded in 2014 but has been under new ownership since 2016, and the little east-side bakery has just kept getting better with age. Croissants are the spotlight-stealing diva of any pastry case, and here they shine, whether as unadorned croissants with flaky, mahogany crusts hiding myriad tender layers within, or as pain au chocolat, with a dark, hidden and oh, so delicious secret. Baguettes, boules and batards are a Parisian's dream, and there are enough desserts at La Fillette to keep any sweet tooth happy, from all-American cookies to the cutest macarons. Breakfast sandwiches fill those crackly croissants with omelet-like layers of egg, cheese and other ingredients. Just say "Oui!"

Readers' Choice: Grateful Bread Company

Tokyo Premium Bakery
Mark Antonation

There's no doubt that the team of Japanese bakers who run Tokyo Premium, which opened last fall on Old South Pearl Street, are masters of their craft. Light and buttery pastries filled with glazed fruit or custard are as good as they get anywhere in town, and savory buns decorated with eggs, corn, bacon and other lunch-ready toppings make the bright cafe a recommended stop to satisfy a nosh. But beyond the matcha green-tea lattes and delicate sandwiches made on impossibly airy clouds of shoku-pan bread awaits a goofy treat sure to put a smile on the surliest bakery shopper: hot dogs wrapped in toothsome house dough squiggled with ketchup and mustard before being baked. They're the Japanese answer to Chicago bagel dogs, and you can also find mini-sausage bites in the bakery's pan d'epi, a French pull-apart specialty that here gets a meaty addition. Just tell everyone they're for your kids — then stuff your face on the drive home.

Hotbox Roasters Cafe

Beer and doughnuts? That's just what you'll find at this perky coffee shop run by the folks who founded Oskar Blues Brewery. Every day the menu offers a fun array of specialty doughnuts, including strawberry-pink lemonade and Earl Grey lavender; the regular lineup includes both cake and yeast-raised doughnuts in flavors ranging from glazed and cinnamon to maple, blueberry cake and more. The cafe also serves full-on breakfast, in case you need to balance out your sugar with something savory.

Readers' Choice: Voodoo Doughnut

Spur Coffee
Courtesy Spur Coffee

When Spur Coffee closed its original location in Littleton, the community it had been part of for five years went into mourning. Luckily, central Denver got its own Spur last year, and the reason for its popularity quickly became obvious. The shop is dedicated to quality in every aspect of coffee, from roasting its own to crafting unique housemade syrups and making food-pairing suggestions. Spur's scratch-made pastries tend to the savory and are never overly sweet in any case, and the menu offers unusual items such as traditional soft-boiled eggs served in the shell in egg cups, something you don't see much outside of English kitchens. Spur will soon extend its hours for late-night sipping, so who knows? Your favorite coffee shop could become your favorite cocktail bar in the near future.

Readers' Choice: Torpedo Coffee

Buchi Cafe Cubano
Ariel Fried

This west Denver cafe has made it onto many of our "best" lists, but never for its coffee. Sandwiches pressed to deliciousness are its claim to fame, but the coffee is a surprising treat and worth a trip on its own. Buchi serves traditional Cuban coffee sweetened with raw sugar, but also mixes up an eye-opening cafe con leche with espresso and steamed milk. The non-pretentious environment, complete with plastic silverware and paper plates (or no plates at all) creates a comfortable environment for relaxing, practicing your Spanglish and sipping away the day.

Queen City Collective Coffee
Danielle Krolewicz

When Queen City Collective first arrived on the scene, it roasted small batches of coffee in a closet at Bellwether on East Colfax, keeping its process largely behind closed doors. This past year, it teamed up with Novel Strand Brewing and outfitted a former convenience store in Baker. While coffee production still takes place off site, Queen City is now pouring in a bright, spacious shop set off the main drag, for a true neighborhood feel. Brothers Luke, Scott and Eric Byington use coffee sourced primarily from women farmers in Africa with whom they've built a relationship, and funds from coffee sales go to improving schools in Zimbabwe and Rwanda, so you can feel good in more ways than one while you enjoy your java.

Sapor Coffee & Concepts
Courtesy Sapor Coffee

The couple behind Sapor Coffee & Concepts, Jeannie and Caleb Sprenger, received coffee training from Caleb's uncle, who owns Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, hailed by many in the Denver coffee community as the best of the best. Their new shop proudly boasts top-notch brew equipment, and they'll happily tell you everything you want to know about it. Their extensive knowledge translates into precisely brewed coffee and pulled shots of espresso, which come at a price (especially the Gesha, renowned for its rarity) — but if you drink anything other than Folgers on the regs, you'll appreciate the difference.

Like your coffee with a side of activism? Whittier Cafe is a one-stop shop for both. More than just a natural gathering place, it hosts community-centric events aimed at getting everyone involved, hosting open mics, talks by politicians, a local-authors' book fair, movie viewings and sponsored discussions centered on building inclusivity. The cafe's bathroom walls are covered with signs from previous protests, keeping up the conversation. Whittier's investment in the community goes beyond dollars and cents to common sense, and for that, we're grateful.

TeaLee's Tea House and Bookstore
Krista Kafer

For two years, the space now inhabited by TeaLee's in Five Points sat empty, closed to the public while owners Rise Jones and Louis Freeman lived in limbo. Early in 2018, they received the go-ahead to open, and their teahouse — named after Jones's grandmother — was welcomed with open arms...and mouths. The menu boasts 52 varieties of loose-leaf teas from around the world, as well as tea-infused cocktails; TeaLee's offers an afternoon high tea, too (reservations required). And if you want to linger, TeaLee's is also a bookstore, with tomes available for both perusal and purchase. That speaks volumes about this spot's role as a community gathering place.

Readers' Choice: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

The Bindery
Danielle Lirette

No other brunch in town is as much a reflection of its chef's underlying philosophy as Linda Hampsten Fox's thoughtful and inspiring weekend creations at the Bindery. Her ability to combine multiple disparate ingredients from Mexico, the Mediterranean and the U.S. seems nearly effortless, but years of cooking abroad, combined with the gusto inherited from her food-loving Polish-American family, inform each bite. You'll wish you were wearing white linen pajamas as you start breakfast with a croissant and brûléed grapefruit or berries with beignets. But there's heartier stuff here, too, whether a rare Dutch baby (even better than a pancake), a three-egg omelet with kielbasa and lemon-poppyseed goat cheese, or "hunter's eggs" served over angel-hair pasta. Dishes change with the seasons, but the menu always reads like a series of culinary haiku.

Readers' Choice: Snooze

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