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

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

Quality Italian
Mark Antonation

The bottom line: When you're going for bottomless drinks, quality counts. At Quality Italian's brunch (which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays), the "Endless Bloody Marys and Bellinis" deal will set you back just $15 — a true bargain given the quality of the ingredients. Forget mimosas made with reconstituted OJ and Cook's: Quality Italian will roll out its "signature bellini cart," with Pasqua sparkling wine as well as all the items required to make the seasonal flavors (currently grapefruit and pomegranate, cucumber lime and classic white peach). The Bloodys start with Smirnoff and come in classic, dry-aged or Maria Capri styles. (The latter is made with heirloom cherry tomatoes and white balsamic and tastes like a Caprese martini.) And you don't have to commit to one as you sip your way through brunch; you can mix and match. Bottoms up!

Readers' Choice: The Lobby

Gaetano's Restaurant
Cassandra Kotnik

Old-school Italian joints are an endangered species in this town, particularly on the rapidly gentrifying Northside. But Gaetano's is a survivor. Under current owner Ron Robinson, this legendary eatery — it once belonged to the Smaldones, a famous Mob family — has become a neighborhood hangout, a popular destination for people who want a solid Italian meal flavored with history and decades of red sauce. Or maybe just a really good Bloody Mary. Gaetano's Bloody Mary bar boasts a spread that includes spicy infused vodka, three tomato blends, dozens of hot sauces and seasoning mixes, as well as pickled vegetables, cheese, shrimp, jerky, bacon and everything else you need to make a meal in a glass. A three-time winner, Gaetano's remains an offer we still can't refuse.

Readers' Choice: The Hornet

Chook Charcoal Chicken
Mark Antonation

Alex Seidel and Adam Schlegel created Chook with one goal: to provide quality food that won't break the bank and is easy to grab on the way home. The focus is on chicken, specifically Australian-style charcoal-broiled birds that can be ordered in whole, half or quarter sizes, with sauces ranging from piri-piri to chimichurri and gravy. There are sides, too: mashed Colorado potatoes with shallot butter, Hawaiian sweet rolls made by Seidel's Fudmill Bakery, celery-apple slaw and more. With so many options, fast food from Chook never gets old, and it's always delicious.

Readers' Choice: Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery

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