Best New Coffeehouse 2021 | Cabrona Coffee | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy of Cabrona Coffee

During the pandemic, Monica Villalobos had to shift gears on her plans to open a standalone coffeehouse, and instead launched Cabrona Coffee inside Cultura Craft Chocolate, joining the RISE Westwood collective and providing distinctive Mexican drinks alongside the chocolate being made by Damaris Ronkanen. In addition to the standard lineup of cappuccinos, lattes and other espresso drinks, Cabrona offers café de olla, Mexican coffee steeped with cinnamon, piloncillo sugar and other spices to create a warming, comforting drink perfect for sun-drenched Colorado mornings. Villalobos also makes her own horchata from scratch as well as Mexican cocoa, cajeta lattes and a sweet and nutty mazapan latte created with De La Rosa mazapan, a childhood favorite of many Westwood residents.

Mark Antonation

Baker Andy Clark's expertise with naturally leavened breads, airy croissants, buttery kouign amann and other wonderful pastries has become legendary in Boulder County, but Moxie Bread Co. doesn't just sell baked goods. You can purchase the house-milled flour that the bakery uses, or you can just stop in for coffee, sandwiches and snacks — all made with the same artisan skill and attention to detail. Moxie's popularity quickly spread beyond Louisville, so the bakery added a second location at 4593 Broadway in Boulder and is working on a Lyons outpost, as well.

Best Reason to Wake Up Early on the Weekend

Bakery Four

Shawn Bergin

Shawn Bergin's tiny sourdough bakery is only open from 8 a.m. to whenever the goods sell out on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so a line often forms before 7:30 on those mornings. Neighbors appear quickly to abscond with rustic country loaves, delicate croissants, decadent morning buns and whatever else Bergin is baking that day. So showing up early is key, and you can also grab a cup of coffee once you're in the door. Bakery Four expects to add Thursdays soon, and later this year, Bergin is making the move to a bigger space on Tennyson Street to share the love with more of Denver.

Mark Antonation

This Armenian bakery offers a full range of pastries, cakes, breads and deli products, so you'll find traditional barbari and matnakash breads along with pans of savory manti dumplings. But you don't want to leave House of Bread without ordering a few lahmajun, small flatbreads topped with finely ground beef, or the ajarski, a canoe-shaped bread filled with cheese and eggs in its hollow center. These have their origin as khachapuri in Georgia, but there are several styles of khachapuri, including a flaky, cheese-filled turnover that House of Bread also makes. For a full meal (as if you won't stuff yourself on ajaruli!), there are several kinds of kabobs; just be sure to order them at least two hours in advance.

Mark Antonation

So many breakfast burritos in town are nothing more than mushy tubes of eggs, potatoes and a little meat, with a splash of green chile that adds a hint of flavor but does nothing for the texture. Tacos Rapidos takes a different approach, overstuffing each burrito with nearly equal parts eggs and meat, whether you choose chorizo, bacon, steak, sausage or our favorite, machaca. Potatoes and cheese are also options, depending on your choice of combo, but don't even bother asking for green chile. These aren't Den-Mex breakfast burritos, they're Rapidos style: fast, cheap, filling, delicious...and chile-free.

2260 South Federal Boulevard
El Tejado

One of the most interesting things about restaurant green chile is that the best versions — the handmade ones — never taste quite the same way twice. Sometimes the chile's a little more concentrated, sometimes a little darker or lighter. And the green chiles that add heat and flavor vary from batch to batch, too. At El Tejado, the green chile is always good, even if it comes a pinkish-orange over your burrito one day and slightly more greenish-brown on another visit. Like the customers in the house on any given day (you may see a group of cops at one table and a party of high school kids at the next), the mix is always a little different. But over time, the differences blur together and the chile's commendable qualities stand out in a rich and spicy blend, with a gravy-like backbone that sticks well to your relleno, your chimichanga and your ribs.

Mark Antonation

A grab bag of multiple cooking styles and regional influences seldom works — but that's not the case at La Calle. The little orange casa turns out delicious examples of cochinita pibil from Yucatán, tacos al pastor from Mexico City, and many other grilled, stewed and roasted meats. Our favorites are the Campechano (carnitas with soft pork skin), chivo (shredded goat) and cabeza (rich and fatty beef from the cow's head) tacos, but you can mix and match; just be sure to choose the best salsa from the salsa bar for each taco.

Mark Antonation

You won't find steamy bags of tamales by the dozen at Kahlo's; instead, the Westwood restaurant serves a large, Oaxacan-style chicken tamal wrapped in banana leaf and napped in mole, or a pair of delicate tamales de elote bursting with the flavor of sweet corn and drizzled with salsa verde and crema fresca. Order them both for a taste of two distinct Mexican regions; the mole's the best in town, too, so you won't be sorry. Chef/owner Noe Bermudez also runs Tarasco's, at 470 South Federal Boulevard, where you can get the same great tamales in a smaller, more casual setting.

Mark Antonation

El Borrego Negro isn't your typical hole-in-the-wall taqueria. In fact, it's little more than a hole in the ground. Chef Jose Avila founded the sheep barbacoa operation in late 2020 to bring the taste of real Mexican barbacoa de borrego to Denver. He acquired a flock of sheep that roam a farm in northern Colorado, built a brick-lined oven in the earth behind the RISE Westwood building on Morrison Road, and began sourcing maguey leaves, herbs and heirloom corn for his barbacoa and handmade tortillas. He cooks the whole sheep in the underground oven every Saturday night, along with an out-of-this-world consomé glistening with fat drippings, and serves the shredded meat every Sunday morning out of his X'Tabai Yucateco food trailer, along with nixtamal tortillas, salsas, a quart of the consomé and sides of onion, cilantro and lime. The whole setup feels like one of Denver's best-kept secrets, since there's no phone number, no menu and no website. You just pre-order through Instagram DM, or show up and take your chances — a big risk, because the barbacoa always sells out.

Mark Antonation

While you could be forgiven for assuming that the sense-clearing green chile at La Fiesta could kill almost any virus, who could have predicted that the orange vinyl booths in a vast Safeway-turned-Mexican-food joint could seem so comforting, so safe, during the pandemic? For almost sixty years, this spot on the edge of downtown has been a lunchtime haven for everyone from cops to judges to neighborhood kids seeking big, cheesy plates of Mexican food, Denver style. But this past year, the Herrera family, who've run the Den-Mex eatery from the start, made La Fiesta seem particularly welcoming...and delicious. And thanks for adding Saturday hours!

Best Of Denver®

Best Of