Layla Friend moved to Denver three years ago to escape the heat in Orlando, Florida, where she worked for a small restaurant group run by chefs Jonathan Canonaco and Brian Buttner. As it turns out, the thing she missed most about Florida was her job, so she decided to bring a piece of Orlando to Denver, and with the help of her former employers opened The Broken Cage at 2420 17th Street in late December.
This is the second Broken Cage, though Friend says the new Denver bar is somewhat different than its Florida inspiration, which doesn't serve food. She was looking for a space big enough to execute a small lunch and dinner menu, and she found it in the former home of the Dead Battery Club, which closed last fall. "The Broken Cage is a cocktail bar, but with a good amount of food, because we don't want people to have to leave to find a meal," the bar owner explains.
And much of the food menu is vegetarian or vegan, including shiitake mushroom pot stickers, crab cakes made with jackfruit instead of crab, and a couple of entree-sized salads. But there's also a short rib sandwich, lobster mac and cheese, and roast beef crostini for those who want meatier offerings.
Friend says the focus of the cocktail menu is on fresh ingredients rather than booze-heavy concoctions. "We want our drinks to be enjoyable, not overly aggressive or strong — something people will want to order again," she notes.
Most of the cocktails ring in at $10 to $12, and a range of wines by the glass are all in the $8 to $9 range. Cider, hard kombucha and craft beer from Colorado and beyond round out the drinks list.
The Broken Cage is now open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Friend adds that the food menu will continue to expand and will include weekend brunch later this year. Call 720-420-0620 or visit the bar's website for more details.