Denver Restaurant Guide

A searchable directory of recommended local restaurants

The Universal

"Fryers still bring me nightmares," says Steven Sharp, who opened the Universal in Sunnyside in the summer of 2012 with his wife, Kourtnie Harris. Sharp’s first job was frying chicken at a fast-food restaurant in California, and it scarred him enough that decades later, when he opened his own spot, he did so without a fryer. No fryer means no fried chicken, which would seem a natural for the Universal, a cozy, comfort-food spot that emphasizes breakfast and lunch. But it also means that the food is a lot less greasy than you might expect, given the strong Southern bent of the menu. The pulled-pork sandwich is pure Tarheel, with meat smoked out back and tossed in a vinegary North Carolina-style barbecue sauce, as are the grits, which can be ordered as a side, with two eggs and meat, or as the daily grits special. And the biscuits would do pre-scandal Paula Deen proud. The butter-laden delights can be ordered with sausage gravy or as a side with raspberry jam; coupled with a cup of Denver-based Coda coffee, they’re a great way to start a meal.
Details
  • Price: $$
  • Hours: Monday, Thursday-Friday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Takeout not available on weekends)
  • Outdoor seating: Sidewalk tables
  • Alcohol: Full bar
  • Reservations: Not accepted
  • Parking: Lot available, On-street
  • Takeout