Best of Denver

Denver's Twelve Best Breakfast Restaurants

Benedicts come in pleasing versions at Hashtag.
Benedicts come in pleasing versions at Hashtag. Danielle Lirette

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Ivy on 7th

410 East Seventh Avenue

The folks behind Angelo's Taverna and Carboy Winery landed another winner when they opened Ivy in the former home of Lala's at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Logan Street. It didn't hurt that they hired chef Rebecca Weitzman, who'd made a name for herself in Denver before departing for New York City more than a decade ago, to launch the breakfast and lunch menu. The focus is on light and bright fare, with locally sourced ingredients landing on breakfast sandwiches, toasts, scrambles and bowls. We're nuts for the lemon-ricotta pancakes, but even a simple bowl of granola turns to magic, with touches of tahini, raw honey, fruit and Greek yogurt.

click to enlarge The Deep South Benedict at Sassafras. - COURTESY OF SASSAFRAS AMERICAN EATERY
The Deep South Benedict at Sassafras.
Courtesy of Sassafras American Eatery


320 East Colfax Avenue, 303-831-6233
3927 West 32nd Avenue, 303-433-0080
1027 Washington Avenue, Golden, 303-593-0003

Southern charm is at its most inviting at the breakfast hour, with fluffy biscuits, sweet beignets and steaming bowls of buttery grits. Sassafras puts the comfort in comfort food while expanding on the standard breakfast canon with such tempting plates as chicken-fried eggs atop buffalo hash. The eatery got its start in a cozy bungalow in Jefferson Park before moving to the larger twin Victorians that once held Solitaire. In between, Sassafras also opened in Golden and on Colfax, making a triangle of delicious breakfast destinations throughout central and northwest Denver.

click to enlarge Pancakes are an obsession at Snooze. - COURTESY OF SNOOZE
Pancakes are an obsession at Snooze.
Courtesy of Snooze


Multiple locations

Jon and Adam Schlegel founded Snooze fifteen years ago as an overnight breakfast joint serving night owls in the then-sketchy Ballpark neighborhood on Larimer Street. They quickly ditched that idea in favor of regular breakfast hours, and pancake fanatics have swarmed the place, and its many, many outposts, ever since. Snooze now numbers more than forty locations in several states, but the mid-mod original is still a joyful stop for great food and coffee, if you can handle the ever-present queue on the sidewalk.

click to enlarge Dukkah eggs and trout at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Dukkah eggs and trout at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen.
Danielle Lirette

Stowaway Kitchen

2528 Walnut Street

Rather than brash and overwhelming, as some Denver breakfast joints can be, Stowaway succeeds with a low-key approach and a menu full of subtle surprises. The bright, airy coffee shop serves an international array of breakfast eats, from "killer whale" granola to dukkah (a crunchy Egyptian spice blend) eggs and smoked trout. Whatever you choose, don't skip the coffee, expertly made in a variety of methods, from standard drip to aeropress to espresso pressed from Boxcar beans and other local roasters. The friendly service and roasty aromas will keep you there until the doors close. Just don't go on Tuesdays: That's adventure day for the Stowaway crew.

Settle in for a big breakfast at the Universal. - COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSAL
Settle in for a big breakfast at the Universal.
Courtesy of the Universal

The Universal

2911 West 38th Avenue

It's brunch every day at the Universal, a sleek and austerely decorated breakfast-and-lunch hot spot in Sunnyside. Although the weekend specials tend to be more elaborate, we're just fine with the standard menu: thick, creamy grits (heirloom from Anson Mills) offered on the side or as a complete dish with eggs and meat; biscuits smothered in a medium-spicy pork-sausage gravy; a fried-egg sandwich with Tender Belly meats; and custard toast, one of the best things to happen to bread. The huge pancakes and several scrambles are also good choices; the sheer variety of flavorful ingredients in the latter — like wild-boar sausage or goat cheese and smoked tomatoes — make them stand out. You no longer need to wait for the weekend to luxuriate in a morning meal; just make time on the weekday for the Universal.

Wendell's Breakfast

3838 Tennyson Street

Wendell's joined the a.m. fray on Tennyson Street two years ago, taking over where DJ's Berkeley Cafe left off. The space is warm and inviting, as are the buttermilk pancakes, some of the best in the city. You can keep breakfast traditional, or you can stray a little from your morning regimen with breakfast poutine, the New York Deli Benedict with gravlax and all the accompaniments (including everything-bagel spice), or a luxurious croque monsieur dripping in bechamel. 
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation