Breakfast and Brunch

Denver's Ten Best Brunches — 2019 Edition

Fancy some toast? Bar Dough has your fancy toast for brunch.
Fancy some toast? Bar Dough has your fancy toast for brunch. Ben Wolven
Denver diners queue up every weekend morning for their favorite meal of the day and the three Bs of brunch: booze, bacon and Benedicts. But most brunch fare could just as easily be classified as boring, basic and big bucks. Whether you enjoy pancakes, French toast and waffles or savory omelets, scrambles and skillets, you can make those breakfast classics at home, saving time and money without ever stepping out of your bunny slippers. And if the social aspect is what you go for, just invite your neighbors over for eggs and bottomless (another B) mimosas (tell them to BYO Hollandaise).

But Denver isn't bereft of brunches that offer more elaborate stuff. Here are ten restaurants serving unique, exotic and delicious weekend brunches.

click to enlarge The crew at Arcana is ready to make you brunch. - CASEY GILTNER
The crew at Arcana is ready to make you brunch.
Casey Giltner
Arcana
909 Walnut Street, Boulder
303-444-3885
Brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Honoring Colorado's culinary history and locally grown ingredients is a primary mission at Arcana, whether at dinner or brunch. New executive chef Samuel McCandless continues the mission while also tipping a cap to American food artisans. That's evident in the Southwest-meets-Israel pork green chile shakshuka, the drop biscuits with Benton's ham and sausage gravy, and smoked trout made with fish from Frontier Trout Ranch. And what's more Colorado than cannabis for breakfast? Try it at Arcana in the CBD (Colorado Brunch Drink), made with Bluebird Botanicals CBD, Strega, citrus and tonic.

click to enlarge Breakfast pizza combines the best of brunch and Bar Dough's wood fired pizzas. - BEN WOLVEN
Breakfast pizza combines the best of brunch and Bar Dough's wood fired pizzas.
Ben Wolven
Bar Dough
2227 West 32nd Avenue
720-668-8506
Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Bar Dough is like two novel brunches in one; you get not only an array of Italian specialties geared toward mid-morning, but a list of chef Carrie Baird's famous fancy toasts, which carried her nearly all the way to a Top Chef championship in the show's fifteenth season. Start with walnut-ricotta doughnuts or an egg-crowned swirl of cacio e pepe pasta, then share a Sunday pizza topped with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheddar and fennel sausage. Our favorite? The Sunday Sando from the Fancy Toast menu, which loads a housemade English muffin with pan-crisped mortadella, garlic aioli and eggy, cheesy goodness.


click to enlarge Oui, madame — Bistro Vendome does brunch! - BISTRO VENDOME
Oui, madame — Bistro Vendome does brunch!
Bistro Vendome
Bistro Vendôme
1420 Larimer Street
303-825-3232

Brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
The French didn't invent brunch (that honor goes to British university students, whose other creation, blunch, didn't work out so well), but they did invent many of the craveable dishes on which modern brunches are built. So at Bistro Vendôme, you can get exemplary versions of your omelette du fromage, pain perdu and crêpes, but the shining star is the decadent croque madame, a fork-and-knifer dripping with béchamel. If the Larimer Square bistro is looking crowded when you arrive, chef/owner Jennifer Jasinski has you covered with equally satisfying brunch at her other nearby eateries, including an upscale menu at Rioja and new offerings at Ultreia (don't miss the Calasparra rice porridge with Manchego cheese, Spanish chorizo, pimentón oil and a jiggly egg) and Stoic & Genuine.
click to enlarge Brunch at the Bindery is fresh and creative. - COURTESY THE BINDERY
Brunch at the Bindery is fresh and creative.
Courtesy the Bindery

The Bindery
1817 Central Street
303-993-2364
Brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Chef/owner Linda Hampsten Fox's international collision of culinary influences (which range from Italy to Mexico to her Polish-American roots) are on display for brunch as well as dinner. The chef combines diverse ingredients into miniature symphonies of flavor on a plate, most notable in a toasted quinoa bowl served with a duck egg, and in the hunter's eggs, made with a poached egg, angel hair pasta, wild mushrooms, parmesan broth, kashi and chile flakes. The Bindery's house-baked breads and pastries are some of the finest in town; plan on taking a bag of croissants for later.

click to enlarge Coconut pancakes are on the brunch menu at Departure. - DEPARTURE
Coconut pancakes are on the brunch menu at Departure.
Departure
Departure
249 Columbine Street
720-772-5020
Brunch beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Yes, Departure is located in a hotel, but you won't find steam trays of stiff scrambled eggs and limp bacon here. Instead, indulge in dim-sum-style treats such as fried chicken buns, shrimp shumai, crispy spring rolls and wings lacquered in sweet chili sauce. Of course, you'll find brunch staples, whether pancakes, omelets or biscuits with sausage and gravy, but they've all been boosted with Southeast Asian ingredients and tropical touches. And a roster of no-proof cocktails will keep your mind sharp for the rest of the day.

click to enlarge Brunch at El Chingon is like walking into your family's home. - WESTWORD
Brunch at El Chingon is like walking into your family's home.
Westword
El Chingon
4326 Tennyson Street
303-248-3641
Brunch 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
This neighborhood cottage that became a lively Mexican eatery in 2013 does brunch from the heart, with abuelita's chilaquiles, horchata French toast and huevos a la diabla to kick-start you on the weekend. Mimosas, micheladas and tequila-based concoctions go great with the grub, and you can always order lunch-style from a slate of tacos, tostadas, enchiladas and flautas. Brunch at El Chingon is like hanging out with your northside familia for breakfast.

click to enlarge Tequila cocktails are in order for brunch at Lola. - LOLA COASTAL MEXICAN
Tequila cocktails are in order for brunch at Lola.
Lola Coastal Mexican
Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
720-570-8686
Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Lobster is a rare treat at brunch; it's generally reserved for high-end hotels and posh dining rooms. But at this casual and boisterous spot, you can savor lobster in a deviled-egg starter. Sample housemade doughnuts, biscuits and cinnamon rolls before diving into El Admiral, a hearty morning platter spiked with house chorizo. Lola's chicken-fried steak is also legendary, swimming in a lake of gravy studded with more of that Mexican sausage. Bright salsas, steamy tortillas and tart margaritas round out the Lola a.m. experience.


click to enlarge Enchiladas are one of many Mexican dishes on Necio's brunch menu. - FACEBOOK/NECIO
Enchiladas are one of many Mexican dishes on Necio's brunch menu.
Facebook/Necio
Necio Latin Eatery
4001 Tejon Street
720-485-5647
Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Necio is Sunnyside's secret brunch rendezvous, located in the space that was once home to Paxia and, briefly, Lot 14 Bistro. Chicharrón guacamole makes for a good starter, followed by huevos divorciados (eggs served with separate red and green chile) or the Caribeño, kind of like eggs Benedict, only served with a crabcake, poblano Hollandaise and a sous-vide egg. Heartier appetites will be drawn to the chicken mole enchiladas or the Northside burger, made with bison chorizo. Necio also cooks up delicious empanadas and fried plantains as sides to make sure you don't leave hungry.

click to enlarge New Mexico green and red chile, plus fresh-made tortillas, for brunch at Santo. - COURTESY SANTO
New Mexico green and red chile, plus fresh-made tortillas, for brunch at Santo.
Courtesy Santo
Santo
1265 Alpine Avenue, Boulder
303-442-6100
Brunch 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
New Mexican cuisine seems almost designed for brunch, with green chile, blue-corn tortillas and pots of beans beckoning breakfast lovers. You can find all of these at chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg's culinary tribute to his childhood growing up in the Land of Enchantment. Blue corn shows up in grits served with pork belly and eggs; Rosenberg's roasty green chile can be found on the chicken chilaquiles and a smothered breakfast burrito; and a side of Adobe Milling beans can be added to any dish. Originals like bison-tongue hash and the torta ’Burqueño (stacked with both adovada and Tender Belly ham) make Santo a good stop when you're seeking something different.
click to enlarge Brunch nachos? Nope — chilaquiles, one of Señor Bear's brunch dishes. - MARK ANTONATION
Brunch nachos? Nope — chilaquiles, one of Señor Bear's brunch dishes.
Mark Antonation
Señor Bear
3301 Tejon Street
720-572-5997
Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays
LoHi neighbors can stumble out of bed and straight to the cozy corner where Señor Bear serves brunch dishes and cocktails covering a broad expanse of Latin America. If it's not too chilly out, a frozen Sunday Rosa Sunday cocktail is in order; top it with a tequila floater if you need an eye-opener. Then tour the Caribbean and Mexico with Puerto Rican mofongo, a frita Cubana (like a burger topped with papas fritas, bacon and grilled onions), or the comida completa, a breakfast platter highlighted with an uncommon chorizo verde. Other specialties pop up from Venezuela, Peru and points beyond, ensuring that you'll always have new brunch territory to explore.

Looking for more brunch options? Here's a baker's dozen of the best brunches in Denver last year.
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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