In a Denver dining scene full of rotating doors, mere survival is an accomplishment — but thriving for thirty-plus years is an even greater one. One of the city's OG diners, Racines is the go-to place for a predictably solid brunch, where you can reminisce about the days before hipster copycats sprouted up all over town (though plenty of hipsters frequent Racines, too). A favorite among business heavy hitters for weekday breakfast and lunch meetings, Racines is equally popular with the weekend brunch crowd (many of whom have been coming here since they were kids and now have their own children in tow), with a steady stream of regulars and loyal followers coming in day and night.
Open for weekday breakfast starting at 7 a.m. or weekend brunch at 8 a.m., Racines is a dependable option for early risers looking for a great value at under $10. After twenty years in its original spot on Bannock Street, Racines built its own home on Sherman Street — with parking (and even a valet, at peak times) — in 2004, ensuring that it can keep up with the Joneses without trying to look too modern and without straying from its friendly neighborhood roots. The side patio is a favorite spot in which to hang out; the front patio is dog-friendly, too. A mainstay for family gatherings, catching up with old friends and reunions of all sorts, Racines draws people who live to linger — and the waitstaff knows it, taking their time not to rush you.
Immediately after we were seated, a server came to pour coffee and looked at me like I was from outer space when I politely declined the morning Joe, opting instead for juice. If you're feeling boozy, the brunch cocktail list could rival the food menu in length, with more variations of mimosas and Bloodys than I cared to count, each getting a dedicated page. Some of the more unique options include the Autumn Blossom (champagne, Grand Marnier and apricot nectar on the rocks), the Poinsettia (champagne, Triple Sec and cranberry juice on the rocks), the Pepper Bloody Mary (a longtime favorite, with housemade pepper-infused vodka garnished with pickled okra, olives and blackened celery salt) and a British gin-based Bloody.
The all-from-scratch menu at Racines is so long you might get blurry-eyed trying to flip through all the pages, but you really can’t go wrong with anything: This is the kind of food your mom would make to happily fatten you up. Sensing a bit of a Southwestern theme to the brunch offerings, we decided to roll with it. I opted for the Enchiladas and Eggs, which were smothered in cheese and a spicy tomato-based salsa that was deliciously gooey, with a completely unexpected kick that just about had my eyes watering in delight. The waitress suggested subbing the beans for hash browns, which made the meal that much brunchier and more like a south-of-the-border scramble (while still offering beans on the side).
My companion got the Tostadas del Sol, which was very meaty and hearty — real diner grub. Scrambled eggs, chunks of chorizo, a bevy of beans (definitely glad I got mine on the side), pico, guacamole and white cheddar towered over a bed of crunchy corn tortilla chips. The chopped veggies, dollop of guac and yellow eggs made for a pretty presentation that looked like a colorful fiesta on a plate. Neither of us even came close to finishing our dishes, but that was to be expected: You don’t stay in business as long as Racines has by sending people home hungry.
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