On May 29, many of us observed Memorial Day, but the date also belongs to National Biscuit Day. Even though Denver isn't in the South (the natural habitat for American-style biscuits), Denver is still a town that loves a good biscuit. I recently gathered together a band of biscuit-loving friends (nicknamed the Biscuit Brigade) to sample the finest bits of this particular raised breakfast bread in the Mile High City. Here are the best we found, listed in alphabetical order.
This Atlanta-based fast-food chain has garnered a flock of fans with its fried-chicken sandwiches paired with waffle fries, but don't sleep on the company's biscuits. Available only for breakfast, Chick-fil-A's biscuits tend to be on the flat side and a bit crumbly, yet their light, buttery taste really hits the spot. Although we focused on the plain biscuit, we'll confess that the fried-chicken biscuit is pretty fantastic.
Denver Biscuit Co.
This was by far the favorite of the Biscuit Brigade, just as it has been for most of Denver since Drew Shader opened up his first shop in 2009. DBC's buttermilk biscuits are "bigly" in terms of width and height. We love that the biscuits maintain the dream combination of a nice, crunchy exterior and a fluffy interior. Though we tried the plain biscuits, the imaginative biscuit sandwiches found on the rest of the menu provide a satisfying meal. If you want to keep a Southern vibe, go for the Colfax A, which tops a biscuit with stewed collard greens, hickory ham, a fried egg and hot sauce.
600 East 13th Avenue, 303-831-6301
1700 East Evans Avenue, 720-596-4108
Jelly was a welcome addition to Denver's breakfast scene when it opened its first location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2011. Jelly's biscuit has an irregular shape, a darker color and a bumpy texture that makes you think it may have been a porcupine in a previous life. Don't judge this biscuit by its cover, though, or you will certainly be missing out. It's wonderfully crispy on the outside, with a light, fluffy inside that is an ideal home for the housemade jam provided on the side.
We know that we'll get a lot of flak for showing any love for the brainchild of Colonel Harland Sanders, but our brigade liked the biscuits served by this legendary fried-chicken chain. There may be lots of reasons to hate on KFC, but its biscuits shouldn't be one of them. KFC offers a pretty standard biscuit with a nice golden color and a slightly crunchy top with a pillowy interior. We loved drizzling these biscuits with the packet of honey that comes on the side.
Lucile's Creole Cafe
In 1980, Lucile Richards opened an eatery in Boulder that celebrated the famous cuisine of Louisiana. It was a rousing success, and Lucile's soon spread to Fort Collins, Longmont and eventually Denver. Lucile's biscuits are square-shaped, bumpy and slightly doughy, reminding us of the quick-bread rolls often served in the South. Yet, this buttermilk biscuit still satisfies. We suggest you try the Carlin County, which slathers rich sausage gravy over a substantial biscuit.
Keep reading for more great biscuits in Denver...
Popeyes Louisiana Chicken
Alvin C. Copeland Sr. launched Popeyes (named after a police officer depicted in the film The French Connection, not the spinach-devouring cartoon sailor) in the early 1970s, and placed its buttermilk biscuits on the menu in the 1980s. They've been a hit ever since. We love the biscuits from Popeyes, because they're reliably flaky, buttery and a bit crumbly — and they pair so well with that spicy fried chicken.
Punch Bowl Social
Since the creative force behind this restaurant's menu is a highly regarded chef who plies his trade in the South, perhaps no place created higher expectations for a good biscuit. Fortunately, chef Hugh Acheson delivers, with a flaky biscuit that defies its muffin-like appearance. Punch Bowl Social serves its biscuits with every dish, but we suggest you try the Crispy Chicken Biscuit, which has earned high praise even as Punch Bowl has spread to multiple locations throughout the U.S.
Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen & Cafe
5126 West 29th Avenue
In January 2010, Seth Rubin set out to re-create the buttermilk biscuits he'd loved while growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Of all the biscuits we tried, these flaky bites of heaven made us feel like we were in our grandparents' kitchen. Rubin mixes things up by offering a Biscuit of the Day, which often includes such interesting ingredients as herbed goat cheese, maple bacon or Tabasco. Don't miss Beer Biscuit Friday, when the biscuits are made with a beer featured on the cafe's menu.
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Sassafras American Eatery
2736 West 26th Avenue, 303-433-0080
320 East Colfax Avenue, 303-831-6233
This homage to food cooked in the American South opened in Denver's Jefferson Park neighborhood in 2012, then added a second location on Colfax. The menu is a little offbeat, with dishes like the Fried Green Tomato Benedict and Elvis French Toast, and the biscuits follow suit. They're square-shaped, darker in color and have a dense texture and appearance that reminds us of a light cornbread. Though some of our Sassafras biscuits were on the dry side, they had a real buttery taste through and through.
The Whiskey Biscuit
3299 South Broadway, Englewood
The Whiskey Biscuit has been open for only a few months, and the biscuits show that they're still working out some kinks. Sometimes the biscuits were dry and crumbly, but most times they were worth ordering: a nice mix of crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. If you're feeling adventuresome, we suggest the biscuit doughnut holes dusted with cinnamon, sugar and a chipotle pepper powder. The combination of smoky, spicy and sweet works well, and the biscuit bites are truly addictive when dipped in the accompanying whiskey dipping sauce.
Adrian Miller is a biscuit lover and soul-food aficionado who lives in Denver. Miller won a James Beard Award in 2014 for his first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. Earlier this year, he released his second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families From the Washingtons to the Obamas. Find out more at adrianemiller.com.