Brunch is more than just breakfast; there are plenty of breakfast restaurants you can hit during the week without having to fight throngs of weekend restaurant-goers eager for eggy inventions, sweet morning confections and round after round of mimosas and Bloody Marys. If you want the full-on brunch experience (read: sip, loll and savor, ad infinitum), you'll have to shamble out with the rest of Denver and wait your turn. Here are thirteen (that's a baker's dozen, of course) of the best brunches served at Denver restaurants, in alphabetical order and skipping the usual breakfast suspects.
1160 Madison Street
Stroll into 12@Madison from the surrounding Congress Park neighborhood and immediately place an order for chef Ashley McBrady's pastry basket for a warm surprise, whether you end up with sticky morning buns or some other sweet and flaky confection. While dinner can sometimes be adventurous here, brunch is a little more comforting, as exemplified by dishes like bread pudding French toast and a croque madame in traditional apparel. Don't be afraid to crack a bottle of rose or sparkling wine from the deep list of choices; brunch here feels a little too sophisticated for standard mimosas.
2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
A small menu of wood-grilled specialties is the main dinner draw at Annette at the Stanley Marketplace, and the tight focus continues for brunch. Enjoy date- and pecan-topped granola with fruit steeped in Earl Grey tea in a tranquil environment, or splurge on pork-shank hash or yeast-risen waffles. You'll feel cared for and cozy with fresh biscuits, a gooey grilled cheese sandwich with apricot preserves, and great coffee.
1550 17th Street
Avelina is aiming for downtown denizens in the know with trendy avocado toast, duck hash and Nutella crepes, but there are plenty of crowd-pleasers, too, including pork green chile served with poached eggs, a simple fried-egg sandwich on an English muffin, and fluffy chocolate-chip pancakes. A sunny bar and spacious dining room with plenty of comfy seating add allure for those looking to venture into the heart of the city on the weekend — not a bad idea, considering how much less crowded LoDo is on a Sunday morning.
2227 West 32nd Avenue
"Italians don't do brunch," says chef Max MacKissock. But fortunately for Denverites, this Italian eatery in LoHi has put its stamp on the traditional weekend meal, encompassing a wide range of sandwiches, skillets, salads and small plates in both sweet and savory preparations. You'll find traditional brunch dishes given an Italian twist — the French toast gets dollops of whipped Nutella and the fried chicken (waffle-free) turns spicy-sweet with a drizzle of Calabrian chile honey — along with such old-world classics as bucatini cacio e pepe (with just a hint of citrus from a lemon-beurre fondue) and a fluffy frittata with tomato, leek and miticrema cheese. If you're not feeling eggy, Bar Dough's lineup of nine wood-fired pizzas are also part of the program.
Beast + Bottle
719 East 17th Avenue
Beast + Bottle chef/co-owner Paul Reilly has a way with meat; that much is clear from his dinner menus packed with pork and lamb prime cuts and outstanding offal. Reilly's whole-animal philosophy spills over into brunch, too, served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And while you can sink your teeth into the likes of smoked trotter confit, corned lamb and B + B's always craveable fig + pig flatbread, more delicate breakfast items — classic French omelets, airy flaxseed waffles, housemade pastries — demonstrate the kitchen's finesse. Anything made with eggs reflects a farm-to-table commitment; Beast + Bottle has its own dedicated egg-laying flock at Cottonwood Creek Farms. Combine that with gracious and cheery service that trickles down from co-owner Aileen Reilly, and you've got a warm and welcoming brunch from a capital crew.
1420 Larimer Street
We'll bet you didn't know that the word "brunch" is French. Well, it is at Bistro Vendôme, where quiche, omelets and crepes take their rightful place at the weekend ’tweener table, and where the toast is so French it's called pain perdu. Like any good repast that spans the hours between breakfast and lunch, a meal at this Larimer Square bistro comes in sweet and savory forms, with housemade pastries and an hors d'oeuvre board loaded with cured meats, pâtés and rilettes — but you can just call it charcuterie. A flute of bubbles, with or without orange juice, is just the right accompaniment.
1899 16th Street
If you're just jumping off the light rail or are looking to stay ahead of the trends, Citizen Rail is the perfect stop in the hot new neighborhood behind Union Station. Housemade baked goods (don't miss the ham-and-cheddar stuffed croissant), pressed fruit and vegetable juices, and hearty plates accommodate all kinds of brunchers. Citizen Rail has its own butcher, so opt for something with sausage or ham (both made in-house), or go light and healthy with an oatmeal-quinoa blend topped with ginger-glazed fruit. Brunch here will get you on the right track for the rest of the day.
Concourse Restaurant Moderne
10195 East 29th Drive
Concourse already does a coffee-bar breakfast of housemade pastries, espresso drinks and sandwiches during the weekday, but weekend brunch is a special affair. Chef Luke Bergman has reinvented the Denver omelet for a more jet-setting audience, using piquillo peppers, rosemary ham and cheddar cheese to up the ante on the familiar dish. Other options range from light smoothies to full-on entrees like eggs in purgatory and, for those who enjoy a more Asian breakfast, miso salmon with buckwheat noodles. A gazpacho Bloody Mary and bottomless mimosas for $14 make for a relaxing weekend in Stapleton.
2413 West 32nd Avenue
A cheery open space made even homier with adorable kids' “recipes” printed on the brightly colored menus, Duo offers don’t-miss dishes like cider-glazed pork Benedict, one of our longstanding Benny favorites. A country-fried pork loin with gravy and eggs and a selection of fresh-baked pastries (and don't skip sides of grits and biscuits) make Duo much more down-home for brunch than for its more elegant dinner service — but that's just fine with us.
Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
Chicken-fried steak at a Mexican fish house? That's been a delicious brunch mainstay at Lola for years. You'll also find an amazing hamburguesa (get it with an egg and bacon on top), as well as chicken and waffles and more traditional breakfast dishes. And, yes, there's seafood, too, including grilled oysters, while weekly specials offer something new and dazzling with each visit. Come early and plan to stay for a bit; the deck is a perfect place to while away a sunny summer (or winter) afternoon.
3316 Tejon Street
Old Major's brunch menu, like its p.m. counterpart, is a meat-forward affair, but the kitchen excels at every style of breakfast-to-lunch dish. So guests can't go wrong with a breakfast pork burger piled high with bacon and a fried egg, or a platter of fried chicken and waffles — but a light and delicious yogurt bowl with pecan granola is just as good. Still, we recommend that you stick with the restaurant's theme and tackle the Butcher's Breakfast — a meal of eggs, bangers, bacon, ham, beans, mushrooms and potatoes that wouldn't be complete without a cup of Novo coffee.
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1600 West 33rd Avenue
Something feels healthy about brunch at Root Down, even when you're making your way through a plate of banana-bread French toast or some ramen deviled eggs. Like all of chef/owner Justin Cucci's menus, brunch here focuses on fresh, local ingredients with options for all manner of dietary needs and desires. So you can go hog wild for a pulled-pork omelet or keep it meatless with a masala tofu scramble. Big appetites will gravitate toward a hefty breakfast burrito, but there's also the Root Down Benedict, built on quinoa cakes instead of English muffins. No matter what you choose, bottomless mimosas and house breakfast cocktails beckon from the bar.
2401 15th Street
Chef Wayne Conwell's Japanese eatery has been sharing its artistic and elegant cuisine for dinner for a dozen years, long before this corner at 15th and Platte streets became a hip hangout — but it just joined the brunch game in May. The menu doesn't have eggs Benedict or fluffy waffles, but rather is a logical transition from the regular roster. Start with a $7 cocktail and then explore savory dishes like 72-hour ribs with a five-spice rub; chicken kaarage (there may not be waffles, but this Japanese fried chicken is perfect for brunch); steamed pork-belly buns with hoisin glaze; and Japanese-style fried rice. Bento boxes, sushi combos and salads (think charred beef or tuna tataki, not just mixed greens) round out the lineup. And, of course, it wouldn't be brunch without bottomless "mimo-sans" ($10).