In addition to its memorable name, Devil's Food Bakery & Cookery stands out as a unique gem in the Denver dining scene for its homey food that's reminiscent of an entirely different era and somehow manages to defy Wash Park pretension; its well-planned brunch menu that consistently draws long lines on weekends; and its adherence to a policy of no cell phones in the dining room.
Breakfast is available Monday through Friday starting at 7 a.m., with a similar menu for extended weekend brunch service, running from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days. It’s highly advised to get there early, because hour-plus waits are common by mid-morning, if you can even make it to the hostess stand. The line from the coffee bar snakes its way around the entire front of the building to the point of barricading the door with an ever-present zoo-like chaos, where it's nearly impossible to avoid bumping elbows with someone — and not in a good way.
Although it’s tempting to want to pass the time with a stroll in Washington Park just a few blocks away, the host station doesn’t take phone numbers; in order to avoid missing your precious spot on the waiting list, it’s best to settle in on one of the tree stumps out front with a coffee and pastry. After analyzing the stocked counter of sweets during a recent visit, I chose what I believed to be a tomato, goat cheese and onion empanada but what was actually a cherry-jelly tartlet, the mixup due to a rogue sign. It was still good, but not the savory treat I was craving.
Seating consists mostly of two-tops, and when our turn came, we were pleased to be led through the charmingly and intentionally antiquated dining room adorned with ’60s kitchenettes and strands of old cheese graters out to the small back patio. Despite the hefty wait times, the service never seems to be rushed, which sets the pace for a dawdling weekend.
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Devil’s Food recently received its liquor license, and instead of offering standard Bloody Marys and mimosas, the eatery is trying to push the envelope, experimenting with specialty cocktails like the Bloody Ginger (housemade ginger, sake and tomato juice), the Cherry Blossom (cherry iced tea spiked with Fuji-apple sake), and the Scotch Bonnet (a horseradish Bloody mix with house-infused habanero vodka). Also available are sangrias, sparkling drinks and the Buford Beer, a farmhouse ale with OJ that’s the bakery's version of a beer-mosa.
The breakfast menu is extensive, with a lengthy selection of egg dishes that almost all have a healthy twist, plus a few indulgent sweet creations. We started with a bruleed grapefruit for the table, which came sporting fresh grill marks and a soaking of brown-sugar brandy. The light, summery treat, sitting in sugary syrup, is possibly the most decadent way to serve grapefruit.
Scrambles and omelets are all made to order with your choice of three ingredients from a wide selection of fillings, so I opted for this DIY take on brunch. My Brie, spinach and tomato scramble glistened in the sun, and I tried to eat faster than the sizzling slices of Brie could melt. Wedged next to a thick slice of buttered country bread, two slices of bacon and a hearty serving of roasted potatoes, the scramble was a simple and hearty country breakfast.
My companion ordered the seasonal veggies and poached eggs, which was presented like a stew, with chunks of cauliflower, broccoli, radish and squash mounded high over a steaming broth, allowing the vegetables to release their aroma and giving a fresh and seasonal quality to a dish that could have easily been heavy and limp. A helping of cheesy polenta grits lurked beneath the stew for added richness, making for a surprisingly non-traditional breakfast preparation. While we certainly weren't expecting to be eating an egg soup for breakfast, the combination worked. This is a dish that's well worth the wait.