There's no doubt that brunch is big in Denver: If you're not sitting at a sunny table mid-morning on a Saturday or Sunday, you're probably one of the many hospitality employees making brunch happen all over town. Once the territory of hotels and breakfast specialists, brunch is now being served at all manner of eateries — from fine-dining destinations to neighborhood bars and grills.
For Best of Denver 2106, we gave the Universal, at 2911 West 38th Avenue, our award for Best Brunch, a choice fueled by the restaurant's hearty, Southern-inspired menu. But great eggs Benedict, flapjacks and scrambles can be had every day of the week at the Universal, as they can at many other breakfast joints in town. So rather than rehash the usual suspects, we've put together a list of the ten best restaurants for brunch — places that normally only do dinner (and maybe lunch, too) but now welcome the mimosa-chugging masses on the weekend with brunch menus distinct from their usual dinner slates. Here are the ten best, in alphabetical order. (Watch for our companion list of the best breakfast joints in town.)
10. Bistro Vendôme
1420 Larimer Street
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We'll bet you didn't know thatthe word "brunch" is French. Well, it is at Bistro Vendôme, where quiche, omelettes 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 proper accompaniment.
9. Beast + Bottle
719 East 17th Avenue
Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Menus change frequently at Paul and Aileen Reilly's Uptown eatery, so be prepared for something as unique as it is delicious, whether you head over for dinner or brunch. The fig & pig flatbread never goes out of fashion, but if you're in the mood for something a little more breakfasty, try the B + B poutine topped with an egg fried sunny-side up, or a clever Benedict served with whatever's fresh in the kitchen — like a recent arctic char number. And if you're not feeling flush, grab a date and go Dutch, baby, on a big, fluffy Dutch Baby.
8. Cafe Marmotte
290 South Downing Street
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cafe Marmotte does French cuisine with New American twists, which is evident in the neighborhood cafe's brunch menu as well as in its dinner offerings. So along with a spot-on French omelette with cave-aged Gruyère, a classic croque madame and eggs Benedict with silky Hollandaise sauce, there's also a banh mi Benedict and a raw-tuna flatbread with daikon and wasabi cream. And along with standard brunchtime beverages, the bar also serves up a bacon Manhattan and a High Tea cocktail made with Earl Grey-infused gin. Of course, bottomless mimosas are de rigueur.
930 Lincoln Street
Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A brunch list wouldn't be complete without at least one buffet, and this Golden Triangle jazz club delivers, with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys as well as a satisfying spread of sweet and savory goods. Relax to the sound of live jazz as you nosh your way through three food stations, all for $20. Reservations are recommended, as the joint is jumping from the moment the doors swing open.
6. The Hornet
Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Hornet has been a favorite Broadway destination since the mid-’90s, with its casual bar and always-lively dining room. Brunch here is no exception, but don't expect standard eggs and pancakes; instead, the Hornet turns out weekend treats with international flair. Pupusas rancheros and breakfast tacos share space with more traditional Denver breakfast dishes, as well as the popular Dixie Chicken — but be sure to save room for the housemade pop tarts. And if you can't wait for the weekend, hit the Hornet on Friday morning for an early start to a three-day weekend of brunching.
Keep reading for five more of the best Denver restaurant for brunch...
1575 Boulder Street
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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 trout hash and an assortment of ceviche coming from the raw bar. Come early and plan to stay for a while; the deck is a perfect place to while away a sunny summer afternoon and listen to the city's Best Sunday-Afternoon Shows.
4. Old Major
3316 Tejon Street
Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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.
3. Postino LoHi
2715 17th Street
Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
How thoughtful: When you snag a seat at Postino at brunch (try for a spot on the patio), you'll find little cards on the table where you can deposit your gum — or write down your number for an attractive nearby diner. But the thoughtfulness doesn't end there: The brunch menu offers a smart array of traditional breakfast dishes as well as salads and sandwiches; ask for the $10.50 "Select Two" special and you can get a half-sandwich and a salad. Another $5 gets you a small pitcher of one of the restaurant's featured beers; there are also plenty of other $5 drink specials. If you can still move after all that, head next door to Recess Beer Garden for an afternoon of fun and games.
2. Root Down
1600 West 33rd Avenue
Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
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 omelette 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.
2900 West 25th Avenue
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Italian brunch in the cool and airy dining room at Sarto's will leave you feeling sophisticated and satisfied. Start with bellinis or mimosas — both bottomless — and choose from duck-yolk ravioli or shrimp and polenta (no simple grits here), then finish with a pear tartlet or pillowy bombolini (that's a doughnut hole to you). Spritzes and Prosecco cocktails star on the drinks list, adding brightness and bubbles to the feast. You won't want to leave this Jefferson Park gem, where brunch feels like a weekend away at a villa on Lake Como.
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