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Crepes with orange and cream on brunch plates

The Top 13 Places for Brunch Around Denver

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The Top 12 Places for Brunch Around Denver

I like to tell people that aren’t from Denver that on Sundays, people here are religiously devoted to one of 3 things: church, football, or brunch. I definitely fall into the last 2 categories — so it’s a delicate juggle between my 49ers and my mimosas in the Fall. Having been all over town for that sacred weekend meal, I want to share my top 12 favorites with you all!

Marcella’s Kicks Off Sunday Brunch Italian Style in LoHi

My favorite Italian place in town is now doing Sunday brunch 10am to 3pm! Marcella’s (right on Central Street in LoHi) has always had fantastic Italian food, a fun atmosphere, and one of the best happy hours I’ve ever seen (50% off almost everything but the entrees, and that includes pizza). Well, they’ve finally launched a brunch menu! I had a chance to try it at a tasting event the other week — and I’ve got to tell you — it’s a must-try.

In Italy, eggs and waffles and all that are less of a thing for breakfast. Instead, you’ve got melon, prosciutto (and other meats), and cheeses. I absolutely did not complain about that when I was in Italy. Or the enormous pitchers of Sangria. (The red and white Sangria are both really good at Marcella’s, by the way. And they go fantastically with meat and cheese.)

Meats, meats, and more meats. Yes, yes, and yes. This also exists on the regular menu (and the 50% off happy hour).

You may be amazed to hear that I loved a vegan dish, but I did. The “Sicilian Caponata” with roasted eggplant and other veggies. This is an app that also exists on the regular menu (and the 50% off happy hour).

Truffle Eggs: poached eggs, toasted ciabatta, taleggio cheese. A fantastic, creamy, flavorful vegetarian breakfast dish.

As the main photo on the post might suggest, this was actually my favorite dish. Ricotta crepes with macerated strawberries and almonds. It’s all just so perfectly paired and fluffy and delicate and just sweet enough. And it reminds me of childhood breakfasts at home in Ukraine where my grandpa would make huge piles of perfectly-thin, perfectly-round crepes with a side of blended fresh strawberries (just picked from our farm) and fresh cottage cheese from the neighbor’s cow.

No brunch is complete without a Nutella option. I don’t know what it is about Nutella. Our neighbors pointed out that apparently my face looks like I’m experiencing some sort of nirvana-like moment when I eat Nutella. I am. Can you blame me?

Yes, it’s an omelette. It not may be particularly unique, other than the caprese salad on the side, but it’s delicious. And I’ve had a lot of mediocre omelettes that weren’t delicious.

Apparently, breakfast pizza is a thing. (I guess I’ve simply never discovered breakfast pizza before.) That’s burrata on there by the way — which goes so well with sunny eggs. And before you dismiss it because you don’t see meat: just know it has N’duja (a slightly spicy spreadable pork). You’re welcome.

More meat! This time, it’s the Short Rib Hash. I’ve yet to be disappointed by any slow-cooked meat at Marcella’s, and this was no exception.

I have no idea how it was possible to fit anything else into our stomachs, but we managed. Because these:

And once we walked out of this brunch, we decided to buy one of the condos in the new condo building going up a block away — so you know it was good 😉

El Five Starts Serving Brunch — Accompanied by Beautiful Rooftop Views and Amazing Mediterranean Bites

Whenever anyone asks me what new restaurant they have to visit while in Denver — or what restaurant is perfect for a date — these days, I say El Five. The views of Denver are just incomparable, the service is always top notch, and the Mediterranean-inspired food and drinks are creative and mouthwatering. So I was so excited when I found out that they have recently started doing brunch! Yes, it’s not cheap — and El Five is generally not cheap. But is it worth it? Absolutely. For $47, you get a cocktail, access to the buffet, and one main entree dish. And before you scoff, read on.

BRUNCH: SUNDAYS 10-2PM (reservations recommended)

You can see the view of downtown in the background below. You just don’t get this good of a view anymore. Not unless you’re at Linger or El Five. And the cocktail is also exceptional, — a mix of rosé, apricot purée, champagne, vodka — if I remember correctly. I could easily drink 10 of these with a smile on my face.

So when I say it’s no ordinary buffet — I mean it. This is an assortment of items from the buffet, which includes spicy mediterranean shrimp, Jamon Iberico on toasted bread, bacon-wrapped dates, tuna-stuffed peppadews, madeleines, beignets, croissants, some sort of cauliflower-in-pastry triangle of wonder, and more. Just the buffet alone would have been worth the price considering how many times I went back. And yes, I’m slightly embarrassed about that.

For my main, I had latkes topped with crab, pickles beats, and dill, eggs — and a bunch of other things I can’r remember. It was tender and flavorful and amazing — and it kind of reminded me of home in Eastern Europe. Maybe the Israeli influence?

All in all, a fantastic experience. Even if you can’t afford to do it every weekend, it’s worth checking out at least once. You’ll probably see me there 😉

Bite of the Week: Gravy Cheese Fries at Steuben’s

If you follow me on social media, you’ll have probably seen my photo of these this past weekend. And if you don’t follow me on social media, you should:

You’ve probably heard of Steuben’s before, since it’s been around since 2006 and has a perpetual line out the door for brunch (at least the one here in Uptown does). It’s one of those places that is a really interesting mix of modern decor and food — and old-school, diner classics. I love coming here for some comfort food and creative cocktails, although I tend to try and avoid busy brunch times and go for happy hour instead (3-6pm & 10pm-close daily). But if you do end up going for brunch, I highly recommend the cast iron french toast — a fluffy, sweet pillow of goodness floating in caramel sauce inside a little cast iron skillet.

That aside, let’s talk about my Bite of the Week, which is one of my favorite things here at Steuben’s — the gravy cheese fries! I’m a sucker for a good plate of  smothered fries, but I’m also picky about how it’s done. I mean you know how disappointing it is to order a plate of fries with a topping, and then get a big bowl of fries with just a little something on top — so you end up eating 3/4 of the fries plain. (I know, first world problems.) Well, this isn’t one of those plates.

The gravy cheese fries at Steuben’s are crispy skinny fries that are smothered with delicious gravy, and then covered with cheese. And it’s not gross, cold shredded cheese — it’s perfectly melted and even starting to crust a little on top. You definitely need a fork to eat these, which means you’re doing it right.

I also can’t end this post without a mention of another one of my favorite dishes here, the Monte Cristo sandwich. And no, I didn’t have a clue what this was until I looked it up. Google told me it’s a fried sandwich that is “a variation of the French croque-monsieur” that was popular in American cookbooks in the 1930s–1960s and “combines the sweet flavors of French toast with ham, turkey, and cheese.” Sounds good enough — I decided to try it. It may not be for everyone, but if you like dishes that combine sweet and savory, you’ll love this. It basically tastes like meat and melted cheese inside a fluffy beignet with powdered sugar on top. Those are a few of my faaaaavorite thiiiings.

 

Also, the burger here is pretty fantastic. I always get just the classic burger with some bacon on top — as should you. Steuben’s serves Tender Belly bacon, and the strips are always huge and perfectly crispy. Everything is better with bacon, right? 😉

Parting: don’t spend $23 on the lobster sandwiches here. I think you’ll be disappointed. There are just so many better options here, especially for the price. For a good lobster sandwich, I recommend trying the one at Blue Island in Cherry Creek.

 

My Favorite Brunch in Denver, Louisiana Style: Sassafras

Denver is pretty crazy about it’s brunches — in a way that I’m somewhat baffled by. There are literally 30-60 minute wait lines out the doors of Steuben’s, Snooze, Jelly, and the such. Hipsters love them some brunch. But I hate lines, so it’s usually a lost cause to try and drag me to a popular brunch place unless the food is pretty amazing (and booze, because brunch must have booze).

Except for when it comes to Sassafras…

I will always go to Sassafras if I get the chance. The Capitol Hill location is at 320 East Colfax, although there’s also one on 2637 W 26th as well. The food is amazing and the drinks are spectacular. If the words “beignet,” “gumbo,” and “Bloody Mary” don’t conjure up a special, magical place in your head, then there’s something wrong with you.

NOTE: It does get busy here and they don’t take reservations, but you can sometimes call ahead when you’re on your way to hold a table.


THE ATMOSPHERE & SERVICE

inside Sassafras
I love what they’ve done with the inside here. It’s absolutely adorable — from the mini chandeliers, to the colorful cloth napkins, to the cute salt & pepper shakers, to the painted alcove made to look like a Louisiana terrace. It feels spacious and hip, but also comfortable and homey.


THE FOOD

Sassafras beignets
If there’s one thing you take away from this: get the beignets. A “beignet” is a French pastry that’s commonly eaten for breakfast in New Orleans. It’s basically freshly-made, deep-fried choux paste (light pastry dough) — that’s then covered with powdered sugar and served while it’s still hot. Worth…every…calorie. And don’t forget to try their homemade berry jam with it, too. I would even say that these are better than the ones at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans (our altitude makes them fluffier).

As for your main dish, you can’t really go wrong here. If you’re a fan of hollandaise (which sadly I am not), my friends have all said that Sassafras has some of the best hollandaise they’ve ever tried. And the Oyster Po’ Boy is a proper po’ boy, overflowing with juicy fried oysters. I highly recommend getting a side of dirty rice with whatever you get (it’s got meat in it!).

Fried Green Tomato Benedict
Fried Green Tomato BenedictMy personal favorite, though, is the etouffee. An etouffee is similar to a gumbo, but poured over rice. There’s crawfish, shrimp, tons of butter and spices, and optional bacon (get the bacon). If you like Cajun food, you need to try this. I could literally eat this every day. In fact, I probably overeat every time I get this, because it’s a pretty large portion (and I’ve just had the beignets), but it’s just too good to stop! I know, first world problems.

Sassafras etouffee

 


THE DRINKS

Sassafras bloody mary and apple mimosas and iced teaBLOODY MARYS: I’m pretty picky about Bloody Marys. I hate if they’re too peppery, or taste like they came out of a bottle, or not even remotely spicy (I hate a lot of things). But these are damn near perfect. I recommend the “Sassafras” Bloody Mary (house-made spicy tomato mix, with a quail egg and bacon on top). Again: bacon! If you like it really spicy, the “Marie Laveau” Bloody Mary is spiked with ghost chili. I wouldn’t do the “BBQ” Bloody Mary again (and this is coming from a huge meat-lover). It’s just too sweet for a Bloody Mary.

MIMOSAS: If you’ve never had an apple mimosa, you need to try it now. It’s like drinking a boozy Martinelli’s cider — which is pretty much the moment when your inner child and adult collide.

ICED TEA: Even the iced tea is delicious (and they keep refilling it). And yes I know, it’s weird for me to be talking about a non-boozy drink, but we all sometimes need to take a break and re-hydrate. Or you know, add some bourbon 😉

 

And with that, I’m back to stuffing my face with beignets!

Natalia eating a beignet

Actually, one more thing.

I found these awesome little salt & pepper shakers last time I was there, and I just had to share 😉
Sassafras pig salt and pepper shakers