What: Eclectic drinks, food and atmosphere in the heart of downtown Denver.
Where: 1500 Wynkoop St. #101, Denver
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Pro: Sunday Bingo and packed tables makes one of the best brunches in Denver that much more enjoyable.
Con: At least on Sundays, be prepared for a boisterous and loud afternoon.
Upon first read The”Squeaky Bean” conjures up images of steaming cups, hearty roasts percolating in metallic machines. However, the Squeaky Bean is not a coffee shop. Yes, caffeinated and decaf drip coffee appear at the top of the drink menu, but that is beside the point. Rather, this restaurant specializes in beverages with a different kind of oomph, and has garnered a reputation as offering up one of the most comprehensive and commendable cocktail programs in the city. Thankfully this also includes brunch hours which most notably sets apart the Squeaky Bean from the staid mimosa/bloody only drink menus found everywhere else…
A modest, yet impeccable crop of eight brunch sips join the Squeaky Bean’s celebrated stable of craft cocktails. Sporting oddball titles crafted to grab the attention of the refreshment-seeking and the cultural-reference savvy, drink selections like the Varmint Poon Tang ($3.50)—a Brass Monkey made with tang—and the Mr. Furley ($6)—Monopolowa vodka, pineapple, cardamom and fresh lemon—serve as ideal introductions to the lively din found within The Squeaky Bean’s confines at the Sunday brunch service. Other beverage options include the Live Long and Prosper ($6) and The Teddy Ruxpin ($10), for gin and bourbon enthusiasts respectively, which continue to demonstrate that you can’t really go wrong no matter how you choose to imbibe at the bean.
More good news: the restaurant just recently added Saturday brunch hours as well so now there’s real action on both afternoons. Plan ahead and get the gang together for bingo, hosted by local comedian Sam Tallent on Sundays and performer/drag queen Venus Sexton on Saturdays, where you will witness participants returning to their tables with a range of great prizes, from bottles of Prosecco and malt liquor to the after effects of having just shotgunned a beer at the bar.
If it isn’t clear already, the Squeaky Bean is a great place to hang out on the weekend, such that you may lose sight of the meal aspect of the whole enterprise—that is, until you taste the restaurant’s incredible offerings. Three exceptionally impressive items on the menu are the Croque Madame ($14), Shrimp & Grits ($14), and Waffles ($13).
The Croque Madame is a clear-cut example of the Parisian sandwich with soft, white cheddar at its crunchy center. Shrimp & Grits meanwhile is a Southern dish much messed with, especially, surprisingly, where it doesn’t really belong. However, the Squeaky Bean’s rendition is near perfect and, in addition to its centerpieces, the stunning plate of prosciutto, sauce choron, and a poached egg is buttery and rich. Finally, a variation on the familiar brunch staple, the waffle entrée pairs the pastry with chicken sausage, fig yogurt, salumi, and a fried egg. A side of the house-cured sweet chile bacon is an absolute must for any carnivore period.
All told, the Squeaky Bean is well regarded for the amount of attention every glass gets at the bar. But, as a hip brunch location just a stone’s throw from the busiest part of the city, it is important to be properly educated so as not to miss everything it has to offer.
All photography by Camille Breslin.