Coffee and a pastry is a pairing that many would consider a classic. From a cup of joe and a doughnut to a shot of espresso and a chocolate croissant, something sweet is often a natural companion to coffee. However, if you find yourself spending more time at your local shop outside of just grabbing an occasional morning bite, sugar packed pastries can get tiresome, and hazardous for your health. Luckily, there are a handful of coffee shops in Denver that have assumed more of a cafe attitude by offering breakfast, lunch and even dinner menus. And in typical Denver “we make everything in house” fashion, these aren’t reheated sandwiches and grab-n-go salads either. Rather, these neighborhood joints are dishing out handcrafted items that’ll rival even some of your restaurant favorites. So if you’re looking for something more than just a way to cure your caffeine craving, read on to learn more about these coffee shops that you’ll also want to eat at.


Crema's quiche. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Crema’s quiche. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Where: 2862 Larimer St, Denver

Neighborhood: RiNo

The Low Down: With a menu designed by executive chef at award winning restaurant The Populist, Jonathan Power’s food at Crema is anything but an after thought. Even the wide selection of house made pastries are overshadowed by its robust menu that features everything from a pork belly banh mi ($8) to a decadent sweet potato waffle ($6). But what’s really spectacular about Crema is its selection of house made daily specials, and in particular, the quiche ($6). Made with a delicate and buttery pastry that’ll put your grandmother’s pie crust to shame, this quiche is filled with a bounty of either fresh veggies or meats and cheeses that are suspended in a custard-y cloud that’ll melt in your mouth. But forewarning, if you love a good quiche, this could become a serious addiction—we know from experience.

Want to know more? Read our full review here.

Cafe Max

Cafe Max's grilled cheese and organic tomato soup. Photo by Jackie Collins

Cafe Max’s grilled cheese and organic tomato soup. Photo by Jackie Collins

Where: 2412 E Colfax Ave, Denver

Neighborhood: City Park

The Low Down: Located on a particularly unimpressive strip of Denver’s Colfax Avenue is an oasis called Cafe Max. The consciously curated space is so well thought out that it can feel as if you’re in a gallery dedicated to mid-century modern design. But, Cafe Max is much more than a pretty face. Instead the cafe is one of the only full-service coffee shops in town where baristas are instructed to take your order tableside. And while service can sometimes move more at a coffee shop pace than that of a restaurant’s, the food and drink more than makes up for it. From organic tomato soup ($6) made with fresh rosemary to a prosciutto panino ($9.50) served on a crusty baguette layered with brie, fig jam and kale, this menu evokes those of the great European cafes. Also, if you’re looking to swap your coffee for something a bit stronger, the cafe also offers a small wine list and will soon debut an updated cocktail menu that’ll be served at a new wraparound bar along with a multipurpose lounge called The Schulhaus that’s located downstairs.

Want to know more? Read our full review here.


Chevre and honey toast at Thump. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Chevre and honey toast at Thump. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Where: 1201 E 13th Ave, Denver

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

The Low Down: This seemingly always-packed Capitol Hill cafe probably draws a crowd because it has a little bit of everything. First, it offers incredible coffee that is roasted in house. Next, its space has both form and function as the modern, clean lines of the open floor plan features heavy wooden communal tables that offer plenty of seating. And finally, like a cherry on top, it has a breakfast and lunch menu that’ll satisfy a range of cravings. There are lighter options like a housemade granola ($6) as well as some more substantial selections such as the biscuits and gravy ($5.50) (also house made). Also, we particularly like the varieties of of toasts ($4-$5) that come topped with options like classic cinnamon sugar to a generous spread of goat cheese and a drizzle of honey served on a crispy yet chewy thick slice of sourdough. It’s just enough food to help you finish your cortado, without feeling like you need a nap afterwards. The only downside to Thump? Parking can be a real pain. So hop on your bike or take a stroll if you’re in the hood, because you’ll likely find something to love. Pro tip: Thump also has a happy hour that features a selection of local beers on tap.

Want to know more? Read our full review here.

Cafe Europa

Potato hash at Cafe Europa. Photo by Demly Gooch.

Potato hash at Cafe Europa. Photo by Demly Gooch.

Where: 76 S Pennsylvania St., Denver

Neighborhood: Speer/ West Wash Park

The Low Down: Located on a sleepy corner in West Wash Park is a true neighborhood gem. Cafe Europa, a shop that, though it’s changed names and owners over the last decade, is a solid staple for anyone that is in on the secret. But, aside from its charmingly eclectic bohemian interior, Cafe Europa also serves breakfast all day. The made-from-scratch menu includes options such as breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches as well as a build-your-own hash. We like the potato hash ($8) best as it is made with a spicy green chili, thick cuts of potatoes, sautéed spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers all topped with eggs. Also as an additional bonus, everything is made to order so you can customize your meal to your liking.

Want to know more? Read our full review here.

Rooster & Moon

Rooster & Moon's berry avocado salad. Photo by Caitlin Savage.

Rooster & Moon’s berry avocado salad. Photo by Caitlin Savage.

Where:  955 Bannock St #100, Denver

Neighborhood: Golden Triangle 

The Low Down: Rooster & Moon, a cafe situated on the southwest side of Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood, probably offers the biggest selection when it comes to food and drink. Not only is the menu as large as many restaurants (it even has a kid’s menu and four types of oatmeals), it also has a fully stocked bar and a selection of cocktails. So if you want a complete dinner, lunch or breakfast, but plan on doing other activities (reading, writing, surfing the web), this is your spot. Plus we can attest that the berry avocado salad ($9) served with a honey-jalapeño vinaigrette is one of the most satisfying salads you’ll find in town.

Want to know more? Read our full review here.

Honorable mentions: The newly opened Alpine Modern Cafe in Boulder has several tartines worth drooling over. Also Boxcar Coffee Roasters gets a nod since its Boulder location also houses Cured, a speciality goods store that also offers killer sandwiches.