2015 was my first full calendar year covering the brunch beat for 303‘s food desk. While I considered the flexible, fashionably lateness of brunch enough to make it my favorite meal, before long I came to realize, no matter what the time, how exhausting (no, impossible) it would be to eat plate after plate of eggs Benedict or chicken & waffles every weekend — so I did my best to try other things if and when I could. Thankfully, this was a banner year for the introduction of imaginative culinary strategies to brunch hours. Cooks seeking to dispel menu déjà vu, and make their own lives a little more interesting, asked: why can’t brunch be more than the standard fare? Why can’t we experiment? (I feel obligated to clarify, that I will always also uphold the integrity and legitimacy of a greasy spoon joints as the go-tos for anytime basic breakfast). So, without further ado, here are 10 notable brunches I profiled this year that exemplify the creative, the individual.

Revelry Kitchen

Revelry-4072, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Milk & Honey at Revelry. Photo by Kiddest Metaferia.

Where: 4180 W. 38th Ave., Denver

Neighborhood: Berkeley

When: Daily 7 a.m.- 3 p.m.

The Lowdown: There are too many restaurants that serve brunch every day of the week,” is a sentence you’re not liable to hear anytime soon. While the typical Saturday and Sunday brunch blowouts will always have their place, for those who work on the weekends or may be visiting the city during the week, neighborhood eateries like Sara Harris and Vanessa Harris Tuel’s Revelry Kitchen, offer the perfect opportunity to sample new foods and have a mid-morning or early afternoon meal at one’s leisure. Chef Enrique Socarras’ menu encourages communal eating, but also accommodates solo diners with the likes of the favorable Cubano sandwich and Northside Rancheros ($11 each). Read more here.

Sarto’s 

Sartos Photography by Camille Breslin-21, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Poggio Sandwich, West Coast Mussels & Frites. Photo by Camille Breslin.

Where: 2900 W. 25th Ave. 

Neighborhood: Jefferson Park

When: Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Lowdown: Hate to beat a dead horse with this translation, but when it comes to this restaurant, it’s vital to know that “sarto” is “tailor” in Italian – the whole experience is all sewn up as a personalized gastronomic adventure. Sarto’s stylish Jefferson Park space lives up to its name visually, and the food is varied and unique. Chef Ivan Ceballos immediately took to his role as the head of Sarto’s brunch service toward the tail end of summer, and he and his team continue to impress with high-quality and consistent recipes. Read more here.

Duo

Duo-3367, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Photo by Kiddest Metaferia.

Where: 2413 W. 32nd Ave., Denver 

Neighborhood: Highlands 

When: Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Lowdown: Perhaps the thing that husband and wife team Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin pride themselves on the most, apart from their food, is the longstanding preservation of their core team. Part of the pioneering effort to build up the culinary scene in the Highlands, Arnold and Stephanie were also early adopters of the farm-to-table philosophy and their seasonal menu changes reflect that belief. Seeing as the menus at both their Denver and Vermont locations are constantly in flux, it can be difficult to pin down favorites, but trusting the culinary wiles of executive chef Tyler Skrivanek is as sure a bet as any. Read more here.

Brazen

Photo by Glenn Ross, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Brazen Chilaquiles. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Where: 4450 W. 38th Ave., Denver 

Neighborhood: Berkeley

When: Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

The Lowdown: Brazen is a great example of what years working in the industry can teach you about the ins and outs of the restaurant business. As Christopher Sargent’s first venture running the show, he has demonstrated the importance of keeping brunch lighthearted and fun without overdoing it. Other than to its staff and its customers, this eatery shows no strict allegiances to any one cuisine or style, and has therefore built its reputation on word-of-mouth and an eclectic menu. Read more here.

a.m. BS

FotorCreated, Best Denver Brunch 2015, Best Denver Brunch 2015, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Photos by Kiddest Metaferia.

Note: a.m.BS was a pop-up and therefore it is no longer open. 

The Lowdown: Many new restaurant concepts were cause for celebration this year — a.m.BS was one, and I was sad to see it go. Jared Brant ran his limited-supply breakfast sandwich pop-up out of friend and former coworker Royce Oliveira’s East Colfax nook, To the Wind, for a few months this summer. With the help of his sister, Caitlin Brant, and some other fellow cooks, Brant meticulously gathered what ingredients he could afford and were available for the Sundays that he operated, waiting for wandering customers to happen upon the chalkboard sign advertising his sandwiches. Though Brant remains hopeful that a.m.BS or some other iteration of a pop-up will pop up in the future, for the time being he continues to prove that less is more as chef de cuisine at Jonathan Power and Koan Goedman’s RiNo cocktail restaurant, Bar Fausto. Read more here.

Onefold

Bacon Fried Rice. Photo by Romeo Fernandez. Best Denver Brunch 2015

Bacon Fried Rice. Photo by Romeo Fernandez.

Where: 1420 E. 18th Ave., Denver 

Neighborhood: City Park

When: Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

The Lowdown: Mark and Terese Nery quietly bought and restored a shuttered Quiznos franchise on East 18th Avenue last February, turning it into one of the most refreshing new breakfast restaurants the city has seen in a while. Dishes like the Bacon Fried Rice and Congee have helped to distinguish Onefold from other breakfast/brunch eateries in its first year, and now the restaurant is a few weeks into offering a slender lunch menu that one hopes will continue to build upon its reputation as a small neighborhood establishment with a lot of character, charm, and crazy-good food. It is exciting to see Pho, Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup and Carne Asada in Onefold’s new lineup, and we trust that Onefold’s Vietnamese Iced Coffee will taste just as good with some duck-fat fried Salt and Pepper chicken wings or Chicken Adobo as it does with the breakfast burrito. Read more here.

Waffle Up

WaffleUp-3047, Best Denver Brunch 2015

Photo by Kiddest Metaferia.

Where: 300 Elati St., Denver 

Neighborhood: Baker

When: Tuesday – Friday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

The Lowdown: Finishing its transition from food truck to foundation this year, Waffle Up represents a decidedly more gleeful approach to brunching. Of course, given the modest environs and streamlined service of the Baker location, Waffle Up is still not too far off from the walkup grab-and-go method which is popular in their speciality’s (the Liège Belgian waffle) country of origin. But no matter how you prefer to enjoy these treats, fast-and-furious or slow and savoring, they are the perfect way to shake up your normal brunch routine. Read more here.

Leña

Best Denver Brunch 2015, Photo by Kiddest Metaferria

Arrachera Sandwich. Photo by Kiddest Metaferia

Where: 24 Broadway St., Denver 

Neighborhood: Baker

When: Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

The Lowdown: The Latin-inspired, wood-fired eats at Leña helped to heat things up on South Broadway early in the first half of 2015. Prohibition proprietor Jimmy Callahan turned his sights from Colfax to central Denver’s other main thoroughfare, completely redesigning the narrow, deep space that the restaurant now occupies. Although opening chef Toby Prout has since moved on to Bar Dough, three-year Callahan associate, Jimmy Mansfield, has ably filled his shoes as kitchen director, adding his flair and experience to Leña’s future development.

Fooducopia

Photo by Delmy Gooch. Best Denver Brunch 2015

Photo by Delmy Gooch.

Where: 1939 E. Kentucky Ave., Denver

Neighborhood: Wash Park

When: Saturday & Sunday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

The Lowdown: Fooducopia is one of the best kept secrets of Wash Park’s residents, a cherished combination of convenience (it doubles as a small marketplace) and a reliable dining experience any time of day. Admittedly, Fooducopia’s breakfast menu lists more to the traditional side than the rest of the company included here, but to me that serves only to confirm its rightful place in the local dining scene. Read more here.

Lola

Best Denver Brunch 2015

Photo by Camille Breslin.

Where: 1575 Boulder St., Denver

Neighborhood: LoHi

When: Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

The Lowdown: As Duo did for the neighborhood just north of it, LoHi’s Lola has for years signified the business potential across the bridge from downtown Denver. The restaurant’s full title, Lola Mexican Fish House, hints further at Chef Kevin Grossi’s points of reference, and its tequila and mezcal-forward cocktails offer some complementary spice to the likewise flavorful food. Lola’s maze-like layout meanwhile lends the bustling, cantina feel that makes it an ever popular choice for the brunch crowd. Read more here.

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