At the end of July I visited my brother in Denver, Colorado and although I’ve already got two guides on the magical place, I knew I had to do another one because honestly – it is one of my favorite places ever. Every time I visit, it gets better… and better… and I want to move there. So freaking badly. One day I’m sure but until now, I love my apartment in Chicago way too much to leave 🙂
Although I won’t be heading into the mountains forever any time soon… I will be visiting next weekend and thought what better time to put up a post than now. My brother and I are going to be seeing Explosions in The Sky (one of my favorite instrumental/rock bands) and I couldn’t be more excited. Also every time I visit him it’s just tons of food, walks, hikes and fun to be had. I’m looking forward to exploring the city a little bit more and more with my upcoming visit, especially more hiking trails and views.
Usually when I visit, I make a list on my notes app of all of the spots I’d ideally like to visit, my must-haves, etc. but by the time I get to the city, I never try to rush or stress about it too much. I think this trip we did a fair amount of hiking/walking around, I fit in a SoulCycle class (with my favorite instructor, Melu) and we hit all of the coffee shops/restaurants. My brother also loves just driving around and through the mountains which is my all-time favorite thing because the views are indescribable. Crazy wallpaper-like clouds everywhere you look. On Instagram I’m always sharing my obsession with light and clouds and in Denver I get all of it.
I’m going to run through the weekend of what we did and share with you my favorite points of the 72 hours I was there. It was magical as always and I can’t wait to go back. If you have any recommendations or places below you’ve gone that you equally loved, let me know. I love sharing the Colorado love and might be going there once more before the year ends – we’ll see!
Steam Espresso Bar – A super cute coffee shop located in Platt Park (a neighborhood that reminds me of the suburbs of Cleveland. My brother and I popped in so he could get a quick espresso and they wrote his name on his espresso cup/saucer which I thought was the cutest thing ever. There are tons of seating options available including an outdoor seating area which I loved. They also sold local homemade chai concentrate from a brand called Santuary Tea (absolutely died for the branding), baked goods like vegan lemon cake and an assortment of scones. Would recommend!
Sweet Action – What’s a trip with me without ice cream? Honestly. I’m glad I have a brother who loves wild and unique ice cream flavors as much as I do and Sweet Action without a doubt has all of those. Their flavors are always rotating, they usually offer 2-4 vegan options and they have some wild ones… lemon ginger cookie, whiskey brittle and passionfruit to name a few. Jack always gets the passionfruit ice cream in a milkshake and he’s wild for it. It’s super thick ice cream and tastes just like one of my favorite spots, Mitchell’s Homemade, back in Cleveland.
Hoja – Actually one of my favorite places and I couldn’t recommend it to you more. Located on S Pearl Street (the Pearl Street farmers market is a favorite if you can get to it on the weekend), Hoja is a daytime Mexican-inspired eatery serving breakfast from 8am to 3pm and light snacks from 3pm to 8pm. The space is quite small but very dreamy. Think letter board menu, greenery filling the space, open light and wood seating. As with most Denver spots, they’re always using local produce and meats (even organic tofu!) and have vegan options too (their taco salad has a CASHEW CREMA and if you don’t eat meat you can opt for their vegan chorizo).
Their most popular items on the menu are the iced café de olla (a blend of milk, sugar, citrus fruits, cinnamon and cold brew) topped with an orange peel and the farmer’s burrito with local eggs, green chili, hash browns, cucumbers, slaw, fresh jalapenos, tahini, sunflower seeds and pepitas. It’s a mouthful but splitting it with a friend is definitely the move!
Fun fact: It was the first burrito (besides frozen) I ever had in my life. It was well worth it.
We also split the chilaquiles which had both cheese and the cashew crema. Phe-nom-e-nal. Seriously.
Next time I’m back I definitely want to try the taco salad or chorizon quesadilla with jackfruit. I just love all of their options and how flavorful they are with the ingredients they choose. 10/10.
Lula Rose General Cafe – One of my favorite coffee shops that I went to for the first time on my last trip. It reminds me of an old time ice cream shop or diner structurally but inside it’s a small space with window seating and all of the greenery. They have a tiny little breakfast menu AND they make their own cashew-oat milk in-house… it was one of the best lattes I’ve had in a minute. Definitely hit it up with a friend but I will say it’s not really your “go and do work” coffee shop but more of a pop in/pop out kinda spot.
Blue Sparrow Coffee Shop – I had this place on my list last time but I wanted to throw it in here again because I love their matcha lattes and the cute white and blue interior. It’s such an aesthetic that I would recommend everyone check out. This last trip when my brother, his girlfriend and I came in, the barista was the most unfriendly human ever BUT I still love supporting the business as they make delicious cold brews, matchas and other local treats. Also yes they sell oat milk 🙂
Good wifi and table seating so you can definitely work from here! In the summer the windows are wide open too which is super nice when you’re sitting along the wall. Since it’s located in the RiNo neighborhood, it’s a quick walk to/from all of my favorite spots like The Source hotel + market.
Wonder Press (Boulder) – Honestly one of my favorite healthy cafés in the Colorado area. My brother and I drove up to Boulder on Saturday and I’ve been maybe 2-3x now but every time I fall more in love with it. It’s a great spot to get some work done in their cozy little nooks or to grab a smoothie/juice, take a seat at their communal high top table and have some good conversations.
I like to describe this store as one big rainbow of produce. All of their juices are just beautiful to look at with gold detailing and reusable glass bottles… I can’t get enough. They make their own almond-coconut and cinnamon-cashew milks, offer toasts with gluten-free bread, serve ceremonial-grade matcha and even cacao-based drinks like a vanilla cacao latte with house-made ganache, milk and vanilla bean (if I was a chocolate fan I’d be dying for this).
In the winter, be sure to try some of their delicious bone broths – they do veggie and meat-based ones.
Jack and I both got smoothies when we went. I got a special of the day which was like a pina colada but had cilantro in it (delicious sans the cilantro which felt a bit overwhelming and I’m not even a cilantro hater!) and he got the banana chip which had coconut milk, coconut water, banana, cacao nibs and vanilla bean. DE-LISH!
Le Pops (Boulder) – I feel like popsicles are making a comeback and I’m here for it. This is hands down one of the cutest little spots I walked past when we were in Boulder. I didn’t have a chance to go in but their menu looked super tasty and accommodating to all dietary preferences!
They offer cream-based and ice-based pops, along with dippings, too! YUM. They also label what’s gluten and dairy-free. If I go back I’ll definitely be getting the Matcha with Coconut Milk based, a dark chocolate dip and toasted coconut. Into it.
Dio Mio – I had this place on my list for a minute and a half because they use one of my favorite brands of pasta (paleo-friendly!) called Cappello’s. It’s right down the street from the Denver Central Market so if you’re in the neighborhood wandering around and checking that out, come here after! I thought it was going to be a sit down, fancy restaurant and it’s totally not. You go in, order at a cashier, grab a number and then pick a table and your food is brought out to you.
My brother absolutely LOVED his dish – the squid ink fusilli with blue crab, tomato-red curry and sesame. I got a pasta carbonara special with their gluten-free pasta which was honestly nothing like pasta carbonara I was low-key very confused. There wasn’t any bacon but rather watermelon radish (interesting) and peas with a very light sauce. And no egg. I didn’t ask them any questions about it since it was a very light pasta dish so I actually enjoyed it a lot but definitely not a pasta carbonara.
The best part of our meal hands down though and what I would 100% go back for: their house sourdough with prosciutto, burrata and balsamic. Oh my god. Honestly I had never had that entire combo and as simple as it was, it was life-changing.
Overall, a good spot to go for a quick dinner for high quality pasta in a casual setting but I’d give it a 7/10. Oh and they play rap music only. It’s a vibe.
Safta – I’m a broken record when it comes to Safta but it is legitimately one of my top 5 favorite restaurants I’ve ever been to in my life for a multitude of reasons. The food is what I dream of, their decor is beautiful but not overdone and the staff is super kind. I went here for the first time to try their brunch buffet with my brother and his girlfriend on Sunday and we were blown away.
They have the most beautiful spread and literally it’s one of those buffets that looks good every time you look at it, even if there are a swarm of people. We all started out with their bagels from Rosenberg’s Delicatessen topped with smoked fish, fresh cream cheese and all of the herbs. They had everything from soft boiled eggs, fried eggs, three kinds of smoked fish, labneh (the best alternative to cream cheese — it’s like 10x better and I want to top everything with it), warm pita, fresh fruit… you name it, it was there. Then there was an entire dessert table with turmeric scones (insane) and this blueberry crumble cake that was to die for.
I felt like I was having a feast in Israel. It was magic. I’ll definitely be going back (considering the fact I drag my brother here every time I visit) for more hummus and pita. Safta, I freaking love you!
Also if anyone asks me where to go in Denver… trust me this is the first place I’ll lead you to.
Metropolis Coffee – One of my favorite spots in Denver. It’s a small, quaint coffee shop that slightly reminds me of Heritage coffee shops in Chicago. My brother and I always go to the one on Baker since it’s closest to him so I haven’t been to the other two locations in LoHi or Golden Triangle but this one is nice and cozy!
They have both Oatly oat milk and Califia Farms’ barista blend almond milk (which I love because it’s not sweet) and some of my favorite cold brew in Denver. Also if you’re in the area, pop across the street to Nooch Vegan Market — it’s the best little mini local Whole Foods (that’s how I can best describe it). It’s in my previous guides too but it’s such a cute shop!
Stowaway Kitchen – I included this in my last guide and I literally got the exact same dish as the last time I was there (what are the odds) but honestly you guys… this and Safta. I could eat both places for every meal countless days in a row and be happy. Jack got the apricot maple french toast this time which looked like pillowy clouds of heaven on a plate and I got the colorful colorado (yet again) which is a bowl of two poached eggs on top of a potato hash. I love love it!
My friend Sammy who just visited said the mushroom tartine on local sourdough was incredible too. Their service is incredible and everything just tastes SO fresh. Definitely try it.
Watercourse Foods – To preface this, I usually highly dislike vegan food. I was ALMOST vegan the first half of college and processed meat alternatives always make me feel miserable. Of course Colorado is big on vegan food and both City O’ City and Watercourse Foods are two vegan spots people in Denver rave about. My brother wanted to go so bad and I kept refusing until finally when we were heading home from a day in the mountains, we ended up here and it low key was pretty freaking good.
I got the brussels sprout salad with kale, pomegranates and a maple dijon dressing that was actually insanely good and in a huge bowl with a side of the best sweet potato fries EVER. If I go to a vegan spot but they have sweet potato fries… all is well in the world.
They also had a few other options I would’ve been interested in that were free of seitan or tofu like an alfredo pasta dish that had roasted red peppers, walnut parmesan and microgreens AND a gnocchi with sweet potato puree and butternut squash (sounds like something I’d make in my own kitchen). Overall, I would recommend but it wouldn’t be my first choice restaurant.
Chautauqua Park – I never really put things to SEE or do in my guides which I want to be better at because there’s so much more to my trips than just the food. One of my favorite parks Jack drove me past was this one, located at Baseline Rd & 9th Street. We didn’t walk through it because it started to pour but the photo above was enough for me. Such beautiful views!
Squaw Mountain (near Evergreen and Idaho Springs) *photo above* – I literally couldn’t explain where this was if I tried but my brother gave me this description. On Sunday, after we went to brunch at Safta we headed on a 4-hour hike around this mountain and saw the most incredible views.
It’s views like this that make you appreciate life and all of the little things in it so much more. We saw multiple rainbows, you couldn’t hear a single sound and at one point it started pouring but was so magical. Made me fall even MORE in love with Colorado than before… as if I thought that was even possible.
P.s. other places I love and didn’t mention: Just Be Kitchen (paleo/gluten-free and I go here every. single. time. I’m in Denver), Root Down, Amethyst Coffee, Aviano Coffee (Photo above with the lights) located in Cherry Creek. I also was dying to try Big Power Yoga and Lacuna Collective. Next time!
Overall I had one of the best times in Colorado this past July and can’t wait to go back this coming week. If you guys go and go to any of my recommendations, let me know or tag me on Instagram so I can see!