Denverites share the magic of their favorite Denver places

“It’s the people.”
7 min. read
Ruth eats breakfast at her favorite place: Denny’s at 17th and Federal in the West Colfax neighborhood, March 9, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

What makes a place your favorite depends on who you are and what you're looking for -- a refuge from commotion, being surrounded by your fellow city dwellers, a sense of history or a cat to pet. But everyone has a favorite place.

For 303 Day, we asked Denver luminaries about their most favorite places. We also asked our readers to submit the places they love, and boy did you deliver. Here are some of those answers - and if you haven't told us your favorite place, you can make a submission in the form at the bottom of this post.

Ruth has been in and out of Denver since 1970. She knows all kinds of odd nooks and crannies in the city, but her favorite is the Denny's on Federal Boulevard by 17th Avenue.

"It's the people," she said over coffee last week.

For that reason, her second-favorite place might be on a city bus, where she has the time to observe humanity.

"It's impossible to watch people from a car, you can get flashes but you can't get whole conversations, you can't watch body mechanics," she said. "I like people, a lot."

As she said it, she looked around the diner -- construction workers and families were drinking coffee and having breakfast. Her most memorable time here was about 40 years ago, when she was in her late 20s. She and some "some extremely psychotic, psychic friends" would come to eat chicken salad sandwiches and "talk about whatever strangeness we had encountered that week."

Ruth was one of two people who nominated that Denny's.

The other was reader Elisabeth Morrissey: "On the 4th of July, from Denny's parking lot, you can see the fireworks from Golden clear out to Aurora for the price of pie and coffee."

And there were plenty of other watering holes nominated. Alisha Stoltz wrote that Pete's Kitchen is the site of many memories: "I met Pete himself several times during late night shenanigans with friends after a night out on the town."

Jonathan Lorincz said his top spot is My Brother's Bar. He wrote, "I feel like I'm time traveling every time I visit. It's the best place in town to share a drink with a former stranger."

Lisa G. reported that Mercury Café is her favorite eatery in town since it "has the vibe - good food, music and a sense of community."

Down in southeast Denver, Ryk McDorman took a break from his afternoon jog to explain why James A. Bible Park in the Hampden neighborhood is his favorite spot. For the avid runner, it's all about convenience.

"I never drive to where I run. I just go a couple blocks and then I'm here," he said. It's one of the reasons he's lived nearby for so long.

Ryk McDorman poses for a portrait at his favorite place in Denver: James A. Bible Park in the Hampden neighborhood, March 7, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Other park lovers include Donna Lang, who said she loves Washington Park for its "stunning grounds with amazing trees," Jerry McCarthy, who adores the east end of City Park by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for its "canonical postcard view" of the city, and Derek Berardi, who said Commons Park's people watching and "little grass hill" make for "the perfect blend of urban and nature."

Multiple people nominated the Denver Botanic Gardens, including Linda, who said every corner of the place offers an opportunity for "artistic exposure, experimentation and enjoyment that we all need in our lives."

Some readers' favorite places also revolved around their love for their pets. Donny B., for instance, said his was the patio at The Market in Larimer Square since his old dog can join him while he watches people pass by.

Samwise and his human, Sarah Gray, pose for a portrait in his favorite place: Luke & Company Fine Pet Supply & Outfitter on Broadway in Denver's Speer neighborhood, March 9, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Sarah G. wrote a review from her dog's perspective. Samwise, she wrote, loves Luke & Company Fine Pet Supply and Outfitter on Broadway since the owners "hand out tasty treats if I'm a good boy, which is always."

Sarah and Sam have lived in Capitol Hill for seven years, and she appreciates that her neighborhood is dog-friendly. It's one reason she's stayed in the area, and she said having a pet shop nearby is part of that.

Having a dog means "we're fully Coloradan now," she said, although, "we don't drive a Subaru yet."

Tom Miller and Janice Bakker were two of several to nominate the Denver Cat Company on Tennyson Street as their favorite haunt. Even though they have a bunch of cats at home, they like the cozy cat cafe's atmosphere and the company of the felines up for adoption there. Miller said they both served on a board of directors for a shelter that supplied cats to the cafe when they first opened, and even though that organization is no longer involved, they still make time to come up to Berkeley from their home in LoDo to enjoy the space.

"I really like the idea of allowing people to see cats in a different way," Bakker said. "It presents cats as kind of glamorous."

Thomas Miller and Janice Bakker pose for a portriat with Atticus the cat in their favorite place in Denver: the Denver Cat Company on Tennyson Street in the Berkeley neighborhood, March 7, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Tina Scardina was born and raised in Denver and has worked for the city for 25 years. Her favorite place is Civic Center Park, but specifically a huge bur oak tree on the west side.

"I love that tree, always have, since I was a little kid," she told us. "It has sheltered people, it sheltered me in rainstorms."

Because of her history with the city, Scardina has a particular lens on how much Denver has changed since she was young. But the oak, she said, "has been a constant." She recalled seeing a photo her grandfather took from the City and County building steps during one of Benjamin Stapleton's terms as mayor. That tree was there.

"That says a lot," she said. "I've just always wanted to be there."

Tina Scardina poses for a portrait in front of her favorite place in Denver: a huge bur oak tree in Civic Center Park, March 9, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city's rapid change also motivated Hank Lewis to write in, although his nomination was a lament for what has been lost. His favorite place, he wrote, "WAS the thriving African-American community around Whittier/Skyland/Parkhill." Denver's black community, he continued, "represented a powerful symbol of American and Western upward mobility," though now he thinks those neighborhoods contain "less Brown newbies who don't care much about what is lost."

But Gabrielle Bryant, who works for the mayor's office, wrote that she still feels that history along Welton Street. From the Blair Caldwell African-American Research Library to the annual Juneteenth celebration to Coffee At The Point, she wrote: "You don't get more community than that. And don't get me started on the rich history along Welton... If only the streets could talk."

Even if the streets can't talk, at least the people who walk them can.

If there's a favorite spot you'd like to nominate, you can do so here:

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