Denver’s Berkeley neighbourhood sits immediately south of Berkeley Lake Park and Rocky Mountain Lake Park. It is roughly bordered by Sheridan Boulevard to the west, Federal Boulevard to the east, and spans southward to W 38th Street.
Tennyson Street is the main strip, running from north to south through the neighbourhood. An early morning solo stroll around Tennyson, before it got too warm out, was one of my favourite parts of our Denver trip. Berkeley is super walkable, bikeable, dog-friendly, clean, and felt safe.
Berkeley’s origins kicked up around 1863 when land grants attracted farmers and the area. This annexed community of north Denver became known as Berkeley Farms and for its alfalfa production.
Its reputation for arts and culture was notably powered by Mary Elitch in the 1890s when she opened the Elitch Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The gardens drew a huge, constant crowd that led to the development of the “Berkeley Motor” street car line.
Elitch also owned the neighbourhood theater that still stands at 38th & Tennyson. She brought in big ticket actors and actresses, and hers was the first theater to screen films in Denver.
Today, Tennyson Street is lined with boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, craft breweries, tattoo studios, art galleries, spas, salon, yoga centers, and specialty stores.
Each month, all the local businesses host the First Friday Art Walk with opening receptions for new exhibits and other events and features are unveiled.
Allegro Coffee Roasters, Downpours Coffee, Denver Cat Company, Amethyst Coffee, and Tenn Street Coffee are all within walking distance of our friends’ place, but they recommended Downpours as their favourite.
Downpours Coffee is small, quiet, and cozy, the best type of coffee shop.
Allegro Coffee Roasters had more of a warehouse feel, but the coffee is fantastic. I learned that they were purchased by Whole Foods in 1997 and are one of the stores main coffee suppliers.
About a month after we visited, they made an announcement on their Facebook page that they would be saying goodbye to the page, and the website is now defunct, but you can still buy Allegro Coffee at Whole Foods. Weird.
I wonder what happened to this awesome triptych ode to the Berkeley Motor and other local history that was hanging on the café wall.
I really enjoyed Tenn Street Coffee & Books with its old wood-paneling and spacious seating.
Tenn Street has an adjacent art gallery and various local art for sale all around the building. I would definitely be a regular here if I lived in the neighbourhood.
Denver Cat Company was one of the first cat cafés to open in the US and one of the longest lasting, since 2014.
Stop in for a cup of coffee or tea, pet the kitties, and adopt one if you happen to fall in love.
Breakfast contenders for the day were Cozy Cottage, Wendell’s, and Denver Biscuit Company. As one of those people that gets up at the crack of dawn ready to roll, I often have to choose what is open, and Cozy Cottage was the only place open that early.
Without shame, I devoured the Berkeley Park eggs benny that came with avocado, pulled pork, and a garlic-rosemary cream sauce.
Cozy Cottage has a fairly nice selection of teas on their menu so I took my cup outside after eating to enjoy the patio and garden.
I am a sucker for places with a lot of murals, and I found several interesting ones walking around Tennyson Street and Berkeley.
Aww, the little dog at the bottom…
Downtown Denver Skyline
Right before the Cesar Chavez Park, I saw these posted up over a construction site. They might not have been intentional art but I like it.
This mural is on the side of BookBar, one of the coolest places in Berkeley.
BookBar is an independent bookstore and wine bar that also serves snacks, hors d’oeuvres, coffee, tea, and literary-themed cocktails.
They host various events, especially geared toward kids, on an ongoing basis.
Fern & Bloom is an elegant floral boutique with eye-catching window displays. They allowed me customize a bouquet that I sent to our friends down to the colour scheme.
For Heaven’s Sake metaphysical book shop, Feral Outdoors, Wana Art House, and other shops like Clotheshorse, Horseshoe Market, and Blush will keep you busy for an entire weekend in Berkeley.
Cesar Chavez Park caught my attention with quotes by Margaret Mead and other greats painted around its perimeter, multiple colourful statues, and a playground brimming with wild children.
Two other parks in Berkeley are Rocky Mountain Lake Park and Berkeley Lake Park, home of the Berkeley Park Fine Art and Music Festival.
If you need a little break from walking, or just want to catch the latest indie or arthouse film, stop by the Oriental Theater.
The Oriental was built in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the theater company preserves and honours its history and esteemed reputation by keeping the original name.
Nearly any night of the week you can catch touring bands like Front Line Assembly, Gwar, and Napalm Death, or see comedians and wrestling events, or watch spaghetti westerns, kung fun flicks, or anything else you could imagine.
Between Valhalla Cakes, Colorado Cherry Company Pie & Provisions, The Pasty Republic, High Point Creamery, and others, there is no shortage of sweet treats in Berkeley.
Vital Root has been the area’s hippest vegan/vegetarian spot since 2008, set up in an old candy factory. The restaurant is owned by a parent company called Edible Beats which also created Linger, Root Down, Ophelia’s, and a few other local places.
Vital Root’s selection of Pan-Asian inspired dishes are great but the most exciting thing for me was the beet root brownies.
We had an incredible dinner experience at Okinawa Sushi and loved every single thing we sampled.
Other restaurants in the area include Hops N Pie, Tocabe Native American, Parisi Pizzeria, Cafe Brazil, Post Oak Barbecue, Mas Kaos, Dubbel Dutch, and Atomic Cowboy.
For nightlife and cocktails, check out Call to Arms Brewing, Flyteco Brewing, Berkeley Untapped, The Empourium, Oasis Brewing Company, The Grateful Gnome Brewery, The Tatarian, and Berkeley Alley Beer Company (formerly De Steeg Brewing).
De Steeg… that rang a bell. Something I learned during my visit to the Berkeley neighbourhood is that Denver has quite a large population of Dutch people, those with Dutch ancestry (like myself), and Dutch-speaking Belgians.
They have regular meet-ups at the Dubbel Dutch “All Things Dutch” deli/grocery, a King’s Day traditional party, a pressing need for Dutch translation services, a website dedicated to helping Dutch ex-pats in Colorado connect with each other, and there is a Dutch school north of Denver.
Je leert elke dag iets nieuws!
In the area for a while? Follow us to RiNo, LoDo, Red Rocks, Alma, Breckenridge, or Boulder!
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