10 Must-Try Bakeries in Denver (Zagat)

Zagat

FEATURE

10 Must-Try Bakeries in Denver

By Lori Midson
November 14, 2014

There are few things more intoxicating than the alluring scents of just-baked cookies, fresh-from-the-oven bread, cinnamon rolls and bubbling pies. No matter the time of year — a mellow Monday or Thanksgiving Thursday — bakeries provide indulgent escapes, and there are plenty of sweet retreats in Denver where you can have your cake and eat it too. Here are 10 of our favorites.

Glazed & Confuzed

Under a ceiling of psychedelic green glaze, rows of hand-cut, hand-rolled donuts glisten from their display cases — and the hipsters who know to rise and shine early for the best selection, order them by the dozen. The artistic orbs, made with local, organic and seasonal ingredients, fly out the door at a rapid pace, and when the shelves are empty, the doors lock.

Must-Order: The maple-and-bacon-glossed donut crowned with a crisp strip of house-cured pork crack.

Wednesday’s Pies

From a snug, subterranean space in Larimer Square, Frank Bonanno’s fetching parlor-style bakery showcases a chalkboard menu of three seasonal pies baked on a daily basis, all of which are available whole or by the slice.

Must-Order: It’s impossible to resist the roasted pecan pie (pictured below) smeared with spicy, chile-spiked caramel sauce from Denver-based Helliemae’s.

Adagio Baking Company

This cozy Hilltop bakery proffers scratch-baked breads, cinnamon rolls, turnovers, scones, breakfast sandwiches and biscotti. When the noon hour hits, lunch-goers crowd the quarters for panini served on focaccia.

Must-Order: Grab the lemon-blueberry scones, or the nostalgic chocolate-chip cookies.

Gateaux Pastries

Brilliant pops of color — from sherbet blushes to rainbow hues — greet sugar seekers who find themselves face-to-face with the whimsical cakes and cupcakes, tea cookies and coconut bars, tarts and tortes at this gorgeous bakery that also creates exquisite special-occasion desserts.

Must-Order: The Mojito cupcakes, or the lovely petit fours.

Beet Box

No butter, no cream, no eggs — not one thing that’s an animal-based product — and yet, this vegan-only bakery in the San Rafael neighborhood somehow manages to create beautifully crafted, flavor-bombed confections (using mostly organic ingredients) that don’t miss a beat. Bonus: the staff donates all of its unsold baked goods to local charities.

Must-Order: The brownies!

Maria Empanada

At this captivating Platt Park Argentinean bakery, which opened in spring, owner Lorena Cantarovici turns out the city’s most celebrated empanadas, their gold-tinged crusts enveloping everything from olives and scrambled eggs to sweet corn and spinach. And that’s not all: her tartas and Spanish tortillas are objects of beauty too, as are the sweet medialunas and dulce de leche roll cake.

Must-Order: Our advice would be to order one of everything, but the classic ground beef, egg, pepper and olive empanada, medialunas (the Argentinean equivalent of a croissant) and the creamy spinach tarta are highlights.

City Bakery Cafe

When bread baker extraordinaire Michael Bortz opened his cheerful cafe in Capitol Hill in April of this year, local pastry junkies rejoiced. His ciabatta is legendary (also a vessel for sandwiches), and his pies and hot, fat pretzels, both of which have cultlike followings, perpetually sell out.

Must-Order: When they’re available, overflow your bag with the fresh-baked pretzels.

Glaze by Sasa

While part of this Congress Park retreat devotes itself to sublime sushi, the other other half is a fanciful, high-end bakery that specializes in macarons and killer Japanese baumkuchen — intricate multilayered cakes with a hole in the middle.

Must-Order: The matcha green tea baum, or the fall-like pumpkin mount baum ring dusted with powdered sugar, surfaced with a Cointreau-and-pumpkin purée and drizzled with maple-rum glaze.

Sugarmill

Pastry chef Noah French is a master of confections, and his delightful Ballpark restaurant and bakery grandstands superb sweets in every level of sugar shock: macarons and cupcakes, tarts and shortcakes, brownies and birthday cakes, chocolate masterpieces and elegant parfaits. It’s worth noting too that Sugarmill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and French’s savory creations are every bit as rhapsodic as his sweets.

Must-Order: The Noahsphere, a hollowed-out globe filled with candied walnuts, marshmallows, bites of brownies and vanilla cream immersed in a chocolate shell splashed with hot caramel, poured tableside.

Azucar

If you’re planning to get hitched, this hot-pink Peruvian bakery that specializes in decadent wedding cakes — including gluten-free and dairy-free marvels — guarantees jaw-dropping sighs of elation, as do the South American-inspired cookies, chocolate flan and anything with creamy dulce de leche.

Must-Order: The soft and buttery alfajor cookies, as well as the dulce de leche Napoleon.