Denver’s East Colfax Avenue is a thoroughfare that never sleeps. During the day, business people, artists, commuters, students, families and wanderers fill Colfax’s buses, sidewalks and streets. When night falls, the neon kicks on and everyone from graveyard-shift workers and concertgoers to ravers and insomniacs come out.
Pete’s Kitchen, East Colfax Avenue and Race Street, sees it all. This Denver diner caters to anyone and everyone looking for a bite to eat. It’s busy from dawn ‘til dusk and through the night.
But what pulls the Colfax crowd in is not a fancy presentation or a five-star menu. Pete’s Kitchen can best be described as a hole in the wall, with only its neon sign to signal its existence. But inside the small diner, with its counter and stools, tiny booths and tables and the overflow area (because the main dining area couldn’t handle all the business), an award-winning atmosphere and menu serve up what people want – and what keeps them coming back.
“We’re known for our breakfast burrito supreme and gyros sandwiches,” Beoearde says. Some of the other items on the Pete’s Kitchen menu have even won recognition – “Best Late Night Eats,” “Best Cheap Eats” and “Best Breakfast” from AOL’s City Guide, and “Best Breakfast Burrito,” “Best Hashbrowns” and “Best Late Night Dining” from 5280 magazine’s Top of the Town.
The articles and awards cover the walls, along with photos of celebrities like Drew Barrymore and John Elway posing with the owner, Pete Contos, who came to Denver from Greece and eventually created seven other restaurants and eateries in the Denver area, something that earned him a spot in the Foodservice Hall of Fame in 2006. Napkins and pieces of paper with notes to Pete or about his kitchen are also framed and on display.
Meanwhile, waitresses zip back and forth through the diner, taking and delivering orders, filling coffees and waters, and adding to the overall hustle and bustle. The cooks fry, slice, dice, cook and assemble food behind the bar counter, grabbing a new order to begin almost before the last one is complete.
While service is good and fast, don’t expect servers to stop for a friendly conversation on a late Saturday night. They have to stay on the move as orders roll onto the counter, coffee cups empty and new customers walk through the door. In fact, it seems as though each table clears of its last patrons just in time to receive the new ones that just walked in. But it makes for a fun and fast-paced atmosphere that contributes to the culture of Denver’s diner scene.
If You Go
1962 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80206