Sassafras Restaurant lazes onto Colfax

IMG_0141 East Colfax Avenue is a somewhat scruffy though fairly harmless place. That is a cliche that is hard to deny. Yet East Colfax, which begins on a lush green park that contains war memorials, the Ten Commandments-in stone- and of course the State Capitol with Colorado’s Legislature under its dome, has seen lots of investment and renewal. It’s not a war zone. More like a beaten down hangout for homeless and aimless people, mixing in with the new two-story Mcdonald’s, a Natural Grocer’s franchise in an old Safeway. A gleaming new Argonaut Liquors sits on its own block – filled with a second-story wine section and solar panels on the roof. The Catholic Basilica, sits across the street, with a statue of Pope John Paul II blessing the sometimes homeless and sometimes not-homeless on Christmas Eve each year. A Chinese restaurant, Great Wall (440 East Colfax), sits on the corner of Colfax and Pearl, with a city-owned security camera directly above the entrance door. The folks inside, mostly Asian I believe, routinely, and somewhat brusquely, fill many dozens of orders, every day, from morning till night. There is no other source of Chinese food in the area, and these folks do it with professionalism, although they may have to deal with the scruffy street folks that still linger in this slowly gentrifying area. Great Wall is a hard-working walk-in joint. The hot-and-sour soup there is a stalwart cheap meal.
Into this maelstrom of old and new, of tired old buildings and newly lain stones and bricks and glass, comes a retro recycling of a joint at 320 East Colfax known as Sassafras Restaurant. This place has known some changes, and the folks here have taken their west Denver concept and planted it in a city environment, with tight (i.e. metered) parking and are wishing it will grow into… something good, if not great. A deceptively large space, despite the compact exterior, it is filled with old-school Louisiana touches, as if I might know that. At 8:15 in the Tuesday morning, I slink in (as slinking is good, I believe in Louisiana-yes?) to a bar such as this. Completely empty, I score a center booth on the right. The barkeep is squeezing orange juice for a new day. Dual flatscreens play sports recaps for the folks who can’t wait for yet another update. Oy. Whatever. The efficicient waiter homes in with the menu. He’s a good guy. I order the ( Nine Dollar) Bisquits and Gravy with Two Eggs Over Easy. It’s listed rather chic-ly on the menu, over to the right, simply, as “9”. Not “$8.95”, but rather as “9”. I like my reaction to this sleight-of-hand. Hey, I say to myself: It’s only “9”. I remember, back in first grade, how we learned about the number “9”. It’s just a small and comfortable number. Who among us doesn’t like numbers like ” 9″? The oval plate came from my new waiter/ best friend “Stephan Starr”-and I well, I, enjoyed a couple of excellent over-easy eggs. Silky. Gone in six seconds. The biscuits I attacked with a vertical fork-as if using a pitch-fork. Crumbly, yet a little stiff. Biscuits and gravy are a poor man’s surrogate for a rich man’s breakfast. With the cheese-covered potatoe casserole, I was starch-filled. And yet, I felt cheated. I may not come back here again. Unless I inherit a lot of money….The prices are obviously “high” and the food is “just okay”. The service is very good. I left a big tip, for my new best friend Stephen. A good guy, by the way.



  1. Sounds like a nice restaurant! If you were sharing breakfast with a friend, you would enjoy the food more : )

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