Andrea M. Gómez

Denver’s SoBo is on the rise. Plan a day to explore the city’s up-and-coming hood

Steve Knopper  – April 2, 2010

Why go: A flick at the Mayan Theatre is no longer the only draw in Denver’s South Broadway area. Moviegoers are venturing out to eat, shop, and explore this up-and-coming neighborhood.

Main hub: Broadway, from First Avenue to West Alameda Avenue.

Aka: Locals know it as SoBo.

What it used to be: A sketchy strip of adult theaters and run-down taverns.

What it is now: An indie shopping stretch where you’ll find clothes, DIY supplies, furniture, books, and the occasional giant Buddha statue.

Where the locals shop: Decade (56 S. Broadway) for handmade jewelry, handbags, and furniture.

Neighborhood flavor: Wash down Czech bramboraky (garlic-seasoned potato pancakes) with a Pilsner at SoBo 151 ($; 151 S. Broadway).

Random combo we love: Appliance Professionals (closed Sun; 78 S. Broadway; 303/425-1425) sells classic candy like Boston Baked Beans, Mallo Cups—and, um, used refrigerators.

Farther afield: Furniture scavengers should head to “Antique Row,” south of Alameda Avenue.


Next: Things to do in Denver’s SoBo district

1. DIY for beginners

If you’ve ever wanted to sew an A-line skirt or knit a pair of mittens, Fancy Tiger is for you. It’s packed with yarns of all colors and sizes, knitting needles, and how-to books, and offers lots of classes.

Across the street, the store’s clothing outpost carries duds made by local designers. 1 and 14 S. Broadway

2. Shop for Asian accents

Elliot, the chow chow–German shepherd mix holding court at the front door of T-Trove Asian Décor, accepts patting. But don’t waste too much time—there’s a huge room full of granite lanterns, bronze lamps, ox-bone Buddha carvings, and handcrafted rosewood cabinets to explore. Closed Sun; 189 S. Broadway

3. A bohemian haunt

Jack Jensen, the friendly, pompadoured owner of Mutiny Now, holds court over this shrine to used books and records, Beat poets, and pop art.

Page through a copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as you listen to bebop, sip coffee, and wonder why the weird painting of a beautiful woman asks: WHO MAKES THE RULES ANYHOW? Closed Sun; 2 S. Broadway; 303/778-7579.

4. The $6 lunch

Slip into one of the sunken booths at Sputnik, a vegan-friendly coffeehouse attached to the Hi-Dive music club. The half-sandwich meal (from grilled cheese to sliced chicken) is $6 with fries or mac ’n’ cheese.

At the “weekend hangover brunch,” expect black bean and green chile breakfast burritos, egg tacos, and most important, $2 mimosas. $; 3 S. Broadway; 720/570-4503.


Next: SoBo after-hours

Stick around for after-hours in SoBo

For a drink and a movie: The 80-year-old Mayan Theatre anchors the neighborhood and draws art-house crowds; a second-floor cafe supplements the popcorn with beer and wine. $; 110 Broadway; 303/744-6799.

For local tunes: The Skylark Lounge is an old-school chill-out bar with ’50s-style pinup photos on  the walls, and lively rockabilly bands on a tiny stage. 140 S. Broadway

For a date night: Red velvet curtains and classic blues playing overhead set the mood at Deluxe.

The filet and swordfish entrées may be pricey, but the oyster shooters are a steal at $10, as are the chicken, ginger, and garlic dumplings at $8. $$$; closed Sun; 30 S. Broadway; 303/722-1550.

For late-night eats: With a kitchen open until midnight, the Hornet is a happening after-hours spot for drinks and pasta shells Creole. $; 76 Broadway; 303/777-7676. 

More great spring trips