Punch Bowl Social Denver Offers Pumped Up Brunch

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

ShopEatSleep contributor Eros David has moved to Denver, expanding our coverage. Stay tuned for more from Colorado!

As the original location of the nationwide watering hole playground, Punch Bowl Social Denver took over an old Big Lots building and made it a destination for craft cocktails and scratch kitchen entrees. On the corner of 1st Ave and Broadway in the historic Baker district, the place is hard to miss with big windows and a giant neon sign.

After teaming up with Top Chef’s Hugh Acheson to revamp the menu from standard bar fare to their own take on Southern-influenced entrees and side dishes, I dropped in to check out their brunch.

The food

For starters, it might be worth grabbing a table here just for Punch Bowl Social’s biscuits. That might be blasphemous to say with Denver Biscuit Company just a few blocks down the road, but PBS really did biscuits justice here. Served with a house-made jam, the buttery-not-oily biscuits are accented with a unique strawberry jam highlighted by hints of ginger, sambal and orange zest.

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

The always-popular chicken and waffles is a satisfying choice at PBS. The chicken is fried with no complaints as to the technique and even has a little kick toward the end of your bites. They tell me there are no special spices on the chicken, just garlic salt and iodized salt, so it might be more sodium than anything else. It’s a solidly executed dish that won’t disappoint, but it’s not my favorite version of chicken and waffles. (That distinction goes to Black Swan in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn).

Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

The Shrimp & Grits is not normally on the brunch menu, but the kitchen was able to accommodate the dish featured daily on their lunch and dinner menu. Featuring Anson Mills grits and Tesso ham, this was decidedly less rich that other versions of shrimp and grits I’ve tasted. In fact, the lightness of the dish is in big part due to the fact that Anson Mills grits are actually made from rice not the traditional cornmeal that you’d expect. By sacrificing richness, what you do get is a more acute taste of the spices and flavors mixed in with the Red Eye Gravy, green tomatoes and poblano peppers.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

The drink

What’s actually got me coming back to Punch Bowl Social (literally — a few times) is their craft cocktails. In particular, the El Macho (Up), with Herradura Reposado tequila, muddled cucumber, cardamom syrup and lime juice, is a very bright, refreshing drink that’s still decidedly a tequila cocktail. I’ve never had a Gimlet that I didn’t like, and this drink probably falls into that bias as it reminds me of one, but I have diligently revisited and I can earnestly say it’s a solid choice, brunch or night cap.

El Macho (Up)

El Macho (Up)

The Beets Me is a cocktail created in-house by a bartender at the Denver location that won the company’s Best of the Bowl cocktail competition, with entrants from PBS locations across the country. More of a day drinking choice, the Beets Me features Woodford Reserve bourbon, beet syrup, white pear fuji apple tea, fresh lemon juice and Chambord. I would say it’s akin to drinking an alcoholic Vitamin Water, but without the headache of cheap alcohol or Everclear normally mixed with Vitamin Water at some Action Sports industry party.

Beets Me

Beets Me

The design

With its kitschy design (they call it “dirty modern”), large size and immediately attention-grabbing options of activities, you wouldn’t expect a scratch kitchen with well-executed dishes at the same place you find old school arcade games and cornhole, but that’s exactly what you get at Punch Bowl Social. There’s a reason CEO and founder Robert Thompson is the only Denver restaurateur to have won multiple Best New Restaurant awards, and the franchise has spread to other cities, including Austin, Detroit and Portland, among others. Los Angeles readers, if you’ve got working AC and gas in your car, there’s a Rancho Cucamonga location to check out. There are also openings planned for San Diego, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn.

Punch Bowl Social bar

Punch Bowl Social bar

Bowling alley at Punch Bowl Social

Bowling alley at Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social

Oh, hi, Mr. Stag.

Located at 65 Broadway, Punch Bowl Social Denver is open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. most days, with brunch served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. After you’re done eating, and maybe while you’re still drinking, you can enjoy activities on two floors, such as a private karaoke room, bowling, table tennis, a huge eight-person foosball table and counting all the antlers everywhere you look.

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About The Author

Eros David

Eros David is an e-commerce professional on the everlasting quest for the perfect animated gif response. Having lived in both California and New York, he is no stranger to street food and streetwear. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram at erosdavid4real.

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