Hearth specializes in sourdough breads, bagels ...

Denver’s bakery scene is on fire: Here are 3 hot new shops to watch

For a city with such a serious baking obsession, Denver started out on a much slower burn.

We used to have what every other urban center could claim: a smattering of beloved neighborhood shops, plus the occasional destination baked good to seek out.

Then, over the course of the pandemic, our collective baking lust led to an explosion of cottage bakeries, baking Instagram accounts and bake sales, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since junior high.

Thanks to Colorado’s Cottage Foods Act, social justice fundraisers and social media, everyone from enthusiasts to pros started baking comfort foods and finding their own dedicated audience. By the end of 2020, pastry and bread devotees were even waiting outside of some Denver bakeries for hours just to get a bite.

Now many of these small-business success stories that came about during the baking boom of 2020 are graduating into full-scale bricks-and-mortar restaurants and shops.

Bittersweetly, they replace the businesses that closed before them in the pandemic. But they’re bringing a renewed energy to the dining scene — scratch that, to the baking scene — that Denver didn’t know it was fermenting all these years.

Here are three new bakeries worth getting in line for over the coming months.


Before starting Hearth, Matt Quinlisk worked as the pastry chef at Moxie Bread Co. in Louisville, learning everything he possibly could from Andy Clark, who Quinlisk considers a main source of Colorado’s current baking craze. From Clark, Quinlisk learned the importance of sourcing and milling local grains and using that homemade flour in fresh-baked bread.

“A beautiful, poetic, big country sourdough loaf,” is the way he describes the kind of bread he’ll sell at Hearth when it opens later this month, at 2500 Lawrence St. in Five Points. “I think it’s a really cool time to be a baker in Denver, and I think there are so many options for high-quality products,” Quinlisk said. “There really hasn’t been a better time to utilize local grain and really up the bread game in Colorado, and nationally, too.”

When Hearth debuts in the space previously occupied by Third Culture Bakery, Quinlisk will sell his own bags of flour, various sourdough loaves and baguettes, plus bagels, a spread of pastries, shortbreads, cookies and house-made granolas. He’s been perfecting his own spin on their recipes over the past two years, by selling them wholesale to local coffee shops and direct to customers at farmers markets. Once the place is up and running, Quinlisk will start serving lunch in the garden space behind his shop and the restaurant Uchi, where Altius Farms grows herbs and seasonal flowering plants.

Hearth, 2500 Lawrence St., Denver, 781-710-1569. Opening late July, with farmers market stands in City Park, Highland, Union Station, Arvada and Golden throughout summer. hearthdenver.co


By August, Lillian Lu and her husband, Tim, will open a French-inspired bakery and restaurant in the same space where There closed in 2020. The new restaurant owners worked together in New York City before deciding to move to Colorado in 2018 to be closer to family. While their plan all along was to open a restaurant and bakery of their own, the Lus honed their skills by first working in the kitchens of Crema Coffee House and Beckon, respectively.

“We had heard Denver had a burgeoning culinary scene, so we definitely wanted to go somewhere that was moving forward in that way,” Lillian said. “And we always knew that we wanted to do French food. The French style of baking is a little bit lighter and a little bit softer. And then for the restaurant, (we’re following) a tradition of mothers’ and grandmothers’ cooking. So the dishes will be quite homey in flavor, I think.”

At Noisette (French for hazelnut and pronounced Nwa-set), they’ll provide coffee and pastries — from a signature hazelnut chocolate éclair to macarons and cannelés — as well as baguettes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, before switching to dinner service on the other side of the shop starting at 5 p.m.

“I’m not going to do anything with a starter as of yet,” Lillian said, “but will have baguette and brioche. And I love making chocolates, so a selection of bonbons and macarons and maybe some French cookies as well.”

Noisette, 3254 Navajo St., Denver, 720-769-8103. Restaurant coming early August; bakery coming by late August. noisettedenver.com


You’d be hard-pressed to find a more emblematic, pandemic-era hospitality story than that of Matt Dulin. The former Uncle sous chef went from cooking nightly for a hit local restaurant to selling houseplants and sourdough bread out of his Denver home. He dabbled in street markets, picked up odd landscaping jobs, and polled his bread customers on what they were most looking to buy from their favorite local, unemployed chefs. The answer, he found, was mostly pastries and baked goods.

“I didn’t want to get into pastries because I don’t have a background in pastry anything,” Dulin said. “I started with a shortbread cookie, plum gallette and coffee cake. And it was all the sweet things that drew people in. In the beginning, I wanted to simplify my life and my offerings: just sourdough bread, that’s it. And then I just kept trying new things every week … and I realized the process was the kind of thing I could fall in love with.”

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