Pete’s University Park Cafe on the corner of Evans Avenue and University Boulevard has been a landmark on the edge of campus since 1995. However, it’s not commonly thought of as more than that and rarely brought up as a restaurant possibility beyond a convenient post-activity spot. Though less common than other restaurants around campus, it was pleasantly surprising.
There’s nothing too flashy or remarkable about Pete’s, one of six Denver restaurants run by legendary 82-year-old Greek entrepreneur Pete Contos. Walking in feels like coming into any other quaint, friendly mid-tier diner.
Service was great, as during one of Pete’s busiest times – Sunday morning – parties coming in never had more than a five minute wait.
Of course, this convenience is balanced out by a 20-minute wait after ordering, as well as the ever-present possibility of a family’s crying baby. This leads me to believe that weekday mornings might be advised for a more chill breakfast or lunch.
As far as food goes, the dishes boast a unique Greek flair were the star of the show.
The Greek Sampler Salad ($10), enabled me to try the chicken kabob, pork souvlaki and gyro meat, all of which were juicy and well-seasoned, if somewhat in need of tzatziki sauce. The dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), strong olives and spicy Greek peppers also provided excellent flavors in combination with the oily dressing.
The only thing to complain about with this dish was the presentation. Without lettuce or rice, it fell somewhere between a salad and an appetizer, and I wasn’t certain about how to eat it. The University Park Greek Salad is a dollar more but a safer recommendation that features the same ingredients in a more coherent composition.
Unique items were found in the expansive breakfast section as well, including the popular and highly recommended Eggs Mazatlan ($9).
The dish consisted of a huge tortilla filled with scrambled eggs wrapped in bacon and avocado. It’s then covered in chunky green chili and cheese and served with a generous portion of plain, but pleasantly non-greasy hashbrowns.
While a bit more avocado and egg flavor to cut through the chile would have been nice, the dish was overall a great and filling choice. Additional bonus points to the staff for not going to town on the cheese, as is the case with most American diners’ takes on “Mexican” food.
Beyond this, the standard diner fare was on-par and well-prepared. The popular Chef’s Special ($9) is a good choice for a sampling of your common breakfast items, and the B.L.T. ($7) proved the lunch offerings are nothing to complain about.
The Greek wine was the highlight of the small alcohol section and is also recommended, if you’re willing to spend $6.50.
Especially considering the prices, the unique offerings seem to be the way to go for each time of day. The regular diner fare left nothing to be desired and was reasonably priced, but I’d rather pay $10 for a huge portion of seasoned lamb gyro than one of pancakes and eggs or a burger.
Overall, the food was tasty, the service was excellent, and the atmosphere left nothing to be desired, making Pete’s Cafe more than just a landmark. It stands out with its early hours (opening at 6 a.m.) and all-day Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner menus, too.
If you navigate the menu right, it’s a great choice for breakfast and a potential alternative to Jerusalem’s or Illegal Pete’s if your night out is calm or winds down early enough.
Located on 2345 E Evans Ave.
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.