leelas-exterior-downtown-denver-june-2009Leela’s European Café
820 15th Street (at Stout)
downtown Denver
Open 24/7
Bus directions: take the MallRide to Stout and walk over

I was so pleased to stumble upon Leela’s during my recent trek down 15th Street in downtown Denver. After the parking lot and the Hyatt and other massive buildings, it was great to walk into a place that was open and welcoming, not looming over me.

Leela reminded me a tiny bit of City, O’City on Capitol Hill. Like City, O’City, it is a restaurant and a coffee bar; it even sells pastries by the bar. But Leela’s is much larger and has a stage at the back where bands play on Friday and Saturday nights.leelas-stage-denver-june-2009 Given the MySpace page mention of “exposure,” I would guess that the bands don’t get paid much, if at all.

I ordered my Greek salad with no olives at the bar, as the sign says, and tried out the tiny bar-height table first, but the shorter table was just right for me and all my stuff. In no time at all, my salad arrived: sliced romaine with onion and tomato and green pepper and lemon-pepper dressing.leelas-greek-salad-no-olives-denver-june-2009 I would have preferred half the feta, but that is my only complaint. My mouth was still tingling from the peppery dressing when I left.

The barkeep liked the looks of the Greek salad so much she ordered it for lunch.

Leela’s wasn’t crowded at lunch. There were two tables when I walked in and a few people at the bar.leelas-bar-downtown-denver-june-2009 The barkeep chatted with all of them; she was in her second week and very, very personable. When I asked her how long the restaurant had been open, she said about two years. She laughed about the fact that they “don’t charge” tax; the price you see on the menu is the price you pay. That’s what’s European about the place, she added.

In addition to several salads, Leela’s serves omelettes, “finger food,” panini, burgers, and grilled Italian sandwiches. The drinks on the back of the menu include the Crème Brulee, the Michael Jackson with white and dark chocolate, and the Open 24 Hours, with 4 shots of espresso, mocha, steamed milk, and cinnamon-sugar-encrusted foam.

Leela’s has 899 friends on MySpace, so it must be doing something right. The reviews on Yelp are seriously mixed, from “No reason not to go” to “roaches on the bar.” But I’ll go back at least once: I still want to try the Bellagio Sipping Chocolate.
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Leave A Comment

  1. BernardL June 11, 2009 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Neat looking place to have a meal. I don’t care for the yellow decor though. It seems as if it would be very loud in there with people treading around on those hardwood floors.

  2. saint June 11, 2009 at 7:41 am - Reply

    It’s also open 24 hours and generally a good place to detox for people hopping on the lightrail. My big complaint is that about a year ago they stopped serving pancakes after 1 am. I mean, seriously, around 3 is the best time to eat pancakes! They’re great to sop up the alcohol. Place gets crazy packed at that point, though, especially on weekends. And at 3 in the morning, I think one can generally be lax about cleanliness. It’s usually pretty good during the day.

    Most of the barristas are really nice and far more personable than at City O. But the atmosphere at City O is better, meaning cozier and less emo kid teenagers, so it’s a tossup. Granted, City O is just where they go when they grow up to be hipsters.
    [rq=2397,0,blog][/rq]Into a Technicolor Universe

  3. Beth Partin June 11, 2009 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Bernard, I think the yellow is brighter in the picture than it was in reality. And yeah, I’m sure it is loud when it’s crowded.

    Saint, I miss the drama of late-night breakfasts. One time I was out with friends after going to a bar and this guy’s wife showed up and wanted to know why he was sitting next to my friend.
    [rq=2565,2,blog][/rq]MonHaibun: Spiral Staircase

  4. Todd Bradley June 11, 2009 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    That place sounds cool! How come you didn’t mention this place to me in person, and I had to read about it on your blog? I like the “no tax” thing.

  5. Beth Partin June 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Um, ’cause I was trying to keep it a surprise for you? 🙂
    .-= Beth Partin´s last blog ..Downtown Denver Restaurants: Leela’s European Café =-.

  6. Claire Walter June 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post. I’ve often driven by, and it always looks empty. The only time it seemed busy was during teh DNC, when I think they rented it out.

  7. Beth Partin June 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Claire, I get the impression it’s busier late at night, for the bars crowd.
    .-= Beth Partin´s last blog ..Juneteenth* in Denver: Three Conversations =-.

  8. Bob February 10, 2010 at 1:41 am - Reply

    This place is the victim of randomly changing rules on refills and a manager with an attitude that is not conducive to me wanting to come around when she is in they need to make up their mind about wether they will give refills or not and stick with it though if I spent $2.00 on a soda and did not get at least 2 refills I would be pissed and go to Denny’s guess it is a good thing I order their chai which while good is made from a powder