Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.
The Denver dining scene is making a big comeback after the pandemic and we are starving to get out again. With so many new things to do and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant closings and restrictions, the choice can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re introducing Short Stop with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary shortlist. This week Bakery Four is all about baked goods.
What: Bakery Four
Where: 3712 West 32nd Avenue
When: Thursday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to sold out (usually 9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.)
For more information: visit bakefour.com
The Place: If you spotted a long line early in the morning in Highland last year, it was probably for Bakery Four. Owner Shawn Bergin opened the small bakery on West 32nd Avenue in May 2020, and since then people have been getting up early to examine boxes of his baked goods, from cookies and pastries to bread and bagels. The shop is so small that only one party can go in at a time to tell Bergin what they would like to have packed. A blackboard sign outside lists the items that are available each day. So, to keep things going, it’s best to prepare before entering – though it’s totally understandable to be distracted by the delicate layers of a chocolate croissant and change your mind at the last minute.
The lack of space is the factor that makes these goodies really hard to come by; Bergin can only make so many items in the tiny kitchen. That’s why he’s planning a summer move to a 3,000-square-foot space on Tennyson later this summer. But why wait? All you have to do is set an alarm and get up early – and then you too can go away with a brown box full of delicious bites.
The line at Bakery Four moves pretty quickly.
What you eat: whatever Bergin brings out (and what’s left over when you get there); There doesn’t seem to be a wrong step at this point. My best advice: follow your heart.
I arrived around 8:15 am on a Thursday and got in line for eight other parties waiting to go inside. The line behind me was growing fast, but by 8:30 am I was on my way to the office, a box of pastries and a huge loaf of country bread ($ 10) in hand.
Menu options for the day included classic and chocolate croissants, vanilla pod and flavored apple pancake (a Danish pastry with custard), morning rolls, cardamom rolls, classic bagels, and cinnamon oatcakes … along with this bread. I have New York roots, so the love of bagels runs in my blood. Plus, I’d longed for them since spotting a yummy photo of them on Instagram last week. So I grabbed one of my own and oh what a bagel it was surpassed every other bagel I’ve eaten in Denver. It was still slightly warm when I cut it open and buttered it, crispy on the outside, perfectly chewy on the inside and with a pronounced sourdough funk. Toasting is not necessary here.
I also got a plain and a chocolate croissant, both with seemingly infinite layers of light-colored pastries, along with a vanilla pod shavings that were oh so light and eggy, with vanilla pod stains in the pudding filling.
The bread is tucked tightly into a kitchen towel blanket as recommended in the bakery’s FAQs, which is where it sits until I carry it to a July 4th party on Saturday where it’s covered with a red, white, and blue themed cheese board that i plan to do.
Bottom line (and that comes from someone who is definitely not a morning person and maybe even had a slight hangover on the morning I visited): This is a place that is well worth getting up early for. And when the new location opens, I like to stand in line there too.
Keep Westword Free … Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we want it to stay that way. We offer our readers free access to concise coverage of local news, food and culture. We produce stories about everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with bold coverage, stylish writing, and staff who have won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award to the Casey Medal for the Deserving Journalism. But with the existence of local journalism under siege and setbacks in advertising revenues having a greater impact, it is now more important than ever for us to raise funds to fund our local journalism. You can help by joining our “I Support” membership program, which allows us to continue to cover Denver without paywalls.
Molly Martin is Westword’s Food & Drink Editor. She has been writing about the Denver dining scene since 2013 and has eaten her way around town long before that, enjoying long walks to the nearest burrito and spending the nights on Colfax with cocktails.