Photos: Scratch Burrito & Happy Tap opens today in Berkeley

All photos by Lori Midson.

Earlier today, just minutes before Scratch Burrito & Happy Tap opened in Berkeley, exec chef-owner Clay Markwell was peering over his kitchen crew, advising them how to wrap, roll and twist the corners on the aluminum foil that hug the bulging burritos emerging from the kitchen. By noon, an hour after Scratch opened, there was a line of hungry curiosity seekers jonesing for those burritos, all of which, says Markwell, who used to cook at TAG, "map back to different cultures and cuisines."

See also:
- Clay Markwell opening Scratch Burrito & Happy Tap in the former Shazz space
- Benny Kaplan, former chef of Shazz Cafe, opening Wafflich on Tennyson Street
- Denver's five best breakfast burritos

There are eight burritos total, all priced at $9.50, and the ingredients -- many of them procured from nearby farms and producers -- zigzag from adobo pork and grilled vegetable quinoa salad to tandoori lamb swaddled with curried brown rice, dill pickle salad, raita with cilantro and crisped onions; they're all partnered with a seasonal side salad, the ingredients of which may come from Golden Acre Farm, located in Golden and owned by Jason Plotkin, who plans to stop by the restaurant every Saturday after the farmers' market.

"He's a great guy and his produce his awesome, so he's going to be dropping off whatever he has -- anything and everything -- and that will give us a chance to play around in the kitchen," says Markwell, whose staff includes Vicki Roopai, who also cooks at Hapa; Tim Rohr, the former kitchen manager at TAG; and Joe Stone, most recently the chef de cuisine at Ernie's Bar & Pizza. "I've got a great crew -- we're all industry people -- and we just want to have fun and deliver scratch-made food to your mouth," he adds.

The menu, which also pimps housemade empanadas and salads, is reinforced by a strong beer and cocktail list, courtesy of Tyler Lewis, who also came to Scratch from TAG. His cocktails, which number eleven, are all $7 -- and you can also buy pitchers of them for $30 each -- a move that should be a big hit with imbibers. "I wanted to make the cocktail list really approachable but still push the envelope a bit, and I think they're really well-priced, especially since we're using a lot of small-batch Colorado spirits, making our own syrups, squeezing our own juices and pretty much doing everything in house -- and I love the idea of hanging out on the patio with a pitcher of cocktails," says Lewis.

The space, bedecked with a hackberry wood community table in the bar, acid-washed concrete floors, intricate metal work, canning jars vased with cacti, an open kitchen and chalkboard menus, is a vast improvement from its earlier days as Shazz Cafe, and the patio, strewn with picnic tables, is bound to see its share of lingerers, who can also play a game of bags in the parking lot.

Scratch is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and on Sunday, breakfast is available until 11:30 a.m., and lunch until 3 p.m.

Here's a sneak peek of the space, the cocktails and the burritos...

Location Info

Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap

4262 Lowell Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

I agree with Lateeda. I was born and raised in this neighborhood. I, nor anyone I ever knew who also lived here, has EVER referred to it as Berkeley. Berkeley is over where the park bearing that name is. It does NOT matter what wiki or assholes taking over claim. That area is not Berkeley. Complete BS trying to claim otherwise.


$10 burritos, $7 cocktails. (Pitchers are a decent price). Same mistake as Shazz -- great food, good drinks, over-priced for the area. You've got state employees and Regis kids there. Doubt the burritos will be good enough to draw people away from Tenny or the Square.

Rescued Relics
Rescued Relics

Now I know where I'll be going for lunch. Thanks for not forgetting our neighborhood in your reporting.


Finally! A place where I can eat a ten dollar "scratch" made burrito - Since there are only those reasonably priced, uninspired, hand-made, ethnic food places along Federal.  White Guy, stop trying to out-think the room. Sheesh. 


Not sure what a $10 burrito tastes like, but I have to admit I will line up with the rest of the Yupsters to try.  Somewhere in Denver a hard-working Mexican immigrant is laughing his ass off at us all.  Or perhaps crying. 


Sorry, anyone who had lived in this area for more than 5 minutes does not consider this Berkeley.  I do not care what all the newcomers or Wikipedia claims.  That is not Berkeley.

How is it that "Berkeley"  keeps growing and growing in size?  Wasn't it just a little while ago the claimed border was 44th?  Stop trying to make everything Berkeley!


@lateeda My family moved into the neighborhood in 1974, and it was called Berkeley then. My parents still live in "Berkeley". So what neighborhood is this, so I can inform my parents they've been wrong for 40 years?

WillieStortz topcommenter

@lateeda I've called anything North of 38th Berkley since I was in Junior High. 

North of 38th and West of Federal = Berkley

South of 38th, North of 26th and West of Federal= The Highlands or West Highlands

South of 26th and West of Federal = Sloans Lake

North of 38th and East of Federal = Sunnyside

South of 38th and East of Federal = Potter Highlands. 

Lohi- The place where dumb hipsters pay $56 for a bad steak

You can use all the specifics like Harkness Heights but these are the terms the locals have used for 50 years.


@Jon_S @lateeda So all the people who have lived in the neighborhood more than 2 minutes are wrong? And because someone convinced some asshole in the Denver govt to deem it that, it is that?  ok.

Go back to California.

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