Ten best businesses along 13th Avenue in Capitol Hill

West side of City, O' City, with art mural by Sandi Calistro.
Often overlooked for its bigger, brasher cousin, East Colfax Avenue, the quaint little strip of 13th Avenue between Downing and Sherman streets is one of the few remaining arteries of pedestrian shopping, historic buildings and authentic culture in the Denver area. Its lack of recognition may actually be the secret behind its success, so perhaps publishing a list of this area's furtive treasures could seem counterintuitive. But we're going to take that chance with this love letter to some of our favorite, often overlooked boutiques, pizza joints and record stores along Cap Hill's greatest little three-lane avenue.

See also: - The ten best stores on Broadway

10. Buffalo Exchange

While the behemoth that was the original Buffalo Exchange packed its vintage bags and moved down to the bright lights of Broadway in 2011, the junior store that remained in its place is still the greatest -- and, admittedly, only -- second-hand clothing store in Capitol Hill. If you're a car-less bohemian riding your fixie around this historic area and aren't able to make it to more distant thrift stores, this delectable boutique will surely have something to spice up your weekend wardrobe.

9. Benny Blanco's

"Don't treat me special/Don't kiss my ass." -- The Replacements "Waitress in the Sky"
No specialty recipes, no seating and no phoney smiles from its surly chefs -- but Benny Blanco's is one of the town's best destinations for a quick slice of no-frills pie. While other single-serving pizza joints attempt to rope in customers with a lot of gluten-free, Mediterranean-flavored hullabaloo, BB serves a classic New York-style slice that is the perfect complement to an afternoon of shopping (it's sandwiched between some excellent record and bookstores, listed below) or when you're in need of a hefty dose of carbs after dancing and drinking your Friday night away at Beauty Bar.

8. Sub Culture

A relatively new addition to the neighborhood, Sub Culture has survived in a space where so many have failed before it. This is possibly due to its conscious integration into the neighborhood, hosting regular comedy nights and offering a patio space that has become a consistent social spot for residents and area workers alike. Oh, and Sub Culture has some pretty bad-ass sandwiches, too.

7. Jelly

Being a night-owl, I didn't think much of a breakfast-lunch spot opening up across the street from my 13th Avenue apartment in January 2011 -- but Jelly turned out to be the ideal hangover cure for the nocturnal party-people of Cap Hill. With its housemade jellies, delectable morning cocktails and miniature museum of classic cereal boxes, there is nowhere in Denver I'd rather nurse my pounding head and fussy belly after a long night of stumbling down the strip.

6. Central Library

If all that eating, drinking and shopping have left your wallet a bit famished, heading down the hill to Denver's Central Library is the ideal way to get some first-class entertainment without turning into a sad pauper. Beyond all the people-watching, study rooms, wi-fi and loads of rentable media materials (again: free!), DPL's headquarters has loads of great music, film and craft events that rival the many options you pay for throughout Denver. And there are books -- so many books! Get smart. Get cheap. Get a library card.

5. Beauty Bar

While some may complain about Beauty Bar being part of a national chain of vintage-styled dance clubs, the addition of this posh nightspot in 2010 hasn't detracted from 13th Avenue's regional flavor -- and besides, no one really misses the Snake Pit. Beauty Bar's martini-and-manicure happy hour remains a celebrated attraction, without ever devolving into Cherry Creek-style "ladies' night out" hokeyness. And with one of Denver's greatest and longest-lasting dance nights, Lipgloss, moving into the Cap Hill location last summer, Beauty Bar has earned its stripes as a Denver institution.

Location Info


Buffalo Exchange Annex

226 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General


1300 Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


600 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Denver Central Library

10 W. 14th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General

Benny Blanco's Slice of the Bronx

616 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Beauty Bar

608 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

Gypsy House Cafe

1279 Marion St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

City, O' City

206 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Wax Trax Records

638 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General

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