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AA regular study spot for CU and Metro State students, Leela European Cafe is open 24 hours for all those late night cramming sessions with enough caffeine to keep you going long into the night. For those out of school, it’s also a great meeting spot or place to grab a drink at the end of a long day.

Leela offers a wide selection of food and drinks including everything from omelets to burgers and iced tea to macchiatos to beers. If I’m being honest, I have yet to try anything from their food menu, but every cup of coffee that I’ve had there has hit the spot quite well, and you can never go wrong with a nice cold beer.

The real charm to Leela, though, is the atmosphere. In the middle of downtown Denver, it’s nice to find a place that isn’t all modern chic. This is a place where you can really get comfortable, provided you find the right chair, and nestle in for the night. The furniture here is old, it’s worn and has a look that many surrounding bars would throw out without a second thought. But it feels lived in. It has character that so many places discard in favor of newer, shinier, lifeless options. There are only two drawbacks to this: first, depending on the time of day, it may take you a while to find a place to sit down, and second, once you do, it may still take you a little while to find a place that’s comfortable.

The old, worn out furniture creates a great aesthetic which I love, but there’s a clear divide between the chairs and sofas which have worn down in a way where you sink deep into them and meld into their fabric, and the ones which have aged in a way where you find yourself with a piece of the framework digging straight into your back. My main piece of advice for dealing with this is to watch the regulars. They know where their favorite spot is and that’s where you want to be. When they get up to leave, just make sure you take that spot before someone else can.

Every week on Thursdays from 7:00 to 11:00 PM, Leela hosts a Drink & Draw event. Local artists and writers are encouraged to come by and spend some time on their work in a friendly environment where they can receive some constructive feedback from other artists and spend a little time networking. If you’re hitting a roadblock this may be just what you need. A little bit of alcohol in your system never hurts the creative process and everybody around you can give you a new perspective which can help you get over your creative hurdles.

If nothing else, Leela is worth checking out just to do a little bit of people watching. You’ll find all kinds of different people gathered here working on different projects, reading, talking, and maybe even acting or dancing. Leela tries to appeal to a huge range of personalities and the result is an interesting gathering of unique individuals. It’s the kind of place where there’s such a contrast between each of the patrons that their individual personalities really stand out, but even with such a wide range of people here, they’ve formed their own community where people don’t just tolerate each other, they accept their differences and welcome everybody in.

Leela European Cafe
820 15th St, Denver, CO 80202
(303) 534-2255