Located on the north side of Denver, on the west side of I-25, the Sunnyside neighborhood is bordered by I-70 (north), Inca St. (east), W. 38th Ave. (south), and Federal Blvd. (west.) Founded in 1858 as one of Denver’s original neighborhoods, Sunnyside is situated next to the Highlands neighborhood. In 2010 it was listed in 5280 Magazine’s “Where to Live Now” list and thrived in recent years (1). Although its history begins in the mid-nineteenth century, the modern history of this thriving community began in 1989; the Denver Planning Department encouraged Sunnyside residents to start a neighborhood organization to help ensure that the neighborhood plan they had developed would be implemented. Thus, Sunnyside United Neighbors Inc. (SUNI) was founded, and the organization began to take charge of the neighborhood’s development. In 1996, the area was identified as one of the Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program's target neighborhoods, and multiple grants helped build various community projects (1).
At the center of the Sunnyside neighborhood is Chaffee Park, a prime area for recreation and gathering. In 1997, the “Garden of the Flowers” by sculptor Mark Landson (made from a recycled tractor and car parts) was installed in the park and remained a bright piece of public art to this day. Years later, in 2009, the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! Joined together with 200 volunteers to build a 2,500 square foot playground at the park, completed in just a single day of work. This speaks volumes about the activeness of the community and the willpower of the individuals in the neighborhood. The park hosts the Sunnyside Music Festival, which began as a bluegrass festival in a resident’s backyard. The all-day festival hosts the winner of their battle of the band competition that takes place a month prior and showcases many different types of vendors, including small business, corporate, food, novelty food, and non-profit, in booth sizes of 12 by 12 feet. According to their website, over $10,000 have been donated back into the community since its humble roots as a backyard bluegrass festival with 50 people and 2 kegs (2).
There are many shopping and dining locations dispersed throughout this neighborhood, including the local favorite Ernie’s Bar & Pizza. The original Ernie’s opened in 1948 and was known throughout the area for its fried chicken. The restaurant was re-established in 2009 and is one of the only restaurants left to make their pizza dough fresh every morning. They also make their own sauce and mozzarella in-house every day. It’s a must-stop for an unforgettable slice of pizza, which can be perfectly paired with one of the 30 beers they keep on tap (3). Another delicious local restaurant is Lou’s Food Bar, which continues to specialize in fried chicken. With extensive hours and a modest price range, Lou’s has been serving up delectable blackened fish sandwiches in accordance with their unparalleled fried chicken, all capped off by some tasty mimosas to wash it down with. Once again, showcasing the variety of food offered in Denver and Sunnyside, Buchi Cafe Cubano offers incredible lunch options every day and dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Reviewers have raved about their avocado salad and Coyo sandwich, with its famous key lime mayo. The restaurant also specializes in coffee and tea with a fresh and delicious Cuban twist.
Sunnyside – Real Estate Snapshot
Sunnyside hosts various housing options, from simple bungalows to stunning Victorians to newer constructed homes on scrapped lots.