Chef and owner Vince Howard says his new delicatessen, Tessa, “is a conduit for fun with food, rather than being your grandfather’s deli.” Tessa has differentiated itself from other sandwich shops in the area with its weekend brunch featuring Bloody Marys, mimosas and unique themed pop-up events.
Vince and his wife and co-owner, Jessica, relocated from Los Angeles two years ago, looking for better schools for their children and a new restaurant opportunity. Once settled in Denver, they began the search for the perfect location to host their vision. They landed on a 2,500-square-foot space that used to be an antique furniture store on Colfax near Ivy. After a lengthy renovation, the duo opened their deli in early November, and have found a loyal following in their Park Hill neighborhood.
The Howards chose the name “Tessa” for a variety of reasons, but a favorite is the fact that in Greek, “Tessa” can sometimes mean the fourth daughter. Father to three daughters already, Howard jokes that Tessa “is my last and most expensive baby.”
The Tessa menu features classic deli favorites, such as the “OG” Italian and Reuben alongside dishes like avocado toast, quinoa bowls, and a kale caesar salad. Breakfast lovers can get Tessa’s pretzel egg sandwich day or night. Howard says his approach is to keep to a simple, streamlined menu. “Menus can get too crowded. We keep it simple so we can serve everything all day.”
Howard works with local ingredients whenever possible, and Tessa serves local River Bear Meats. Sandwiches are served on bread made fresh daily at City Bakery and the soup of the day is prepared in house. The deli has become known for its breakfasts—and the serve-yourself coffee bar encourages customers to relax and stay awhile. The kids’ area, complete with toys and kid-sized picnic tables, makes it easy to linger over a meal in a child-friendly setting.
Howard would like his deli to be known as the place for a fun dinner with a formal flair. Tessa has a full liquor license and happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7. Going forward, Howard plans to continue adding special pop-up style events that allow him to showcase other chefs and menu options. Tessa recently hosted a River Bear Kobe steak and whiskey pairing and a special tequila tasting menu. “Ramen Sundays” started in mid-January, and new dinner items such as sticky ribs, bison burgers, and adult mac and cheese are coming soon.
Tessa is located at 5724 E. Colfax Ave. It’s open Tuesday-Friday 8am–8pm; Saturday & Sunday 8am–4pm; and closed Mondays. Find current menu items or upcoming events at www.tessadenver.com or on Facebook or call 720.746.9138.
Front Porch photos by Christie Gosch