As a countdown to the Best of Denver 2010, coming April 1, Cafe Society is serving up, in no particular order, a hundred of our favorite dishes in Denver. Send your own nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Number 51: Chicken-fried steak from Breakfast King
Denver has had a problem with diners for a long time. The problem? There just aren't enough of them--or really, almost any by the classic definition of East Coast, Rust Belt diner aficionados. We have a couple, sure. And then there are a few more (rhymes with Schmenver Schminer...), which make some passing gestures in the direction of true diner style, but fail on almost every count once you get past the surface chrome and vinyl.
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The Breakfast King, though, is a serious diner meant for serious diner fans. It is open all day and all night, every day and every night. During the day, it serves the community, filling up all comers with huge breakfasts, decent cheeseburgers and friendly hospitality. And at night, it is filled with the kinds of customers that diners are supposed to attract (long-haul truckers, construction workers, itinerant restaurant critics, angry loners, night creatures, drunks, loons and crazy-haired club kids gone sideways on horse tranquilizers) and staffed by a French Foreign Legion of floor crews capable of handling the friction when they rub up against each other.
And all of this is important. All of this adds to the flavor and the legend and the soul of the place. But the most important thing that every diner must have? One dish that it does better than anyone else in the area--one plate for which people will travel long distances, tolerate long waits and smile through any minor inconvenience. At the Breakfast King, this one champion menu item is the chicken-fried steak--a perfect vision of American comfort food, served to all those who've comfortably come to the understanding with their bodies that while what goes into them might kill them, they will go down smiling.
Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:
No. 100 Chicken-fried steak from Lola No. 99 Alaskan reindeer sausage from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 98 Mac-and-cheese fries from Jonesy's EatBar No. 97 Soft egg ravioli from Prima No. 96 Pho - any pho -- from Pho 95 No. 95 Assiette de charcuterie maison from Z Cuisine À Côté No. 94: Cheeseburger from Larkburger No. 93: BBQ Masher from Cabin Creek Smokehouse No. 92: Apple pancake from the Original Pancake House No. 91: Burrata from Osteria Marco No. 90: Eggs Benedict from Devil's Food Bakery No. 89: Chile Relleno from La Fiesta No. 88: Deviled eggs from Steuben's No. 87: Corn-in-a-cup from Jack-n- Grill No. 86: Enchiladas from Taco House No. 85: Pupusas from Pupusas Sabor Hispano No. 84: Baklava from Ali Baba Grill No. 83: Masa-fried oyster shooters from Deluxe No. 82: Tacos al pastor from Los Carboncitos No. 81: Salsa bar from Tacos Y Salsas No. 80: Dim Sum from Star Kitchen No. 79: Green chile cheeseburger from Cherry Cricket No. 78: Fries from Encore No. 77: Shanghai-style dumplings from Chopsticks China Bistro No. 76: Chile relleno burrito from El Taco de Mexico No. 75: Fish fry from GB Fish and Chips No. 74: Posole from Tarasco's No. 73: Sausage, ham and egg biscuit from Table 6 No. 72: Bacon flight from the Berkshire No. 71: Tasty Treats from Gaetano's No. 70: French dip from Udi's No. 69: Panang curry from US Thai Cafe No. 68: Pineapple upside-down pancake from Snooze No. 67: Saag paneer from India's No. 66: Udon noodle bowl from Bones No. 65: Grilled corn soup from Lola No. 64: Sesame pockets from Lee's Garden No. 63: Whiskey-braised beef from Steuben's No. 62: House special from Viet's No. 61: Sultan Combo from Phoenician Kabob No. 60: Cake and a shake from D Bar Desserts No. 59: Caprese salad from Gaia Bistro No. 58: Fried chicken from Tom's Home Cookin' No. 57: Molcajete a la Mexicana from El Paraiso No. 56: Corned beef hash from Argyll Gastropub No. 55: Aye Conyo from Buchi Café Cubano No. 54: Fig n' pig flatbread pizza from Encore No. 53: Toro sashimi from Sushi Den No. 52: Spinach pinwheels from Virgilio's