A Balanced Breakfast: Acai Bowls and Cookie Dough Pancakes at Sunny's

Sunny's small interior
Sunny's small interior
Lauren Monitz

If you’re an early riser, it’s tough to find places that serve brunch before 10 a.m. Tasked with the challenge because my friend had to work at 11 (thank you, Rockies game), we ended up at Sunny’s in Sunnyside. We hadn’t heard much about it since it opened almost exactly a year ago, so we were excited to check out what we hoped to be a hidden gem that had somehow managed to fly under the radar of Denver’s bustling breakfast and brunch scene. To our chagrin, it seemed like almost all of Sunnyside had the same idea (or regulars who are just fully intent on keeping it a secret).

The 411
Open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunny’s isn’t very big, so even arriving well before standard brunch hour (by Denver watches and clocks, anyway) meant a full house — so much so that the servers seemed more frazzled than sunny, as the name would suggest. After we had to beg for water and coffee refills multiple times, service remained a little disjointed. Patience is definitely a virtue at this neighborhood spot that's a family go-to with children a-plenty and strollers in tow. People milled about, vying for the few patio seats, since the interior didn't offer much more than a basic diner setup. The focus is definitely on the fresh food and a sustainability mission (in case you care about a restaurant's composting practices); décor and ambiance are a little lower on the list.

The Mangia
The Mangia
Lauren Monitz

Drinks
Sunny’s doesn't have a liquor license, which is why we hadn't previously explored it as a brunch option; our interests tend to run pretty singularly after a night out. Instead, they stick with the tried-and-true coffee and juice, and also offer organic smoothies made with a variety of fresh fruit and berries.

Grilled cheese benedict, a novel creation
Grilled cheese benedict, a novel creation
Deanna Lund

The Food
Sunny’s menu is an interesting contrast of health-minded oat and veggie plates and crazy pancake and waffle creations on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Unable to resist the sweet temptations, we tried to balance the scale with a few selections from each side. 

Sunny's take on the classic Benedict comes, not with poached eggs, but instead with signature sunny-side-up eggs, which is a cute choice given the name, but is arguably a more pedestrian style of cooking. The creativity really shines through on the house specialties, though. If you’re starving, the Good Night is a man-sized meal with two eggs, chorizo, tomato, avocado and cheese, sandwiched between two whole grilled-cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese also comes in another form, as a decidedly un-pedestrian substitution for an English muffin as the base of the sunny-side up Benedict topped with tomato, arugula and Hollandaise. We added avocado and Canadian bacon and were pretty happy with our life choices at that moment. 

On the healthier side, we chose the Mangia, a plate of steamed broccoli, zucchini and roasted potatoes drizzled with a tomato, basil, spinach, garlic, and pecorino Romano sauce that smelled like a heavenly pesto. Topped with two eggs and a paper-thin curl of cheese that made for an interesting presentation, the mix was an earthy and healthy accompaniment to an irresistible and gigantic cookie-dough pancake.

Hidden inside this unassuming pancake are nuggets of cookie dough
Hidden inside this unassuming pancake are nuggets of cookie dough
Lauren Monitz

You can get either buttermilk or gluten free ‘cakes with your choice of single, double or triple drop-ins, ranging from organic blueberries and granola to peanut butter cups, apple cinnamon and the aforementioned cookie dough as filling. Unlike cookie-dough ice cream, where you’re teased with mostly boring vanilla ice cream and left digging for a few nuggets of buried treasure, these pancakes are stuffed to the gills. Although the dough comes as a sweet surprise cooked into the middle and hidden from sight, no bite is left without a burst of sweetness. The kitchen's waffle creations are equally decadent, with the likes of Nutella, Nutter Butter, cannoli filling, and bacon streusel as toppings that caught my eye.

This presentation makes eating healthy look pretty good.
This presentation makes eating healthy look pretty good.
Deanna Lund

We also tried the acai bowl, which despite being served in a coffee mug, was a freezing sorbet treat that my mouth was not prepared for. After adjusting to the temperature shock, I found the combination sweet berries, crunchy house-made granola and toasted coconut mix to be the stand-out dish of the morning, Health fans, I must admit, this fruit concoction was tastier and more refreshing than my plate of carbs (although nothing to complain about there either).


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