Rosie's Diner 14061 East Iliff Avenue, Aurora
www.rosies-diner.com I have never been a morning person. Most days, it would take a major crisis to get me out of bed before 10 a.m. And if I've had a late night, a rough night or been forced to self-medicate with black-cherry vodka just to hasten sleep before sunrise? Well, even the apocalypse would have to wait on my attention until some more respectable hour. Like noon.
Because of this, I don't have many leisurely breakfasts. By the time I'm awake and presentable, McDonald's has long since put away the McMuffins and the rest of the daytime world is already looking for sandwiches and such. Which has always been a problem, because I do dearly love breakfasts -- big plates of eggs and bacon, pancakes, hash browns crisp from the grill, six or eight cups of strong coffee -- even if I rarely have the opportunity to eat them at the proper hour. Lucky for me, no one at Rosie's Diner looks at me funny for eating flapjacks at three in the afternoon.
Though Toast (see Bite Me, page 56) won this year's award for Best Breakfast, Rosie's -- with its authentic, born-in-Jersey frame, faux-'50s car-cult style and expansive menu -- not only ran a close second, but has long been my fall-back restaurant, my first choice when all other plans go to pot. At all hours, the kitchen serves pancakes crisp and lacy around the edges, with warmed syrup and massive clots of melting butter; an elemental green-chile cheeseburger (with a whole chile, roasted, seeded and splayed open beneath a blanket of cheese); a chicken-fried steak big enough to choke a lumberjack; and a host of other, completely unfashionable greasy-spoon comfort foods.
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When I stopped in for breakfast last week -- at about 3:30 p.m. -- I ordered one of my favorites: a huge mound of corned beef hash steaming beneath two eggs over very easy, hash browns, pancakes, coffee and a malt. Sitting under the celluloid smiles and sneers of long-gone Hollywood tough guys, I stuffed myself and thanked those Jersey City chrome-and-Formica food gods for the blessing of late-afternoon breakfasts.