If breakfast means more to you than a cup (or three) of coffee, you're probably already acquainted with the pancakes, eggs and crepes at such perennial favorites as Gaia Bistro, Jelly, Snooze, Devil's Food and DJ's Berkeley Cafe. The latter's sibling restaurant, DJ's 9th Avenue Café, which opened in January and was the subject of my most recent review, isn't the only new eatery vying to brighten up your day. In no particular order, here's a list of the five best new breakfast spots in town...with a special bonus at the end.
5) Sassafras American Eatery 2637 West 26th Avenue 303-433-0080 sassafrasamericaneatery.com DJ's Berkeley Cafe has gotten a lot of attention over the years for its eggs Benedict, but neither DJ's location -- original or new -- has a lock on the dish. Sassafras American Eatery serves up a mean Hollandaise, too, poured over poached eggs and fried green tomatoes. And given the restaurant's Southern emphasis, it's no wonder the biscuits and gravy are so good.
4) The Universal 2911 West 38th Avenue 303-955-0815 theuniversaldenver.blogspot.com Despite some turmoil in the kitchen, we continue to hear good things about The Universal, where you might fall in love with the creamy grits of the day, the cornbread rancheros or the nutmeg-flecked custard (aka French) toast, as many folks have done since the breakfast-and-lunch spot opened last summer.
3) Early Bird Restaurant 11940 Bradburn Boulevard, Westminster 303-469-9641 earlybirdrestaurant.com Winner of Westword's Best Healthy Breakfast in the Best of Denver 2013, this cheerful, family-run eatery shines at the morning meal, with fluffy omelets -- we especially like the Bradburn, with ham, Swiss, tomato and basil -- rivaling the hefty bowl of house-made granola, fruit and Greek yogurt that nabbed this Westminster restaurant the award. Continue reading for our top choices.
2) Gather 1062 Delaware Street 303-823-4172 gatherdenver.com If quaint and cozy are too much for a weekday morning, pop into Gather, a cafe/lounge in the ground floor of the old Rocky Mountain Bank Note building that is now home to an entrepeneurial incubator, Galvanize. Though the setting may be historic, with exposed brick walls and sweeping, 100-pane windows, the decor -- sleek gray couches, metal stools and orange walls - and fare are anything but, with "pour over coffee" made in lab-like beakers, exquisite pastries (think bittersweet-chocolate croissants and frosted Saigon cinnamon buns) and New York-style bagels. Our only gripe is pricing: When a latte and a bagel with cream cheese cost just south of $10, we'd rather head to chef Lon Symensma's firstborn, ChoLon, for some of his unforgettable soup dumplings.
1) DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe 865 Lincoln Street 303-386-3375 DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe looks nothing like its seven-year-old sibling in northwest Denver, but the menu is the same. And if you close your eyes while taking a bite of the pancakes at this new spot, you'll realize that looks are relative.
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Honorable mention: Refuel 3459 Ringsby Court Since last spring, we've been keeping close tabs on Bob Blair's scaled-down Refuel. It finally opened last Monday, in the Drive building across from his existing restaurant, but like the name (which changed from Pit Stop to Refuel) and the opening date (pushed back again and again), the menu also morphed along the way. If you stopped in last week looking for breakfast burritos to pair with a cup of craft java from refuel's neighbor, BoxCar Coffee Roasters, you would've found Refuel closed until lunch. "They're not letting us cook like we'd intended," Blair explained, referring to the Denver Fire Department's veto of his 36-inch griddle. Other options, including panini-pressed quesadillas, are in the works, but for now you'll have to content yourself with BoxCar coffee accompanied by a croissant or oatmeal cream pie supplied by Fuel Cafe.