Johnny's Diner
Ahh, Johnny's... No one does breakfast quite like this half-boxcar, half-cafeteria diner right in the middle of Aurora's burgeoning Korea-town sector. The coffee is hot and strong, the food greasy as hell, the service non-existent because of the order-wait-and-pick-up style of delivering meals to the crowds that come through here on the weekends, but the kitchen is fast, and things work quickly at the counter, too, provided you bring cash. From the pure plastic Americana of the decor to the car-cult fixtures and fast-forward regulars cramming breakfast burritos, bacon sandwiches and scrambled eggs into their mouths with steam-shovel efficiency, there's no finer example of the all-American breakfast bar.
Besides serving some of the best Bloody Marys in town -- rich, spicy and spiked with globs of horseradish and cucumber spears -- Williams Tavern offers a free, all-you-can-eat brunch for the hungover hordes every Sunday. But don't look for quiche or candy-ass eggs Benedict here. Instead, bartender Gina Ko dishes up a simple, tasty buffet of stomach-anchoring dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, homemade hummus and falafel, beef-and- bean nachos, even macaroni and cheese. Come for the booze, but stay for the grub -- there's no better (or cheaper) way to chase down that hair of the dog.
For starting your day in a powerful way, Dixons is the winner and still the chomp. There are plenty of reasons this restaurant deserves its loyal, early-morning following: an interesting menu that ranges from healthy cereal and fruit offerings to hearty skillets and eggs Benedict; cheery, accommodating servers who keep the coffee coming; a spacious dining room with tables where you can see and be seen, as well as more remote booths where you can do your business in relative privacy. But two recent developments further enhanced Dixons' already extraordinary drawing power. One was the temporary closure of Racines, its sibling restaurant that will reopen this spring on Sherman Street. The other was the election of Mayor John Hickenlooper, a denizen of LoDo (and a very, very small-percentage owner of Dixons) who need only stumble a block from his loft in order to call a breakfast meeting to order. Mayor, about that parking ticket...
If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. And some mornings, nothing is more right than the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at Piscos. For $3.50 every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can doctor your vodka -- and your hangover -- with everything from the standard Tabasco, Worcestershire and horseradish to enough peppers and celery sticks to make your drink look like a salad. Those seeking more substantial fare, though, should consider taking on one of Piscos' South American dishes or making a run at an overflowing intercontinental buffet of cold cuts, cheeses, pastries and fresh fruit.

Best Breakfast for the Discriminating Lumberjack

Java Moon

Paul Bunyan never had it as good as the grub dished up on the chow line at Java Moon. Jim Ilg's little coffeehouse and cafe tucked among the pawnshops of Broadway serves an order of biscuits and gravy hearty enough to fill you from toes to cowlick. Add to this big, smothered breakfast burritos, fruit smoothies (we all know Paul liked the occasional triple-berry smoothie) that are almost a meal in themselves, and a full roster of quality coffee, and Java Moon can keep you going all day. Don't let the name fool you: Sunrise is definitely Java Moon's best hour. The doors open at six but close by four, so if you're smart, you'll be like a lumberjack and come early, come hungry and leave happy.
William's Tavern
Besides serving some of the best Bloody Marys in town -- rich, spicy and spiked with globs of horseradish and cucumber spears -- Williams Tavern offers a free, all-you-can-eat brunch for the hungover hordes every Sunday. But don't look for quiche or candy-ass eggs Benedict here. Instead, bartender Gina Ko dishes up a simple, tasty buffet of stomach-anchoring dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, homemade hummus and falafel, beef-and- bean nachos, even macaroni and cheese. Come for the booze, but stay for the grub -- there's no better (or cheaper) way to chase down that hair of the dog.
The happy-hour menu at McCormick's, the bar that fronts the seafood restaurant in the Oxford Hotel, is a perennial favorite. From 3 to 6 p.m. every day of the week and from 9 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, McCormick's bar menu features over a dozen $2 dishes, an unbelievably diverse spread of everything from sashimi-quality tuna rolls to crab cakes to respectable cheeseburgers with fries. Although McCormick's wood-accented and well-windowed bar is popular at all times, what's known as cheap time has become an incredible draw. And now a good deal has gotten even better: On Sundays, parking in LoDo is free, courtesy of Mayor John Hickenlooper, a McCormick's neighbor. So put those quarters to good use -- you can buy another burger rather than two hours of time. Respect the Sabbath and keep it yummy.
If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. And some mornings, nothing is more right than the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at Piscos. For $3.50 every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can doctor your vodka -- and your hangover -- with everything from the standard Tabasco, Worcestershire and horseradish to enough peppers and celery sticks to make your drink look like a salad. Those seeking more substantial fare, though, should consider taking on one of Piscos' South American dishes or making a run at an overflowing intercontinental buffet of cold cuts, cheeses, pastries and fresh fruit.

Best French Toast in a French Restaurant

Bistro Vendome

Nothing gets a morning started like a lovely pain perdu, the French version of French toast. At Bistro Vendome -- a comfy, bright spot tucked down an alley behind Larimer Square -- the brunch-menu fave is made from a single piece of soft, center-cut bread, perfectly browned, then sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. The strong citrus honey this pain is served with can be overpowering, but that's why it comes on the side -- so that you can add a little, add a lot, or just ignore it entirely and dig into the bare toast, which is ideal on its own.


Best French Toast -- Freedom Toast Division

Dozens

There's a fine distinction between the classic egg-batter-and-French-bread breakfast most people think of as French toast, and the slices of pure American ingenuity dished up at Dozens. The Aurora eatery (which also does some lunches, but only until 3 p.m.) has a way with eggs, with hash, with everything a man could need to get up and going in the morning. But what this kitchen does with true distinction is French toast -- cranking up the calories and pumping up the pleasure by slathering a couple of thick slices of battered and grilled bread with raspberry cream cheese, then serving the whole thing with a good-sized portion of fresh fruit. Only trouble is, our favorite part of French toast is the syrup. And after all this, doesn't syrup seem like overkill?

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