Breakfast King
Mark Antonation

Maybe it's the orange booths and wood paneling that make the Breakfast King seem so inviting, or the waitresses with their consoling smiles. It's definitely the constant flow of coffee, heaping helpings of mashed potatoes and chicken-fried chicken with country gravy, hundreds of possible breakfast combinations served at all hours, and the swirls of whipped cream that float atop shakes, malts and slices of pie. Food-delivery services may be all the rage, but the irreplaceable, in-person value of these distinctly diner-y things make the Breakfast King a welcome spot 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more Denver changes, the more the Breakfast King stays the same — and thank goodness for that.

Readers' Choice: Denver Diner

Huevos Rancheros at Four Friends Kitchen.
Danielle Lirette
Huevos Rancheros at Four Friends Kitchen.

Four Friends Kitchen is now four years old, and the lively eatery feels like a Stapleton staple, where you're likely to run into your neighbors on the weekend and maybe make some new friends if you stop by during the week. The Southern-style dishes — whether New Orleans-inspired beignets, hush puppies or shrimp with cheesy overnight grits — seem just a little decadent. But Four Friends also knows its Colorado flavors, serving them up in bulky breakfast burritos, zingy huevos rancheros built on tostada stacks, and a thick and savory green chile. Mid-morning drinks on the rooftop patio while the kids zone out on pancakes and Etch-a-Sketch are the neighborhood's new family tradition.

Readers' Choice: Snooze

Chickee's Lil Kitchen
Mark Antonation

Chickee's Lil Kitchen may advertise its Cajun cuisine most prominently, but this wee Sunnyside establishment serves mostly as a morning stop, when it turns out a concise list of breakfast burritos that include some combination of eggs, rice, beans, potatoes, cheese and meat (don't miss the peppery housemade chorizo). The baseline here is a handheld, foil-wrapped roll dense enough to counter even the most stubborn hangover — and if you need a little more zip, smothering your burrito with the porky green chile should help. Another good thing to know about Chickee's: It may be tiny, but it can fill catering orders, and it's one of our go-to brunch party tricks on mornings when cooking for a crowd is impossible.

Readers' Choice: Illegal Pete's

La Fillette
Mark Antonation

La Fillette was founded in 2014 but has been under new ownership since 2016, and the little east-side bakery has just kept getting better with age. Croissants are the spotlight-stealing diva of any pastry case, and here they shine, whether as unadorned croissants with flaky, mahogany crusts hiding myriad tender layers within, or as pain au chocolat, with a dark, hidden and oh, so delicious secret. Baguettes, boules and batards are a Parisian's dream, and there are enough desserts at La Fillette to keep any sweet tooth happy, from all-American cookies to the cutest macarons. Breakfast sandwiches fill those crackly croissants with omelet-like layers of egg, cheese and other ingredients. Just say "Oui!"

Readers' Choice: Grateful Bread Company

Tokyo Premium Bakery
Mark Antonation

There's no doubt that the team of Japanese bakers who run Tokyo Premium, which opened last fall on Old South Pearl Street, are masters of their craft. Light and buttery pastries filled with glazed fruit or custard are as good as they get anywhere in town, and savory buns decorated with eggs, corn, bacon and other lunch-ready toppings make the bright cafe a recommended stop to satisfy a nosh. But beyond the matcha green-tea lattes and delicate sandwiches made on impossibly airy clouds of shoku-pan bread awaits a goofy treat sure to put a smile on the surliest bakery shopper: hot dogs wrapped in toothsome house dough squiggled with ketchup and mustard before being baked. They're the Japanese answer to Chicago bagel dogs, and you can also find mini-sausage bites in the bakery's pan d'epi, a French pull-apart specialty that here gets a meaty addition. Just tell everyone they're for your kids — then stuff your face on the drive home.

Hotbox Roasters Cafe

Beer and doughnuts? That's just what you'll find at this perky coffee shop run by the folks who founded Oskar Blues Brewery. Every day the menu offers a fun array of specialty doughnuts, including strawberry-pink lemonade and Earl Grey lavender; the regular lineup includes both cake and yeast-raised doughnuts in flavors ranging from glazed and cinnamon to maple, blueberry cake and more. The cafe also serves full-on breakfast, in case you need to balance out your sugar with something savory.

Readers' Choice: Voodoo Doughnut

Spur Coffee
Courtesy Spur Coffee

When Spur Coffee closed its original location in Littleton, the community it had been part of for five years went into mourning. Luckily, central Denver got its own Spur last year, and the reason for its popularity quickly became obvious. The shop is dedicated to quality in every aspect of coffee, from roasting its own to crafting unique housemade syrups and making food-pairing suggestions. Spur's scratch-made pastries tend to the savory and are never overly sweet in any case, and the menu offers unusual items such as traditional soft-boiled eggs served in the shell in egg cups, something you don't see much outside of English kitchens. Spur will soon extend its hours for late-night sipping, so who knows? Your favorite coffee shop could become your favorite cocktail bar in the near future.

Readers' Choice: Torpedo Coffee

Buchi Cafe Cubano
Ariel Fried

This west Denver cafe has made it onto many of our "best" lists, but never for its coffee. Sandwiches pressed to deliciousness are its claim to fame, but the coffee is a surprising treat and worth a trip on its own. Buchi serves traditional Cuban coffee sweetened with raw sugar, but also mixes up an eye-opening cafe con leche with espresso and steamed milk. The non-pretentious environment, complete with plastic silverware and paper plates (or no plates at all) creates a comfortable environment for relaxing, practicing your Spanglish and sipping away the day.

Queen City Collective Coffee
Danielle Krolewicz

When Queen City Collective first arrived on the scene, it roasted small batches of coffee in a closet at Bellwether on East Colfax, keeping its process largely behind closed doors. This past year, it teamed up with Novel Strand Brewing and outfitted a former convenience store in Baker. While coffee production still takes place off site, Queen City is now pouring in a bright, spacious shop set off the main drag, for a true neighborhood feel. Brothers Luke, Scott and Eric Byington use coffee sourced primarily from women farmers in Africa with whom they've built a relationship, and funds from coffee sales go to improving schools in Zimbabwe and Rwanda, so you can feel good in more ways than one while you enjoy your java.

Sapor Coffee & Concepts
Courtesy Sapor Coffee

The couple behind Sapor Coffee & Concepts, Jeannie and Caleb Sprenger, received coffee training from Caleb's uncle, who owns Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, hailed by many in the Denver coffee community as the best of the best. Their new shop proudly boasts top-notch brew equipment, and they'll happily tell you everything you want to know about it. Their extensive knowledge translates into precisely brewed coffee and pulled shots of espresso, which come at a price (especially the Gesha, renowned for its rarity) — but if you drink anything other than Folgers on the regs, you'll appreciate the difference.

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