Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day. So why waste it on inferior omelets or a cold, soggy bowl of cereal? Last week we gave you the weekend edition of the ten best places for a mid-morning meal in brunch-crazed Denver, but you still need to know where to go during the week to fuel up before work, or maybe as the perfect start to a day playing hookie. Listed alphabetically, here are the ten best breakfast restaurants — some of which do lunch, too, but all of which close up shop long before the dinner bell rings.
10. DJ's Berkeley Cafe and DJ's Ninth Avenue Cafe
3838 Tennyson Street, 303-482-1841
865 Lincoln Street, 303-386-3375
The ten-year-old DJ's, opened by Colorado brothers Jason and Devin Stallings a decade ago and more recently joined by its younger sibling in the Golden Triangle, brings neighbors together over hot coffee and warming meals. Without pretense, the two sunny spots gave rise to the city's current Benedict obsession, with variations on the open-faced egg sandwich for lovers of seafood, Southwestern or New York delis. But this isn't fussy food for fawning and photos; most of the menu is simple and hearty and served with love.
9. The Egg Shell of Downtown
950 17th Street
Despite moving twice in its thirty-year lifetime, the Egg Shell has maintained an honest, homey feel. What started out in a little nook in Cherry Creek moved to bigger digs in the same neighborhood in 2009, which then closed last September due to redevelopment of the block. But this spring, the Egg Shell found a new home downtown, in the former home of Cafe Options, where you'll find a mix of modern and old-fashioned on one menu. Sure there's a trendy — and tasty — avocado toast, but the Egg Shell sticks with tried and true, too, in the form of Denver omelets and breakfast burritos. Not to be missed is a sweet morning treat of banana-bread French toast.
8. Four Friends Kitchen
2893 Roslyn Street
Despite a couple of chef changes in its first year, this Stapleton stop has maintained consistent crowds, offering Southern-tinged dishes with several variations on grits as the stars. A bright, modern dining room and rooftop patio draw families from all over Denver's east side, while creative takes on home-kitchen favorites keep them coming back. Smoked-brisket hash is a great way to start the day, but stick around for lunch for green-chile and chicken cobbler that'll have you wondering why someone's grandma didn't invent this fifty years ago.
1420 East 18th Avenue
Coffee and eggs: simple, right? Well, not at tiny Onefold, where international influences bring surprises that never fail to please, no matter how unfamiliar to most Denver breakfast seekers. A hot bowl of congee is hard to find even in the city's most traditional Chinese eateries, but Onefold nails the creamy rice porridge by balancing spicy, savory and salty ingredients: duck confit and a poached egg nestle in alongside squiggles of soy sauce and hot chile oil. But the kitchen is equally adept at turning out breakfast burritos or even just a plate of eggs and hash browns, all fried up in rich duck fat.
6. Revelry Kitchen
4140 West 38th Avenue
Revelry opened last fall on West 38th Avenue and immediately gained the attention of nearby Sunnyside and West Highland neighbors. Crusty biscuits get a Colorado-style bump with a slathering of chorizo gravy, and other Latin American flavors pop up in tres leches French toast, chilaquiles and churro doughnuts. That influence extends to lunch, too, with a Cubano sandwich compliments of chef Enrique Socarras. Lately, Revelry has been making the foray into post-lunch options, with a weekday happy hour until 6 p.m. and occasional chef's dinners.
Keep reading for the rest of the list...
320 East Colfax Avenue, 303-831-6233
2637 West 26th Avenue, 303-433-0080
Southern charm is at its most inviting at the breakfast hour, with fluffy biscuits, sweet beignets and steaming bowls of buttery grits. Sassafras puts the comfort in comfort food while expanding on the standard breakfast canon with tempting plates like chicken-fried eggs atop buffalo hash or a Colorado Bayou mashup of Cajun green-chile grits. Stop in at the original Jefferson Park mansion for a seat on the patio, or head to the Colfax location for a more urban version of the restaurant's country-to-city style.
In just ten years, Snooze has gone from an odd, mod a.m. joint in a sketchy neighborhood to a breakfast legend along the Front Range and beyond. Yes, the lines are long, but there's free coffee while you wait — and who's not willing to stick around for pineapple upside-down pancakes or other sweet variations on flapjacks? While you can certainly go fancy, Snooze can keep it simple and treat you right with nothing more than huevos, a Bloody Mary and a mug of joe.
3. Stowaway Coffee & Kitchen
2528 Walnut Street
Like Onefold, Stowaway surprises with a small but intriguing menu of worldly fare served in a welcoming, airy space. Keep it light with bircher muesli (a Swiss breakfast cereal), or fall for falafel sided with fried eggs and housemade Turkish bread. Whatever you choose, don't skip the coffee, expertly made in a variety of methods, from standard drip to aeropress to espresso pressed from Boxcar beans. The friendly service and roasty aromas will keep you there until the doors close at 3 p.m.
The spread of Syrup began with a single spot back in 2010 in Cherry Creek, with newer outposts added downtown and at City Park in recent years. As the name suggests, syrup is the calling card here, with housemade mixtures of fruits and other flavors for sweetening pancakes, waffles and French toast. But don't think everything at Syrup is sugary stuff; a range of Benedicts, omelets and eggy sandwiches will please your savory side, too. And don't miss one of Denver's best new patios at the 1875 York Street Syrup, where the view past your plate is all of City Park.
1. The Universal
2911 West 38th Avenue
It's brunch every day at the Universal, a sleek and austerely decorated breakfast-and-lunch hot spot in Sunnyside. Although the weekend specials tend to be more elaborate, we're just fine with the standard menu of Southern-inspired dishes: thick, creamy grits (heirloom from Anson Mills) offered on the side and as an always-changing "grits of the day" item on their own; biscuits smothered in a medium-spicy pork-sausage gravy; a fried-egg sandwich with Tender Belly meats; and custard toast, one of the best things to happen to bread. The huge pancakes and several scrambles are also good choices; the sheer variety of flavorful ingredients in the latter, like wild-boar sausage or goat cheese and smoked tomatoes, make them stand out. You no longer need to wait for the weekend to luxuriate in a morning meal; just make time on the weekday for the Universal.