Restaurant breakfasts are generally pretty tasty, but they're rarely relaxing; the best places fill up quickly, and the morning meal becomes a rushed, noisy affair over a cluttered table where the speed-pouring of coffee becomes a spectator sport. Even the breezy, sun-drenched Stowaway Coffee at 2528 Walnut Street can get a little nutty on weekends. But head over on a Monday and the pace slows down, allowing guests to properly savor each bite of dishes that are equal parts creative and comforting.
The North African and Middle Eastern egg dish called shakshuka has been popping up on Denver menus lately, and each is a little different. Stowaway co-owner Amy Cohen says that's typical of shakshuka, which is cooked from Isreal to Morocco in many different permutations. The basics are a spicy tomato sauce and poached eggs, often served with bread for mopping up the sauce. Cohen and her husband (and Stowaway co-owner), Hayden Barnie, fell in love with shakshuka during their years in Australia, where immigrants from many Mediterranean countries have made it a popular breakfast item.
Stowaway's take starts with a smoky eggplant-and-tomato sauce that's more tangy than spicy. Generally, the eggs are cooked in the sauce, but here they're poached separately and perched atop the chunky vegetable stew. The plate is finished with ciabatta, an arugula-and-chickpea salad and a ball of cheese called shanklish coated in za'atar, a spice blend made with sesame seeds and dried herbs. Each element of the plating has its place, and nothing is a throwaway; even the arugula salad is well dressed and fresh, offering a bitter counterpoint to the shakshuka.
A cup of Boxcar coffee, mellow music drifting through the high-ceilinged space and a cool breeze from the open garage door rustling the many tropical plants that decorate the dining area all combine for a tranquil Monday breakfast. Just don't go on a Tuesday — the day the kitchen closes for the staff's Adventure Day.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
No. 84: Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Yong Gung
No. 83: A Meatball Hero at Lil' Ricci's New York Pizzeria