We have an embarrassment of riches here in the Mile High City when it comes to good, old-fashioned diners. Despite the loss of some of the greats in our recent pandemic year — we’re still missing the breakfast fried rice from 20th Street Cafe — we recently counted ten of the best local greasy spoons that we hope will stick around.
But those ten weren't enough.
There are plenty of worthy places we didn’t get to include — only for space, mind you, not because these were ranked in any way approaching the scientific (except the science of full-bellied satisfaction). So we’re giving you another round, thus creating a top twenty — which still might not be enough.
Here are ten more metro eateries where you can get your fix of Denver omelets...and other great diner grub:
777 ½ Simms Street, Golden
Open 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Nick's is legendary for owner Nick Andurlakis's connection to Elvis Presley and the King's favorite sandwich, but there’s lots more to love at this Greek-American diner overflowing with a hunka-hunka burnin’ love. You might come for the Fool’s Gold sandwich — that’s PB&J and bacon, naturally, prime Elvis bait that made the move with Andurlakis from the long-gone Colorado Mine Company steakhouse. But you’ll return for the rest of the menu, including gyros and delicious short-order fare galore. Fair warning: Nick’s is cash-only, so remember the old Elvis line: Bring your “money, honey, if you want to get along with me.”
2626 East 12th Avenue
Open daily 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for dine-in; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for takeout and delivery
Chef Zorba’s has been faithfully serving the folks in Congress Park since 1979, and while it’s been as hard-hit by the pandemic as every other diner on this list, the restaurant has admirably worked to stay in service to the community nonetheless. “One of the ways we’ve kept the dollars flowing from customers to payroll,” says owner Karen LuKanic, “is to provide free meals to local senior citizens through our Give-A-Meal program.” Lucky senior citizens, right? If you prefer your delicious Greek-American fare with a solid side of homespun philanthropy (and a new walk-up window), Zorba’s is the place for you, too.
Lookin’ Good Restaurant & Lounge
66 Sheridan Boulevard
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Lookin’ Good is a blessed throwback to the times when neighborhoods had lounges, places to eat and drink and gather for some music or just merriment. The family-owned diner was established back in 1978, when eggs were eggs, everything came with gravy, and we just called Yacht Rock the Top 40. The Lookin’ Good even has a name that sounds very 1978. It’s the restaurant equivalent of watching an old Ronco commercial from the same year: nostalgic, happy, satisfying. Add to that list “delicious,” and you’ve got the Lookin’ Good. We'll be back to pick you up later.
1619 Coalton Road, Superior
Open Tuesday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Is Superior really superior? PJ's is making a good case for the suburb, since everything here is made from scratch, and you can tell from the moment your server brings you a griddle biscuit that you’re in for a treat. Because everything is made to order, the kitchen sometimes runs out of one option or another; a decadent dish called the Ranchers — hand-breaded chicken-fried steak with country gravy, hash browns and the aforementioned griddle biscuit — tends to disappear quickly. Luckily, everything else on the menu is just as amazing. PJ’s might not have been around long, but it deserves to be around for much longer.
Ranch House Cafe
7676 East Colfax Avenue
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Chances are good that you’ve been meaning to check out the Ranch House for some time. You’ve definitely driven past it on East Colfax, one of those ubiquitous classic roadside diners along a busy thoroughfare that looks like it might just serve some delicious food that belies its more modest exterior. You’d be right in that: The Ranch House is worth pulling into (or ordering takeout from) for some great old-school diner food done right.
Three locations in Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge
Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This Lakewood original has been slinging the hash (and seriously: Try the corned-beef hash, because it will destroy you in the most delicious way possible) since 1984. Sunrise Sunset is its own little Denver-area chain, with three locations offering up some of the best in diner food enjoyment. The trio's slogan, “Freshness is at the heart of every meal,” is a philosophy that can be tasted in every bite.
6504 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Open daily 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The George in this diner's name is George Karavasilis, who has operated the breakfast-and-lunch joint bearing his name since 2004. His impressively broad menu covers the bases from American to Greek to Mexican food, with breakfast, soups and salads, hearty lunches and desserts. We're talking brown gravy on a plate, gyros and pita, burrito and rellenos. “COVID-19 has brought home that family and friends are what life is all about," says Karavasilis. “George’s Cafe is more than just our livelihood; it’s the lives that come through the door every day to say hi and joke and share a story.” And definitely some great food, too.
The Breakfast Queen
3460 South Broadway, Englewood
Open daily, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Breakfast Queen has been delighting the residents of South Broadway for more than fifteen years, with no end in sight, thank goodness. Owners George and Kosta Vasilias just moved the location a couple of doors down from where it had been, and they invite everyone to come in and enjoy the new space, but with the same familiar menu — especially the rellenos and eggs, a house specialty smothered in some of the best green chile around. Which is saying something; luckily, George and Kosta have the chops to back it up.
3801 Tennyson Street, Denver
Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. all week
If you’re craving Mexican diner eats, you have more than a few options, including a good number of Greek joints that also sideline in some pretty solid Mexican food. But it's possible that you can’t do better than Javier’s up in the Berkeley neighborhood at 38th and Tennyson. The family restaurant has been serving good classic Den-Mex dishes for a half-century running. Generation-spanning recipes and an outdoor patio, with some of the best chilaquiles in town? This is one of the holdouts of the old neighborhood — better known as the Northside — that we hope lives on in perpetuity.
Apple Ridge Cafe
3690 Kipling Street, Wheat Ridge
Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday though Saturday
A little story about the Apple Ridge: It’s an old-school workhorse diner, just the thing when you’re coming back from a family funeral and need some belly-fillin’ comfort. That was the first time — definitely not the last — that I experienced the Apple Ridge Cafe, dressed in my Sunday best, white button-down shirt and sport coat and all. I had my jacket hung on the back of my chair and I ordered a burger and fries. The burger was tall and juicy, the sort your grandmother might fry up for you. The fries were crispy. They begged for ketchup, so I obliged…and found that some wag had loosened the cap as a gag. Ketchup splurted everywhere — all over my shirt, on my pants, a little on my fries, which was something. Everyone laughed, including me — what else can you do? — and the waitress came over and smiled and said, “Wow, you really like ketchup.” Then she comped the burger and helped me clean up and gave me a slice of pie to take with me, laughing all the time. It turned a bad day into one I like to remember. And that’s maybe the finest thing about diners: the memories. Well, that and the burgers and pie.
What's your favorite Denver diner we haven't yet mentioned? Tell us at email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.