Just a few minutes from one of the best Chinese breakfasts in Denver (Star Kitchen, reviewed this week) is one of the best breakfast joints in America: Breakfast King. And for a change, it ain't just me singing the praises of this perfect greasy spoon at Santa Fe and Mississippi, it's Esquire magazine, which tagged the King as one of the 59 "Best Breakfasts in America."
Why did Esquire dig it so much? Because "the waitresses call the regulars by name, guys like Vic and Lou, as in 'No lotto ticket today, Lou?' They come for the country-fried steak, smothered in sausage gravy and so tender you can cut it with your fork." Granted, that isn't much of a review (it's among the shortest of the 59 descriptions), but the mag did get two very important, very fundamental things about the King exactly right. First, the regulars here really are known that well, and really have been coming in long enough for everyone in the house to know Vic and Lou's habits. Second, Vic and Lou really do like the chicken-fried steak, because the chicken-fried steak at the King is up there with the best chicken-fried steak anywhere. I love the King's chicken-fried steak. All of my gastronaut friends (or at least those I've been able to convince to accompany me to the King) love the chicken-fried steak. Barry Fey, a man who has country gravy in his veins instead of blood, loves the chicken-fried steak so much that I occasionally get calls from him at odd hours — like ten o'clock on a Sunday night — asking if I feel like meeting him down at the King for a quick plate.
1100 South Santa Fe Drive
So Esquire isn't telling us anything we didn't know. The King was one of the first restaurants in Denver that I absolutely fell in love with, quickly became a place I went to three or four times a week, and has been regularly winning Best of Denver awards ever since. I haven't been going to the King quite as frequently since I gave up the java (my traditional Breakfast King breakfast: six cups of coffee, ten cigarettes and a plate of corned beef hash with eggs over very easy), but the last time I was there (about thirty seconds after learning of the Esquire nod), what do you think I had? Chicken-fried steak, baby. A few cigarettes. And tea, which I'll admit felt a little inappropriate. But the chicken-fried steak was as good as ever: a massive slab of tender steak sheathed in fried batter and topped with a thick fall of country gravy shot through with chunks of sausage.
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It's good to be the King.