Americans love a big breakfast so much that two separate National Pancake Days have evolved. If you missed the February 27 flapjack free-for-all at IHOP, fear not: Many restaurants are celebrating on March 4. We love pancakes, too (the proof is in our list of ten amazing hotcake breakfasts), but we believe in a well-rounded morning meal, so here are a dozen of the best breakfast restaurants in Denver, in alphabetical order.
Bacon Social House
2434 West 44th Avenue
Tucked away in the courtyard of Cobbler's Corner in Sunnyside, Bacon hides a stylish, mod dining room and a menu that's heavy on breakfast items all day. But don't call it breakfast here; call it brunch — seven days a week. That's because in addition to your bacon-chocolate pancakes, Costa Rica Benedict with smoked pork belly, or bacon-cheddar biscuits and gravy, you can order a bacon burger, bacon Cobb salad and bacon tots — even at 7:30 in the morning. Those outside of central Denver will soon have their own Bacon to look forward to; the eatery will add locations in Littleton and Westminster soon.
1100 South Santa Fe Drive
At 3 a.m. on a chilly Denver morning, the dining room of the Breakfast King feels like a movie set. The wood paneling, orange vinyl booths and swiveling bar stools evoke the diners and roadhouses of a different era. Waitresses in crisp white shirts and pumpkin-hued aprons hustle platters of pancakes and hefty omelets to bar-hoppers out after last call, long-haul truckers and other inhabitants of the night. The smells of grease, coffee and diesel waft through the air, and the near-constant ring of spatulas and clatter of plates mark the cadence of middle America. Every town has its Breakfast King, but this one belongs to Denver; only in this town can you find green chile thick as country gravy and the oddly named toro pot (which is actually more of a burrito) — a Denver diner staple made well at the Breakfast King.
Denver Biscuit Co.
When Drew and Ashleigh Shader, owners of the original Atomic Cowboy on East Colfax Avenue, decided that Denver deserved a true Southern breakfast, they outfitted a food truck to deliver it. But before the Biscuit Bus got on the road, they used the bar's kitchen to test out recipes, opening at 8 a.m. and serving a menu of biscuits and gravy to breakfast-goers and hangover-cure seekers. The impromptu breakfast bar was such a hit that even after the truck got rolling, keeping the brick-and-mortar breakfast establishment was a no-brainer. Dubbed the Denver Biscuit Company, it has expanded to South Broadway, Tennyson Street and Stanley Marketplace, offering big biscuits stuffed with all manner of decadent breakfast fillings.
Four Friends Kitchen
2893 Roslyn Street, 303-388-8299
2070 South University Boulevard, 720-596-4053
This Stapleton stop has built up quite a following, 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. A second location near the University of Denver has blended in well with neighbors, teachers and students looking for a solid breakfast.
10195 East 29th Drive
Troy Guard, one of Denver's most prolific restaurateurs, debuted his first breakfast joint, Hashtag, last July. The sunny a.m. eatery, decked out in egg-yolk yellow, is one of several restaurants on Stapleton's eastern frontier that have given residents cause for cheer. Expect breakfast classics as well as Hawaiian- and Asian-inspired dishes from loco moco to kimchi fried rice. For a sweeter breakfast experience, there are also fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and Lucky Charms waffles. With the arrival of Hashtag, Eastbridge Stapleton has become a great place for early risers.
1700 East Evans Avenue, 720-596-4108
600 East 13th Avenue, 303-831-6301
Jelly, which opened early in 2011, was packed from the start...and that popularity shows no signs of abating. This hip Capitol Hill spot is almost always jammed at breakfast and brunch — so don't be surprised when the hostess tasked with crowd control says you have at least thirty minutes to kill before your table is ready. Instead, make a break for the bar and order a round while you examine the vintage cereal boxes mounted on the walls, the coffee-and-doughnut menu posted above the bar, and the hung-over hipsters packed into the booths and tables in the back of the dining room. The second Jelly, located in the University of Denver neighborhood, has the same hip ambience, the same crowds, the same clever cocktails — and the same impressive menu of breakfast and lunch items.
2425 South Downing Street
Gayor Geller opened the first Maddie's in 2013, naming the tiny breakfast eatery after his daughter. Maddie was just a toddler at the time, but both she and her namesake restaurant have grown up. In November 2016, Geller unveiled a brand-new version of Maddie's — right next door to the original — that seats more than four times the number of guests in what was once a neighborhood service station. This iteration retains the style of a ’50s gas station, sporting garage doors that open to an enormous patio and shiny, cherry-red seating. The menu boasts comforting brunch staples — French toast, a green-chile-stuffed breakfast burrito, and excellent burgers. And don't be shy about bringing the kids: The waiting area is stocked with toys and video games for the little ones.
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 a little more than 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.
2528 Walnut Street
Stowaway surprises with a small but intriguing menu of worldly fare served in a welcoming, airy space. Keep it light with killer whale granola or citrus-vanilla porridge, or fall for dukkah (a crunchy Egyptian spice blend) eggs and trout. 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. Just don't go on Tuesdays; that's adventure day for the Stowaway crew.
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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 patios at the 1875 York Street Syrup, where the view past your plate is all of City Park.
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.