DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe hopes your New Year's resolution is to eat more bacon (instead of, or at least in addition to doubling up on the gym hours). Quirky drawings on the message board outside the second outpost of the beloved Tennyson Street breakfast joint remind you not to break that resolution -- and to make the breakfast meat a bigger part of your life in general, with catchphrases like "Bacon Should Be Part of Your Walk of Shame" and "Bacon is Cheaper than Therapy." Although the Denver-born Stallings brothers' homage to America's favorite breakfast food is endearing, the menu focuses on far more than just bacon.
The 9th Avenue menu is identical to that of the original Tennyson location, so if you're craving the "Kitchen Sink" or the famous Chorizo breakfast stew, head over to the Golden Triangle location, where waits tend to be much shorter. With 35 more seats than Tennyson's cozy cafe, the 9th Avenue dining room is big and airy -- almost too big. Crowds can gather, but there were plenty of tables on a recent Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., while brunch is available from 8- 3 p.m. on weekends, albeit the menus are almost identical any day of the week.
DJ's also does its part to save the earth, using locally grown and organic produce whenever available. To-go boxes are made from recycled material and DJ's also manages to recycle 75 to 80 percent of the restaurant's waste; even the fryer oil goes to locals for use as bio fuel, aiding in the mission to keep Denver green, one egg at a time.
If you're looking for a no-frills spot to roll out of bed and devour some good, quick food where no one cares if you're wearing yoga pants and last night's makeup, DJ's 9th Avenue is your jam. It's a great spot for both groups and singles, as evidenced by the many solo diners chilling at the espresso bar while buried in the daily paper. The space is industial-ish, with exposed beams and washed-out colors on the walls, but also exudes old-school diner. Tables are topped with blown-up food photos printed onto smooth surfaces reminiscent of the budget formica found in older restaurants; our table featured a close-up of marble rye. The decor is quickly eclipsed by the warm neighborhood vibe of the servers and staff, who run the room like champs, somehow managing to be everywhere and nowhere all at once -- never hovering yet omnipresent, with a sixth sense attuned to knowing exactly when you need your coffee topped.
DJ's bar offers a few brunch cocktails, but the coffee and espresso creations are the main draw. I skipped the booze and caffeine though, opting to appease my inner child with a bright pink strawberry-banana smoothie topped with whipped cream; it was exactly as sweet, sticky and delicious as it looked. My under-the-weather brunch companion opted for hot tea, which came with a curiously high-tech steeper that looked suspiciously like a sex toy.
Upon first glance, the menu may appear overwhelming, but once you get past the gigantic font selection and accompanying pictures, it's more approachable than it looks (with everything reasonably priced around $10), but that doesn't make the decision any easier. If you're stuck between sweet and savory though, why compromise? You can make any of their delicious pancakes, waffles or French toast creations into a meal with two eggs and a breakfast meat for just $2. Or, you can go really gluttonous and do what I did: choose a full breakfast dish and tack on a half-order of the amazing stuffed French toast, PB&J style. The half-order -- three pillowy, toppling towers that were more bread -- than filling -- turned out to be equal in size to the entree, ensuring I would have leftovers for days.
Dishes come out of the kitchen bright and visually appealing, with colorful fresh fruit cubes and crispy potato bites as accompaniments. For my entree I opted for the New Mexico Benedict: two poached eggs atop a thick chorizo patty, a slab of fire-roasted poblano pepper, and cheesy polenta round in place of the standard English muffin. Rather than a Southwestern take on Hollandaise, the New Mexico came with the same house-made sauce the kitchen uses for all six of its Bennies. It was hard to get a complete forkful of everything on the plate, since the polenta crumbled upon touch. Instead, I dissected the construction, devouring the polenta first and then attacking the enormous sausage patty, half of which went home with my other leftovers. Megan got the strawberry and cream cheese-stuffed French toast, but I preferred the creaminess of the peanut butter in mine, which stuck to the roof of my mouth like when I was a kid eating a peanut butter sandwich.
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All that, and I never even touched a slice of bacon. Who needs resolutions anyway?