Starting the day off sunny side up can be tough in a town where the morning options lean heavily toward quasi-cheery chains and dreary mom-and-pop dives. And the familiar standbys that don't fall into those categories -- Racines and Dixons, Dozen's, the Delectable Egg -- are always packed by the time the rooster crows.
For a perfect alternative, The Perfect Landing Restaurant is both offbeat and off the beaten path, perched on the edge of the runway at Centennial Airport's Denver jetCenter. Talk about an eye-opener: From the second-floor eatery's huge windows, diners can watch commuter planes and corporate jets taking off and landing against a stunning backdrop of the Rockies stretching from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak. (And when the weather cooperates, they can catch the same view from the great patio, where roaring engines add to the experience.) By contrast, the Perfect Landing itself appears quite modest -- small, sparsely decorated, and open only until 6 p.m. But there's nothing modest about the food, which is well prepared and delivered in very large portions at very reasonable prices.
In fact, a pilot would have to jettison some cargo in order to take off after eating one of these meals. The breakfast special involves three eggs, any style; three spuds' worth of large-cut, salty, peppery breakfast potatoes; a choice of four slices of applewood-smoked bacon, a thick slice of honey-baked ham, two pieces of Canadian bacon, or well-seasoned link or patty sausages; and either toast, an English muffin, a Danish, a bagel, a croissant, two slices of craggy, grainy breakfast bread, or a homemade muffin the size of a Rottweiler's head. How does anyone move, let alone steer a jet across the country, after wrestling a breakfast like that to the ground?
The Perfect Landing Restaurant
Centennial Airport/Denver jetCenter, 7625 South Peoria Street, Englewood
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
3464 West 32nd Avenue, 303-458-7500
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
7 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sunday
The Perfect Landing
Breakfast special: $7.99
Irish omelette: $7.99
French toast: $7.59
Corned beef hash: $8.79
Chiles rellenos: $8.99
Breakfast burrito: $4.99
The Pioneer short stack: $3.99
Eggs Benedict: $6.99
Berkeley�s eggs a la vegetarian: $6.99
The Perfect Landing also makes four-egg omelettes (and who offers four-egg omelettes anymore?), which are served up standard -- bacon and cheese, ham and cheese, just cheese -- or in variations you've never before considered. The Irish, for example, was filled with bacon and those peppery potatoes and chopped scallions, then topped with a dollop of sour cream that added a nice tartness to cut the rich quality of the sweet bacon. Although that omelette was about the fanciest dish we found at the Perfect Landing, the kitchen gives even its plainer offerings a fun twist. The French toast was made from cinnamon-raisin bread cut thick, Texas-style, then dipped in a cinnamon-speckled egg batter and cooked until the insides were just as sweet and golden as the exterior; it came with a whopping side of very fresh pineapple, strawberries and orange slices.
For the corned beef hash, shredded, house-cured beef had been hashed with potatoes and onions, both of which had absorbed the corned flavors; this tasty hash came with three eggs (as if we needed them), fruit and your choice from that amazing array of baked goods. The chicken-fried steak and eggs was another hearty starter: A beautiful piece of sirloin had been thinly encased in a slightly sweet batter, fried until the crust was crispy-crackly and then smothered in the kind of pepper-jacked sausage gravy that could lay the foundation for a runway.
Although the Perfect Landing serves breakfast all day, the kitchen also cooks up some respectable Mexican dishes at lunch and into the afternoon. The heavy, cheese-laden chiles rellenos, smothered in a salsa-like green chile, hit the spot; the kitchen also mixes up a variety of impressive salads and sandwiches for a lighter meal. Any one of them is perfect at the end of the day, when pilots come off their last flights to grab a bite in the teeny bar. The fabulous view becomes even more extraordinary as the sun goes down: There's just something about watching a little plane flying free against a vibrant pink sky with the clouds creeping over the mountains that makes you feel good.
Keeping their customers happy seems to have been the chief aim of Sabor Latino's owners when they moved their South American restaurant to a new location on West 35th Avenue and put D'Eggos in the original spot on 32nd. But that old space is hardly recognizable. The kitschy decorations and dark lighting are gone; in their place are walls painted the color of pale, foamy egg yolks on the bottom and bright white on top, which set off the bright-red vinyl tablecloths and bright-yellow placemats. The sun streams through the front windows with nothing but filmy yellow, red and blue curtains to try to stop it, and everywhere you look are roosters in all shapes and sizes, including cutesy little holders for the egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers on each of the dozen tables.
This is not the place for a hangover.
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It's not the place for a quick meal, either, since the kitchen seems overwhelmed whenever the dining room is even half full. Still, there's something so pleasant about this restaurant -- including the nice people who work here -- that it was easy to forgive most transgressions, even the poached eggs that arrived cooked all the way through. It helped that the servers were generous with the coffee refills.
D'Eggos wasn't stingy on portion size, either. A breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs and soft chunks of potato, topped with cheese and smothered with a zippy, pork-laden green chile, nearly covered the platter it arrived on. And an alleged short stack of hotcakes, called "The Pioneer," actually consisted of two pancakes that flopped over the side of the plate, accompanied by a good cheap syrup and a ramekin of real whipped butter on the side.
If only the hollandaise on the eggs Benedict had been as real, rather than made from a mix. Although you can't blame such a small kitchen for wanting to avoid the hassle of homemade hollandaise -- raw egg yolks pose a health hazard, and even using pasteurized egg yolks is time-intensive -- the top-notch Canadian bacon and crunchy-toasted English muffins (not to mention the cooked-through poached eggs) deserved to be dressed up with something better. But at least the kitchen was generous with the fake hollandaise, and the side of potatoes had been sprinkled with fresh herbs. Another version of eggs Benny, the "Berkeley's eggs a la vegetarian," replaced the bacon with a bed of mushrooms, onions and red and green peppers, sautéed together until they were grill-caramelized for great flavor.
Even if D'Eggos didn't make fresh hollandaise, it made it possible to face the day. Like the Perfect Landing, this restaurant goes over easy.