Up All Night At Mama's Café

Across from me, a man is talking movies with his obviously hung-over, obviously completely disinterested girlfriend. He’s talking almost exclusively about the oeuvre of John Cusack -- from his early work with Savage Steve Holland (whom this man incorrectly identifies as John Hughes) to his later work in movies like Being John Malkovich (which this man incorrectly claims was directed by Jim Jarmusch) and Adaptation (which John Cusack wasn’t in at all). He will not shut up about John Cusack. He is on didactic autopilot. And behind him, there’s a girl -- eyes rimmed with smeared kohl, glitter paint sifting off like fairy excema -- whose cell phone rings every thirty seconds as she rants, “I fucking told her I’d fucking be fucking home last night, and now she fucking can’t stop calling? I’m not fucking picking that motherfucker up.” It’s just another day at Mama’s Café – the destination of last resort for many of Denver’s more colorful night creatures, a morning-after option for those still standing when the sun comes up. Steak and eggs, black coffee and pie, pancakes all around – this 2001 East Colfax address has a long history as a 24/7 institution, having been an IHOP for years (and a radioactive Superfund site!), then a Southern-fried version of Mama’s, then this American three-a-day. Though the food is certainly lacking, the company never is. And one thing is certain: Mama’s has never been dull.

Also on tap in the upcoming issue: a revisit to Tom’s Diner, my favorite all-night stop, and a very funny story about my 3 a.m. discovery of a famous local chef doing infomercials! It’s another busy week in Hotcakesland. Come back Wednesday for full details. – Jason Sheehan

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