Ten Old-School Diners Serving Up The Best Cheap Breakfast in Denver

Avocado toast, chia bowls and pressed juice are what's hot in Denver's breakfast eateries these days, but sometimes we crave something simple and comforting. Take a step back to the time when getting the most for your money and filling up before a long day of work were the most important parts of the most important meal of the day. Smothered in green chile or doused in syrup, breakfast at these ten great Denver diners is the real, old-school, hash-slinging thing.

Ten Old-School Diners Serving Up The Best Cheap Breakfast in Denver
Westword

Breakfast Inn
6135 East Evans Avenue
303-757-7491

Touting a philosophy of “simple, old-fashioned American hospitality and ethics,” the Breakfast Inn is an American-Mexican hybrid that started in the early 1980s and hasn’t skimped on portion size since. Starting at 5:30 a.m., customers are privy to a full, brightly hued menu stocked with “wow-that’s-cheap” classics and specialties, ranging from “The Usual” (two eggs, hash browns, bacon and sides galore) to huevos rancheros (eggs, beans and hash browns smothered in green chile and served with tortillas).

It always feels like sunrise (or sunset) at Breakfast King.EXPAND
It always feels like sunrise (or sunset) at Breakfast King.
Mark Antonation

Breakfast King
1100 South Santa Fe Drive
303-733-0795

One of Denver's top breakfast institutions, Breakfast King has ruled benevolently over the early-morning eggs and bacon and 3 a.m. French toast piles of locals and long-haul truckers for decades. Customers continue to frequent this staple for both the generously portioned home fries and the refreshingly no-frills atmosphere (complete with orange vinyl booths and regulars named Lou). Order the burrito supreme, chicken and waffles or the infamous “pancake sandwich,” and then wonder if you should return for dinner (you should).

The Butcher Block kind of looks like Grandma's kitchen.EXPAND
The Butcher Block kind of looks like Grandma's kitchen.
Mark Antonation

The Butcher Block Cafe
1701 38th Street, 303-295-2915
4605 East 74th Avenue, 303-289-2055
5002 Washington Street, 303-295-0687

“Leave your pretentious bullshit at the door,” demands one loyal Butcher Block customer. “These are cafes to enjoy as they are." We’re inclined to agree. Drenched in the humble-food-and-strong-coffee ethos of its Midwestern roots (the founders hail from North Dakota), Butcher Block is the definition of a quintessential Denver breakfast joint, drawing an intensely loyal following comprising students, construction workers, farmers and business types. Translation? RiNo may be changing quickly, but it seems that everyone’s yearning for steak ’n eggs and homemade cinnamon rolls isn’t going anywhere.

Davies Chuck Wagon Diner, 9495 West Colfax Avenue.
Davies Chuck Wagon Diner, 9495 West Colfax Avenue.

Davies' Chuck Wagon
9495 West Colfax Avenue
303-237-5252

Built in what we’re going to call “the golden age of the griddle” (aka the traditional American diner heyday), Davies' Chuck Wagon is a 1957 gem on West Colfax that was shipped by rail from New Jersey and has aged gracefully (and grease-fully) into a Denver classic. Meat lovers of the Ron Swanson variety can rejoice in the protein-packed menu, including favorites like the Chuckwagon Breakfast (sirloin and eggs) and the Bull Rider (chicken-fried steak and eggs).

Home Cafe
2640 West Hampden Avenue, Englewood
303-762-8862

An early-morning favorite in Englewood, Home Cafe’s cheery blue-and-orange walls set the stage for equally colorful plates, notoriously friendly service and a diverse lineup of hot sauces. This charming little family-owned spot has all the trappings of a classic (tin roof, wood paneling and walls crowded with old license plates) along with foodie-approved housemade sausage and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

Pete's Kitchen is the top spot for after-hours pancakes and French toast.EXPAND
Pete's Kitchen is the top spot for after-hours pancakes and French toast.
Danielle Lirette

Pete’s Kitchen
1962 East Colfax Avenue
303-321-3139

What would East Colfax culture be without Pete’s Kitchen? Most of us have never had to wonder such a thing. A proud “Denver tradition for over 50 years,” Pete’s (open 24/7, thank God) is a Greek-American diner experience serving up everything from plate-sized pancakes to gyros omelets. Add in Pete's own brand of hot sauce, and this is just the right hangout for 3 a.m. existential conversations and deliciously greasy hangover cures.

The walls of Swift's Breakfast House aren't shy about the diner's accomplishments.EXPAND
The walls of Swift's Breakfast House aren't shy about the diner's accomplishments.

Swift’s Breakfast House
930 Santa Fe Drive
303-623-9743

If you're looking to add a divey diner to your repertoire of Denver eateries, look no further than Swift’s Breakfast House, an unassuming meat-and-potatoes favorite (especially if you're familiar with the old-school toro pot, a Denver invention) on Santa Fe. Far from fancy, Swift’s no-fuss dining room (and staggeringly large supreme breakfast burrito) has garnered an unquestionably loyal following for breakfast and brunch. Plus, the waitresses are vigilant at the art of keeping your coffee cup filled.

Ten Old-School Diners Serving Up The Best Cheap Breakfast in Denver
Courtesy of Sam's No. 3

Sam’s No. 3 
435 South Cherry Street, 303-333-4403
2580 South Havana Street, Aurora, 303-751-0347
1500 Curtis Street, 303-534-1927

Fully embracing the vintage spirit of the American diner, Sam’s No. 3 is a tried-and-true Denver classic that has been around (in some form or fashion) since the 1920s. Now serving up chorizo and eggs and “Mama’s big fat omelet” alongside Bloody Marys and spiked hot cocoa, Sam’s No. 3 doesn’t seem to be losing its touch for the art of classic breakfast. Head to one of Sam’s three locations (downtown, Aurora or Glendale) to taste the glory for yourself.

Nothing says breakfast in Denver like a giant burrito smothered in green chile, like this one at the 20th Street Cafe.EXPAND
Nothing says breakfast in Denver like a giant burrito smothered in green chile, like this one at the 20th Street Cafe.
Danielle Lirette

20th Street Cafe
1123 20th Street
303-295-9041

Downtown may be rife with eighteen-dollar brunch specials, but the 20th Street Cafe is a hidden gem that brings everybody back to basics. With diverse twists on “classic American” fare, the cafe has been a family-owned neighborhood go-to for both breakfast burritos and fried rice since the 1940s. Fluffy biscuits, hefty portions and lovable staff make this spot a must if you want to build your Denver cred.

Yanna’s Cafe
205 South Sheridan Boulevard
303-238-2434

The literal definition of a mom-and-pop diner (owned and operated by husband-wife duo Jimmy and Yanna Andrianakos), Yanna’s Cafe is home to a classic combination of homestyle eggs and bacon, generous portions and cheap prices. Specialties include the expected a.m. eats (eggs, biscuits, gravy, pancakes) along with Greek and Mexican options. Both clean and cozy, it's the perfect spot for hangry brunchers looking to get seated and served quickly. Try the Mazatlan burrito or the Cinna-Monster roll (if you dare).

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