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Rise & Dine: Denver’s Best Breakfast Spots 2011

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Ahh, breakfast. The smell of sizzling bacon alone brings back the Saturday mornings of childhood. And while the meal was ignored for too long by serious restaurants, that’s no longer true. Here, our favorite 64 spots for morning eats.


FOR THE HEALTH NUT…


DARE TO TAKE THE KIDS…


WHERE TO GET BUZZED…


IF YOU’RE A HIPSTER…


WHEN YOU DON’T WANT THE NIGHT TO END…


WHEN THE USUAL JUST WON’T DO…


IF YOU’RE IN A HURRY…

Cherry Creekers know to order an Americano and a dried cherry scone at So Perfect Eats (278 Fillmore St., 303-862-9074, soperfecteats.com), while biscuit lovers make their way to Crestmoor’s Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe (330 Holly St., 303-322-5832, riseandshinedenver.com) for the sometimes sweet, sometimes savory flavor du jour. At Wooden Spoon Cafe & Bakery (2418 W. 32nd Ave., 303-999-0327) in Highland, the pan au chocolate is our go-to choice—or head to Trompeau Bakery (1729 E. Evans Ave., 303-777-7222) near DU for the ham-and-cheese-filled croissant. In Five Points, don’t miss Hutch & Spoon’s (3090 Larimer St., 303-296-2317, hutchandspoon.com) feta and egg breakfast sandwich or the filling oatmeal latte at Crema Coffee House (2862 Larimer St., 720-235-2995, cremacoffeehouse.net). Breakfast burrito lovers know Little Anita’s (multiple locations, littleanitas.com) wraps up bulging potato, cheese, and chorizo burritos in mere minutes.

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Uncomfortable Luxury

Breakfast in bed can be awkward—but it’s always worth it.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent a night away from the dog, the laundry, and the alarm clock. We packed a duffle bag and drove five miles from our home in Wash Park to the new Four Seasons hotel downtown. We enjoyed a splendid dinner, ordered a nightcap, and then fell into the pristine-white bed linens, pleased with our mini vacation. Before we dozed off, a giddy smile spread across my husband’s face as he said, “In the morning, we’re totally ordering breakfast in bed.”

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I wasn’t nearly as excited about taking my tea and toast between the sheets. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the eating part. Eggs, hash browns, a cup of coffee, some jelly-slathered toast—now that’s the way to start the day, especially if you don’t have to cook it yourself.

It’s the delivery of these tasty morning eats that puts me ill at ease. The five minutes from the time a stranger knocks at the door and then invades what has, at least temporarily, become my bedroom is brutally embarrassing. Watching the server maneuver around my overflowing suitcase or a towel crumpled on the floor makes me feel self-conscious. Making small talk about how we’re liking our stay while still in pajamas is humiliating. And feeling like I should’ve actually made the bed before someone came to visit defeats the point of breakfast in bed.

But I have to admit that, at the Four Seasons, the decadence was worth the discomfort. There, breakfast came on a nifty cart that folded out into a white linen–covered two-top with a discreet food warmer stowed underneath. Jams, cream, sugar, hot sauce, salt and pepper, butter at room temperature—everything was at our fingertips. And the food. Ah, the food. The eggs Benedict had a thick slice of salty ham in place of the typical Canadian bacon and a tangy hollandaise that was plate-licking good. The egg-white omelet with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and goat cheese was so rich I didn’t even miss the yolks. Yes, I cringed a little when our friendly server tried to fill the silence, but by the time I took my first bite—all while leaning up against the crisp pillow—I’d forgotten all about it. —Lindsey B. Koehler


WHERE TO NURSE A HANGOVER…


The Elusive Bacon-Egg-and-Cheese

While working two delivery jobs in New York years ago, I made it my mission to try breakfast sandwiches at every deli I came across. Crispy bacon, a slightly runny egg, and a melted slice of cheese, all cooked to order and crammed into a soft kaiser roll: It’s breakfast perfection. Denver, unfortunately, is home to an abundance of lousy breakfast sandwiches, featuring microwaved-egg hockey pucks, flaccid slices of bacon, and awful bread. For a few years, I limited myself to the very solid N.Y.-style sandwich at Deli Zone in LoDo (1601 Blake St., 720-904-1000, delizone.net), though I’d advise ordering it with one egg instead of two, to let the bacon and cheese shine through. Recently, though, I’ve made a bunch of joyful breakfast sandwich discoveries. The whizzes at Masterpiece Delicatessen in LoHi (1575 Central St., 303-561-3354, masterpiecedeli.com) cook up a bacon-egg-and-cheese on a bagel that’s so flavorful you can leave the hot sauce on the table. And although I’m a traditionalist—bagel or roll, please—the egg sandwiches on house-made biscuits at Hi-Rise (2162 Larimer St., 303-296-3656, hirisedenver.com) have won me over with their rich, pillowy goodness. Finally, for a true New York deli experience, I head south to The Bagel Deli & Restaurant (6439 E. Hampden Ave., 303-756-6667, thebageldeli.com), a family joint that’s been around for 53 years but escaped my attention until lately. Their egg sandwich with beef “baken” is a hearty, meatier take on the traditional sandwich. Don’t forget a few black-and-white cookies to go. —Patrick Doyle


Why I Hate Brunch

The case against a hackneyed waste of time and money.

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Weekend breakfasts are brilliant. There’s time to relax, unfurl, and dig into a plate of eggs, bacon, pancakes—whatever. Thirty minutes, in and out: A bit of food, a jolt of caffeine, and you’re off. Ready for a bike ride, to watch the game, to build a fort with your kids. Doesn’t matter. Breakfast launches your day.

Brunch, on the other hand, becomes your day. It’s an overindulgent, fawning, yuppie tradition that we ought to have left in the last decade with the dying gasps of Sex and the City and the Bush administration. Consider: You arrive at your superhip restaurant at 11 a.m., put in your name, and find a 45-minute wait. You hang out on the patio, sipping your $9 Bloody Mary made with sustainable tomato juice and served in a Himalayan-pink-salt-rimmed glass, eavesdropping on your neighbor’s success on Match.com. Your pocket buzzes: It’s a text from your lazy-friend-who-has-to-cancel, so you tell the hostess you’re down to a table of four, but oh-wait-that-couple-you-met-last-night-is-coming, so you’ll need a six-top. She gives you the evil eye while pouring the vodka for your second round of Bloodys. Gulp.

Finally you’re seated, squished between a table of hungover college kids and another full of toddlers, one of whom wipes his syrupy hands on your coat while the others let out battle shrieks. The menu arrives and you notice it adheres to the law of Magical Brunch Egg Inflation, by which 10-cent eggs are converted into $14 eggs. So, you order your cream cheese–stuffed French toast oozing with syrup, or your decadent eggs Benedict, because, of course, you can’t order something light—like, say, oatmeal with fruit—because you’re going to split the check, and only a sucker pays $23 for oatmeal. You gorge yourself, talk about kids or the bar last night, and order another round of drinks. While you’re fishing around for the last pickle in the Bloody Mary bar, the bill arrives, and, holy shit, that’s a lot of money! Why didn’t you just go to a nice restaurant for dinner and get a bottle of wine?

That’s brunch: It’s 2 p.m., you’re buzzed, and your day is shot. Hope you had fun.

So: Please don’t invite me to brunch, ever. I will not go. Breakfast, on the other hand? I’m there. —PD

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WHERE TO SEAL THE (BUSINESS) DEAL…


Bagels Worthy of Consumption

There’s a reason there’s nearly always a line outside of Moe’s Broadway Bagel (multiple locations, moesbagel.com): The shop makes killer bagels (not squishy or stale), in 16 varieties, including traditional stalwarts like onion and poppy, as well as newer, worthy flavors like tomato-cheddar and cranberry-walnut. When we’re farther south, we head to the Bagel Deli (6439 E. Hampden Ave., 303-756-6667, thebageldeli.com), where the rounds are so fresh and tasty—crispy on the outside, soft on the inside—that toasting them should be considered blasphemy. —PD


Cracking the Shell

How I learned to scramble eggs.

Hand me a recipe and chances are I’ll master it on the first try. I can bake multitiered cakes and homemade breads, stir together a gorgeous roux, and turn out a mean duck breast—all without a problem. But I cannot make eggs. Scrambled, fried, basted, folded into an omelet…every rendition is disastrous: hard, sulfuric, inedible. They are so bad that my three-year-old daughter steadfastly refuses to eat any egg cooked by me. Instead, my husband mans our egg pan and fills our plates with buttery, perfect goods every blessed time.

My eggy failure weighing on me, I cajoled a lesson from Snooze’s Scott Bermingham and Spencer Lomax. First, we talked basics: Use a nonstick pan, add a dash of half-and-half for scrambled (not skim milk, which has a high water content), and most important, use high-quality eggs. Aside from switching from milk, I was doing everything right. Except I wasn’t.

Over the hot stovetop, I watched as Bermingham melted butter in a pan and began to scramble a mixture of three eggs and half-and-half. I immediately identified my cardinal sin: While Bermingham constantly jostled the pan and stirred its contents with a spatula, I let my eggs sit for a few seconds. Another mistake: Where I would cook the mixture until it was cooked all the way through, Bermingham pulls his off the stovetop just before it’s done. The idea is that eggs continue to cook slightly, even after they’ve hit the plate. A sprinkle of kosher salt and I tasted a forkful of Bermingham’s light prototype. Heavenly.

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Then came the moment of truth: I poured a blend of eggs and half-and-half over bubbling butter and immediately began scrambling. It felt wrong, not letting the eggs sit in peace for a brief moment, but I could tell from the encouraging nods that things were going well. A minute or so later, I plated a pile of shiny scrambled eggs that looked and tasted just like the pros. I tried again and again with the same results. Three dozen eggs later and I was christened an egg cook. Now, even my daughter agrees. —AMF


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