We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but sometimes pancakes, eggs, and bacon just won’t do. Taking cues from international breakfasts, we scoured the metro area for morning meals that were hearty and filling, sans the usual fare. These alternative joints will hit the spot and fuel you through the day.

Vietnamese Pho
At Pho 79, you’ll never eat the same bowl of pho twice. This Vietnamese breakfast staple has evolved since it was created more than 100 years ago, but the basics (rice noodles in a bowl of beef broth) remain the same. At this shop, you customize the rest: Choose the size, meat (anything from raw steak to tripe), and condiments (Sriracha chile paste and jalapeños). Then dig in with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other for a concoction that’s both unexpected and delicious. Don’t Miss: Medium bowl of #6 (well-done brisket and rare steak), $5.75
1080 S. Havana St., Aurora, 303-344-0752; 781 S. Federal Blvd., 303-922-2930

Pastrami Sandwiches
New Yorkers track down calorie-rich pastrami sandwiches at kosher delis on the Lower East Side to satisfy their biggest a.m. hunger. In Denver, wrap your hands—and mouth—around the stacked sandwich at Zaidy’s Deli and you’ll be a breakfast convert. If you’re looking for something less heavy, but equally filling, try the house-made potato latkes. Don’t Miss: Hot pastrami sandwich, $9.95
121 Adams St., 303-333-5336; 1512 Larimer St., 303-893-3600

Dim Sum
Dim sum—a Cantonese tradition that translates to “heart’s delight”—features small plates that range from the mundane (steamed Chinese broccoli) to the exotic (fried chicken feet). Servers at Super Star Asian Cuisine steer heavily laden carts stuffed with steaming dim sum delicacies around the crowded restaurant. Point at anything that looks tasty and servers will stamp your ticket for each item. Make sure to bring friends; dim sum is all about sipping tea, trying new foods, and catching up. Don’t Miss: Steamed barbecue pork bun, $2.15
2200 Alameda Ave., 303-727-9889

Along Colfax Avenue, Pete’s Greek Town Cafe serves up American, Mediterranean, and Greek dishes all day. That means gyro-lovers won’t have to wait until lunch to savor spit-roasted, shaved pieces of beef and lamb served with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce. The breakfast menu doesn’t list a traditional gyro—Pete’s gyro melt is served on slices of rye—but the kitchen is always willing to wrap this classic in a pita shell on request. Don’t Miss: Gyro melt, $7.50
2910 E. Colfax Ave., 303-321-1104

Get an early start on a morning of gallery hopping on Santa Fe Drive with El Noa Noa Restaurant’s menudo, a traditional tripe (stomach lining) stew and Mexican breakfast staple. If you’re feeling less adventurous, opt instead for the gigantic burritos smothered with green chile sauce, or the cheesy enchiladas suizas. Don’t Miss: Menudo, $6.50
722 Santa Fe Drive, 303-623-9968