There are two types of pancake people: purists and thrill seekers. Purists crave plain and simple, and fondly remember eating pancakes in their pajamas while watching cartoons on Sunday mornings. The adventurous eaters need something more to keep their attention. They think sundae, not Sunday. For this tribe, a pancake is an edible canvas for fruit, nuts, whipped cream, melted chocolate and peanut butter. Luckily, Denver’s best pancake houses satisfy both pancake camps.
The Breakfast King
300 W Mississippi Ave
Denver, CO 80223
The Breakfast King takes diners back to their childhood. So many in Denver agree that this 24/7 diner owns the crown among all of the city’s breakfast spots. In a city that is often accused of rolling up the streets too early, The Breakfast King refuses to go to bed. And like a reliable friend, no matter when you have a hankering for hash browns, sunny-side-up eggs and pancakes, the Breakfast King is always there for you. The Bronco’s orange booths are a welcoming sight when you just want food – nothing fancy, just a good meal. The pancakes are for purists with gooey fruit toppings, whipped cream and syrup. The menu is lengthy and eggs come in all ways. But don’t leave out the hash browns, you will regret it. The huevos rancheros remain a staple and the green chile is one of the best in the city.
300 E Alameda Ave
Denver, CO 80209
Pardon the pun, but locals are wild about Wild Eggs, a relatively new Denver breakfast and lunch spot. The robin’s egg blue, yolk-orange and sunshine-yellow restaurant is inviting and gentle on the senses for morning people who need their coffee before they feel human. But as for the menu, it’s definitely for diners who want a little kick start to their day. The pancakes include a traditional tall stack with maple syrup, and a few over-the-top options like the Elvis impersonator pancake, “The King Would Eat These,” with bananas, peanut butter syrup, chocolate chips and whipped cream. For fruit lovers, the Raspberry and Lemons, Oh My! is a thick glaze of sweet and tart raspberry compote with a windowpane of lemon curd. For blueberry pancake lovers, there is Wild Eggs’ version called, “Violet, you’re turning Violet.” Take a look at the waffle and crepe menu too, because the Bananas Foster waffles and Clementine’s Creamsicle Crepes are as good as the pancakes. As the name would imply, there is no shortage of egg dishes at Wild Eggs, including sushi-style egg rolls (Leggo My Egg Roll, complete with wasabi aioli, pickled ginger and kimchi); knock-out eggs benedict (Katie’s Border Benedict, two soft poached eggs over cornbread with chorizo and queso fundido and pico de gallo); and the Pop’s Poppin’ Egg Salad, with sweet-and-spicy Habargerdill pickles, is perfect for a late breakfast or early lunch.
Two Dog Diner
645 Tenacity Drive
Longmont, CO 80504
Two Dog Diner’s black-and-white-checkered floors, laminate tables and red vinyl chairs will remind of you of a bygone era when life was simpler and the pace was slower, except for the fact that the restaurant sits in one of Colorado’s most modern neighborhoods called Prospect. Chartreuse paint, sharp-metallic angles and solar energy are the norm in Prospect. The food at Two Dog Diner plays off this yin and yang of old-school diner and hip vibe with traditional breakfast served all day, mingled in with creative daily breakfast and Blue Plate Specials for lunch and dinner. Purists will love Two Dog Diner’s full and short stack, with real maple syrup (none of that syrup from a fake log cabin here) and a couple of thick applewood-smoked pepper bacon slices or chicken sausage. Check out the white boards for daily pancake and waffle specials, and most basic egg dishes come with a choice of pancake, toast or biscuit. Two Dog recently added a chicken-fried steak with waffles, creamed gravy and an over-easy egg to the menu. The thickly-battered, but not too thin chicken-fried steak is a southern masterpiece in the Rocky Mountains. Unlike some diners, the juice is fresh squeezed and the coffee is always strong, as are the espresso drinks.
2262 Larimer St
Denver, CO 80205
If you haven’t heard about Snooze, you must have been sleeping. The Denver-born breakfast spot just keeps dreaming up new menu items and new locations. It has recently expanded to Boulder and San Diego, adding to the already four Colorado locations. All the Snoozes look like they come right off the set of “Mad Men,” with mid-century modern decor and clean lines. The food is adventurous with generous portions. The pancake menu says it all: Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes harken back to a June Cleaver birthday cake on “Leave it Beaver,” with caramelized pineapple and a house-made vanilla creme anglaise. If that’s not sweet enough for you, try the Cherry Bourbon Street Cakes, with spiked-bourbon cherries and chocolate, bourbon sauce, cherry butter and streusel. Denver is fond of the Red Velvet cakes, with cream-cheese frosting and pecans. Snooze features a pancake of the day and has gluten-free pancakes for any menu item. The Curious George French Toast is a jungle of flavors including caramelized plantains and cream cheese with Nutella sauce, candied hazelnuts and bananas. The egg dishes are just as liberal in their creative bent, such as the Benedicto Tuscano, a ragout of tomatoes, white beans, kale and squash on ciabatta bread with a stream of cream cheese hollandaise on top.
Related: Top Coffee Houses In Denver
600 E 13th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
As soon as you sit down at Jelly Cafe, an aura of happiness will instantly come over you and remove any dreary thoughts going through your mind. Jelly is life inside a doughnut box, the type with colored sprinkles, pink frosting and creamy filling. The staff is friendly, the food is bright and there is even a full bar if you are in the mood for a pick-me-up at any time of day. As for the pancakes, they will appeal to the purists who want a little thrill. The Frosted Flakes and Banana Cakes are Sunday-morning good, if only you could watch cartoons while eating them. Bacon is made for maple syrup, so much so that it’s a wonder no one ever thought of Jelly’s Bacon Pancakes. Jelly offers gluten-free cakes and has a daily pancake special. The Bhakti Chai French Toast’s warm spicy flavors make this dish a favorite. For egg lovers, the Mix and Match frittata-like breakfast sliders are perfect if you can’t make up your mind, with four types including the standout goat-cheese bacon and spinach walnut pesto. If you are fond of eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast, try the Meatloaf Hash or Roasted Turkey Hash topped with eggs. It’s best if you don’t leave before trying Jelly’s namesake Donut Bites with jelly, vanilla and chocolate creme anglaise filling and cinnamon sugar.
Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for Examiner.com, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.