Walking in on a cold icy morning, Morning Collective seemed warm but unimpressive, sort of like the kind of restaurant I went to with my parents in the 70’s. Very casual and generic looking. Despite the “meh” atmosphere, the menu contained a variety of delectable looking items, with several kinds of eggs Benedict to include coffee braised short rib Benedict (heartily recommended by the waiter) that apparently included bone marrow infused potato, carrot and leek base bacon hollandaise, ham Benedict advertised as made from TENDER BELLY ham (yes, all in caps), and veggie Benedict. multiple flavors of French toast to include stuffed Tres Leches (YES please – this one is fantastic and was recommended by my waiter – not too sweet but delightfully decadent topped with perfect slivers of strawberry), stuffed banana hazelnut, stuffed strawberry cheesecake, seasonal (which was a tasty apple crumble), and of course traditional for those afraid of a bit of adventure (AKA French toast purists). You can mix and match the flavors which is perfect for those of us (me) who can’t decide. Plus the menu included a variety of normal breakfast fare like scrambles, flapjacks, and since it’s Colorado, a “wake and bake” burrito. I went with a cafe mocha (good but not mind blowing good like the one I had at Snooze), the tres leches French toast (perfect) and apple crumble French toast (a tad sweet for my liking) with an added order of TENDER BELLY (yes, all caps again) coffee braised bacon (sounded a bit like a hipster spa treatment) and house made “tater tots” (NOT tater tots) with a bacon aioli. The tots were little pillow like potato puffs but were a tad unpleasant due to the grease factor. The bacon was fine but didn’t live up to the hype I’d created for it in my mind while reading the description. I’ll take full credit for the disappointment… the bacon tasted like bacon. Quality bacon but not mind blowing call your mother and tell her about it bacon. I haven’t yet found the mind blowing call my mother kind of bacon as of yet, but it is a personal quest of mine. I’d go back to try the short ribs Benedict and to have another dose of the tres leches French toast but I’d definitely avoid the grease tots.
The Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen was recommended by a friend who lives in Denver and it did not disappoint. Parking is tough since it’s downtown, but once you find your spot you will be pleased you made the effort. The cafe has a high ceiling and whitewashed textured walls with wooden floors and wooden tables and chairs scattered throughout the space. I found a table next to a garage door that had been artfully fashioned into a window that could be raised like, you guessed it, a garage door. The menu looked tasty and had small bites and normal sized meals. I started with a cafe mocha which was good but not a stand out, a cherry chocolate chip cookie which was homemade, thick, but sort of bland except for the tasty little tart cherry pieces I picked out of it. I went for the mushroom tartine which was vegetarian (I’m not but I’m not opposed to eating my veggies). It had sautéed mushrooms, spinach with beetroot hummus, goat cheese, almond dukkah (no idea what that is) and a poached egg on sourdough bread. The flavors were absolutely fantastic. It was tangy from the goat cheese, with a bit of sour, a bit of sweet, and a lot of fabulous. I was extremely happy with my meal and my friend has just moved one place higher up on the friend list for such a stellar recommendation.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t have gone to this place since I am not a fan of cinnamon rolls and this place is renowned for these. BUT I’m not one to let “shouldn’t” stop me and in this case I was glad I didn’t. The mini cinnamon rolls I picked up to bring to the training I was attending ended up being much better than I could have possibly hoped for. They had a multitude of choices to include original, zesty orange, Irish cream, mountain maple, English toffee and pecanilla crunch. The rolls weren’t super sticky like a Cinnabon (thank god since I really don’t like Cinnabon) but were instead like a cross between a flakey croissant and a cinnamon roll In other words they made a believer out of a non-cinnamon roll kind of girl. They also had savory swirls with bacon and cheddar, house roasted tomato, hame and Swiss with honey mustard, and spinach, tomato and provolone. I didn’t try any of those but I imagine they are fantastic as well. There were several breakfast sandwich options and I got the “Bakin Sun” which was bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, scrambled eggs with chipotle mayo served on Duffey’s signature rosemary ciabatta roll (with the option of a pesto wrap instead). It was good but not fabulous but was large and I could only eat half. The dulce de Duffy coffee was okay but not fabulous. I’m glad I checked this place out despite my misgivings and lack of love for cinnamon rolls. More than worth the trip, though recommend sticking to the various flavors of sweet and savory rolls instead of going for a scramble sandwich.
We almost didn’t end up going here because I’m not a huge fan of southern food and I didn’t know what a southern breakfast was other than biscuits and gravy, of which I am not a fan. Luckily I didn’t listen to my oh so hungry gut with an attitude and instead listened to the reviewers and my love of beignets which I found on the on-line menu. I hate to think of the hole that would’ve been left in my life without me even realizing it if I’d skipped the Sassafras American Eatery. There are a couple locations and the one we went to was in Jefferson Park. It just looks like someone’s house with some outdoor seating and people milling about (the giveaway this is not grandma’s house is that there’s a huge sign that says Sassafras in the front yard). We were told there’d be a 45 minute wait so wandered over to the grocery store nearby and promptly got a text saying our table was ready (less than 20 minutes after we’d checked in). We ran back to the restaurant giddy with stomachs rumbling and ready for a feast. We started with beignets and I’ve only had the ones from Cafe Du Monde so I have no idea what they taste like from any other place. They were good, quite tasty in fact, but they fell a bit short of the world famous beignets in New Orleans. Not to worry though, what came next was better than anything I could’ve even imagined (and I’m quite imaginative). I ordered the Fried Green Tomato Benedict with jalapeño cornbread and a side of potato casserole (wow!). my sister ordered the pimento chicken biscuit with eggs sunny side up and my mom ordered creamed spinach and artichoke, scallion grit fries, fried oysters, sunny side up egg, cracked pepper and goat cheese grits. My brother in law won the breakfast lottery by a landslide. He ordered something from the grits section described as local beef brisket braised in spicy tomato ragout also with collard greens with pork and goat cheese grits which I thought sounded unpleasant at best (except for the goat cheese – always a fan of that) but which instead turned out to be the winner that morning for best breakfast. The meat was tender and the seasoning was scrumptious. Even the kale tasted good and I’m generally not a fan of that veggie. We all happily stuffed our faces barely taking time to talk between mouthfuls and thoroughly enjoying the meal. We traded bites and as I said, the vote for best meal was my brother in law’s braised beef and grits, by a landslide. Sated with tummies full we all leaned back and began our praise-fest for the restaurant. I couldn’t help but notice, despite my already full and happy belly, there were some phenomenal looking desserts including really yummy and different flavored milkshakes (Capt’n Crunch, Banana Cream Pie, or Orange Dreamsicle milkshake anyone?) as well as a butter gooey cake. I decided that since this would likely be my last chance at this restaurant that we could all find some space in our bellies for a bite or two of the cake. It was even more magnificent than I could’ve hoped for. It looked innocuous enough but it had super powers and knocked our socks off (you can check, they are probably still there under the table). Sassafras American Eatery was my absolute favorite restaurant in Denver (and that includes some pretty great dinner places too). My search for the holy grail in Denver was now complete…
When I got to this restaurant and was lucky enough to find an actual parking spot in their lot (an almost impossible of feat according to the food forums I prowled through to find this place). When I checked I was pleased to find I only had a 20 minute wait, which again is a total score for this place (apparently I should’ve played the lottery – the force was with me this day). There was free coffee and water just outside the restaurant to keep those milling about waiting for their tables placated. I realized when I walked in that I had been to one of their other locations in Scottsdale when I was there this past August. This made me very happy since my Mom and I had both had stellar meals at that location. As you may have guessed the place was pretty busy and waiters and waitresses were bustling around taking and filling orders and making sure everyone was happy. The place is pretty loud, but I was eating alone so definitely not an issue but if I was trying to have a hushed conversation it would be a no go in that place. So if you need to have a quiet conversation do so in the car before or after your breakfast! I was seated at the counter and promptly asked if I wanted a beverage (their beverage list is extensive and includes mimosas, bloody Mary’s, and many other breakfast booze choices). The cafe mocha (no day drinking for me) I asked for came quickly and was one of the very best I’ve had (and I’ve had more than a few in my 49 years). I ordered the pancake flight (sort of the breakfast version of the wine flight, with a sugar high instead of an alcohol high) with their famous upside down pineapple cake pancake, sweet potato with caramel sauce and pecans pancake, and the special pancake of the day that was a buttermilk pancake with candied coconut and Girl Scout cookies drizzled with chocolate. While it sounded kinda gross and like the sort of thing that might send a diabetic into a coma, I wanted to venture out of my safety zone (since I had 2 backup pancakes if it sucked) and turned out it definitely was NOT one bit gross. The pancakes came looking like sweetness on a plate and were pretty damn good with one caveat. The flavors were beautifully subtle but tasted like exactly what they were supposed to be. The drizzled sauces were sublime and the crumbled and/or buttery flavor filled toppings were excellent. My only issue with these gourmet hot cakes was that there was a sort of bitter flavor from what I’m guessing was baking powder that was added to the pancake mix. It was too bad because it really ruined my desire to give a full out effort to finish these (though my waistline was thankful). In fact I only ate about ⅓ of each pancake before I had to call it quits because of the bitter taste. I was hoping each would’ve been made from a different batter but I’m guessing it was all the same or that whomever made them used the same basic ingredients in each before adding the different flavors. It really is too bad about the baking powder or baking soda or whatever was added to the mix to give these pancakes a metallic bitter taste. They would’ve been heavenly if not for that. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and guessing they don’t usually taste like this…I didn’t have time to go back so that I could try some of the other menu items but I have a feeling I would’ve been pleased with anything else on the menu. Apparently their chilaquile eggs Benedict is worth a try so that is on my to try list for my next go round the next time I find a Snooze restaurant during my travels. Despite the bitter pancakes and the inevitable wait I’d say this place is worth a shot, though you might want to skip the pancakes and try one of the many other items on the menu, unless metallic bitter is a flavor you enjoy. .
I was sooooo in love with Jelly U Cafe that when my sister, brother-in-law, and mother came to hang out with me for the last few days of my visit to Denver I excitedly ranted and raved about the place and then suggested we go to the sister cafe named Jelly Cafe. After all, this way I could try both and could still say I went to two different restaurants (thus adding to my list, yet getting to enjoy virtually the same food). As it turned out these were two totally different restaurants. On the surface they appeared similar. The cereal box art on the walls, the retro vinyl counter stools, the menu were all the same. The similarities however turned out to be only skin deep.
The Jelly Cafe was in a different part of town and was similar inside to the Jelly U but a tad different. The waiters and waitresses seemed a bit more hipster at the Jelly Cafe with wilder hair colors and more tats. Because they were such a hit with the friends I’d brought them to last time, I quickly ordered up some donut holes for the table. the lemon filled donut holes 3 out of the 4 of us ordered were actually not filled but were glazed with lemon. Odd since I’m pretty sure the ones from Jelly U were actually filled with lemon instead of just rolled around in it. They were okay but a tad disappointing. Our orders came out without much wait and I am sad to say that they deliciousness factor was far below that of the Jelly U cafe’s deliciousness factor. I ordered the tart cherry and chocolate covered pancakes which from the description any reasonable person would realize that these would be insanely tooth rottingly sweet. Well they were that and then some, but despite the sweetness, the flavor was lacking. Luckily I ordered only one and was able to beg a few bites of the other entrees from each of my family members who took pity on the sad look on my face after I took my first bite of the pancake. The other entrees were okay, but none were remarkable or even memorably delicious. It was just breakfast. The price was also pretty high for an unremarkable breakfast. I won’t be going back to Jelly Cafe EVER but Jelly U still has a place in my heart and is high on my list of favorites in Denver.
The Jelly U Cafe was easy to find, had street parking and had a cool retro vibe.
The menu was loaded with favorites and things that sounded quite yummy from the lavender blueberry pancakes, the cinnamon roll pancakes (drizzled with sweet cream cheese glaze), bananas foster French toast, corn flake French toast, many tasty looking scrambles, several creative kinds of biscuits and gravy to include bacon chili, veggie, and “ultimate biscuits” (which included sausage gravy, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato and cheddar cheese).
I ordered the chilaquiles (which could be done with chicken or tofu) and TOTALLY out of character for me, I actually ordered the tofu version, figuring I could pick around it if it was less than spectacular. Happily, it was spectacular. I was truly surprised and may even continue adventures in tofu as a result!
Also on the menu were 4 types of eggs Benedict (apparently they like their haco chili because they had this in a benedict as well as the biscuits and gravy option). There were also something they called sliders, which are the breakfast version of the usual mini hamburgers you expect when you order sliders. They sliders were mini frittatas in various flavors. The hashes looked impressive (red flannel hash with beets and sweet potatoes, harvest hash with rutabaga and other root veggies, as well as the expected corn beef hash). they also had a lunch menu with sandwiches but the piece de resistance was the donut holes. They not only had a fantastic variety of flavors, they also had gluten free (one of my friends excitedly told me it was the first donut she’s been able to eat in 5 years). The flavors included thai peanut, Mexican chocolate, lemon filled, maple bacon, salted caramel, creme anglaise, cinnamon sugar, and jelly filled. This place was on my top 2 list of favorite breakfast places I tried while in Denver (and that’s not too shabby considering I ate at 10,000 breakfast places… give or take).