The world is crazy for competition. Think about it - everywhere you turn there is some kind of competition thrown at you for entertainment purposes. From the mundane (bingo), to the absurd (a video game called Deca Sports 2 for the Wii will let you compete in synchronized swimming), to those so ridiculous I cannot help but pay attention to (The World Beard and Moustache Championship; I'm partial to the Freestyle categories myself), there is something out there to suit everyone's palate.
In order to keep up with the zeitgeist, I've decided to start up my own meaningless competition - The Dive-Off. There lots of dives out there, and distinguishing them is oftentimes challenging, so the idea is to drop them into a head-to-head match of bowel twisting and verbal abuse, and see which dive comes out the other side with its shuffle board intact.
What better starting point than The Breakfast King versus The Breakfast Queen? Two Denver institutions touting breakfast food with similar diner-style settings allows a pretty fair comparison, not that being fair is in any way paramount. The King obviously feels a bit superior to other joints, calling itself The Breakfast King and all. I'd certainly be ticked off were I a breakfast restaurant. This thing is getting hot, so let's get rolling! The Queen being outranked, I decided to hit The Breakfast King first.
136. That's how many items I counted on the menu at The Breakfast King. 136 - and that's not counting the multiple varieties of a single item, such as the omelette with cheese, or ham, or ham and cheese... and despite the name, its not all breakfast food. Anything from liver and onions to a bowl of cereal can be had. The maddening number of choices on the menu fits right in with the atmosphere of the place. It's as much bus station at rush hour as it is diner. When I arrived with my family in tow, the front door was blocked by people in line at the cash register. Once we navigated past that, we had to squeeze by a large group waiting for a table, slide around the gumball machine, and then twist our way through a maze of booths to get to where we ended up sitting. At one point, while trying to return to our booth from outside, I turned right instead of left at the gumball machine. I ended up at the lunch counter and eventually had to wander through the kitchen to find my seat. There are literally booths, tables, and chairs occupying every square inch of tattered carpet. Just about all of them were occupied with locals, half of which looked like they just rolled out of bed.
The Breakfast King has sat on its corner of Santa Fe and Mississippi since 1975, and the lady working the register told me that most of the people working there had been around since the beginning. Our waitress was certainly no exception - she looked like she had been continually adding makeup to her face every morning for the last 30 years, resulting in something that looked like the EPA might ask to have cleaned up along with the old Gates rubber factory across the street. Indeed, when my wife spilled water down the waitress' leg, she responded by doing a little jig - that's seasoning. The decor apparently hadn't changed much since the beginning either, between the crappy wood paneling and the brown and orange glass light fixtures that looked like they'd been picked up at a garage sale. There was a sign posted advertising Wifi that seemed a bit out of place. My hope was that someone had stolen the sign from a local Starbucks and put it up as a joke.
I settled on the chorizo breakfast burrito off the breakfast specials board and a cup of coffee, which saved me 15 minutes of wading through the menu. Does that make 137 items? Regardless, it was a pretty pedestrian breakfast burrito overall. It consisted of unseasoned eggs wrapped in a tasteless tortilla, covered in tasteless cheese, boring hash potatoes (potatoes on top of the burrito is a variation I've not seen before, and did not necessarily enjoy) and average green chile. And the coffee was rubbish as well. I may have been better off had I taken the time to peruse the menu aside from just counting items for my own enjoyment.
One of the highlights of traveling for me is having the opportunity to hang out at the airport. The hectic buzz of it all, the crowds of people all with an unknown destination and story, I find extraordinarily interesting. I think that's why I enjoy The Breakfast King so much. It's got a similar buzz about it, and the fact that you can get a gigantic plate of food for cheap gets you in the door. The Breakfast Queen has a tough act to follow.
Stay tuned kids - The Breakfast Queen is getting oiled up and ready to rebut.
The Breakfast King holds court at 300 W. Mississippi in south Denver.