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Mornin' sunshine

Dine & Dash

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The wait. Surely it's a good thing, right?

I mean, why else would an IKEA-superstore-sized mass of people — well, maybe not that many folks, but it sure feels like it when you're hungry and they're ahead of you — all head to the same morning spot, over and over again, if it weren't somehow great?

That's the theory anyway. And hopefully you've eaten at a handful of places that have left you sufficiently stupefied, with the purest maple syrup or the most perfect Hollandaise ever constructed oozing down your chin. But you've also probably eaten a sad omelette somewhere and said to yourself, "Jeez, I could have done better myself at home."

Sometimes an egg or waffle is just that. At other rare times, it's so much more.

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Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

2262 Larimer St., Denver, 303/297-0700, snoozeeatery.com

Brave the hour-plus wait (with a free cup of organic Guatemalan coffee, at least) that we encountered at Snooze's original location, and you'll understand why the place has become a breakfast institution in just five years. It's hip, sustainability-minded, creative and largely delicious. Basically: the place to be.

They had me at "pancake flight" ($8.50). We made ours gluten-free, taking the graham cracker crumbles out of the blueberry cheesecake pancake of the day, which was still plenty delightful with a heavy jam smear. Ginger butter highlighted the not-so-starchy sweet potato buttermilk disc with a light caramel pecan garnish. But the world-beating stunner was the stupidly sweet cherry bourbon cakes, with bourbon cherries and sauce, chocolate chips, cherry butter and over-the-top streusel. Just, damn. — Matthew Schniper

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Hungry Bear Restaurant

111 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 687-5912, hungrybearcolorado.com

This restaurant, which has plated pancakes for 20-plus years, was packed with people — with a line going out the door into the cold — not to mention hundreds of stuffed bears on shelves, cupboards and glass cases. (Even its website sports a loaded 900-word back-story for "Rufus the Bear.")

The 10 or so cheery signs that riff on "I can only please one person per day ..." set a bizarre tone, but the people paying their bill at the front counter and spinning a post-meal wheel to win freebies, seemed nothing but pleased at whatever they just ate.

Once we got the chance to order the Blueberry Cream crêpe ($7.75), we found the sour cream and berries inside tangy and fun, and the almost-pancake-thick wrapping soft and very filling. Too bad about the canned whipped cream, though. — Bryce Crawford

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The Pantry

6980 Lake St., Green Mountain Falls, 684-9018

Our other mountain-breakfast stop came at the Pancake by the Lake: the Pantry. (You can use that one, folks.)

Now, I don't know if a cramped and crazy room is a requirement for enjoyable consumption of eggs in public, but the little spot's door opens immediately to a quickly filling bar, then moves through a doorway into a bedroom-sized space filled to the brim with tables. Definitely lively.

Yet ultimately, our food proved as reserved as the mountain location. If you're a person who enjoys a quiet and non-spicy green chili, then the South of the Border Huevos Rancheros ($9.49) is for you. Nice corn tortillas slathered with dark refried beans sit underneath two over-medium eggs, tomato, melted cheese and avocados — just watch for the black edges. As well, the coffee was plentiful, and our server clearly a morning person. — Bryce Crawford

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