By Robin Intemann
Updated: February 3, 2017 at 11:08 am • Published: February 1, 2017
Eating at King's Chef Diner involves two things: cold hard cash and a robust appetite. The former is a mandate and the latter is implied.
This Colorado Springs landmark diner is adorned with signs and plaques boasting local and national recognition. It's not unusual for lines to build as patrons wait to be seated. It's worth it.
Breakfast and lunch are served all day. I'm sure the burgers and sandwiches are above average - after all, banners proclaim that the meat is free range and all products are GMO-certified, but it's breakfast the draws me to King's Chef.
The aroma of hash browns on the grill and the array of egg, bacon or sausage combinations along with the homemade gravy and signature gluten-free, vegan Colorado green chili are too much to resist. I can smell the food before I open the diner's doors.
For me it's all about the crispy/creamy hash browns and the homemade green chili. Oh, and the gravy - basic, thick, velvety smooth with lots of black pepper.
The friendly staff reminds patrons that King's Chef is a cash-only establishment; the servers also like to point out that the green chili has a kick. I ordered the mini-breakfast burrito ($6.85), smothered half with the green chili and half with the gravy. This is truly the best of both worlds. The burrito enfolds scrambled eggs, cheese, grilled onions, sausage and hash browns. I appreciate the availability of a mini version; it's enough to fuel me for most of the day, if not all. I'm sure I'd leave too much of the larger burrito on the plate.
Similar in plate abundance are the Grump and the Thing. They may sound like something created by Dr. Seuss, but you will not find them in a book; you will not find them near a rook. Nonetheless, each is offered as a full ($16.35), a half ($9.99) or a quarter ($7.75) serving. Even the smallest option can be a daunting amount of food.
The Thing is a multilayered creation with slices of Texas Toast as the base. Mounded on top are a choice of bacon, sausage, ham or Fakie, scrambled eggs, hash browns, of course, green chili and shredded cheese. What it lacks in plate appeal it makes up for in taste. It's an ugly mess of a breakfast casserole that hits all the right breakfast notes.
The Grump isn't far behind when it comes to looks - or taste. The main difference is there's no Texas toast. There are, however, two mounds of hash browns, grilled onions and gravy over the eggs and choice of meat.
For something a little different we ordered the French toast. These thick, golden slices with just a suggestion of vanilla and were surprisingly light.
Coffee cups are replenished frequently with a custom roasted blend. Water and juices are served in compostable cups. And those who manage to eat all the food on their plates are treated to a piece of candy and a Clean Plate Club sticker, which could be seen as either a source of pride of embarrassment.
If you forget cash, there's an ATM inside the diner. If you show up without an appetite, you're out of luck.