611 N. Union Blvd., 633-0707
The hoods must be choked because it's rather smoky inside Golden Gyros, as Christian music blares through the thick air and I wait a half hour for a to-go combo plate ($7.49). The one employee left at 6:30 p.m. by his two mates (who are seated mid-dining room with their own feast) apologizes, cites fresh cooking and recommends calling ahead for dishes containing the grilled chicken.
And I will, because it's saffron-laced through the char and superb, especially rolled through a mound of saffron Persian rice and greatly garlicky tzatziki. The dry gyro cone meat is ubiquitous and flavorful enough with fresh Greek salad counterbalance. While a New York-based Love & Quiches Gourmet Greek Yogurt Cheesecake ($2.69) is good, it's disappointingly not that different from regular cheesecake. The house-made Persakhe (79 cents) excels, though, like fluffy toasted challah meets a touch of halva. — Matthew Schniper
King's Chef Diner
110 E. Costilla St., 634-9135, kingschefdiner.com
After a night of insomnia, I order the item to which I relate most: The Grump ($15.95). While I'm all red eyes, disoriented and hungry, it's all heaping and heavy and damn near obscene in its obesity. I watch the efficient grill man grate three potatoes onto the griddle before adding a couple handfuls of sausage (ham or bacon optional), some onions and two eggs. It's sizzle-dazzle then plate-up time, with oozy country gravy on half and the famous scorching green chile on the other half, 'cause that's an option, too.
Hot damn I'm human again, if only for a moment, with an assist from some serviceable but burnt-tasting coffee ($1.95; no spoons allowed for stirring cream by house rules) from Denver's Elevation Coffee Traders. The dish is gut-bomb great and also a good delivery mechanism for the recently concocted house red salsa. But at more than $20 post-tip for breakfast, I feel like I've eaten at a real castle, not a humble legacy diner. — Matthew Schniper
1895 S. Nevada Ave., 634-7626, bk.com
I don't think I've eaten a 59-cent hamburger since 1994, so, despite everything there is to know about fast-food meat, I still found a sign advertising just that price too interesting not to sample. By the time I did, though, market forces had jacked it all the way up to 79 cents — 89 cents if you wanted cheese. (Thanks, Obama.) Nonetheless, a visit to a quiet, semi-depressing Burger King dining room was achieved and $1.81 in food — two burgers, with tax — sat before me.
But though the pickles between the sesame-seed buns were thicker than expected, and the smoky notes that are part of the chain's trademark more agreeable than anticipated, the meat still tasted exactly like it used to in an eighth-grade cafeteria: unpleasantly noticeable. The cheese adds a salty squeak, if you dig it, but you might afterward also enjoy a filmy coating in your mouth to go with your disheartened stomach. — Bryce Crawford