Up and At ‘Em! Best for Breakfasts in Winter Park

What’s better than a day on the slopes or trails of Winter Park? The breakfast beforehand, of course. Get your morning going with a meal at one of these in-town eateries.

The Mountain Rose Café
78542 U.S. Highway 40
Winter Park, Colorado 80482

The restaurant equivalent of the one-room schoolhouse, The Mountain Rose is small, cozy and often crowded. The café has eight tables out front, a kitchen in the back and hand-written notes with witty sayings covering the walls. Its own slogan sums up the café’s tough-meets-tender vibe: “Redneck Mountain Fusion with a Dash of Hippie Love.”

Arrive early at the cozy and often crowded Mountain Rose Cafe.

The menu is similarly divided into two distinct halves. “The Mountain” offers such hearty fare as the Burrito El Yum-O smothered in green chile and Ain’t Skairt o’ No Carbs, a pancake topped with eggs, home fries, sausage gravy and cheese. “The Rose” shows its softer — and sweeter — side with such treats as Happy Hippie Granola and the Sweet Thing Breakfast Sandwich, a delicious combination of strawberry sweetbread and honey cream cheese.

While the homemade food certainly hits the spot, espresso enthusiasts beware: There are no fancy foamy drinks at this place. It’s coffee, tea — or a Bloody Mary, as The Mountain Rose has a full bar. The café also serves up a small but eclectic lunch menu including buffalo burgers, Cuban sandwiches and Thai lettuce wraps. Tables outdoors are available in warmer weather.

Carver’s Bakery Café
93 Cooper Creek Way
Winter Park, Colorado 80482

Tucked away behind Cooper Creek Square in downtown Winter Park, Carver’s may be hard to find but it’s not hard to like. As you enter this 30-year-old restaurant, you step into an antiquated cabin with low ceilings and wooden beams adorned with old-fashioned skis. On summer days, you can enjoy your meal outside on the lovely outdoor patio.

Waking up isn’t hard to do at Carver’s, thanks to a coffee, tea and espresso bar that whips up lattes, mochas and chai teas all morning long. For something a little stronger, go for a mimosa or a screwdriver — or combine your java and booze with a Mexican or Irish coffee.

Carver’s extensive menu comprises over a dozen omelets and scrambles, Southwestern dishes and homemade baked goods. But the breakfast best-sellers are the benedicts — whether the classic ham and egg, the salmon version or a veggie variety with avocado, spinach or mushrooms. At 11 a.m., the menu expands to lunch options, ranging from grilled lamb salad to Frito pie.

At Sharky's, make sure to get your breakfast with the green chile.

Sharky’s Eatery
221 N. Doc Susie Ave.
Fraser, Colorado 80442

A surf shack in a ski town? Strange but true. With colorful pastel walls, fishing nets dotted with starfish and murals of underwater wildlife, Sharky’s appears more suited to a California beach than a Colorado mountain. But it works. Located in Fraser just north of Winter Park, this popular café serves breakfast and lunch and has even been described as the de facto town center.

Diners here tend to go for the basic breakfast (eggs, meat and potatoes), chicken-fried steak or anything with green chile. One zesty dish in the latter category is the potatoes huevos, home fries topped with eggs and smothered in green chile and cheese. The French toast with peaches is also a delight — thick fluffy bread covered with a combination of preserved peaches, cinnamon and butter so scrumptious no maple syrup is required.

For a meal with a view, try to get one of the few tables upstairs that overlook the main dining room below and the Rocky Mountains beyond. Sharky’s serves alcohol, but there is no espresso bar.

Rise and Shine Bakery Café
78437 U.S. Highway 40 (Park Place Plaza)
Winter Park, Colorado 80482

Situated in a strip mall near a copy shop and a convenience store, this Winter Park coffeehouse is so unassuming as to almost go unnoticed. But inside its modest exterior is a breakfast (and lunch) nook that offers a complete menu of omelets, benedicts, wraps, sandwiches and the house specialty — freshly baked breads, bagels and pastries.

The place gets points for its organic coffee, grilled breakfast burritos and tasty hash browns. Lunch choices include salads, hot and cold sandwiches and a selection of burgers, from old-fashioned to spicy veggie.

The Irish benedict on the breakfast menu and the Reuben sandwich on the lunch menu are top-sellers, and for good reason: The corned beef is homemade. Lox and bagels fans should likewise appreciate the house-cured salmon and bagels made daily from scratch. Rise and Shine offers a full espresso bar, alcoholic beverages and an express to-go food menu.

Other Options

Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro — This café in Cooper Creek Square serves up all kinds of coffee-shop drinks, plus baked goods, soups, sandwiches, gelatos and breakfast dishes ranging from quiches to skillets. www.mountain-grind.com

Crooked Creek Saloon and Creekside Eatery — Located in Fraser, this restaurant offers a morning menu of hearty classics like eggs Florentine, biscuits and gravy and steak and eggs. www.crookedcreeksaloon.com

Cosmic Dog Mexican Grill — Looking for a breakfast bargain in a ski town? This quirky “Fresh-Mex” eatery sells a variety of breakfast burritos for a few bucks each. www.cosmicdoggrill.com