The West’s Best Breakfasts

bob-boze-bell_illustrationI’m still on a quest to find the best huevos rancheros in America, so I’ve left off all great Mexican breakfast joints. Anyway, I’m hungry, so let’s order up.

The Conductor (corn-beef hash and eggs), Luxury Diner in Cheyenne, Wyoming: You’ll find nothing highfalutin about this place. After all, the restaurant building itself served as a trolley from 1896 to 1912 and became a diner in 1926. The food’s terrific, however, and the atmosphere is a train-hound’s dream.

Doughnuts, Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota: Sure, this tourist trap (I mean that in the nicest way) is best known for nickel coffee and free ice water, but don’t forget the doughnuts. They’re made fresh—that’s right, Wall Drug is so big it has its own bakery. Eat some while admiring the original art on the walls.

Biscuits & Gravy, Pine State Biscuits in Portland, Oregon: What could they know about Southern biscuits in the Pacific Northwest? Nothing—until three North Carolinians opened a small biscuit café in 2008. Top off those flaky biscuits with sausage or shiitake mushroom gravy. Or you can opt for the “Reggie” (fried chicken, bacon and cheese, topped with gravy) and watch your cardiologist go into cardiac arrest.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach, California: Breakfast is served all day, which is a good thing, because the line’s out the door when this joint opens. Bill McElroy first opened it in 1961. He sold out in 1973, but Uncle Bill’s is still the place to go in southern California.

Ham & Eggs, Stockyard Cafe in Amarillo, Texas: One expects to find a Texan running a greasy spoon in this place where more than 300,000 head of livestock are bought and sold each year. But one doesn’t expect that Texan to be a 1988 graduate of the Culinary Institution of America. Meet Tim Youngblood, who has turned this institution into a fine-dining experience. Ask for the salsa—homemade and delicious.

Cinnamon Roll, Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery in Billings, Montana: Big Sky Country? Let’s talk about Big Cinnamon Roll Country. Stella’s monster can practically fill a dinner plate or a truck driver’s stomach. It’s freshly baked, powerful and wickedly sweet and sticky.

Atolé Piñon Hot Cakes, Tecolote Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Alice and the late Bill Jennison opened this diner in 1980, and it has been drawing in locals and tourists who appreciate great food. Don’t bother ordering a full stack of this blue corn and pine nuts delicacy. A short stack will fill you up for the rest of the year.

House-Made Smoked Salmon Hash, Gold Restaurant at Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Arizona: The food might even match the atmosphere at this posh resort. Placed on the plate the way an artist applies paint, the wonderfully smoked salmon is served with two eggs any style (go for poached), fresh fruit and toast, and the scenery is awesome.

Breakfast Steak, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: This Stockyards hangout opened in 1910 and still caters to cowboys and cattle buyers. The breakfast steak is a small sirloin, and it’s served with two eggs any style, hash browns and butter toast or a biscuit. Opt for the biscuit. You won’t need lunch—or even supper.

The Hog & Chick, Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona: How can such a simple dish—eggs, hash browns and bacon, sausage or ham—taste so out of this world? Well, at Matt’s, they make everything from scratch and use fresh ingredients. Big doesn’t refer to the size of this tiny eatery. Expect a loooong but worthwhile wait.

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