Updated: March 21, 2014 at 11:32 am
A variety of restaurants have tried to make a go of the location now occupied by New Day Cafe. I recall the Taj Mahal, an Indian restaurant where one of my children ate saag for the first time. There was an Italian place and something called Fix a Feast. I hope they're able to fine-tune a formula that lasts this time.
New Day Cafe, 5901 Delmonico Drive, is a sunny, cheerful space with decent breakfast and lunch options. The service was quick and friendly during my visits, although you'd better be prepared to wait for a while on a Sunday, when the crowd is thick. Once the weather warms up, they'll be able to use the tables on the sunny patio. And with a little more attention to detail, they could be a really kick-butt destination for breakfast or lunch any day of the week.
What do I mean by attention to detail?
On a busy Sunday morning, we were greeted and given a pretty accurate estimation of when a table would be available. The waitress was very friendly and kept the coffee cup and drink glasses filled. But the plates showed some signs of being rushed. The hash browns could have used more time on the grill to develop a crunchy crust, which would have been an improvement to both the flavor and the appearance of the dish. Ditto the fries, which were cooked through but could have used more time in the fryer to crisp up.
The fries came with the bacon cheeseburger ($7.99). The hand-formed patty was juicy and sitting on a toasted bun. The bacon was extremely well done, which works for me but not for everyone. If you don't want fries with that, you can get coleslaw, potato salad or a cup of soup for no extra charge. (My advice? Read on, and order the soup.)
The items with the hash browns were a little more interesting. The corned beef hash and eggs ($9.99) rocks. Made on the premises, the hash was properly griddled so the salty corned beef had plenty of crunchy, darkly seared pieces, highlighted with tender nuggets of potato and onion. The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy, although the toast was an afterthought.
The other item is the Cactus Jack Omelet ($8.99). This three-egg omelet is made with cheese, a bit of spicy Mexican chorizo sausage and nopalitos. The latter are the diced pads of the prickly pear cactus, with a slightly tart flavor. They beg to be compared to roasted green chilies, which they somewhat resemble, although the cactus is thicker and slipperier. The omelet is topped with a brick-red cooked salsa redolent with fresh cilantro, and comes with potato and toast.
The pancakes ($4.99/two or $5.99/three) are feather-light and sweet. Our waitress opined that the scent reminded her of angel food cake, and she was right. Although billed as buttermilk, they lack that hint of trademark tang buttermilk usually imparts. They're the size of saucers, not the plate-lopping behemoths you sometimes see. We got an addition of sliced fresh strawberries, some on top and some baked into the cakes, for an additional $1. My only quibble is that the menu says they come with maple syrup, and they do not. They come with maple-flavored syrup, which is a big difference.
The veggie wrap ($7.99) is hefty and delicious. In addition to impeccably fresh romaine, tomatoes, avocado and onion, the wrap also contains a diced Morningstar Farms veggie burger. The burger adds a nice heft to the sandwich, which is tied together with an application of ranch dressing. On this visit, the fries improved by being cooked longer.
The Reuben sandwich ($7.99) is decent, although it won't change anyone's life. Here, the generous pile of corned beef was a little on the bland side. The Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing are applied with an eye to balance, so the whole thing holds together well grilled on rye. Again, though, I felt as though another moment on the grill would have given the exterior of the sandwich more crunch and better texture.
If you want a little something to round out your meal, don't miss the Chicken Tortilla Soup ($1.99/cup or $3.99/bowl). This is one of the very best versions in the city. The chicken broth has a slow-simmered intensity, fortified with onions and cumin. The chicken is tender. Diced ripe avocado is stirred in just before serving, and the topping of grated Monterey Jack is perfectly portioned - enough to taste but not enough to leave strings of molten goo everywhere.
Restaurant character: A nice little place to stop for the usual breakfast suspects, or burgers, soup or sandwiches at lunchtime. The patio should be great as soon as the weather cooperates.
Rating total: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Food: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Address: 5901 Delmonico Drive, 80919
Contact: 266-0555, newdaycafe.com
Hours: 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. daily
Credit cards: Yes
Vegetarian options: Some; Farmer Omelet ($8.99), veggie wrap ($7.99)
what's online As of March 12:
- 91 percent of 12 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon
- 4 out of 5 stars based on 28 reviews on Yelp
- Occasionally active on Facebook; search "New Day Cafe CO"
- Restaurant was cited for lacking a "Consumer Advisory Statement" during a December inspection by the El Paso County Health Department.