Walking into the Castle Café in Castle Rock is like stepping back in time; the building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings and in the 1890s was where ranchers, travelers and miners gathered. According to the cafe’s website, “ … brawls were so common that Douglas County was forced to hire an extra deputy on paydays.”

No need to worry about scuffles these days. Although, who knows what might happen if someone tries to nick something off your plate. You’ll want every morsel for yourself.

Besides its history, the Castle Café is known for hearty servings of home style food, particularly pan-fried chicken ($19.95). This is not a fast-food option; plan on 30 minutes before the flawlessly prepared chicken arrives at your table. If you’re worried about the wait, order an appetizer, but I suggest not filling up before the entree.

Along with two pieces of dark and two pieces of white meat, the meal includes soup or salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable medley and Parker House rolls. All white or dark is available for an upcharge. Either way, this is golden, juicy, not greasy chicken with a crispy veneer. The faintly peppery, smooth gravy is the perfect companion to the chunky-still-creamy mashers.

Least successful on the plate are the vegetables: a combo of peas, carrots, summer squash and zucchini. This might be homemade but tastes like it comes from the grocery freezer section. The little boy at a nearby table refused to eat his veggies and I couldn’t blame him.

The Parker House rolls are light, buttery and slightly sweet. It would be easy to eat these in excess.

Neither as expensive, nor as tasty, is the chicken fried chicken ($15.95). It’s a single breaded, fried breast and comes with the same sides as its pan-fried sibling. On the plus side it takes less time, but half an hour more is worth it when it comes to chicken reminiscent of traditional Sunday dinners.

If chicken isn’t your thing, plenty of other comfort food options are available: buffalo meatloaf, chicken fried steak, campfire trout and more. Blue Plate Specials are offered daily, ranging in price from $14.50 to $23.

The “Between Bread” choices include a handful of sandwiches, including burgers, pulled pork, grilled chicken and brisket. Torn between the latter and the chicken fried steak, our server recommended the brisket. Lowering her voice a bit, she explained the fried steak isn’t always consistent; sometimes it’s tough and sometimes it’s perfect. Not wanting to take any chances, we ordered the brisket ($14.79).

A brioche bun overflows with thin slices of smoky beef bathed in what’s described as Memphis-style barbecue sauce, which is tangy and sweet. This is topped with fried onion strings for texture. Sides include french fries, a salad or slaw. For an extra $1.50, swap out for a gluten-free bun.

Employees wear T-shirts with the words “No Sniveling” on the back. When asked about it, our server said it simply meant no complaining. We weren’t sure if this is directed to the staff or diners; diplomatically, she didn’t answer, and we had no grievances.Castle Cafe

Description: Homestyle cuisine in a historic setting

Location: 403 Wilcox St., Castle Rock

Contact: 303-814-2233; www.castlecafe.com

Prices: $13.75-$26

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for lunch Monday–Sunday; dinner menu available from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday

Details: Credit cards accepted. Alcohol. Wi-Fi.

Favorite dishes: Pan fried chicken (served all day until the restaurant reaches capacity)

Other: Gluten-free and limited vegan options available

No violations observed by the Tri-County Health Department on Aug. 2.

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