King’s Chef Diner (Colorado Springs, CO)

Most of my years my business travel has some unexpected twists and turns, and I certainly wasn’t expecting Colorado Springs to be my top travel destination for the last few years, with almost three weeks spent there since 2019. But I rather enjoy Colorado Springs. It’s a bit of a funky mish-mash, since there’s two “downtowns”, the actual downtown (where I stayed), and to the west Old Colorado City that got absorbed into Colorado Springs in the early 1900s. And there’s a lot to do with Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods park nearby. And then, after hiking and exploring, there’s a good selection of restaurants, diners, breweries, and the like that I discovered on my first trip out this year; and followup trips really gave me a chance to explore downtown Colorado Spring’s culinary offerings. In this case, King’s Chef Diner.

Confession time: half of this review I wrote up back in 2019 after my second trip to Colorado Springs that year, and I was about to publish it (I usually run a 6-8 week backlog here at Offbeat Eats), and then Covid-19 happened. I felt a little bad publishing reviews when so many restaurants were shut down, so I put this review on ice until I had a chance to return this year and make sure things were still I actually still in good shape. So for this review, I actually had three visits to King’s Chef Diner, two in 2019, and one in 2021 checking up on things. It’s actually a small chain with (currently) two locations several blocks apart in downtown Colorado Springs. You can’t help but notice the original location on East Costilla St. It’s a small (very small) diner known as the “Purple Castle”, since, well, it is a purple castle. Specifically, a 1955 Valentine Diner Car of very similar construction to the (now closed) Dot’s Diner I reviewed in Bisbee, AZ back in 2007. Although in this case, the decor shifted severely to the “King Arthur’s Camelot, rendered in Purple” decor that makes this visual landmark on the south side of downtown.

The second and third visits were to their main location on East Bijou, just across the street from Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs, and that location is substantially larger, with an interior layout that’s more like a classic coffee shop: a large counter by the kitchen, and a dining room with booths and chairs with a surprisingly large amount of seating. Between the larger seating area, earlier opening hours, and the short ~500 foot walk from my hotel room, I generally opted for the East Bijou location, and for my 2021 revisit, I was definitely more interested in the relatively spacious downtown location (although the Purple Castle was sporting a limited amount of outdoor seating).

This being Colorado, I consider it almost a culinary sin if you don’t get at least one example of one of Colorado’s breakfast mainstays: something served up with a green chile sauce. It’s practically a right in Colorado to be able to go into a restaurant and have at least one item served up drench in a good green chile sauce. So, after perusing the menu at King’s Chef, with a variety of breakfast burrito, omelets, and the like, and a few notable items like the Grump (basically, a breakfast burrito without the tortilla), the Thing (the same, but served on Texas toast), and the Merl (a diced-potato variant). But I was craving a breakfast burrito, so I went all in on a full-sized burrito: two eggs, a full order of hash browns, onions, cheese, and diced sausage, wrapped up in a burrito and drenched with green chile sauce and cheese. And, really, this was a fine breakfast burrito: the ingredients nicely spiced and crisped, the burrito nicely assembled, and the green chile sauce nicely rich and bold. In fact, on my return visits I ended up getting the same thing: the breakfast burrito, although I may have the try The Thing sometime on a future visit.

So, while it took a record two years for me to write up my visit to King’s Chef Diner, I was really happy to see that after almost two years of Covid-19, they are still doing well and still making one of downtown Colorado Springs’ better breakfast options.

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