Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I attended our second Chicago entertainment convention of 2019, a scant three weeks after the last one. Before and after each day’s festivities we found a few opportunities to see more of the Windy City that we hadn’t checked out on our last several trips. One restaurant in particular proved exactly the breakfast wonderland we needed.
Eagle-eyed viewers used to our vacation storytelling pattern may or may not have noticed that we’ve been skipping breakfast mentions for most of this series. That ends now as we step back and cover the donut shops that brightened our mornings in three cities, plus a bonus sports donut along the way.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…
In our early road-tripping years, we couldn’t afford food-based tourism. We ate whatever we could find within range of the sights or near the hotel, whatever wouldn’t destroy our budget. I used to plan our hotel reservations around which chains offered free breakfast. It didn’t take long to get tired of weeks-old, shrink-wrapped, itty-bitty pastries. We’re used to having at least one McDonald’s stop per year — usually as our last meal before we arrive back home — but can’t handle seven straight days of it. Longtime MCC readers may recall we ate Subway so many times that I eventually declared it my mortal enemy.
Now that we’re older and in a somewhat stabler position, occasionally we can stretch our legs and try places we don’t have in Indiana, and dabble in pricing above fast-food levels. On the morning of Day 3 we decided to take a deep dive into Google Maps and see what breakfast we could find in the immediate Baltimore area besides the Hyatt buffet. That trail led us a few blocks northeast to the comfort of Miss Shirley’s Cafe.
This week my wife and I have been taking advantage of our hotel’s complimentary breakfasts to save as much money as possible (their modest, cook-to-order omelet bar is a nice touch), but sometimes a guy needs a change of pace. For lunch today I drove an hour north to check out the Denver Biscuit Company, part of a restaurant triumvirate that was featured in a 2013 episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. That’s not a show we usually consult for travel reference (thanks to a 2012 disappointment in Topeka), but this particular joint had other incentives to lure me away from Colorado Springs.
Pictured above is the Dahlia — sausage, egg over-easy, apple butter, and maple syrup on “biscuit French toast”. It’s one of several creative biscuit sandwiches they serve for breakfast and lunch. For that “Triple-D” episode the esteemed Mr. Fieri sampled their “Elmer”, topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, onions, and homemade pickles. For him I imagine it was the only logical option. But I’m a big fan of imaginative breakfasts and knew I had to try it once I confirmed it was real.
The other incentive for my mini-road trip was an invitation from an old friend.
Our very special MCC extended interlude continues!
Ye olde, venerable International House of Pancakes may be a chain restaurant, but they’re not known for dullness or restraint. You can order pancakes as your primary meal, as befitting their moniker. If you’d rather have an omelet, you’re entitled to a side order of toast, biscuits, or the same pancakes. The strawberry banana pancakes in the above photo were given to me as the sidekick to my omelet. That would be great if I were someone likely to burn thousands of calories over the next few hours, such as an Olympic pentathlete or The Rock before his first three morning workouts.
It’s that time of year again! This coming Friday, June 5th, will be National Donut Day, the greatest non-federal holiday that Hallmark wishes they had invented. Imagine an entire line of National Donut Day greeting cards, with a saccharine message inside and an edible sugary breading on the outside. If Hallmark could spin it expertly enough, they could rake in billions and afford to ditch some of their fake calendar-padding celebrations.