For early risers, or hungover afternoon wakers, Boulder is a great place to live when you’re seeking sustenance to start your day. I know where I bring friends and family when they visit from away – Lucille’s, Snooze, Jills, etc.
These are the types of places you go downtown when you have a solid three hours to kill and don’t mind fighting for parking and then waiting for a while to get a seat. Once you’re seated, the service, food and ambiance are incredible. Butthat’s not an experience I seek every time I get hungry after getting out of bed.
The following spots are, in my opinion, Boulder’s hidden jewels. What they lack in location (being smack, dab downtown), and top of the line fit and finish on the furniture, they make up for in short wait times, cheaper prices, and delicious food. Oh, don’t forget, they’re where locals hang too, so if you’re looking to eavesdrop on conversations about Boulder’s next big cyclocross race or a debate on whether the country should buy a million more acres of open space, you’ll be in prime position.
Lucky’s Cafe might be the most tucked away (literally) of all the crave-worthy breakfast spots in Boulder. Located in North Boulder, up Broadway, you turn into the parking lot of Lucky’s Market, a popular grocery store, drive straight back to the corner of the parking lot where Logan’s coffee shop is located, and you walk around the corner of that building. There’s also parking around the other side of the building accessible on Quince Avenue. Lucky’s Cafe is always busy and packed, but for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 5 minutes for a table.
Everything on the menu is fresh and you really have a myriad of food style options to chose from. Whether you’re looking for a breakfast burrito the size of your head, or scrapple a good old fashioned porky staple of Pennsylvania, Lucky’s has you covered. If you want to build your own egg scramble or omelette, you can do that too, or go with a lighter option with fruit or fresh made oatmeal. Vegetarian? No problem, they’ve got plenty of options.
Walnut Cafe is one of the more community oriented, let your hair down, show up in pajama pants places I’ve experienced in Boulder. The staff and even the owners seem like they know pretty much everyone who walks through the door. Located on 30th and Walnut, it’s just far enough from downtown that there’s not a huge wait most of the time and always has plenty of parking. There is also another location in South Boulder. Even if you need to chill for a while before getting a table, the service staff will come out and take drink orders from you while you lounge on the benches and outdoor waiting area seats.
The menu at Walnut Cafe is massive and just about everything is fresh, hot and tasty. The specials are always being updated and there’s usually a form of huevos rancheros on the special board with a slight alteration to it. They also crank out the best pie I’ve had in Boulder, yet. Fruit, chocolate and other flavors are always changing. Unless you’re training for a triathlon or trying to cut weight for some reason, do yourself a favor and get the pie. Walnut Cafe also has a ton of options for vegetarians, so there’s really something for everyone.
I have to put a disclaimer that I am extremely biased towards listing Marie’s. Firstly, I studied abroad in the Czech Republic, so having the opportunity to speak broken Czech with tolerant and friendly Czech waitresses is something I cherish. Secondly, every once in a while I swoon for the greasy spoon diner type food Marie’s slings out hot and fast on a daily basis. This is the type of place that I take friends and family who don’t want any “fancy” stuff for breakfast, just tasty, stick-to-your-ribs grub.
You can get all of your standard bacon and eggs or sausage type orders here, but the Czech and Central/Eastern European specialities on the menu are really worth exploring if you’re going to make it to Marie’s. The kolacek is a pastry that pretty much doubles as a Czech powdered donut that comes with sweet, tasty fruit jam to put on top – order this and share with good company. It doesn’t hurt that the price point is low and the wait is always minimal.
The Essential Grab and Go Breakfast
It’s early, you’re heading to the mountains and need to get on the road before I-70 clogs up. Where do you stop for fast grab-and-go breakfast while heading out of Boulder? Here are my top three breakfast stops where you won’t have to wait very long for a delicious, hot, breakfast on the run.
Alfalfa’s – I discovered Alfalfa’s hot bar breakfast on the recommendation of neighbors and can tell you that they make some of the tastiest green chile I’ve had in Boulder, period. They have a variety of pre-wrapped burritos ready for pick up every morning. The earlier you get there, the fresher they will be and the more options you will have. If they run out, they’ll make you a burrito if you ask nicely up until lunch-time. Be sure to ask for a side of green chile with whatever you order because as of now, they don’t charge for it if you buy a burrito or other breakfast items and it pairs nicely with just about anything.
Moe’s – Moe’s is a chain located in Boulder and in Denver. Ask any East Coast transplant in Boulder and they’ll tell you that getting a good bagel in these parts is about as hard as getting a reasonably priced two-bedroom apartment downtown. However, Moe’s rendition of what a bagel should be is close enough for me. Plus, their breakfast sandwiches will beat the pants off of just about any fast-food location heading on your way out to I-70.
Santiago’s – Santiagos is a chain with a ton of locations throughout Colorado. I first discovered them through a co-worker bringing in a plastic bag full of super tasty and very spicy breakfast burritos to the office. These burritos are ridiculously inexpensive too – somewhere around $2 can get you a delicious, hot and relatively filling breakfast burrito. It’s difficult to beat that sort of value with a stick!