Boulder’s Best Breakfast

by Grace Boyle on February 7, 2013

A leisurely brunch on the weekend is one of my favorite parts of the week. There’s no rushing, nowhere to be and there’s always the feeling that anything is possible as you start your day.

Breakfast Goodies

I love cooking a big meal at home and lounging in pajamas while sipping steaming coffee. I’m also lucky to have a plethora of restaurants that offer the best brunch options. This list will undoubtedly grow and change, but today, here are my favorite places to enjoy breakfast in Boulder.

Lewis Carroll: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Walnut Cafe: Open for 25 years, Walnut Cafe has been a longtime neighborhood favorite for Boulder. With three locations, on Walnut and 30th, South Boulder (both in strip malls, don’t be fooled) and in Lafayette (their Super Mini Walnut) I frequent the 30th and Walnut location but their food is equal and delicious. Their food is straightforward, but I love the variety of options from savory to sweet and they’re also known for their daily pie selection. I love their blueberry corn bread (part of their sides option that come with most dishes) and from their espresso bar, the Boulder Latte. The service is always extremely kind and personable and I’ve never been there, with it not being packed. They’re dog friendly and have a water bowl for your dog to hang out by outside. http://www.walnutcafe.com

The Buff: Owners Christopher Meyer and Jacquelyn Sproul purchased what used to be the Golden Buff Grill in 1995 and have been at it ever since. Sitting on on 1725 28th St. (corner of Canyon and 28th) The Buff is homey, with a big space, where hungover college students and regulars who have been coming for 20 years dine alongside each other. The Buff is pretty iconic in terms of Boulder restaurants. Do yourself and order the pecan caramel quesadilla for a starter that includes pecans, brown sugar streusel and cream cheese. If you’re into it, they have $0.99 mimosas and bloody mary’s, too! The Buff was featured on Man VS. Food and they went over their Saddlebag pancakes (filled with bacon, sausage or ham) topped with two eggs. http://www.buffrestaurant.com/

Lucile’s: Opened for 32 years, this Creole Cafe now has five locations around Colorado but the original started in Boulder in 1980 and still sits in the pale yellow Victorian house downtown on 2124 14th Street. The breakfast portions are diesel and beware when you order your biscuit alongside your eggs, they can fill you alone. I suggest ordering the Louisiana style chicory coffee and hot beignets to start.  You can expect to find Creole classics like shrimp and grits, pan fried trout with poached eggs or pain perdu, New Orleans style french toast. This might be the longest brunch wait in Boulder (doesn’t take reservations) but it’s worth it. Go with an empty stomach. http://www.luciles.com

Snooze: Snooze probably has the most hype. Their most recent expansion is a spot on Boulder’s East Pearl Street (1617 Pearl Street) where even on week days, waits ensue since it’s a walk-in only kind of joint. Started in 2006, there are now seven locations around Colorado and one in San Diego! The feel of Snooze interior is retro and as my friend Toni says it’s like: “The Jetsons meet the ‘cool people’ with the Austin Powers theme track playing in my head to cap it off.” Snooze is well known for being extremely gluten-free and vegetarian friendly. I’m a savory breakfast gal myself, but usually their pancake of the day is something you can’t pass up. They always have their signature sweet potato buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade caramel, pecans and ginger butter though. Snooze is casual and an upbeat place to enjoy breakfast. http://www.snoozeeatery.com

The Village Coffee Shop: It’s no Boulder breakfast list without mentioning the OG greasy spoon diner of Boulder that has been around for 40 years. Owners Ryan and Shanna Henkel have been manning the helm for the last 7 years. Located in a strip mall on Folsom and Arapahoe, the small space is less than 1,000 square feet and their motto and shirts read: “890 square feet of reality surrounded by Boulder.” You can expect to find longtime older locals mingled with hungover college students crowded in the space. And either way, the food is greasy and your bill will be minimal, the coffee is hot (and probably just Folgers) and if you ask for something like a Latte, your waiter will yell, “We’ve got a Village Virgin!” to the whole restaurant. They definitely don’t have latte’s, folks. You can get the regulars like bacon, eggs anyway, hash browns or biscuits and gravy. It’s no frills and it’s just the way it should be. http://villagecoffeeshopboulder.com/

Tangerine: Tangerine is one of the few restaurants in the area that serves breakfast all day, everyday. Located in North Boulder on Iris and 28th Street, in a strip mall Tangerine boasts a mod-like theme with the bright and welcoming color of (you guessed it) tangerine filling the restaurant. Much of their menu is focused on Colorado local whenever possible and the options are typically inventive and broad. With two pages of breakfast items there is definitely something for everyone. It’s a good addition to the Boulder breakfast scene and for that neighborhood. http://tangerineboulder.com

Lucky’s Cafe: In July of 2012, Lucky’s Cafe in North Boulder (3980 Broadway Street, Suite 107) went through a makeover and revamped their menu to offer a solid breakfast, in a comfortable relaxed (very Jersey-like) diner atmosphere. North Easterners rejoice. I always love the service here and they mix it up offering biscuits and gravy, chipotle-marinated tofu with beats and greens and even scrapple! Off the beaten bath and next to the beloved Lucky’s Market, I suggest Lucky’s Cafe for a nice, neighborhood feel and food that is sure to fulfill your breakfast needs. https://www.facebook.com/luckysmarketcafe

The Kitchen: For a more upscale, refined brunch experience head to The Kitchen farm-to-table bistro on 1039 Pearl Street. Typically a fine dining (and one of the better restaurants I love in Boulder  for dinner) on Saturday and Sunday they offer brunch from 9am-2pm. The menu is small and seasonal with about 10 entree’s and a few lunch-like options, as well. The service is usually impeccable and the coffee is rich. The restaurant fills with light in the morning and it’s a great place to bring your family in town, to start the day. http://thekitchencommunity.com/the-kitchen-boulder/

Cafe Aion: Aion, a tapas restaurant on The Hill is a special place for brunch not only for their carefully crafted Mediterranean inspired menu items, but also because there is virtually never a wait. All the other places I mentioned, pretty much guarantee a wait because brunch is their thang. Aion, is a bit off the beaten path on The Hill and is known for their dinner, paellas and evening fare. The breakfast menu is largely local and their fresh croissants with homemade jam are flaky and buttery to perfection. They cure their own bacon in house and their bloody mary is $4 while the bellini with Colorado peach nectar is $6 to enjoy alongside their savory and sweet breakfast dishes. The atmosphere is wonderful and I love sitting in their bay window seat. http://cafeaion.com

With eight options to get your day rolling, these are the places I frequent (and recommend) the most. Who and what else do you love?

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  • http://twitter.com/doniree doniree

    Ah, I miss the Walnut Cafe! I loved that I could get a quiche, AND a side of blueberry cornbread, AND grits.

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      I know! It’s such a great spot with SO many delicious options.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kate.sciolino Kate Sciolino

    Shine has the best brunch!!!! Eggs benedict with avocado “holandaise” and mashed yams”. Gluten Free banana chocolate chip pancakes. You need to go there!!

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Thanks Kate! I love Shine for lunch/dinner/events but haven’t yet made it to their brunch. Adding it to my to-do tries. Thanks for sharing and stopping by :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jr-Moreau/17901497 Jr Moreau

    Lucky’s is a real hidden gem! We gotta go back!

  • FORK Social Lab

    This is an excellent and well researched list, Grace! Love it. And now I’m hungry.

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Thanks. Which are your faaaves? :)

  • http://twitter.com/raisinann Rachael C

    Cafe Aion has a great brunch! And never a wait, even though the food is stellar.

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Rachael – I suck. You’re so right and I love Aion’s brunch. I’m adding them in – thanks for reminding me 😉

      • http://twitter.com/raisinann Rachael C

        Glad I could remind you of it’s greatness :) Now I’m craving one of their donuts!

  • http://twitter.com/dgmandell David Mandell

    Grace. You missed Beehive! No question – one of my faves. If you haven’t been, I’ll meet you there for breakfast!

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Okay – so I’ve been to Beehive a handful of times (never for brunch, no opinion there yet). I always enjoy the food but walk away for a $50 tab for lunch! And the menu usually has 4-5 options so it’s super limited. Am I being crazy? :) I love the space and food is good when I go but hard with all the other options. And PS. Regardless, would meet you for breakfast wherever to catch up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1071204849 Lacy Boggs

    LOVE Cafe Aion’s breakfast. I think it is my fave. I get their bagels and lox—housemade everything—and a big pot of that great French press coffee. YUM.

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Such yum!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahewelch Sarah Welch

    Centro Happy Hour Brunch? I also second Beehive.

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Beehive is on my list to make it to brunch then! Centro does have a great deal – it’s sometimes hit or miss for me when I go (sometimes awesome, sometimes blah). Not sure why…

  • Bob Gordon Re/Max

    My wife and I love to make breakfast in our PJs too. When we are up early enough to avoid the wait, we love Lucille’s and Snooze. Thanks for the post. I’ll be back to read more. –

    • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

      Thanks for stopping by Bob! Great to hear :)

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