According to staff members at this kitschy breakfast joint in Denver’s Ballpark District, the Real-Worlders bunkered down in one of the curved, half moon crescent booths that, on wheels, would wobble and swirl like one of these teacup-like rides at an amusement park that make anyone over the age of 13 hurl after the first hotdog.
My cup of tea is not those rides, but rather the fantastic pancakes that have made Snooze an a.m. ritual for cosmopolitan urbanites, stroller-toting couples and java settlers soaking up caffeine at the joint’s modern marvel of a bar, all shiny and silver with bright lemon yellow plastic chairs that welcome morning revelers with a spurt of sunshine before the sun even comes up.
Snooze is a feel-good kind of place where animated conversations reach high-decibel levels, service is spunky and friendly, newspapers are strewn here, there and everywhere, and the Formica-topped tables and cream and turquoise Thunderbird upholstery remind you of why everything old is back in vogue.
Including, I suppose, pancakes, although did they ever really go out of fashion? Here, the hotcakes come flipped with ambrosial flavors. There’s the Reese’s Pieces pelted with Ghirardelli chocolate chips and crushed peanuts and pooled in a creamy river of peanut butter, which, to my tastes, is too sweet for breakfast, but would make a decadent dessert, especially if the kitchen crowned it with French vanilla ice cream.
The pineapple upside down pancake — the reason why everyone comes here in the first place — is flat out phenomenal with its caramelized chunks of fresh pineapple palmed with a circle of cinnamon butter. Flapjacks are served solitary or in a flight of three, a trio that includes both the chocolate and peanut butter pancake, the pineapple and the pancake of the day, which might be a blueberry-studded bombshell swathed with a ginger-lemon butter, or a cinnamon-sprinkled griddled round specked with vanilla chocolate chips and drizzled with vanilla glaze.
If Snooze stuck to pancakes, everything would be wonderful with the world, but the simpleton menu also fronts ordinary omelettes with your choice of run-of-the-mill fillings (mushrooms, onions, bacon and sausage), an ubiquitous, but fine, breakfast burrito parceled with scrambled eggs, hash browns and salsa, and Juan’s breakfast tacos, which will probably never be the taco of the town.
On their own, bundled with scrambled eggs, crisp-edged potato squares, Jack cheese and a piquant Ranchero salsa, the tacos are quite good, but the corn tortillas — fresh-made white or store-bought yellow — disintegrate into a soggy mess, in part, I suspect, because of the evil raft of wet lettuce that lies beneath. I don’t mind lettuce in my tacos (although I prefer that my lettuce reside in salads, where it belongs), but I don’t want it adhered to my tortillas like a fly on, well, you know.
While breakfast is the main draw here, Snooze also makes a sideswipe at lunch. My ultimate comfort food — tomato soup and a grilled-cheese sandwich — graces the menu, and while it’s not the best I’ve ever had, I like the garlic-kissed soup with its cache of cayenne pepper and tiny carrot pellets, and the sandwich, sans the crust, passes muster in a childlike sort of way. It’s cute and playful, as is Snooze, so it works.
The Snoozeburger, however, does not. Twice, I’ve requested it medium rare, and twice, the kitchen has produced a mass of gray matter cooked beyond medium. Push it aside, and instead plunge fork-first into the hash brown cake, a crisp, crunchy and blatantly buttery mound of potato paradise.
Part of Snooze’s shtick is its wee-morning hours. Monday through Friday mornings, the doors open at 6:30 a.m. to a sassy crowd of prowlers, and the kitchen (bless them) doesn’t let up until the doors close at 2:30 p.m. — a perfect set-up when we’re pining for pancakes.
Snooze recently opened a second location, dubbed 7 CO, on Colorado Boulevard near 8th Avenue and a third location in Fort Collins is in the works. Check back with the Snooze or GoColorado Web sites for details.
If You Go
2262 Larimer St., Denver; 303-297-0700; 700 N. Colorado Blvd, Suite A, Denver; 303-736-6200
Snooze is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the week, and 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Lori Midson, Colorado AvidGolfer’s restaurant critic (www.coloradoavidgolfer.com), makes a career out of wining and dining her away around Denver, where she lives, a city ripe with culinary surprises. She is a frequent contributor to Sunset and CITY, the local editor of numerous Zagat Surveys, and the Denver dining writer for AOL CityGuide. Midson, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism, has also written for other publications including 5280 magazine, Executive Travel and EnCompass.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.