A tribute to Lucky’s Cafe, and all the neighborhood breakfast joints

Sunrise in a Spoon: Lucky's Cafe in north Boulder

Favorite breakfast joints make it easy to fuel up for a Colorado trek

By Joshua Berman
Special to The Denver Post

POSTED:   02/14/2014

The regulars take down their usual orders at the counter at Lucky’s Cafe in Boulder.

The regulars take down their usual orders at the counter at Lucky’s Cafe in Boulder. (Joshua Berman, Special to The Denver Post)
BOULDER — Sunrise comes quickly in  Lucky’s Cafe, a cozy, east-facing eatery in north Boulder. In an instant, the day’s first butter-yellow rays blast through the windows, splashing color onto the sides of diners’ faces and their raised forkfuls of eggs.

The servers rush to lower the blinds as I belly up to the counter. I silently smile “good mornin’ ” to Vickie at the cash register, and nod yes for coffee.

It’s another flawlessly beautiful winter day outside. The place is packed, as usual; the early-morning weekend crowd is a loud mixture of families, skiers and snowshoers, many half-clad in Gore-Tex and packing it in — meat, potatoes, biscuits and tofu flannel hash. From my perch on this stool, I can almost hear every body’s batteries charging up for the day ahead.

Located toward the northern tip of Boulder, Lucky’s is an easy launching pad to places like  Rocky Mountain National Park,  Brainard Lake National Recreation Area, or  Eldora Mountain Resort, each less than an hour’s drive away. In addition to those adventures, Wonderland Lake trailhead sits just across Broadway.

Not everyone has such lofty goals. There’s also us, the requisite lineup of scruffy, flanneled men, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at the counter, reading our papers and knocking multigrain toast crumbs out of our mustaches.

I’m particularly fortunate to have Lucky’s Cafe in my backyard, and not just because it makes my neighborhood smell like bacon. Plus, because his restaurant is located next door to Lucky’s Market, a specialty supermarket that sources much of its produce and meat from local farmers, head chef James Van Dyk has access to the freshest breakfast ingredients in Colorado (he personally runs back and forth to the market at least 15 times a day).

But apart from those particular bonuses, I imagine that every town, neighborhood, or mountain hamlet worth its salted pork has its own version of Lucky’s, right? To find out, I asked my friends around the state to tell me their favorite pre-adventure huevos joint and came up with a delicious Tour de Bacon across the state. Here were their top picks:

Two Rivers Cafe in Basalt (156 Midland Ave., 970-927-3348) for its eggs benny and tangy hollandaise hangover cure; Mountain Buzz Cafe & Pizzeria in Georgetown (1200 Argentine St., 303-569-2020) for its quick access from I-70 (hit it on the way to Loveland or when you need a break from interstate traffic); Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant in Alamosa (400 Main St., 719-587-5500) for its Mexican breakfast buffet (only $6.95!); in Denver, Nick’s Diner on West 37th Avenue and Federal Boulevard for steak and eggs and loaded skillets (3743 Federal Blvd., 720-443-2878).

Who did I miss? Tell me about your favorite neighborhood expedition launcher so I can add it to my list and then start traveling to connect the greasy dots.

Joshua Berman, who likes his eggs over-easy with home fries, wheat toast and, sure, one more cup, is the author of “Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon.” JoshuaBerman.net or  Twitter @tranquilotravel.

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The above article originally appeared in The Denver Post on February 14, 2014.

HASH BAR & BEYOND: THE BEST BREAKFAST IN NOBO

 Or the best lunch, for that matter. I like to belly up to the counter early in the morning, when the rising sun blasts into the cozy eatery, and the servers rush to lower the blinds. I nod yes for coffee, then order from the hash bar (smoked pork hash, corned beef hash, or tofu flannel hash). Recent renovations, menu upgrade, and new outdoor patio make Lucky’s Cafe easy to recommend. Of course, I’m biased, since I live in the neighborhood—so close, I can smell their bacon some mornings.
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