Snooze (Denver, CO)

Last month had us visiting Grand Junction, Colorado for a friend’s wedding. Aside from (many) trips through the Denver airport, and two trips to Golden, CO for work, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Colorado, despite many childhood trips there, so I was rather enjoying the chance to fly into Denver, drive through the Rockies via Loveland Pass and Glenwood Canyon, and check out some of the scenery in Western Colorado. It was a lightning fast trip, but after arriving in Denver extremely late on a Thursday and crashing in a hotel.

The next morning, the first order of business was, of course, finding breakfast. Seeing that we had pretty much the entire Denver metropolitan area between us and our destination, I figured I’d try for one of the better places in the area, Snooze. Snooze is a Denver restaurant chain that opened in 2006, and now has expanded to five locations around the Denver area, two around San Diego, and one in Phoenix, AZ (in the magical, magical shopping center also including the second location of Pizzeria Bianco), and they are particularly well-known for have lavish breakfasts, a good set of cocktails, Googie style and long lines.

We decided to check out their location on Colorado Blvd. Walking up to the joint, it’s actually pretty subtle: a small Snooze sign with a starburst is about the only sign that there’s a breakfast place there. That, and the large number of people milling about at 10am on a Friday, enough so that I found myself asking “Do people in Denver actually, you know, work?!” But inside, it’s a surprisingly busy joint in several ways: the many diners either eating or milling about drinking coffee while they wait, the friendly and enthusiastic waitstaff bounding about taking orders and delivering food, or the interior decoration that fully embraces the above-mentioned Googie style: boomerang formica, starbust patterns, bright colors, big, curving boothes, and funky angles. Usually with the places I go for breakfast, a place either has ambiance or it doesn’t. Snooze not only has “ambiance”, it has it in spades.

Despite the line outside and the many people waiting for a table, we didn’t actually have to wait all that long for a table: about 20 minutes. And we didn’t get some small table to ourselves in a back corner of the restaurant, we got one of the giant circular booths in the middle of the restaurant. While we had a good idea of what we wanted to order (we had been staring at other tables’ pancakes and burritos for 20 minutes), our first order of business was getting bloody marys. One of my favorite cocktails, usually getting a bloody mary involves, well, just ordering one. But at Snooze, they’ve got an entire menu of them, with variants including a Spicy variant with jalapeno-infused vodka, a Gazpacho variant, a Thai variant with Sriracha, lemongrass, and lime, and even a Boss Hog with bacon. That said, we both ended up order Spicy Bloodies, and these were very enjoyable (and boldy spicy) bloody marys: the perfect for starting a day at 10am.

While I mentioned that we had a general idea about what we wanted, we had actually only narrowed down our breakfast choices to three dishes: the breakfast burrito, their chilaquiles Benedict (hey, I love chilaquiles, and I love eggs Benedict…), or their “pancake flight” (one each of any of the three specialty pancakes on their menu). In the end, we ended up punting and getting all three items, with the realization that we’d probably end up skipping lunch as a result.

About 10 minutes after placing our order, the food all arrived, and I’ll have to say, it was quite the spread. First: the chilaquiles Benedict. Sometimes fusion concepts work and sometimes they don’t. Well, here it worked, and worked well. Instead of the usual English muffin base for a Benedict, here the base was a layer of tortilla chips soaked in a very fragrant and flavorful red enchilada sauce. Add in a layer of shredded barbacoa beef and a slightly-creamier-than-normal Hollandaise sauce with a bit of pico de gallo and some cotija cheese, and this was a splendid breakfast dish: hearty, spicy, creamy, smoky. It had it all.

Carol’s Breakfast Burrito was no slouch, either. Here the basic approach was standard: scrambled eggs, hash browns, black beans, and cheddar-jack cheese in a tortilla topped with green chile sauce. The execution, however, was perfect: the eggs scrambled just to the point of being done but still moist, nice crisp hash browns, and savory beans as a filling. And the green chile sauce was spot-on: a nice, bold sauce just oozing with green chile flavor. Consider this another winner.

And finally, the pancake flight. Given several options, we choose three: sweet potato, pineapple upside-down cake, and tiramisu (a daily special). Living in New England, I’m used to being asked whether I want real or fake maple syrup (sigh, like there’s really a question there?!), but here they don’t ask… since they don’t come with syrup. Between the sweetness of the pancakes and their toppings, these pancakes don’t need any syrup. But all three of them were splendid in both their taste (the tiramisu and sweet potato tying for first in my opinion) and execution (moist interiors, perfectly crisped edges). It’s been a while since I’ve had a good “fancy” pancake, and these were some of the finest.

Overall, I’ll have to say, Snooze was a complete hit. The food and drink were top-notch, the flavors bold and enjoyable, and the service friendly. And quite frankly, the price was pretty affordable as well. I’m excited to know that on my next trip to Denver, Phoenix, or San Diego, there’s a solid breakfast option to be had.

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