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Thursday, July 25,2013

A Niwot breakfast without pretense

By Clay Fong
Photo by Jefferson Dodge

Many hold the Niwot Market’s Friday evening summer dinners in high esteem. However, it’s also worth noting that this hospitable family-run grocery also dishes out reasonably priced breakfasts and lunches throughout the week.

These meals are simple, unfussy affairs with straightforward order-at-the-deli-counter service. Lunch options include an array of sandwiches, but there are also intriguing daily specials, ranging from blackened fish tacos to roast lamb on pita bread. Breakfast options are refreshingly uncomplicated, highlighting pancakes, waffles and egg dishes of varying stripes.

On sunny days, taking a seat at the tables on the grocery’s front lawn makes for an appealing al fresco experience. A wall separating diners from the parking lot makes for a tranquil, garden-like ambience. Unsurprisingly, this is a popular spot for weekend bicyclists, and friend Dan and I recently enjoyed Sunday breakfast after a leisurely nine holes of golf. Our fairway adventure helped us cultivate substantial appetites, and we wound up selecting a pair of $7.99 choices, which skews towards the upper end of the price range.

Without hesitation, hungry hombre Dan selected a plate of tamales with two eggs. His scrambled oeuvres had an endearingly fluffy texture, and were a compatible foil to the more assertive flavor of the meaty tamales. The meat ante was also substantially upped by copious application of green chile, which included hefty chunks of slow-cooked pork. The spicing was reason ably mild, but this Southwestern sauce also had an intriguing, smoky savor. Substantial tamales consisted of plenty of moist masa cornmeal encasing a decent ration of tender, pulled meat.

I had to invoke a modest degree of culinary creativity when it came to my build-your-own omelet meal. Many items at the deli, including meats, cheeses and veggies, are fair game, and I requested a variant on the classic Denver omelet containing bacon, bell pepper and pepper jack cheese. Perhaps we can dub this variant the Northglenn or Arvada, although the Niwot may be the most accurate moniker in this particular instance.

This hefty preparation didn’t skimp on the fillings, and like Dan’s scramble, the eggs’ texture was light and not at all overdone. The spicy cheese was as I like it, melted and pleasantly gooey, while the bacon had fried up to the proper level of crispness. Certainly it wasn’t burnt, but it had a noticeably satisfying crunch. This winning textural quality also was apparent in the crisp tender mild pepper strips.

One nice touch is that the Market’s coffee, roasted in-store, comes with each breakfast. My selection of a cup of Bolivian brew made for a smooth but robust accompaniment to my meal. I’ve also been known to grind and buy beans here for home consumption. Happily, I’ve discovered I’m hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Market’s product and boutique coffee costing much more, especially when brewing with my Aeropress. This inexpensive device produces a remarkably smooth cup, and highlights the finer aromatic qualities of this grocery’s coffee.

While there are certainly fancier places to enjoy breakfast, one shouldn’t ignore the considerable humble charms of the Niwot Market. Sometimes all one seeks is a morning meal without pretense, but heavy on value and quality. Coupled with a cup of first-rate joe, it could be all you need to start the day.

Niwot Market is located at 7980 Niwot Road. Call 303-652-0919.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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