Is it wrong to plan a summer trip based on where you can find freshly baked, flaked croissants with unsalted butter and homemade jam?
A foodie and parent asked that question recently. She was experiencing significant guilt for not focusing on finding the next museum, scenic view or attraction to share with her offspring on vacation. It was a pleasure to simply search for pain au chocolat.
I see nothing wrong in setting an itinerary based around baked goods. I’ve planned vacation road trip routes based almost strictly on stops at family bakeries for cinnamon rolls. I say “almost” because I was also researching pies. Visit in the morning and you get to know the folks who actually inhabit a place. It’s a relief to get away from the chain-eatery sameness.
Driving around Colorado, I make a point to track down true local bakeries. Think of the following list of places outside the Boulder area as a sort of app, a GPS (general pastry service) for tasty stops. These are the ones I’d head back to in a heartbeat, including a few that are new, or new to me.
Sourdough Boulangerie: Natural bread nerds will shout over the taste of the Extra Sour Sourdough Loaf made using heirloom flours. Notable sourdough varieties include cinnamon apple with cranberry and walnut, roasted garlic and rosemary, pumpernickel, dense rugbrød, challah and baguettes along with pastries. 6453 Omaha Blvd., Colorado Springs, 719-645-2905.
Also in Colorado Springs: Boonzaaijer’s Dutch Bakery (dutchpastry.com).
Cuba Bakery & Cafe: Love the guava and cheese pastelitos, sweet yeasted breads, pineapple empanadas and hard-to-find Cuban dishes. 15028 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora, 303-752-2822.
Also: Daniel’s of Paris French Bakery (danielsofparis.com).
Grateful Bread Co.: Get in line early for dark chocolate babka rolls. This great bakery is only open Saturdays 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with sourdough breads, baguettes, pastries and pretzels, plus house-milled corn, wheat and rye flours. 425 Violet St., Golden, gratefulbread.com/retail.html.
Giovanni’s Italian Bakery & Cafe: House-baked pignoli cookies, cream puffs, cannoli, raspberry twists, elephant ears and almond biscotti. 13019 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, 720-535-4260.
Also in Lakewood: Taste of Denmark (tasteofdenmark.net).
Rosenberg’s Kosher: First-class traditional bakery with water bagels, bialys, marble rye bread, hammentaschen and mandlebrot plus schmears, smoked fish and salads. 942 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver,
Tokyo Premium Bakery: Exceptionally crafted, French-inspired Japanese tarts, doughnut twists, pistachio cream cheese croissant and curry buns. 1540 S. Pearl St., Denver, tokyopremiumbakery.com.
Also in Denver: D Bar Denver (dbardenver.com), Denver Bread Co. (thedenverbreadcompany.com); Celestial Chinese Bakery, 333 S. Federal Blvd.; Trompeau Bakery (trompeau-bakery.com); Istanbul Cafe & Bakery, 850 S. Monaco Parkway.
Also notable in the Denver metro are: Rheinlander Bakery, Arvada (rheinlanderbakery.com); Dolce Sicilia, Wheat Ridge (dolcesicilia.co); Royal Bakery, 9606 Ralston Road, Arvada.
Ginger and Baker: Set in a rehabbed feed store, the hip, old-fashioned bakery/cafe crafts first-class breads, gingerbread, sweet rolls, cakes, cookies and coconut pies. Don’t miss the green chile Cheddar hand pies and pecan sticky buns. 359 Linden St., Fort Collins, gingerandbaker.com.
La Francaise: There’s nothing new at this French-run bakery and that means nothing but classic buttery raisin brioche, éclairs, beignets, chocolate raspberry Paris and lemon meringue tarts. 411 S. Main St., Breckenridge, lafrancaiseco.com.
Also in Summit County: Blue Moon Bakery, Silverthorne (bluemoonbakery.net); Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe, Frisco (butterhornbakery.com).
Northside Coffee & Kitchen: Look for chai and maple bacon cake doughnuts, and worth-the-drive, oversized, house-baked, toasted English muffins with butter and honey. 20 Nottingham Road, Avon, thenorthsidekitchen.com.
Daily Bread: Blissfully hipster-free shop with fruit pies, peach turnovers, chocolate peanut butter cookies and humongous raisin cinnamon rolls. 346 E. Main St., Montrose, 970-249-8444.
Baked in Telluride: Hipsters abound here, but so does bliss. After a long drive, there is every sort of sweet and savory baked and fried treat including potato knish, doughnuts and bagels. 127 S. Fir St., Telluride, bakedintel.com.
Homestyle Bakery: Honestly, you could visit this place every morning for a week and not dent the selection of down-to-Earth cinnamon swirl bread, muffins and morning rings. Must-taste item: Fried peach hand pies. 924 N. Seventh St., Grand Junction, homestylebakerygj.com.
In the Grand Junction area: Slice O’ Life Bakery (sliceolifebakery.com).
Winona’s Restaurant: Since 1967, children (and adults) have tolerated the long drive into Steamboat knowing that cinnamon-y, yeast-y rolls smothered in sweet cream cheese frosting awaited at Winona’s. Then, there are the oversized cookies, muffins and pastries. 617 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, winonassteamboat.com.
A Few Words about Vicki
There should be a national culinary prize for hospitality to honor someone like the late Vicki Bergstrom Esparza. You may know her as “Vicki from the Parkway.” She served generations of Boulder residents at the Parkway Cafe and at Lucky’s Cafe. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of breakfasts and lunches and a million cups of coffee. In a mundane but meaningful way, Vicki uplifted lives. The honest truth is that you get eggs and bacon at a lot of places. When she died at the age of 64 in April, there was a celebration of Vicki’s life. Naturally, it was at the Parkway Cafe. A lot of customers noted that they came for Vicki’s smile when they walked in the door, as much as the corned beef hash and eggs. People described her as a bright light, a ray of sunshine and an energy source. She taught generations of waitresses how to serve and make each person feel special. She will be missed.
Local Food News
Brew Tea & Coffee Bar has opened at 802 S. Public Road in Lafayette. … Ward and Lefthand Canyon bikers have a new/old spot to visit. The former Utica Street Market has been renovated into Jackleggers offering snacks, burritos, sandwiches and coffee. … Coming soon: Arizona-based Oregano’s Pizza Bistro will open at 2690 Baseline Road, former home of Beau Jo’s Pizza, and one of the most poorly named eateries in recorded history: Fiasco’s Mexican Grill. … The Diaz Family will open Tierra y Fuego Taqueria at 4558 N. Broadway.
Words to Chew On
“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses.” — Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.
John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU. Podcasts: news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles