It was my first morning in Boulder, Colorado, the city of superlatives, known as the best place in the U.S. for just about...everything. Its residents have been called the smartest, thinnest, and most athletic in the country, and it ranks high on where-to-retire lists, "dream" city lists, and pretty much every other list that's out there. So while I was anticipating a full day of exploring this colony of super-humans, ("we're mutants," one resident ventured), it was early and I was hungry. Which meant one thing: breakfast, and preferably one of champions, which I assume is pretty standard around these parts.
I arrived in Boulder late the night before, so I didn't have time to scope out prime breakfast hubs. I asked the guys at the front desk of my hotel for some nearby recommendations. They suggested a place called "The Golden Pancake," and I was intrigued. The name inspired visions of fluffy stacks of flapjacks, haloed in rings of syrup. I got the directions, and after bypassing an IHOP on the way, I came across an Original Pancake House (I can only imagine the "International" and "Original" houses of pancakes like to rumble on the weekends). Still searching for the elusive Golden Pancake, I wandered on, and into a yarn store, knowing that I can always trust knitters for good advice. Bursting my bubble, they claimed not to have heard of the alleged "Golden Pancake" and directed me back across the street for the "best breakfast in Boulder." Starving and ready to eat, I let my golden dreams subside and walked into the Original Pancake House, where I struck bacon.
Now I must admit, the Original Pancake House is a family-owned franchise, one with outposts all over the country, and I always prefer to avoid chains when I'm traveling. But hunger prevailed, and I wandered inside to peruse the menu. Bypassing the specials, my eyes were instantly drawn to the intriguing item halfway down the list: The Bacon Pancake. I was immediately struck by its brilliance. Substitute bananas and blueberries for chopped up pieces of bacon, which are mixed into the batter and grilled inside each bite. "It's so obvious it's almost funny," I said to no one in particular, and closed my menu, decision made. My order arrived after a few moments: Three golden pancakes bursting with bacon and slathered with butter and syrup. The first bite was glorious, a wonderful mix of sweet and salt, a bit of what I imagine heaven tastes like.
Sitting in a chain restaurant eating bacon pancakes may just be the antithesis of everything Boulder stands for, I realized. But it was a relief to know that in the heart of a city filled with perfect people, you'll still find some of them enjoying some golden vices.
Photo: Pancake Perfection by Janelle Nanos