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|October 2-8, 2008
• Cha, te, tea
Exploring pleasures and complexities
by Maricel E. Presilla
Our morning reference point
Dot’s is part of Boulder’s Breakfast Hall of Fame
by Clay Fong
Some restaurants become so ingrained in the community consciousness that they become a point of reference with respect to one’s time in the community. One local establishment that fills this bill is the venerated Dot’s Diner, as evidenced by conversations such as this:
Friend: There was a time I ate at Dot’s a lot.
Me: Which location did you go to?
Friend: The old one on Pearl — it was like an old gas station.
Me: I remember eating there when I had my first job after grad school. I think my boss took me there for an omelet and it was a warm spring day…
Friend: Easy there, Proust.
Of course, such a conversation evokes memories of other long-lost Boulder institutions like the Around the Corner burger shop, the place that sold illegal switchblades at the Crossroads Mall, and the covered wagon dealership. Nevertheless, some landmarks abide, and on a recent Saturday morning, my friend Juanito and I decided to check in on Dot’s 28th Street location. While this newer venue may lack some of the retro charm of the old Pearl Street eatery, it still attracts one of the most eclectic crowds in town. Retirees rub elbows with families and REI-clad outdoorspeople in a bustling but welcoming environment.
One of the daily specials, a $6.25 small omelet stuffed with Swiss cheese, spinach and mushrooms, appealed to Juanito. Although Juanito found this dish loaded with more cheese than he would have liked, the mushrooms were cooked so as to maximize their flavor without reaching that dreaded shriveled state. Happily, the spinach retained a hint of crispness, and the eggs were pleasingly light.
Perusing his biscuit, Juanito noted that there was a particularly moist and buttery patch baked into it. “This isn’t the place if you’re on a low cholesterol diet,” said Juanito as he dipped the biscuit into a side of creamy, country-style gravy. The biscuit would have benefitted from a few more minutes in the oven, as it lacked the fluffiness of standout versions. Juanito’s grits, however, escaped the awful fate common to preparations made north of the Mason-Dixon line. This ground cornmeal hadn’t been boiled into submission like buttery baby food. Instead, it possessed tooth that would make a true Southern chef proud.
While the $9.25 corned beef hash wasn’t quite what I expected, it was still satisfying. The potatoes were essentially home fries, and I had anticipated diced cubes of potato specially prepared for hash. Conversely, the corned beef came in small, neat slices, and I was surprised to see the meat’s uniform appearance. Aesthetics aside, I found this generously proportioned dish had all the other right moves. It didn’t fall into the trap of being too salty, and the accompanying two sunnyside up eggs were just the way I like them with a slightly runny yolk.
Dot’s has always had an unshakable reputation for excellent breakfasts at a fair price, and its quality has remained consistently high over time. It’s likely that Dot’s will retain its position not just as a first-rate purveyor of diner fare, but also as a reference point for how much time one has been in town. Decades from now, someone will mention Dot’s, and the follow-up question might be, “Do you mean the old location by the spaceport and time travel pavilion?”
2716 28th St.,
Clay’s obscurity corner
Dreaming of a 24-hour diner...
As much as I enjoy Dot’s and similar local venues, I wish Boulder had an authentic 24/7 diner. It would serve up dishes like hot open-faced turkey sandwiches and meatloaf at prices affordable to just about anyone. Chains like Denny’s don’t count. Ideally, this establishment’s building would be a chrome art-deco diner, which are sometimes crafted from retired train cars or manufactured by the same companies that built railroad coaches. These early prefabricated buildings first emerged in the Northeast, and while some made it to the Midwest, it appears there are very few original examples in Colorado.
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