The secret’s out

Parkway Cafe is Boulder’s best-kept non-secret


The Parkway Cafe claims to be the best-kept secret in Boulder, but a packed parking lot on a Friday afternoon belies the statement.

Maybe part of the secret lies in the location; tucked away in east Boulder’s collection of warehouse businesses, between auto body shops, tow yards and car dealerships, Parkway has been dishing up Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes and American staples since 1987.

My editor has lived in Boulder for more than 20 years and had never been to Parkway, so there’s at least some truth to the cafe’s low profile.

Diner settings are the best way to eat breakfast — booths bathed in bright light, cutlery wrapped in paper napkins, ketchup and jam in a caddy, big plastic cups of water served right as you take a seat. Parkway embraces the simplicity of the diner setting, waiters dressed comfortably in jeans and T-shirts, patrons dressed exactly the same.

This is where you bring your parents when they come to town for a long visit. This is where you take your significant other after the first time they spend the night at your place. This is where you take the folks who help you make special memories, because this is the kind of place that inspires comfort and conversation… and a healthy appetite.

For a group of hungry, gregarious journalists, Parkway was the perfect destination for a mid-day, end-of-the-week break, a place to regroup and refresh.

While Parkway’s website is — and breakfast is certainly the name of their game — don’t shy away from their extensive list of sandwiches, entrees and burgers. This is, afterall, a diner.

There are pancakes, omelettes and French toast, but most of Parkway’s “breakfast favorites” take a note from Mexican cuisine, some very traditional, some with an American slant: breakfast enchiladas and burritos, migas cuatro quesos, nopales con huevos, huevos rancheros, and, perhaps the table favorite, chilaquiles.

Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican breakfast dish, based on fried corn tortillas simmered in either verde or roja sauce. This foundation is topped with melted cheese and accented by the smooth tanginess of Mexican crema (think sour cream, if you’re unfamiliar) and the salty chewiness of queso fresco (a feta-like cheese). Parkway keeps the dish vegetarian by excluding chicken, the most typical meat for chilaquiles, from the recipe.

This base is not unlike a very moist version of nachos, with refried beans, over easy eggs (or fried hard, if you just can’t hang with the delight of runny yolk) and the cool, lightly spicy kick of pico de gallo as accompaniments.

This is, quite frankly, the perfect hangover breakfast — fried carbs, savory sauce, cheese, beans and eggs. It’ll cure whatever ails you, from headache to heartache.

Pair this Mexican classic with a cup of hot coffee (that perfect cup of diner coffee, strong, but not too strong, served in that quintessential white mug) or a glass of Mexican hot chocolate, and you’ll be sipping and nibbling your way to complete satisfaction.

So, the secret’s out: Eat at Parkway. Added bonus: you can drop your Volvo off at Swedish motors or get your Prius windows tinted while you eat.

Parkway Cafe. 4700 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-447-1833.