Posted October 01, 2014
By Lauren Monitz, Westword One of the tried-and-true Denver brunch staples, Snooze is where you take anyone who's visiting from out of town to impress them with the wide array of decadent pancake creations or when you have some time to kill waiting hours on end for a table. Since opening its doors to the first Ballpark location in 2006, the cult breakfast spot has expanded across Colorado into Boulder, Centennial and Fort Collins and even across state lines into Arizona and California. Now on its ninth restaurant, Snooze's newest outpost is in the new Union Station, just a few blocks from the original location, and inquiring minds wanted to know if the food and ambiance stacked up to the original or if it was just a shiny, new imposter. Spoiler alert: you won't be disappointed at either. The 411 The new Snooze is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while the Larimer Street Snooze has the same hours for weekdays and opens 30 minutes later on weekends -- from 7 a.m. until 2:30 pm. Neither takes reservations and wait times are similar at both for the weekend brunch crowd of one to two hours or more; at Union Station you may even wind up waiting for a table during the weekday lunch rush, while you can generally walk right in on Larimer for a quick mid-week bite. The Scene The ambiance is very similar at both spots, with their signature lime green and orange decor, retro saucer tables and interior design. The Union Station location also features a swanky mural, appropriately of a train, and a brand-spanking new 40-seat patio, which the old location was sorely lacking (there were a few spots to grab a drink while waiting, but no outdoor spots for dining). Drinks Both locations offer the same extensive alcohol list with multiple spins on traditional favorites: mimosas made with sparkling wine from Infinite Monkey theorem, bloodies from all over the world, and brunch beer cocktails, but the signature item is the house coffee. Snooze's own unique blend from Guatemala, it's organic, sustainably sourced and totally in-line with their do-gooder mission (you may recall their work with the homeless). I opted for a chai, of which they have two kinds: Bhakti or Third Street, depending on whether you like sweeter or spicier. Long story short, they have tons of anything you could want and are willing to customize just about everything. The Food The menu is exactly the same at both spots, so fear not -- your perfect pancake awaits. For quality assurance, I ate at both two days apart and can confirm you will not be disappointed at either location. At Larimer, I had the pancake flight, a gluttonous tribute to all their sugary delights that looks more like edible art than food. I chose the cake of the day, which was a strawberry malted buttermilk creation topped with strawberry malt sauce, whipped mascarpone and fresh berries, and added a blueberry Danish pancake topped with sweet cream, berries, and almond streusel with a lemon cream cheese filling (the winner by far) and the spiced pear pancake, a new addition for fall with roasted Anjou pears, honey-chai glaze, candied walnuts and whipped mascarpone (this one actually tasted better after being in the refrigerator for a late night snack). Her potatoes looked so good it's what I ended up ordering at Snooze 2.0, topped with an egg, tomatoes and spinach. It was definitely worth the hype, if you're into skillets without the actual skillet. Making sure we covered all the bases, our other friend went with the B.E.A.T. sandwich, a hearty concoction of Tender Belly bacon, a sunnyside-up egg, arugula, tomato, avocado (extra) and bacon-tomato aioli on a ciabatta roll. The two Snoozes -- the original and the newest in the family -- may exist in completely different environs, but the bright, retro vibe, the sweet and delicious pancakes and the savory brunch treats are crowd-pleasers at either spot. Snooze is reminiscent of the Bongo Room in Chicago (my favorite brunch spot of all time: hello, white-chocolate, caramel, pretzel pancakes, I miss you). If you like sweet breakfast treats, by all means go all out with the plate of three pancakes. Otherwise, you can order just one on the side to compliment a savory selection, which is what my roomie did, going with the peanut-butter cup pancake, which comes coated in a thick decorative drizzle. Despite being gluten-free, it tasted just as sinful to me. She also ordered Spuds Deluxe: hash browns smothered in melted jack and cheddar cheeses, an egg for an upcharge, scallions and your choice of fillings (a variety of veggies, meats and sauces).