Ever since I was a little kid, going out for breakfast has been a special treat. Sometimes this meant picking up some fried hash brown patties on the way to school; other days it was pancakes with a chocolate chip happy face. Although my tastes have changed since then, my sense that going out for breakfast is something special has not. It just seems to give the whole day a sense of carefree and tranquil progress.
This is especially true when I go to Gertrude's in Old Colorado City for their weekend brunch. On a sunny morning, the bright light floods in and reflects gently off the crisp white tablecloths and vases of fresh flowers. From the moment I step inside the peaceful room and take a seat in the corner booth, that special feeling comes back to me as I luxuriate in the day's freedom.
If your plan for the day is to sit around doing nothing, get it going in the right direction with Gertrude's big and stiff Bloody Mary ($5), one of those treats I've definitely come to enjoy later in life. The rich, tangy and spicy homemade mix is sure to wake up your mouth and clear any lingering cobwebs from the night before. Those looking for a softer beginning can choose from an array of fresh juices or the classic mimosa. When the air turns crisp, they also make an excellent cup of hot chocolate.
It'll be good to have something to sip on while you consider the extensive menu. Gertrude's is cooking every morning, offering up eggs, omelets, breakfast plates and griddle treats. Those staring a long day square in the face can fuel up with a hearty breakfast burrito ($7.25-$7.75), loaded with a choice of tomatoes and herbs, beans and rice, or sausage and veggies, all stuffed into a big tortilla and smothered in delicious vegan green chili. Add to this a healthy side of home-fried potatoes and your stomach should keep quiet deep into the afternoon.
Not to be missed are the blue corn pancakes ($5.50). Made from stone-ground blue corn meal, these babies offer an old-fashioned mix of sweet and savory, with a good chew to boot. Cover them in Gertrude's own raspberry syrup and you'll be fighting your inner child -- or the one next to you -- for every last crumb.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Gertrude's raises the bar with a collection of brunch specials that severely test my decision-making skills. When sophisticated simplicity rules the day, the asparagus and brie omelet ($6.95) carries the banner. Suspended in three fluffy eggs, the creamy and nutty melted cheese perfectly complements the grassy, crunchy and ever-so-slightly sour asparagus. This classic French combination brings a bit of Provence to Old Colorado City.
For something more homely and with a Colorado twist, try the jalapeo corn pancakes. Fried to perfection on the hot iron griddle, these flapjacks boast chunks of sweet corn and the kick of hot chili pepper, which make for a compelling combination that my wife can't seem to resist. Topped with brown sugar and sour cream, these pancakes truly straddle the border between breakfast and lunch.
Lest I be accused of throwing stones while living in a glass house, I must confess that I am a dead goner for Gertrude's Eggs Cozumel ($7.95). I already have a weakness for anything with Hollandaise sauce, but this is more than a grown man can take. To the classic Benedictine combination of poached eggs, ham and English muffins, Gertrude's piles on avocado, roasted onions and tomato slices. As if that weren't enough, they augment the Hollandaise with a dose of fresh and tangy salsa. The result is a colorful heap of breakfast goodness.
Aside from the eminent skill displayed by the kitchen, there is another reason why breakfast at Gertrude's is so much fun: Happy people make happy food. The staff is always friendly and welcoming, and they're generally having a good time. This carries over to joking with regulars and making sure that everybody has everything they need. Even if you've never been in before, you'll feel at home right away.
For everyday breakfast or a special weekend brunch, this charming West Side eatery puts together a very tasty package at an attractive price. It's a great place for a morning meeting or a weekend rendezvous with friends. Afterward, you can stroll past the shops on Colorado Avenue or pick up fresh produce at the nearby Saturday farmers' market (for a few more weeks, at least). Besides, you'll want to walk off the last Bloody Mary before you head out.
2625 W. Colorado Ave.
Breakfast: Monday through Friday, 8-11 a.m.
Breakfast and brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch: Monday through Friday until 2:45 p.m. Dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, 5-9 p.m.