Imagine a local delicatessen that deals in house-salted, -smoked, -cured, -pickled and -roasted meats, carved daily and piled between grainy slices of bread baked in the back, with fat slices of red onion and pickle, and slatherings of Dijon mustard and freshly whipped mayonnaise.
That kind of personal production hardly exists anywhere, and when it does, it comes at a price. New York City has seen its boutique kosher-style delis drop from 1,500 in the '30s to around two dozen, at least as reported in an '09 New York Times story. Prices have skyrocketed to $17 for a corned beef sandwich, driving "every other corner deli [to sell] Boar's Head Brand" in a cost-cutting measure, high-quality though the product is.
So, imagination aside and lean times considered, it's more blessing than not to find Boar's Head being dished from the Southwestern-style building housing Joanie's Mountain Gourmet Deli on Woodland Park's main drag. Former owners of The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls, Michael and Adele Faber took over the successful five-year-old restaurant last year, keeping the lunch menu largely unchanged but expanding breakfast.
It's expanded with items like the quiet huevos rancheros ($7.95) — a fading blue corn tortilla topped with bland green chili, avocado, scrambled eggs, onions, peppers and black beans (but paired with awesome fried potato bites) — and the humdrum lox and bagel platter ($8.95). An "overstuffed" breakfast burrito ($6.75) arrives average-sized at best — East Costilla Street's purple castle would be ashamed — and a basic breakfast sandwich ($6.50) of scrambled eggs, cheddar and bacon tastes exactly like the sum of its parts.
Lunch is where Joanie's kills it with distinct flavors, standout selection and perfectly toasted bread from Montana's Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery.
The rotisserie chicken pesto melt on sourdough ($6.25/half, $8.95/whole) dances a salty edge, never falling off, the oily pesto pitch-perfect with provolone and tomato. The roasted turkey melt ($6.25/$8.95) features dill Havarti melting all over roasted red peppers and cool avocado, while the corned beef Reuben ($6.25/$9.25), on a buttery marbled rye, is textural bliss. Lastly, a pale grilled bratwurst ($5.95) stands out on a chewy hoagie roll with sauerkraut, poppin' horseradish, grilled onions and deli mustard.
Classic deli offerings like Joanie's Gourmet Club ($6.50/$9.25) and Italian ($6.50/$9.25) are also impressive. The club comes as one piece, as opposed to quartered, and filled with roasted turkey, Black Forest ham, bacon, Swiss, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mayo. The Italian comes similarly packed, with salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and yellow mustard. Spend 25 to 50 cents more for a tapenade of black olives, garlic, capers, red wine vinegar, red onions and banana peppers.
Even a gravy-like creamy chicken soup ($3.25) from Shamrock Foods Co., source of many of the ancillary items, is worth ordering.
The menu continues with signature salads, house-made pastries and desserts like Lemon Drop Cake, and standard sides ($1.25) of coleslaw, and potato and macaroni salads. Add in a lively atmosphere — the hiss of the grill singing in the background — free Wi-Fi and an incredible view of Pikes Peak, and a lunch up the pass becomes, if not an opportunity to revel in the real thing, a trip worth taking anyway.