Dining

Happy Hour Comes Early

Centro's light weekend brunch accommodates bargain hunters.
By
July 2010

I love brunch in theory. In reality, I usually come away from the weekend ritual feeling sluggish, my stomach heavy from colossal amounts of eggs and pancakes, and my wallet emptied before noon. So "brunch happy hour," a Saturday and Sunday morning (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) novelty at Boulder's Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, caught my attention. Could it be? An affordable alternative to overpriced menus at traditional brunch spots?

I called a like-minded friend and seduced her with promises of $3 Bloody Marys and mimosas. We met at the casual-cool, Latin-spiced spot on Pearl Street on a warm, sunny day, perfect for enjoying Centro's spacious outdoor patio.

I immediately tucked into a spicy Bloody, while my friend sipped a bubbly mimosa. We eyed the nearby Flatirons as our drinks disappeared, and discussed our plan to hike Mt. Sanitas after brunch if the feast didn't leave us too full to get up from the table.

From a list of six enticing breakfast items priced at $2, we split the breakfast taco, hash browns, and seared greens, along with a $6 order of biscuits and gravy (from the regular brunch menu). Subtle touches like candied onion in the taco (along with scrambled eggs, salty Cotija cheese, radish, and a side of medium salsa) were a pleasant surprise at such a low price. Savory pork green chile topped crispy and tender hash browns. And the two cheddar biscuits, each split in half, were served with mild chorizo gravy, which added a flavorful, spicy twist. The portions were refreshingly reasonable—not massive and ridiculous. The serving sizes were so sensible, in fact, that we ordered the $2 fried banana with coconut for dessert. The crunchy, sweet shell was still warm when it arrived, and we dipped it in a cool, rich vanilla crème anglaise.

After all of that, we still had plenty of change in our pockets to linger on the patio for a cup of coffee stirred with horchata—Mexican cinnamon-rice milk—instead of traditional creamer. The light, spiced sip was a perfect way to end our meal, and served as a lovely send-off before heading to Mt. Sanitas. Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, 950 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-7771, www.centrolatinkitchen.com