June 1, 2011

The Village Coffee Shop, Boulder’s Popular Diner, Offers Gluten-Free Breakfast and Lunch

By Evan Sandsmark -  

There’s nothing like a good breakfast, even if you’re eating it mid-afternoon. This is the lesson we drew from our recent visit to the Village Coffee Shop, a popular diner in Boulder that is now offering several gluten-free options for breakfast and lunch, including gluten-free french toast, gluten-free blueberry pancakes, and gluten-free hamburgers.

Like many other restaurants in the Boulder area, the Village offers (free of charge) GF substitutions for the parts of dishes that contain gluten, thereby opening up almost the entire menu to gluten-free dieters. A hamburger with fries, for example, is almost entirely gluten-free, except for the bun. How do you make hamburgers available to those eating gluten-free? Why, offer a gluten-free hamburger bun, of course. The Village merely expands this strategy, offering gluten-free bread, gluten-free pancakes, and so on in an effort to make as many dishes gluten-free as possible. Not everything on the menu is gluten-free – a few sauces contain gluten, and the Village doesn’t have GF tortillas or biscuits to use in dishes that require these items – but by simply making a few gluten-free replacements available, the Village has done much to accommodate their gluten-intolerant patrons.

However, the Village’s decision to expand their gluten-free offerings was not merely done to accommodate those who can’t eat gluten: the owner of the diner wanted to serve her son, who has a gluten intolerance, GF pancakes in the restaurant. He was only able to eat gluten-free bread, the Village’s initial GF offering, while in the restaurant. So about three months ago, the owner decided to add gluten-free pancakes to the menu. These proved to be popular (people couldn’t get enough blueberry gluten-free pancakes, the owner said), so other gluten-free items followed, including GF french toast and GF buns for hamburgers and sandwiches.

During our recent visit, we decided to try the gluten-free french toast, to which we added a side of hash-browns and, to round out the breakfast experience, one scrambled egg. As we waited for our food, we had a chance to take in the layout of the diner, which is small, organized, and efficient. The entire dining area is rectangular, with a small cashier at the front, a long wooden counter behind that, and the rest of the space tightly filled with orange tables, the majority of which can seat four people. Behind the counter is the kitchen, where you can see the cooks churn out dish after dish with hectic proficiency. The logo of the CU Buffaloes is posted around the restaurant, and there is also a wall of newspaper clippings featuring CU student athletes, so the owners are clearly fans of CU sports (or else they’re just shamelessly catering to the alliances of their customers, who appear largely to be CU students, although we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that we saw Ward Churchill eating pancakes at the counter a few weeks ago).

Overall, the atmosphere of the Village can be a little frenzied, but it is run with discipline and precision. There is a method in the madness, and evidently it’s an effective method because the Village is almost always packed, yet we’ve never had to wait very long for a table.

No more than ten minutes after ordering, our food arrived, looking and smelling delicious. The scrambled egg and hash-browns were served on one plate, the gluten-free french toast on the other. The hash-browns, as always, were crispy and delicious, and it’s a good thing because a side of them is substantial. With a little ketchup and hot sauce, they always hit the spot. The scrambled egg was cooked just right and was slightly fluffy. It added a carb-less (basically) dimension to our rather carb-centric breakfast – what more could you ask of an egg?

With a light coat of butter and a drizzling of warm syrup, the gluten-free french toast was very good. Insofar as we can remember, the Village’s delicious GF french toast tasted very much like delicious normal french toast. In fact, the most notable difference between the two is completely superficial and unimportant: the gluten-free french toast was somewhat rounded, as if the loaf whence it came was cylindrically shaped, and as far as we know most french toast tends to be square. The GF french toast was fairly dense, as most gluten-free bread tends to be, and perhaps this made it slightly different than standard french toast, but the density isn’t a bad thing, and in fact it made the dish more filling. Another thing we liked about the gluten-free french toast is that it had crispy edges, which added a nice texture to the soft, warm interior. Good stuff.

Before concluding, it’s worth mentioning two more things about the Village: it’s inexpensive, which helps explain its appeal to the college crowd, and the service is great. Granted, on this particular visit our server happened to be the owner, so she was obviously extremely knowledgeable about the menu, but we’ve been to the Village on numerous occasions, and the servers are always diligent, helpful, and responsive.

We definitely encourage you to check out the Village, and if it’s your first time, be sure to mention that fact to your server. With that cryptic advice, we bid you adieu.

Check out the Village’s menus (breakfast and lunch) here:


The Village is located at :
1605 Folsom St
Boulder, CO 80302

Note: This is the eighteenth article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant, try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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