Don't be fooled by the shiny new façade, the Buff is still the same place you've always known and loved. A Boulder landmark since 1995, the restaurant moved in January to a bigger space across the street, adding 700 square feet and more parking spaces. But the menu remains unchanged and the wait is as long as ever at this hugely popular breakfast and lunch stop with its ridiculously cheap drink deals and massive plates perfect for refueling year after year of hungry college kids.
The Buff is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Wait times for a table are consistently 45 minutes to an hour during peak hours, so grab a seat outside at the expanded bench area and enjoy sweeping views of the Flatirons. The wood from the old restaurant has been repurposed into new booths and wall paneling so there's a lot of history intertwined in the design. The interior is a major upgrade from the old space, with a more modern feel than it's humble, understated beginnings. Throwback photos and chalkboards, though, ensure that the new Buff maintains its original charm and doesn't deviate too much from its downhome roots. The servers are super bubbly, especially Jen, whose infectious giggle and saasy "I got you, girl" for every request kept me fully entertained the whole meal.
The Buff has been a University of Colorado hangout for decades, as evidenced by the constant stream of sorority girls and other hung-over students. Anything from yoga pants to "basic" attire fits the norm, but as Boulder is one of the worst dressed cities in America, no one will judge you or even blink an eye at whatever you show up wearing (including our foul-smelling camping gear).
There's a reason the college crowd loves this place: its the 99-cent bloodies, mimosas or tequila sunrises, although the Buff limits you to three, with the purchase of an entree. Garnished with a pepperoncini, the Blood Marys have good heat, and for that price, can't be beat. If you need a caffeine buzz, the White Buffalo is the largest iced white-chocolate mocha I've ever seen, enough for the entire table to share. Otherwise, there are other morning cocktails and Ozo coffee creations on order.
To start, we got a pecan, caramel and brown sugar quesadilla, cut perfectly in fours for the table. Reminiscent of a crunchy sopapilla with a thin cream cheese dipping sauce, it was the perfect reminder of how simple and good this place is -- who doesn't love dessert for breakfast? The Buff's menu has plenty of other Southwestern flair: two of us got the Ole skillet, made famous when President Obama ordered it on a recent Boulder stopover. A mess of potatoes, chorizo, green chilies, onions, jalapenos, and cheddar, the skillet comes smothered in either queso or green chile (duh). It's a meaty and filling plate with enough food for two meals. With two eggs and two extra thick slices of toast, it's exactly what you'd want after a long night in the woods.
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Ian ordered another skillet, the Matterhorn: a plate of melted Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and onion -- another satisfying dish despite the kitchen's heavy hand with the pepper. Terra had the excellent biscuits and gravy, which are served in a bowl -- the perfect vessel for mixing in light and fluffy scrambled eggs to complement the thick sausage gravy. My only complaint? The Buff doesn't have a Denver outpost (hint, hint).