The fast food juggernauts, McDonalds, Burger King and the like, have been exploiting the time-deprived diner for entirely too long. Sure, driving through and grabbing a bag of deep-fried goodness is a quick and cheap alternative to seeking out a higher quality and possibly more expensive meal, but as America's collective ass continues to expand and entire generations of children would rather have a Happy Meal than a home cooked one, it is time to say enough is enough. "But," you ask, "where will we go to find a more healthy, less corporate, reasonably priced fast food meal?" Gentle reader, get thee to Snarf's.
The first thing you notice about Snarf's is its name. The pop culturally aware may associate the name with a certain rascally mascot, the stay at home member of the Thundercats brigade, Snarf. As a fan of bad, mid-'80s action cartoons (I eagerly await the opening of the Voltron Cafe), I really wanted Snarf's to be named after the Thundercats' annoying sidekick, but after speaking to one of the employees, I regret to inform you that Snarf's refers to the owner's nickname. Thundercats d'oh!
Snarf's, a sandwich, ice cream, and goodies shop, offers a welcome alternative to chain fast food. Located at the corner of 21st and Pearl (one block down from the Spruce Street swimming pool), Snarf's is hard to miss. Both its sign and fence are garishly painted, and at night strings of lights adorn the establishment, serving as beacons to the famished. Though the restaurant itself is tiny-it is basically just a corridor with the kitchen on one side and a dining counter on the other- there is ample seating both inside and out. The service, provided by a predictably young and surprisingly enthusiastic group of people, is fast and friendly. So, whether you are dining on site, carrying out, or phoning in for delivery, your food should arrive in a timely fashion.
On one of our recent 99 degree days, a few buddies and I visited Snarf's to get some eats and beat the heat. On a sweltering day, nothing hits the spot like a cup of cold soup. We tried two of Snarf's offerings, the gazpacho and cold cucumber bisque. Although the gazpacho was spicy enough to merit a warning to those with delicate taste buds, both soups were satisfying (and each was accompanied by a hunk of tasty, toasted bread).
We followed the soups with three of Snarf's classic sandwiches (regular sandwiches available in Novice-$3.99, Snarf-$4.99, and Pro-$7.50 sizes; specialty sandwiches available in Specialty-$5.99 and Pro-$8.50 sizes). The Turkey and Swiss was served cold and loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mayo and mustard. The lean turkey and fresh vegetables were nestled in some of Boulder's best sandwich bread. (For those of you not from the East Coast, the key to a superlative sandwich is the bread, and it is exceedingly difficult to find good bread in Colorado.) The Eggplant Parmesan contained generous portions of eggplant, a hearty marinara sauce, and melted provolone in addition to the other fixin's. And despite the heat, I could not get enough of this excellent sandwich. Finally, what trip to the sandwich shop would be complete without a cheese steak? Snarf's offering in this regard was solidly average, with high grade steak and grilled onions but not nearly enough cheese. For Boulder, however, it was a good effort.
With respect to side orders, Snarf's provides many choices. In addition to the wide variety of chips ($.75), cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad ($.95) are also available. As the mercury continues to rise, however, Snarf's ice cream offerings take center stage. Available in a moderate variety of flavors, Snarf's ice cream is a savory way to cool down. You can have a single or double scoop ($1.35 and $2.25), a Hot Fudge Sunday ($2.45), a Hot Fudge Sunday Brownie ($3.00), a Milk Shake ($2.75) or a Malt ($3.00). While all of the ice cream dishes are delightful, I can tell you from personal experience that Snarf's malts are some of the best in Boulder. I highly recommend them.
Snarf's has that funky, unique feel people associate with Boulder. Instead of the plastic, fantastic, Madison Avenue appointments of the chain fast food joints, Snarf's has hand-tiled, umbrella-covered tables, stone benches, and weather-aged picnic tables. The staff does not wear uniforms, and local papers and advertisements may be found on the counters. So, the next time you get a hankerin' for some fast food, turn your back on the corporate fodder and go scarf at Snarf's.
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