Having been on many a field trip to the “tea factory” in an earlier lifetime, I was excited to finally revisit what is the only enchanting spot in a maze of Gunbarrel business parks: Celestial Seasonings.
Back then, Lunchables and games of red rover (circa mid-nineties, before it was deemed dangerous) waited for us after disposing of hairnets and tea tasters. And while that was great, I had no idea that just around the corner was an arguably more substantial lunch at the Celestial Café.
Fast forward to present day when, on the afternoon of our visit I’m called back to such memories by boisterous summer day campers sprawled across the grass (now, playing tag) with those aforementioned sack lunches. Parting a sea of pudding cups and uniform tie-dye shirts, we continue into the café where the school day déjà vu continues with plastic trays to grab before getting into line. But the hot lunch parallels end there (thank God) in a café that offers fresh, homestyle meals catering to a variety of diets and palettes—picky eaters included.
After collecting our food and filling glasses with freshly tapped iced tea, we take our place at a table on the large veranda outside. If you opt to sit inside however, you’ll be rewarded with floor to ceiling murals of the same paintings that dress the Celestial tea boxes: pandas at a garden party, bears in nightcaps getting ready for bed.
The entrée and panini of the day vary, but if they’re anything like the bistro chicken sandwich ($7.50), it’s safe to assume that they’ll fall into the realm of delicious. The bistro chicken is comprised of a marinated all-natural chicken breast topped with the usual lettuce and tomato, and an added bonus of the café’s custom cran-raspberry zinger sauce (if you don’t recognize its namesake now, you will after the tour). The sandwich is a predictably good choice with juicy, tender meat free of antibiotics, on a just-thick-enough wheat bun. Its flavor is made distinct, by the custom sauce which tastes far better than it looks—liken to a violet-hued chunky mayonnaise—and adds a welcomed punch of bitterness to the traditional chicken sandwich.
Also from the grill menu, my friend chose the chicken and cheese quesadilla ($6.50), a non-greasy version of the tortilla-filled dish. Simple and to the point, it’s an order worth repeating on days when you don’t feel like something complicated. All items from the grill also come with a choice of sides ranging from seasoned fries to cottage cheese (again, all appetite bases are covered here).
While the café serves lunch until 2pm, they open their doors beginning at 7am for you to grab breakfast before a morning tour or tea store shopping spree (making sure you see everything can easily last until lunch). The breakfast menu doesn’t have much variation—different egg dishes or French toast about sums it up—but as with lunch, you can depend on getting a warm, well-prepared plate. Possibly the most rewarding part about eating here though (besides the tea), is the prices; with everything under $10 and no breakfast costing more than $5, you’d swear it’s 1998 all over again.
Celestial Café, 4600 Sleepytime Drive, Boulder, Breakfast 7.am. – 10a.m., Lunch 11a.m. – 2 p.m., 303.530.5300, celestialseasonings.com/cafe
Sui generis: 2/5