Greeley-Weld County Airport, CO
Just 40 miles north of Denver, and outside the constraints of its Class B airspace, Greeley-Weld County Airport (GXY) harbors one of the worst-kept secrets in Hundred-Dollar Hamburger lore: The Barnstormer Restaurant. Tucked neatly inside the Greeley-Weld tower, the Barnstormer offers pilots a complete selection of traditional American favoriteswith a few meals particular to Colorado and the Southwest.
Flying into Greeley, we crossed midfield, landed on the 6,200-foot-long Runway 9, and made our way to the FBO. After chatting briefly with the airport staff, we headed for the restaurant.
Passing through the sliding glass doors that partition the Barnstormer from the rest of the FBO, we scoped out a booth and sat down. All the seats offer a clear view of the ramp, and discussing the specs of each plane that lands or leaves is a fine way to avoid any conversational lulls. If no planes are going in or out of Greeley, take a few moments to look at the dozens of aircraft photos lining the walls.
Between the salt and pepper shakers, which were behind four bottles of various hot sauces, we found photocopied menus with each side dedicated to either breakfast or lunch. Breakfast can be ordered every morning from 7:00 to 10:45, except on Sundays, when its offered until early closing at 1:00. Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:00 until the Barnstormers usual closing time of 3:00.
The breakfast menu runs the gamut from three egg omelettes to breakfast burritos to the Barnstormer Special (French toast or pancakes with ham or sausage). The lunch menu is heavy on hamburgers, burritos, and an array of subs. Only one item on the entire menu costs over four dollarsnachos grande, at five dollars per orderthough a few off-menu specials, like steak and eggs, are in the six-dollar range.
Because we arrived at the tail-end of lunch, the only other patrons in the restaurant were two women who were smoking and talking in a booth near the entrance. After a few minutes, one of these patrons got up to take our drink order. She brought back a pair of iced teas (brewed, not fountain) and kindly asked what we wanted for lunch.
Small posters on the wall encouraged me to try some of the local specials. Butbeing that Colorado is a landlocked statemy intuition told me that the fresh Rocky Mountain Oysters might not really come from the sea. So I passed on them and ordered a Barnstormer Burger with double meat. My friendthe health-conscious typeordered a single-patty burger.
Immediately after taking our order, our server walked into the kitchen, washed her hands (or at least turned the water on and off), and started preparing our meal. Ten minutes later, she returned carrying plastic baskets filled with food. My double burger arrived with a pile of steak fries, and the single came accompanied by potato chips.
The burger was good. Damn good. The meat was fresh, and there was plenty of it, even on the single burger. The lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes were typical supermarket produce section farereminiscent of family cookouts and just the way I like them. Overall, the sandwich seemed like a larger version of The World's Finest Burger from the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico (another worthwhile destination). The fries were fine, and the chips were chips, but the burger was obviously the centerpiece of the meal.
Following the main course, my friend and I decided to split a piece of peach pie. Our server heated up a generous slice in the microwave, cut it in two, and brought it to our table within a few minutes. There was a little more syrupy filling (and less fruit) than I usually like, but the crust was tasty and the dessert still hit the proverbial spot.
As the last crumbs of pie fought their way into my crowded stomach, I was glad my companion and I had flown in nothing smaller than a four-place. Each of us was going to take up a row of seats on the way home.
Not counting fuel costs and tip, lunch for two at the Barnstormer came to $14.
The Barnstormer can be contacted at 970-395-0260. More information on the Greeley-Weld Airport and its available services can be found on the Web at http://www.gxy.net.