The Denver restaurant scene hasn’t always been friendly to vegetarians. Make that double for vegans. Think of the nearly exclusively meat filled menus that were once prevalent at so many restaurants; no vegetarian main dishes, certainly nothing vegan. At the best of restaurants, vegetarians were forced to order a la carte from the side dishes and piece together some sort of a meal; at the worst, well, it was better to just stay home. Fortunately the times, and restaurants, are changing as the demand for vegetarian and vegan options grows. Most restaurants now offer something nice on the menu for vegetarians, that you would actually want to eat. Some offer a substantial selection of fantastic dishes. Plus, many exclusively vegetarian restaurants are opening up all around the city. Today, The Daily Meal shares where to find the best all vegetarian or vegan restaurants around Denver.
City O’ City
City O’ City is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have pastry and a pretty solid drinks menu. The restaurant is vegetarian but also offers a ton of vegan options. The menu is quite varied offering the expected traditional breakfast items, soups, and salads; but also veggie burgers, udon noodles, spaghetti with quinoa and mushroom ‘meatballs,’ even tofu BBQ! The food is beautifully presented, fresh, and tasty.
Watercourse foods, started out as a vegetarian restaurant but, this past year they decided to go completely vegan. On their website Watercourse bills themselves as, “the first stop for vegan comfort food.” With vegan takes on traditional comfort food items like pancakes, green chili veggie burgers, and a vegetarian po’ boy, they do fit the bill.
Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant
Lotus offers all your favorite Asian dishes: pho, hot pot, tempura, and more. There are also many vegan options. Lotus Head Chef Thuy, began cooking at 6 years old in a Buddhist temple in Vietnam; where she learned to prepare healthy and flavorful foods from the monks there. After immigrating to the U.S. Thuy opened Lotus to share her passion for healthy but delicious food with Denver.
Nectar House & Elixir Bar
Nectar House offers breakfast items, salads, noodles, sandwiches, pastry, smoothies, teas, artisan chocolates and deserts, and tonics. Nectar’s food is 100 vegan, organic, and gluten free. At night Nectar House becomes Elixir Bar, a nontraditional bar which doesn’t serve alcohol, but instead offers shorts and drinks of healthful tonics made from herbs, fruits, and honey.
Native Foods Cafe
Native Foods is a vegan joint, hailing originally form Palm Springs California where it was founded in 1994. Despite being a chain, the food is homemade. The menu has a range of starters, salads, ‘handholds’ like veggie burgers, warps and tacos, ’Earth bowls,’ which are essentially a vegan version of the beef bowl, and desserts. Native food has been exceptionally well received not only by the vegetarian community but, the local media.
Govinda's Garden Cafe
Govinda’s is a vegetarian restaurant with many options for vegans as well. You’ll never know what you’ll find at Govinda’s with an international menu that changes weekly. The restaurant is well loved but, unfortunately the restaurant is only open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for lunch, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday for dinner. However, the food is worth the inconvenience.
Beet Box Bakery & Cafe
Beet Box is a totally from scratch vegan bakery with a selection of wonderful pastries, cakes, cupcakes, pies, and tarts, that rotate daily. They also offer sandwiches for lunch. You won’t find any artificial food colorings, preservatives or hydrogenated oils in any baked good or food served here. Beet Box also does wedding cakes, or dessert buffets for weddings and will accommodate gluten or nut allergies as needed.
Boulder's Leaf is one of the best bets for an upscale vegetarian dinning experience. Stop in for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Leaf is about more then just being a vegetarian restaurant; food presentation, atmosphere and all the touches that ensure a high level dinning experience are also a focus. Though, they certainly don’t forget about quality food either. Many of the restaurants ingredients are sourced from Leaf’s own, Three Leaf Farm, in Lafayette Colorado. Executive Chef Rachel Best works directly with the farm to ensure the highest quality ingredients possible make their way to your plate.
Julia’s in Boulder is all about tasty, healthy, vegetarian food. The menu is made from all organic food, uses only healthy oils, and is gluten free. This includes the deserts. Julia’s is open for breakfast through dinner and offers a simple regular menu and plenty of rotating daily specials. Try the red lentil coconut curry soup or the hummus pizza.
Veganism has even made it’s way into the Denver food truck scene. Food truck options in Denver, of all sorts have been expanding rapidly, including the Vegan Van. Locals love the food choices at the Vegan Van; the ‘freak out’, veggie balls, herbed marinara, with avocado pesto ricotta on an herbed roll comes highly recommended. Check the vans schedule at veganvan.com.