Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things to Eat in Denver When You're on Vacation

We just got tickets to visit my family and so I'm studying up on all new vegan places/places with amazing vegan options in Denver. THERE. ARE. SO. MANY. My heart is exploding like the Grinch's when he realizes the true meaning of Christmas from all the wonderful Whos in Whoville.

Seriously Austin, for a vegan mecca, we have some work to do.

This post is dedicated to all of the wonderful places that I want to try(or go back to) when I visit Denver in January.

1) Watercouse Foods! Watercourse Foods has been my all time favorite restaurant in the whole wide world for as long as I can remember.

Almost anything on the menu can be made vegan.

My mom and I go there at least once every time I'm in Denver and one of us orders the Banana Bread French Toast, vegan, and the other orders either the Country Fried Seitan or the Tempeh Scallopini and we share the hell out of them. I am also a fan of the Grinder.

Colorado is known for its divine craft beers (and also its awful Coors), and they have tons of good ones here, as well as a rotating wine list. For the kids or the teetotalers, there's Oogave fountain soda, teas, fresh squeezed juices, and even milkshakes. They have a fabulous bakery and serve amazing desserts. You have to try at least one. And then you'll probably decide that you need another. They serve Sweet Action's frozen treats, so you can get anything a la mode.

2) Sweet Action Ice Cream Last year, I was super excited to try Sweet Action, only to find out that they were closed for the month. Completely dejected, we went to Watercourse, and found out that even though the brick-and-mortar location was closed, Sweet Action had still sent some of their fine products out.

We got to devour a huge piece of Watercourse's rich chocolate cake with a generous scoop of Sweet Action's coconut-based vanilla ice cream and it was amazing. My mom, brother, nephew and I all had some, and though we were stuffed, we couldn't get enough! It was, hands down, the best ice cream of any kind that I've had in years.

Since I'm apparently a huge masochist, I watch their Facebook page and salivate over all of their ingenious flavors, like chocolate whoopie pie, baklava, molasses swirl and pumpkin fudge ripple. Hopefully this time I'll get to try more.

3) Rebellion Pizza Holy Cow! I have never been here, but I am love with the owners. They offer vegan versions of chicken, Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, Canadian bacon, ranch dressing, American cheese, Swiss Cheese, Cheddar, and Pepper Jack, in addition to Vegenaise and BOTH Daiya Mozzarella and FYH Mozzarella. Insane.

They also offer vegan Boca burgers on any of their specialty burgers at no extra charge, and any of their specialty pizzas can be made vegan. This is by no means a vegan establishment, they just love the vegans and it shows.

The prices seem really reasonable, and they have a big delivery area, plus delivery is always free! They also have pizza toppings that are unconventional for pizzerias to carry, but super delicious like broccoli, kalamata olives, spinach, artichoke hearts, banana peppers, plus carrots, sun dried tomatoes, and even celery!

4) Sputnik I am way eager to try this place. Vegan green chile! Vegan green chile smothered over fries! Vegan arepas! Vegan tacos with sweet corn, roasted poblanos, black beans, toasted pepitas, chipotle crema and guac? What? The tacos are only $5.50? Insanity.

There's a specially priced happy hour and late night menu, in addition to their weekend hangover brunch, which includes bloody marys and a $5 mimosa carafe (don't know if these are vegan). It looks like all of their salads are vegan, including a hearts of palm salad and a really cooling-sounding cucumber and jicama salad (since it will likely be around 12° F when I'll be there if last year was any indictation, I won't be trying the jicama salad, as I'm used to 80° F winters, but it still sounds yummy!)

5) Beet Box They offer tons of amazing looking desserts, including formerly-forbidden-for-vegan-pastries like croissants, for really reasonable prices. They don't have a brick-and-mortar storefront, but they are available all over town at a variety of places, like Sweet Action and Paris on the Platte.

6) Mad Greens With 10 locations, and tons of options, this salad, soup and sandwich place sounds a good place to try after gorging on Beet Box's treats. I can't tell which soups and sandwiches have vegan options, but you can make your own salad.

They offer an amazing and extensive list of ingredients including apples, asparagus, cannellini beans, edamame, grilled onions, mango, pears, roasted corn, roasted red pepper, sugar snap peas, sesame seeds, plus premium ingredients like artichoke hearts, avocado, walnuts, grilled portabello and marinated tofu.

These are definitely the kind of salads that make vegans happy. There are also over 20 house made dressings, but I don't know which, if any, are vegan.

7) The Shoppe I've tried going to The Shoppe for two years in a row, so here's hoping for a charmed third time. They have vegan cupcakes, and I'd like to see how they stack up against Sugar Mama's Bakeshop, which has some outstanding vegan options. I believe The Shoppe also has a rotating list of vegan flavors, but their website is kind of confusing....It looks like maybe they have a vegan Elvis?

8) D Note This place doesn't have any of their signature dishes labeled vegan, but they do have lots of options for create your own pizza or pasta dishes, plus a salad or two that look vegan. They have 13 veggie pizzas, but they all seem to include at least a cheese, though I'm sure you could get the cheese omitted.

9) The Comfort Cafe The set up sounds similar to that of Austin's Casa de Luz, but it's an even more intriguing concept. The food is all on a donation basis, and you can even volunteer to work if you don't have any money to donate. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like they have an overwhelming variety of vegan options, but the philosophy is great, and it's right around the corner from one of my former schools, so I'll try to check it out.

The So All May Eat Cafe runs on a similar donation philosophy, but they are much further away, and I don''t think they have many vegan options, so I doubt I'll be able to make it there--I've tried in the past.

It also sounds like there are couple of vegan food cart options, like The Sprout House and The Steamin' Demon (a cute name for a spicy food trailer would have been The Steamin' Vegan, with a vegetable mascot that had steam coming out of its ears).

I had heard somewhere (I guess here?) that Denver was one of the locations where Chipotle was offering the mythical Gardein chick'n option. Last year, I had a couple bowls of pozole from Chipotle, which I could not find any info about online, though I'm hoping to see it roll out to other cities sometime. Denver is a big test market, so sometimes you'll see something really awesome available there for a very short period of time, and then you will never see it again, and if you ever mention it at a later time, everyone will look at you like you dreamed it. But you didn't, damnit! You didn't!

Ahem. Sorry, I digress. I think Chipotle is one of the great national vegan institutions. You always know that at any Chipotle you can get vegan beans, rice, and veggie additions, and you can watch them make it, so there's not going to be a hidden piece of chicken or something--this happened to me once with a feta wrap from Wendy's when I was ovo lacto. The meal is going to be filling, reasonably priced for the amount of food you're getting, and a pretty complete meal. In the past, Chipotle has really saved me, like when a family member was in the hospital, and I didn't have the means to cook or know of any other places close by with vegan options. I'm sure there will be at least one time when I'm out with family or friends and a Chipotle is my best bet during this trip, so I'll try to do a review of the garden blend or pozole.

Anyway, what are your favorite places or menu items to eat while on vacation? Know of any other awesome vegan finds in the Denver metro area? Let me know in the comments!


lazysmurf said...

OMG Sputnik sounds like my dream restaurant!It all sounds so good!!!

Anna said...

I grew up in Denver and it was a huge culture shock to move away and not have so many options for veggies. Did you know that Chipotle was founded and is headquarterd in Denver? It's why they get all the good stuff.

Marty said...

I also love Denver for vegan options, (when I'm lucky enough to get a car!). My very first stop a hundred years ago was Wolfe's BBQ although he only offers BBQ tofu along with all the other omni stuff.

I believe the pizza place you mentioned has some association with Watercourse but I'm not sure. I did chow down almost a whole pizza there. I don't think the toppings are house made, more like Boca and other sausage and pepperoni...but still worth a stop...and I ate there before Daiya hit the scene.

Nice blog btw.

Marty's Flying Vegan Review
vegan tees at

Epicurean Vegan said...

Wow! Thanks for this list. I live north of Denver, so I will keep this post bookmarked for when we travel down that way. :)

Christina said...

Smurf, I know, right? The menu is great, but it's actually a bar--I'm working on a post about my visit, and I'll talk about it more.

Anna, that's neat! I figured it was because Denver was just a big test market city.

Marty, the pizza place that is owned by the Watercourse people is called City O' City. It's apparently a cafe/wine bar/pizza bar/bistro. I haven't been there yet, and it doesn't seem as vegan friendly as Watercourse. Rebellion does use premade analogs, but that's still way more than most places.