Plant-Based Eating in Denver
I just came back from a lovely 4-day trip to Denver, aimed at settling my youngest son Nicholas into his college at the University of Colorado, Denver. I have traveled to this wonderful city before and loved it. One of the top rated cities to live in, Denver offered many healthy, plant-powered options. Read on to learn more.
We helped Nicholas move into his dorm room at CU Denver. Here he is taking his college ID photo. He is so excited to be a part of this campus!
We enjoyed lunch in the campus cafeteria and it was great to see Silk on display as a plant-based beverage option!
The campus dining seems to be very green, with little use of disposables. The students are encouraged to avoid paper towels in the dorms and to compost and recycle in the dining areas. Love these signs!
Here’s a view of the beautiful campus from one of the admin building windows. The cool thing is that the campus is right in the heart of the city—just steps away from the fun, historic parts of town, filled with cafes, gastropubs, shops, and restaurants.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Osteria Marco
I wrote a review on this restaurant previously, and was happy to find that it was still reliably good. Set in the charming Larimer Square area of downtown Denver, the rustic, approachable cuisine is Italian with modern influences. I enjoyed these fabulous fried green tomatoes with a relish. Yum! I also had a wonderful kale, quinoa, chickpea salad that was so rich and satisfying!
Larimer Square, Denver, near Osteria Marco
This historic area of the city, where Osteria Marco is located, is festooned with lights and butterflies in the summer. So pretty!
When in Denver…This city is all about craft beer! It’s almost a waste to drink wine (or water! Just kidding!) when you are here. There is really good beer being made all over the state, and you’ll see it featured in all of the restaurants, cafes, gastropubs, and breweries. Here is one that I tried—I loved it, too!
Tofu and Vegetables with Brown Rice at Spicy Basil
We had a simple lunch one day at Spicy Basil, which had so many plant-based options it was amazing! This fresh and flavorful stir-fry with tofu and brown rice was so good! There is a fair share of good ethnic food in Denver, too.
Fruition is probably one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. I had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Alex Seidel previously, and he is truly dedicated to farm to table dining. He has his own farm. The food is refined, yet focused on the approachable, true flavors of local foods. The space is sophisticated and the service is impeccable yet warm. I started with this salad, which was so wonderful: radishes, toasted quinoa, fresh greens, pickled onions, vinaigrette.
For my main entrée, I had this wonderful pasta with fresh corn, tiny squash, peppers, and micro greens—prepared with a good = olive oil and herbs.
I stayed at the Hyatt in Denver, and enjoyed breakfast one morning. I was so happy to see all of these amazing plant-based options!
Veggie Breakfast Tacos, Hyatt, Denver
Of course I had to try those veggie tacos for breakfast, which were filled with tofu, olives, jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions. So wonderful!
We had time one day to get away from the city and see a bit of that majestic landscape that is Colorado. We drove the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway, which takes you to the top of Mt. Evans, over 14,000 feet in elevation. It is the highest paved road in North America. Here I am posing along the road with bristlecone pine, the oldest plant species in the world. The oldest is more than 5,000 years old.
Bristlecone Pine, Mt. Evans, Colorado
These twisted, gnarly bristlecone pine are the only trees that survive in the harsh climate as the road travels above the alpine forest level. On the Mt. Evans road, you can see all of the various levels of growth as you climb up. After the alpine forest, you see the scrubby bristlecone pines take over until the treeline stops and you see the alpine tundra and even perma frost.
Summit Lake is near the top of the mountain, and you can see that it’s above the treeline and in the alpine tundra. Only low-lying plants can survive this harsh environment, though you can spot the occasional marmot and mountain goat that can survive in these parts. Even in the heart of summer, it was 36 F here.
On our way back to Denver, we stopped at this charming, historic mining town founded during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Today, it is a nice little visit only 30 minutes from Denver, with quaint antique shops, cafes, and breweries.
Humming Bird, Idaho Springs, Colorado
At one of the shops, I spied this adorable, fluffy little hummingbird not afraid of me at all!
We stopped for a soy latte at this charming little coffee shop, and caught the owner roasting coffee beans right in the back room of the shop!
Westbound and Down, Idaho Springs
We were able to taste beer at one brewery in Idaho Springs and really enjoyed the wonderful varieties! I especially loved their Colorado Pale Ale.
We had our favorite meal in Denver at the wonderful Duo. It’s such a charming, cozy place with stunning food. Here we are: Peter, myself, and Nicholas.
Eggplant Fries, Duo Restaurant
OK, I just have to try to make these at home! Simple wedges of eggplant, rolled in panko, fried and sprinkled with herbs and served with a marinara. Yum!
Salad with Melon and Pistachios, Duo Restaurant
We shared this wonderful seasonal salad, featuring sweet melons, crunchy pistachios, and tender greens.
Chickpea Pancake, Duo Restaurant
There were lots of plant-based options on the menu, so it was hard to decide. But I ended up ordering this amazing vegan chickpea pancake with adzuki beans, greens, and julienne vegetables with a beet puree. It was one of the best, most comforting meals I’ve ever had!
Chef Duo Restaurant
I was so enamored with my chickpea pancake I talked to my wonderful server about it, who went to the kitchen to ask the chef to write down the recipe! Here she is bending over her notes as she writes it out—a treasured souvenir! I can’t wait to make it!
Community Garden, Denver
Right in the heart of the city stands a community garden, where you can see squash growing. Love it!
Thirsty Lion Gastro Pub, Denver
For our last meal in Denver, we checked out the Union Station area—which is the hot, trendy place to go in Denver. The wait was long in every restaurant on a Sunday morning, but we found a spot at this little gastropub, which served a mean house-made quinoa bean veggie burger!
Union Station is a hubbub of activity!
Farewell Denver! We shall be back!
Images: Sharon Palmer, RDN