Denver is a travel crossroads and a destination gateway. So, reason stands that dining options would cater to a large taste pallet. Denver stacks up well with great plant-derived menu items across the city. More people are including plant-based dining in their regimen. And, when traveling, plant-based options will probably have fewer calories, and the business dinner won’t keep you up quite as late.
Bang Up to The Elephant
Just on the east end of Downtown Denver, Bang Up to the Elephant is a hidden, vegan gem. You would expect the ambiance somewhere in Thailand, off a jungle road, not in a central metro area. The funky bar sets the tone with beams and colorful seating. Each booth feels like you are dining in an old temple or ruin. The dirty banana cocktail, which combines spiced rum, coffee liquor, vanilla, and a banana, is a great starter. Balance the sweet with the spicy with the jerked edamame and peppers appetizer. The coconut–curry main dish blends chickpeas with either jackfruit or tofu, pickled onions, and all over coconut rice with cornbread.
Not far from Denver International Airport, Cholon is a good stop on your way in and out of Denver. Chef Lon perfected his modern Asian cuisine in NYC, then started restaurants in Denver. You can expect an elegant atmosphere, intimate bar, and Asian food that gets fresh taste treatments. The crystal shiitake mushroom dumplings go upscale with a truffle emulsion. The spring vegetable fried rice with asparagus, rhubarb, and mushrooms with tofu is an iteration of an Asian staple. Finish it in taste bud elevation with spiced doughnuts and Vietnamese coffee ice cream.
South of Denver in Lone Tree is a family Italian restaurant with a surprising array of vegetarian options. Cranelli’s has an intimate bar, with the establishment focused on the food and good times. The strawberry pecan salad combines berries with spinach, romaine, and candied pecans. They are Denver-famous for their garlic knots, the perfect accompaniment to the salad or entree. A bevy of main dishes have no shortage of creatively using cheese as a protein addition. The eggplant parmigiana shines with its’ optimal crispy texture, cheese, and a side of pasta.
Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey
Far and above the best selection of vegetarian tacos in Denver is Tacos, Tequila & Whiskey in the Highlands neighborhood, just northwest of downtown. This is a fun fiesta with a cool bar, outdoor seating, and an indoor area where tacos shine. Yes, there are plenty of carnivore options as well. The hongos taco combines grilled crimini mushrooms, cotija cheese, creamed cilantro corn, and ancho-chile crema. And for something totally taste-bud different, try the walnut chorizo taco, which adds Monterey Jack cheese, tropical pico, red cabbage slaw, and tomatillo salsa. Wash them down with a pinche Paloma combining tequila, grapefruit & lime, agave nectar, squirt, and a salted rim. Wait, there is more with the homemade churros and chocolate sauce. An attentive staff adds to the experience.
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True Food Kitchen
The Cherry Creek area has endless restaurants, yet if you want to feel good about a good meal, then True Food Kitchen is the top choice. First, you have many seating options, from group tables to kitchen side watching, bar stools, and traditional tables. While the ambiance hits all the energy preferences, the food is remarkable. It starts with seasonal specialties and ingredients, so expect menu nuances. The watermelon salad gets it going with almonds, tomatoes and cucumbers, and a bit of chili. The vegan double cheeseburger has golden plant arches all over the great taste with the portobello, walnut, and beets as the main ingredients. All combination entrees will allow any protein you want to match, so meat eaters and vegetarians can get the same dish with individually specified protein.
Just east of Cherry Creek mall, Native Foods is totally plant-based, but don’t let that fool you in terms of taste or menu options. The restaurant caters equally to dine-in and carry-out, so an easy stop to pick up a meal on your way to your following location. Start with the spicy cauliflower dippers, which sit on a bed of cabbage, carrots, and green onion. Get your hot-to-trot burger with the poppin’ jalapeno burger, which features two patties combined with diced jalapenos and jalapeno-pimento cheese and a side.