Plant-based Denver dining

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 coconutcurry main dish blends chickpeas with either jackfruit or tofu, pickled onions, and all over coconut rice with cornbread.

Cholon Bistro 

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.

Cranelli’s Italian

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.

Native Foods

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.

Comments (8)

  1. Ben says:

    Tacos, tequila, whiskey. Can it get any clearer and what more could anybody want?

  2. Cheryl Jackson says:

    Travelling far too much for my job, I reckon that I’m seeing lots of plant-based options on menus. Every now and then I see an eating house that takes carnivores and vegans equally seriously, handing out separate menus. No way am I vegan though I aim to take 2 or 3 days off meat every week.

    • Neil E Wolkodoff says:

      Cheryl, then almost all of these restaurants will meet your food preferences. BangUp is totally vegan, but they still have things you might like. And their drinks and bar are amazing.

  3. Brad says:

    Denver’s never been short of great places to eat. I never had any doubts that they wouldn’t keep up with the demand for plant-based foods.

    • Neil E Wolkodoff says:

      Brad, great observation, Denver has always beenb top 5 in restaurants per capita. The trick with plant based options is you have to do a much better than average veggie burger, and have other options. All these establishments do!

    • Phil says:

      Yes, the vegan burger is always the test. Restaurants know that and I’ve had some very good vegan burgers lately. What’s good is that they’re all so different.

    • Neil E Wolkodoff says:

      Phil, I agree that is certainly one of the benchmark dishes to determine their metal so to speak. Because creativity for other dishes really adds a bevy of spices, some of which you might not like, this is always a good stand-by order. My impression was the eateries that did offer some type of plant burger did it well. The ones that didn’t made up for it with their unique cuisine, like tacos or Asian bowls.

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