This is a list of restaurants, food trucks, and markets in the Denver and surrounding area that I would recommend for your eating pleasure. Not all of these places are vegan and some aren’t even vegetarian but I have included all these restaurants because I believe they have a good vegan selection with great food. If you don’t see a restaurant on here I either haven’t been or I don’t think it’s worth mentioning. I may have also forgotten some or have never heard of a specific restaurant so if you have any suggestions please tell me in the comments.
Restaurants on my list to try:
I have included links to all the restaurants so that you can view their menu and other information.
Beetbox Bakery & Cafe is truly an amazing example that hard work does pay off. They started out in a small kitchen and eventually grew into an established store front. They don’t just have sweets either. They recently introduced a sandwich menu that is absolutely lovely. Even non-vegans love it! My favorite is the Avocado Melt. They cater and do weddings. They take special orders and are accommodating to allergies. I have not gotten a response from them about soy in their baked goods though. Even after getting a store front they still share their pastries with a few coffee shops and cafes around the area. So if you can’t make it to them you have other options. No excuses!
Chomp is the brainchild of Plants & Animals Denver. This event happens every first Wednesday of each month. It is a monthly vegan community dinner that is put together by volunteers and is funded by donations from those that attend. They ask for a suggested donation of $8 to $10. Their usual spot is at Green Spaces but this last summer they ventured out for a family BBQ feel at some city parks. Each month they have a different theme that the volunteers come up with. They have had themes like Italian, Lebanese, BBQ, and a Thanksgiving feast every November. In order for the volunteers to know how much food they need to make you have to RSVP otherwise there may not be enough for everyone and that would be sad. You usually have to wait in line for a while but the food is worth it. If you go to enough of these things you are bound to make some friends so it turns into a true community dinner. Just remember to bring your own plates, cups, and utensils to keep it green. You don’t want to be that person.
City o’ City and Watercourse are in cahoots. They have the same owner but are two very different establishments. Although they do have two things in common: the noise and the desserts. Watercourse is the slightly more sophisticated sibling while City o’ City is the greasy diner that wants to party until 2 in the morning. My favorite thing about this place are there interesting combinations like the Kimchi and “Sausage” Torta. I’ve heard great things about their pizza but I haven’t tried it yet. Make sure to tell the waiter you’re vegan since they’re not fully vegan. This place has street parking but there is a parking lot across the street that you have to pay for.
Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant is a somewhat fancy vegetarian restaurant. They have a wonderful brunch that I took my non-vegan family to and they loved it! The downside, they are so far away being in Boulder so we don’t get to go there too often. That’s probably a good thing. I’m sure we would try to eat there once a week which wouldn’t be the best financial decision. I really do love this place. They have awesome cocktails and the most amazing food. I would say their menu is on par with some really good veg restaurants in NYC. I can’t pick a favorite because the list would be too long. Another cool thing is that they have their own farm that they exclusively use for the restaurant and catering. This also means that their menu changes with the seasons. They also have cool events like a special Valentine’s Dinner prix fixe, farm-to-table dinners at their farm, and once in a while they host an all raw vegan special dinner that we have yet to attend. Go for brunch, lunch, or dinner but don’t leave without having some dessert too. That would be a crime.
WaterCourse Foods was the first vegetarian restaurant I had the pleasure of eating at so it holds a special place in my heart. Ever since, I have found myself craving one of their many amazing dishes. Where to begin? They have an array of thirst-quenching drinks for everyone. Their hot tea selection is just as awesome as the glass they serve them in. The drink I always have to get when I go is the Rosie Palmer which is a lovely mixture of hibiscus tea and lemonade. They also have a great selection of beer and cocktails. They usually have a special on mimosas every Sunday for brunch too. I could go here just to eat appetizers and I have. Our favorite is the nachos. They pile them high with loads of tasty goodness. Even splitting the nachos between two people is filling. Even though you may be full of wonderous nachos you can’t go without having an entree. Everything is to die for. They serve breakfast all day, just so you know. I recommend going with a group where everyone orders something different and you dig in family style so you can try as much as possible. Also, pay attention to the specials board, they are usually culinary masterpieces (that was the first time I got to try mushroom bacon). Last but definitely not least are the desserts. If you haven’t died and gone to heaven already from awesomeness overload, the dessert will for sure push you over the edge. They even have vegan milkshakes that you get to mix and match whatever flavors you want. I’m telling you you can’t go wrong with any of the desserts. After 17 years WaterCourse has gone 100% vegan and bonus, more allergy-friendly. Click here to read my full review and an interview with the owner. Make sure to check in with them every Monday for Non-Profit Mondays. Every Monday they choose a local non-profit to donate a portion of their sales for the day. Cons: It is usually very crowded during typical meal times and you’ll have a while to wait. It’s just that good and totally worth the wait! With crowds comes noise and this place is super noisy, sometimes to the point of hard to hear the person you’re with. To solve this I ask to eat outside. Also, there is only street parking and searching for a spot can be a hassle.
Arada Ethiopian Restaurant is a charming little joint in the Santa Fe Arts District. This was the first and only place I have ever had Ethiopian food. It’s good enough that I do get cravings for it now and then. I love their Injera. In case you don’t know what that is it’s an Ethiopian large airy pancake-like bread with a vinegary taste. It may not sound appealing but it goes perfectly with the food. They have 8 veg entrees to choose from. I usually get the Vegetarian Delight, a combination plate of four of their vegetarian entrees. It’s pretty filling but saves you from making the hard choice of choosing just one. If you’re adventurous give them a try and don’t be afraid to eat with your hands, it’s almost a requirement.
Bombay Clay Oven is a lovely Indian restaurant located in the Cherry Creek North shopping center. We decided to go here on a whim trying to find a restaurant that would please us and my father-in-law. I looked at the menu and was pleased with the vegan options they had. I called them to make sure they don’t use soybean oil or anything soy, the man I spoke with assured me that they don’t use soy of any kind and the oil they use is canola. I was sold on going and quite excited about it. I love it when I don’t have to worry about hidden ingredients and menu items are clearly labeled as vegetarian and dairy-free. They even have a fantastic bread called Roti that says it’s perfect for vegans right on the menu! We will definitely be returning. It is on the fancier side and it’s probably best to make a reservation on busy weekend nights. We lucked out on the Friday we went and got a table without reserving one. You can even reserve a romantic booth complete with a sheer curtain for a little privacy (ooo la la). The best part was they had a live musician playing the sitar while we were there. One of my favorite instruments. It was all incredible, the atmosphere, the hot tea, and the food. It’s metered parking or if you don’t mind walking you can park in the garage parking down the street. You don’t have to pay for parking after 7pm or on Sundays.
Mad Greens is a chain but they only exist within Colorado so I’m considering them to be local. This is a salad bar that also serves soups and sandwiches. They have signature salads you can choose from or you can build your own salad with the 57 vegan options to choose from (yes I counted them). The allergy menu on their website is very helpful. All you have to do is check the vegan box and it will generate a list of menu items that you can eat or those that must be avoided. Super simple and time-saving. There are plenty of convenient locations so pick one and go!
Mercury Cafe is a very unique place. Not only do they serve local organic food they host dance classes, live music, poetry readings, and theatrical performances. Keep an ear out for special events. There’s always something in the works at this place. They have quite a few vegan options from brunch to dinner and even dessert if I recall correctly. Their location is a little hard to find but they do have a parking lot in the back for a fee.
Mmm Coffee is actually a paleo bistro. The vegan choices are few but at least you know the whole place is free of dairy. They have great coffee and really good smoothies. They are right across the street from where I used to work pre-baby and I would find any excuse to go grab a smoothie or the Kale-Apple Salad. They can be slightly hard to find being tucked away inside a building off of Santa Fe. Just look for the cluster of brightly colored vertical signs on the east side of the street and you’ve found it.
Mustard’s Last Stand is a Chicago hot dog stand that you can enjoy right here in Denver or at a second location in Boulder. I’ve never had a Chicago style hot dog but I’m certain that this place is the real deal. They offer soy veggie dog, soy Italian sausage, veggie tempeh burger, tofu reuben sandwich, and veggie chili. Their fries might be the best fries I have ever had and since they have veggie chili that means you can enjoy chili fries! I have tried all of these items and I love them all. The Denver location is in the most horrible area for parking being down the street from DU. They do have a parking lot which consists of about 15 spaces that they share with 5 or so other restaurants. If you don’t want to deal with that then bike or walk. Do whatever just get yourself there and for goodness sake have some fries for me!
Rebellion Pizza was the first vegan pizza I had. This was also the first place I ever had seitan wings! Their pizzas can be made 100% vegan by request. They use Daiya cheese and has the most vegan protein options out of any other vegan pizzeria I’ve been to. They have vegan pepperoni, bacon, beef, chicken, Canadian bacon, and Italian sausage. They also have veggie burgers and giant vegan cookies for dessert. What’s not to love? This is more of a delivery place, especially in the winter, since they only have an outdoor patio for eating. Unfortunately, they have a small delivery area so if you don’t live close you will be picking up your order.
Saj Mediterranean Grill is a wonderful fast foodesque kind of joint. They’re kind enough to label what is vegan so as you are sliding through the line telling the person behind the counter what you want you don’t have to guess or ask. I love their falafel. I will usually get the falafel plate so you can choose 4 of their super delicious sides and get some pita on the side. All of their sides are vegan except the Baba Ghanooj. My go to sides are the green beans, spicy potatoes, tabouli, and cabbage. If you love spicy stuff I would definitely get the jalapeno pesto to dip your falafel into. They have three locations: the original at South Glenn, Park Meadows, and now on Iliff between Havana and Parker Rd. For those with a soy allergy I’m saddened to report that they fry their falafel in soybean oil.
Sputnik is a hidden vegan gem. It’s actually a bar/restaurant so they’re open until 2 am. When we used to go out and do things late this was a nice place to stop and get a midnight snack before heading home. Since the last time we were there I believe they have expanded their vegan menu. For not being a vegetarian place they have a surprisingly unbelievably tasty number of vegan options. They do warn that cross-contamination is inevitable in their small kitchen so it’s up to you if you want to give them a try. They also host a raw vegan night on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this is another street parking place but they do have free wi-fi to make up for it.
Subculture is the place to go for vegan sub worshippers. I’m just going to say it, this place is badass! They have 12 vegetarian subs to choose from and all of which can be made vegan upon request. They prefer that you request them as such by saying, “Vegan as F***K!” I was told this by the employee that took my order the first time we went. If you’re hoping they have tofu you’re out of luck. They do have tempeh which is way better in my book. My two favorite subs are the Sancho and Bangkok. Both have tempeh, one is a little Asian, the other a little Mexican, both are heavenly. They have a small parking lot but being in Capitol Hill everyone is either biking or walking so it’s usually open.
Sweet Action Ice Cream offers a few vegan ice cream flavors everyday. I have not actually been to their shop so I can’t tell you how it is. I have tried their ice cream though since they are kind enough to offer pints of their vegan ice cream to Nooch shoppers. They make their ice cream by hand with fresh and local ingredients so you you know it’s good. From what I understand they rotate their flavors so they aren’t the same each day. It’s been a while since I was able to taste their creamy goodness but I do remember a certain Chai ice cream that was especially good. I would love to try their other flavors.
Tokyo Joe’s has delicious and nutritious Japanese food ready in a snap. The most appealing menu item is the build your own bowl option. You get to pick your grain, sauce, and what vegetables you want. Their tofu is cooked to perfection! The allergen menu on their website will give you a list of what is vegan. Since they consider honey to be vegan I somehow don’t trust that their Krispie bar is actually vegan. My favorite thing to get is the Nikko Salad. All of my favorite things lies within that big bowl of theirs. Add some tofu and you will have a very filling meal. Those big bowls should be called humungo bowls. The Boulder Veggie Bowl is also a frequent choice. I recently found out that their curry sauces are not vegetarian which is very sad because they were goooood. Oh well, you can’t have it all. This place is another win for Colorado with multiple locations in our state.
Baba’s Falafel has only been around since 2012 but this newby truck is pretty sweet. Everything on the menu is vegan except for two things. I only had the pleasure of trying them once but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I had the Baba’s Spicy Nachos because it sounded too awesome to pass up. In case you’re wondering what that is it was baked pita chips layered with crushed falafel and topped with pico de gallo and Baba’s spicy sauce. I told you, too awesome to pass up. They also cater and do gift baskets (weird fact, but true).
Saj Mediterranean Grill is a food truck that has all the same goodness that I talked about above. They frequent Auraria campus throughout the year and I have spotted them at the Santa Fe Arts District for First Friday a few times.
Vegan Van is Denver’s own vegan food truck. I love this truck! She has amazing entrees. I can’t pick a favorite. She features Denver Seitan and Sweet Action Ice Cream. She also has brunch specials and seasonal specials. All of the entrees come with a side of seasoned popcorn which is nice. I have seen her in four spots: in front of Sweet Action, in front of Nooch, at Neat Market, and in Civic Center from June to September during the food truck gathering every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for lunch. She is not currently on the street but please do keep an ear out for it. She does do events! I believe the owner is looking out for a store front which would be completely awesome.
Big City Burrito is similar to Chipotle and Qdoba. I like Big City because of the ingredients they use for their veggie burrito and they are clear about what they saute the veggies in so I know that it’s soy-free. Unfortunately, they do cook with soybean oil so other ingredients including the tortillas may have soybean oil in them. If you’re not soy-free even better! In addition to burritos they offer tacos, quesadillas, and plates. Their veggie filling (consisting of onions, cabbage, carrots, and zucchini) can be chosen for any one of those. With a few modifications you can also enjoy their potato filling. One thing about Big City that Chipotle and Qdoba don’t have is their selection of tortillas. You can choose from white, wheat, tomato chile, pesto, or spinach. Don’t forget to add some of their homemade guacamole to whatever you order. They started in Fort Collins and have 9 locations total in Colorado. They also have one location in Nebraska if you happen to live near Kearney.
Mellow Mushroom is another fantastic pizza joint. This is probably the best pizza I’ve ever had outside the home. Vegan protein options include BBQ tofu, tofu, and tempeh. The cheese they use is Daiya (there’s nothing better for pizza). Make sure you tell the waiter you’re vegan so they won’t put butter and parmesan on the crust. Avoid the pesto since it does have cheese in it. You can also have a calzone or a hoagie. Soy-free folks should avoid the hoagies due to the bread. Their bar is also stocked very well. Have a shot or two, some great pizza, and enjoy the funky atmosphere! There are a ton of locations in the southeast area of the United States and a few others sprinkled about. I’m happy Denver has been graced with 3 locations.
Native Foods is an awesome place to get your vegan fix. It is 100% vegan which is rare. They make their own seitan and nut cheeses. They do have a gluten-free menu, nut-free menu, and a soy-free menu upon request where they provide you with the choices you have and exactly how to order it. There aren’t that many soy-free choices but I’m grateful that they have any at all. You can always sub the seitan with portobello or beans. They even have soy-free desserts (I recommend the Zucchini Date Cake). The veggies taste very fresh and the portions are very filling. Of course, I love the nachos and their watermelon fresca is very refreshing. I would have to give them a nod for most unique appetizer I have had in a while for the Butternut Polenta Bites. The dishes are simple but pack a flavorful punch. I was most surprised with how quick they prepare your order. I am unbelievably grateful that they opened up a location so close to us. Bonus that we can order online and pick it up!
Noodles & Company is a quick pasta joint that you may be surprised to find out vegans can enjoy with a few modifications. The obvious request would be no cheese but you can also ask for no cream. The cream isn’t added to the dish until the last step so they are able to leave it out. Their vegetarians items are labeled with a V and most can be made vegan upon request if they aren’t already. Also if you get a dish with wontons make sure to tell them to leave them out. Again avoid the pesto since it has cheese already in it. They even have tofu as a protein addition option. If you would like some bread with your noodles then feel free to get a ciabatta roll on the side. There are 56 locations in Colorado alone so you may have one near you.
Pizza Fusion is a unique pizza restaurant that truly cares about sustainability and the health of their customers. Their ingredients are all organic and at the Denver location offer Daiya and Follow Your Heart soy cheese. Not all locations offer Daiya. Almost all of their specialty pizzas can be made vegan with the protein alternative options they have. They are very accommodating. We wanted a BBQ chicken pizza with pineapple and portobello. The waitress then asked us if we wanted the cook to take the vegan chicken and cook it in the BBQ sauce. Who are we to say no if they offer? That pizza was pretty amazing. Their crust is on the thinner side, just so you know. I don’t particularly like thin crust but I make an exception for these guys. (Psst… their brownie is also vegan!) They usually have some good deals going on which is why we went in the first place for a special BOGO event. Like them on Facebook to get updates! There are locations in 5 states and one special location in Saudi Arabia (you know, just in case you’re over there you can enjoy some pizza too).
Something special about the Denver location worth mentioning are the employees. This specific Pizza Fusion partnered with Denver Housing Authority to give homeless individuals and ex-convicts an opportunity to get a job and housing. Not something very easy for them to come by since most establishments wouldn’t give them the time of day. The housing is an apartment building right above the restaurant. I believe the reason why the employees are so friendly and accommodating is because they are happy to have a job and are working hard to get back on their feet. We did not know anything about this before we went. We only found out after asking our waitress about the partnership we saw on a brochure when we walked in. She then opened up and told us her story of how she got where she was. I have huge amounts of respect for hard working folks and I am more than happy to help others reach their goal by enjoying some tasty food. There are conditions in order for them to keep their jobs so if you’re feeling squeamish about being in their presence please don’t. We all make mistakes and we all deserve a second chance.
True Food Kitchen is a fairly new chain with an idea that I hope grows and catches on for a few reasons. These restaurants are based off of Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. Although it’s not vegetarian based you can take comfort in knowing that their food is healthy and organic. They believe in preparing good food to make their customers feel better and live longer. It has a very yoga-like atmosphere making your experience quite relaxing. Another aspect of the restaurant that I love is the open kitchen concept. The kitchen is completely without walls so that you can see exactly how and what is being prepared before it is served to you. They have a good amount of vegetarian options, most of which can be made vegan by requesting no cheese, and a few vegan options including dessert. I honestly love all of their vegan options so I can’t pick just one. Everything from shiitake & tofu lettuce cups to the winter ingredient salad and Andy’s favorite “TLT” you can’t go wrong. You will love their “natural refreshments” if you’re a juicer. Lastly, I must recommend the chia seed pudding with banana and coconut for dessert. It is the perfect healthy ending to a cleansing dinner. They are located in the heart of Cherry Creek North so you know parking is a little iffy but they do offer valet. Other locations are in Arizona, California, and one in Dallas, TX.
Neat Market is an all vegan pop-up shop that takes place every third Sunday of each month. This is an event that Plants & Animals Denver began. They used to bounce around between different locations but they now have a consistent location called Horse Barn. Neat Market brings together local vendors that just want to spread the vegan word and sell their vegan goods and products to like-minded people. A lot of the vendors come back every month but every time we have gone there seems to be someone new which is awesome. You can find things from handmade soaps to fashion accessories to wine (good wine at that). Of course there are plenty of goods to munch on. I have scored on rad nut butters, unique jams, fantastic artisan cheese, homemade pasta, and endless amounts of tasty treats. They usually have more vendors in the summer months so definitely check them out then.
Nooch is the first and only all vegan market in Denver. I really don’t think I need to explain how awesome that is. It is so nice to know that you don’t have to read labels when you walk through the door. They have an amazing selection for how small they are. They also have products that you won’t be able to find in other stores like artisan cheeses. They don’t just have food either. They have vegan apparel and accessories, household goods, make-up, supplements, and pet food. I’m begging you to check them out. I don’t want them going anywhere. You won’t be disappointed. Their new location is on Ellsworth across Broadway from Sputnik and down the street from Sweet Action. Convenient, ain’t it?
All of these photos were taken from the corresponding websites.