Since I live in Denver, I decided that it was time to put together a Foodie Travel post for this great city! The ironic part is that I cook so much, I never feel like I know where to go out to eat. This means that my husband and I tend to frequent the same places over and over. Buuuut, when it got down to it, and I started making a list, I realized there are some really amazing places here, and you should visit them on your next trip.
Denver is a great city to visit year round. The winter is fairly mild, but of course all the winter sports enthusiasts will be happy to head up to the mountains for skiing and snow boarding. But in rest of the year, Denver has some super fun neighborhoods to wander around, and some amazing hiking is just a short drive away.
As a bit of a disclaimer, Denver is known for it's breweries and beer. It's definitely a beer city. I, however, do not drink beer. So, if you're up for a brewery tour, you are in the right place! Sadly, I don't have any suggestions for you though. But there are tons of local ones you should check out. Try google :) Now let's get back to the good stuff....FOOD!
Something to Eat
Blue Pan Pizza- OK, let's start this list out with a bang. This is literally the best.gluten.free.pizza.ever. Their "Detroit style" pizza is deep dish, with chewy, crispy crust. It is a serious game changer. Most gluten-free pizzas are cracker thin and cardboard-y. Not Blue Pan! If you like thick, chewy crust, you've got to try Blue Pan!
Bad Daddy's Burger Bar- I'm a burger girl. I love a good burger, loaded with bacon and avocado and sauces and so many yummy things (see: loaded burgers). So if you like all sorts of crazy delicious things loaded on your burgers, Bad Daddy's is your spot. They have incredible burgers, or you can customize your own, all with gluten-free buns of course. And if you're not so into burgers, they've got some other options, and lots of local beers.
Just Be Kitchen- If you've got some food allergies, or intolerances, you've got to go to Just Be. It's one of Denver's only fully Paleo restaurants. That means the menu is grain-free, soy-free, and almost completely dairy-free. They're just beginning to open for dinner, but their brunch and lunch menu is amazing, including bulletproof coffees and gluten-free cocktails. My favorite is their giant smothered breakfast burritos, covered in green chili sauce. It's so fun to be able to go into a restaurant and literally order whatever I want.
Root Down- Root Down is arguably my favorite restaurant in Denver. It's menu is nearly all gluten-free and locally sourced. They've got 2 gardens on-sight where they get their produce, and 75% of the menu is organic! So the food is super high quality, and also happens to be completely delicious. Both their dinner and brunch menus are incredible. If you don't make it to the restaurant when you're in town, then you've got to go to their Airport location in terminal C. Best airport food, ever!
Rivers and Roads- Rivers and Roads is my new favorite place! They're tucked into a quiet neighborhood where high quality food options are much needed! Their menu isn't huge, but it has lots of gluten-free and vegetarian options. They also have a bakery case that has different, yummy pastries everyday. Let's talk about the real reason I am obsessed- their chai. They make their chai from scratch, not from a jug. It's sweetened with honey and loaded with spices. They have both a regular chai and a decaf version. Iced chai with almond milk is my jam. Also, the sauce that comes with their french fries is amazing and you must order fries with whatever else you get. They're perfect.
True Foods Kitchen- OK, so this place isn't local. But if you're full of pizza and burgers and need a vegetable in your life, True Foods is worth a stop. They've got simple, sustainable, seasonable food with lots of gluten-free and vegetarian options. Their food is lighter and features lots of yummy veggies, so hit them up for a salad, bowl, or or hummus with a gigantic bowl of fresh veggies.
Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria- I almost didn't include this fast, casual restaurant because it's not super special. But, if you like cuban sandwiches, they have them on gluten-free bread and they're pretty dang good. The bread is soft, but holds together, unlike a lot of gluten-free bread. Their tostones sort of leave something to be desired, but their fries are covered in garlic, so those are definitely delicious. If you need some gluten-free Cuban food, check it out!
American Cultures- This is a must-see for healthy foodie vacations. It is a kombucha taproom featuring tons of local kombucha flavors. You can get a glass, a growler, or my favorite- a flight! It gives you a chance to try lots of different flavors of Colorado's best kombuchas. It's also worth walking across the street to Western Daughters butcher shop. Of course they have high-quality meats, but they also have great, fun products to browse on their shelves. I always find something fun to take home. It's also the perfect place to load up on meats and bone broth, if you're staying somewhere with a kitchen.
Sweet Cooies- This sweet ice cream parlor is conveniently located directly across the street from Blue Pan's Congress Park location. Hello, dessert. Sweet Cooies is an off-shoot of another local ice cream place called Little Man. They've got several vegan ice cream options (like Horchata!) and sorbet, too. They also make handmade chocolate truffles. Yum. The best part is that it's so darn cute you'll want to stay all day.
Liks- So there's a chance you'll see me if you stop at Liks. It's my neighborhood ice cream shop, and generally has a line out door. They don't have tons of dairy-free ice cream options, but if you find one that you like, they've got gluten-free cones for you to put it on! Or, you can put it in a bowl and cover it with caramel sauce, peanuts, and a cherry- whatever, it's up to you.
Bonnie Brae Ice Cream- Bonnie Brae is a famous, local ice cream shop that's been open in Denver for 30 years! They make their ice cream right there on site. They've usually got a couple vegan flavors, but my favorite is their vegan soft serve in gluten-free cones! It takes me back, man. There's something sentimental about a big swirl of soft serve. And really, anywhere that offers gluten-free cones is a win in my book!
Beet Box- Beet Box is a vegan cafe that has coffee, sandwiches, and most importantly- gluten-free, vegan donuts!! They're dense and cakey, but their pumpkin donuts are pretty amazing. They've also got flavors like chocolate blackberry and apple spice. May I also suggest the gluten-free turtle brownie. It's so thick and fudgey and dense, but it's covered in thick caramel and it's delicious. Their gluten-free sandwiches fell apart in my experience, but it's worth stopping by for pastries.
There's a great trend in Denver of food halls. They're sort of like a local, trendy version of a food court. They're awesome, because everyone in your group can probably find something they want to eat. You can each go to a different restaurant but still sit together and enjoy your meal. It also gives small, local places a chance to open without taking all the risk of opening a stand-alone restaurant. So here are some of my favorites!
Avanti F&B- Avanti is a few years old now, and has had different restaurants come and go. It has one of my favorite places to go, Quiero Arepas, which is the main draw for me. If you've never had an arepa, it's so worth trying these South American sandwiches. Their whole kitchen is gluten-free, so you can order with confidence. There is also a large bar area and other options like burgers, pizza, street food, oysters, etc. There is quite a bit of seating spread over 2 floors, including an outdoor area. That said, weekend evenings tend to be packed! It is loud and seating and parking can be hard to find. So I recommend a weekday evening or even going at lunch time for a much more peaceful experience.
Zeppelin Station- Zeppelin Station is brand new! It just opened and isn't even full quite yet. It has several restaurants including poké bowls, Korean food, Indian street food, Mexican, a coffee shop, an amazing gelato shop, and smoked meats. It's accessible from the RTD train and busses, which can make it easy for travelers, but there's also a large parking garage. There is not nearly as much seating available here, but in my experience it wasn't too busy to get a seat. And you've seriously GOT to try the vegan gelato from Gelato Boy (and they even have gluten-free cones). It's beyond. It's divinely creamy and rich, and thankfully it doesn't taste like coconut like most dairy-free treats. I've been dreaming about it ever since trying it. Similar to Avanti, there are a couple bars, but there are also some retail spots inside, so you can browse some local goods while you eat.
Stanley Marketplace- The Stanley is beyond a food hall, and almost like....a cool, local, modern mall. There are 50+ local business all sharing a space. You can find anything here, from amazing food (great tacos, a brewery, NY bagels, amazing donuts, ridiculous biscuit sandwiches, gluten-free fried chicken, divine ice cream, and a coffee shop) to barbers and nail salons, small boutiques, my favorite zero waste shop, and even a gym. It's a great place to come wander and explore, especially if it's cold or rainy while you're in town. You're SURE to find something amazing to eat, and fun places to browse and shop. I mean, there's artisanal chocolate and jewelry designers, you can really find anything. It's not in Denver, but I think it's worth the drive.
Union Station- Last but not least, there's downtown Denver's gorgeous Union Station. It was fully renovated just a few years ago, but fortunately they kept the original spirit of this gorgeous 100 year old landmark. Apart from some great (more upscale) restaurants, there are also some local retail stores. One of my favorite brunch spots is Snooze, which always has a long wait, but is so delicious (you've really got to try the Chili Verde Benny)! Then stick around after brunch for some vegan ice cream from Milkbox Ice Creamery. Even if you don't decide to eat at Union Station, it is worth going downtown to see. You can even splurge and stay in the gorgeous Crawford Hotel that is attached. Afterward, take a free bus or walk down the 16th Street Mall for more food and shopping.
So I'm not sure what you're waiting for, it's time to pack your bags and get to Denver! I hope you check out all these fun, local places on your next trip. Pin the image below to save this guide for the future. If you're from Denver, leave a comment with your favorite places!