Feature Friday: Colorado (part I)

I love to travel. If you know me in person, this isn’t a secret. Exploring and adventuring are super high on my priority list, so my family and I make room in our budget and our calendar for a few trips throughout the year. I live in the sunshine state, so the west coast is a special treat. Something about the perfectly crisp weather and the mountains, and the cool locals – the west side of the country serves up things I can’t find in my home state (looking at you humidity and flat land).

On our agenda this past summer: two full weeks in one of our all-time favorite places – Colorado. To be honest, on paper, we belong in Colorado. It’s our vibe and our people and it would just make sense. However, this season of life has been telling us to stick close to family (who mostly all reside in Florida), so we haven’t pulled the trigger yet. But maybe one day. My husband and I have taken a couple of non-kid trips there over the past few years, but this would be our first one with our little sidekick in tow. Thankfully, she’s a traveling dream and super go-with-the-flow so we weren’t at all concerned about how she’d do across the country for an extended trip (what we weren’t prepared for was getting sick right before we left and having not one, but two doctor visits out there. Ugh. So grateful we planned for a longer stay since the germs kept us AirBnB-bound for a few days). So we sent our pups off for a grandparent getaway, boarded a plane, and spent 15 incredible days in a cute little house near Denver.

I could literally spend hours writing (and talking) about my love for this place. So I’m going to break this into two (maybe three ;)) segments to give your eyes and brain a rest. Part one (this one) is all about one of my favorite topics: FOOD. Part two+ will cover activities + other recommendations, so stay tuned for that. Much like anything else I ramble about, I’m no travel expert or guru – I’m simply going to share what I love, and hope that it helps someone else embarking on a trip. (Sidenote: I’m also hoping to make this a ‘thing’ that I do fairly regularly, so let me know what you want to see or travel spot suggestions!)

Ok, food. Obviously, we’re vegan, so this makes the vacation food search a little more interesting. We do a lot of cooking when we travel (especially for breakfast and lunch), but we also venture out to try local fare (that whole ‘when in Rome’ thing). We knew a couple of our favorite spots from previous trips, but being in Colorado for two whole weeks meant we got to try out a few new places too. And much like anything in that state, they definitely didn’t disappoint.

I have a lot to say about this (no surprise), so I’m just going to do a quick rundown of each restaurant with a brief description and what I ordered there. Obviously any recommendation on this list is my own opinion (not sponsored), and you can take that for whatever you think it’s worth. 😉

Colorado Food Recommendations as of June 2018 (note: Be sure to always specify that you’re vegan so servers/chefs can accommodate and give you up-to-date menu options!)
Blue Sushi Sake Grill (Denver, veg-friendly): I’ve never been to a sushi restaurant with more creative plant-based sushi options. Everything we ordered was incredible, and we ordered a lot. What to order: check out their entire list of veg sushi options, but my favorites are – Crunchy Cabbage Roll and Shojin Roll (<<<BBQ sushi?! Come on).
Pho Haus (Denver, veg-friendly): lots of pho options in CO, but this one was close to our house and very accommodating to our plant-based needs. Bonus: came through in a pinch a couple of times when we just needed something warm and filling to get through the sickies. What to order: Haus Pho Vegetables (be sure to ask for veggie-based broth and no fish sauce – can also add tofu).
Root Down (Denver Airport, veg-friendly): Root Down has a couple of locations, but the one at the airport is a great option for pre or post-board eats. Their menu is seasonal and changes from time-to-time, but everything is always quality and delicious. What to order: Country-Fried Tofu Bento Box or Veggie Burger.
Vital Root (Denver, veg-friendly): Sister restaurant to Root Down, you can expect the same level of creativity and tastiness here, but with even more options. Bonus: the atmosphere is very casual and cool. What to order: Banh Mi Tacos or Pad Thai (specify vegan for both to leave off non-vegan ingredients). Also, kid menu Crispy Avocado Tacos were a hit with our three-year-old! (Another bonus: there’s a little ice cream shop literally right across the street – totally blanking on the name – and they have a couple of vegan flavors! Makes a great stop after a tasty dinner, as pictured below).

City O’ City (Denver, very veg-friendly): this is one of those places that you have to make sure you go to twice – once for breakfast/brunch, and once for lunch/dinner (ok, maybe three times. Can you really only eat a good brunch once?!) One of my very favorite places because of their super vegan-friendly menu, great service, and overall good vibes. You just leave that place feeling cooler. What to order: um, one of everything? If I have to narrow it down (I don’t want to), I’d say don’t miss the Chicken and Waffles (actually cauliflower, and on both menus, thankfully) or All-Day Breakfast Sandwich. Or the Breakfast Burrito. See? I can’t help myself.
Native Foods Cafe (Boulder, vegan): Native is a chain, but it doesn’t feel like it (love those kind of places). You can find a spot in Denver, but we took a day trip to Boulder so this was a nice drop-in over there. You will spend most of your time just trying to decide what to order since nothing on the menu is off-limits, but I’d just advise you to get as much as possible because you’re on vacation! Live a little. What to order: Thai Chili Brussel Sprouts, Orange Cauliflower, and Baja Tacos. And don’t skip dessert. 😉
Sugar Bakeshop (Denver, veg-friendly): our go-to coffee stop! Lots of choices and very accommodating. What to order: they make a killer golden milk latte (ask for pepita-based milk!) and we couldn’t resist one or two (or seven) ‘popsters’ – they have lots of flavors, and they’re exactly like the flaky, frosted sugar-y ones of your childhood (rhymes with ‘mop cart’ ;)).
Cheba Hut (lots of locations, veg-friendly): maybe the most ‘Colorado-y’ place on this list. Very mellow, very casual, very yummy. Whether you’re on-the-go or have a case of the munchies, you can’t go to Colorado and not make a stop by this sub chain. What to order: you can customize any sub, but my go-to is the Humboldt on garlic herb, no cheese, add avocado. Reese always gets the Sticky Icky and is never disappointed. Who doesn’t love pb&j?
Little Man Ice Cream (Denver, veg-friendly): couldn’t leave dessert off this list! And I always like to be able to deliver on a vegan sweet treat for my ice cream-loving toddler. Pro tip: go to Little Man on a non-peak day/hour (good luck figuring out when that is), and still expect to wait for about 15+ minutes in line (it was raining when we went and there was still a line). But seriously, don’t let it deter you! There’s a reason it’s popular, and it’s because it’s delicious. What to order: They have a whole vegan menu, so pick your poison. Reese got Salted Oreo (great choice), and Matt and I got Horchata (also a great choice).
Whew. We did it. I need a snack and a nap. And I need to go back to Colorado ASAP. Let us know if we left anything off the list, and where we should go next!

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