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Navigating Denver’s restaurants with a dietary restriction

These restaurants offer dietary-oriented options, like açai bowls, as a main staple.
Photo: Madison Daley · The Sentry

A brief guide to eating fun and fearlessly

Food allergies and dietary restrictions can make going out to eat a tricky process, even in Denver, where the restaurant options are many and the accommodations plentiful. It can still be a challenge finding fun and safe downtown places to go for some quality grub. Here are a few ideas for those who are looking for new food adventures that still accommodate everyone on gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free diets.

Just Be Kitchen is a new paleo restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—all entirely gluten free and without refined sugar. Their website defines it as “99 percent dairy free,” and a majority of the dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan. There are a couple of nut-free options as well, although it may not be a safe space for severe nut allergies.

For a more casual, cheap meal, the Brazilian grill Five on Black is not only entirely gluten-free but is also (aside from the meat and cheese buns) entirely vegan and dairy-free. And it’s affordable. As in, do-we-even-have-a-dietary-restriction affordable, which gluten-free individuals especially might find miraculous.

Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a perfect choice for a swanky full-package experience. Many of its eclectic, unique dishes can be vegan and gluten free, and there are live music and shows most nights. Although the food is fairly expensive, it’s paying for the unique experience too.   

For a multicultural menu and drop-dead good food, Linger is top notch. This “sister restaurant” to Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a vintage mortuary-turned-eatery (an “eatuary” as they call it). They have dishes from around the world, from Indian to Caribbean to African cuisine, at mid-tier prices, and most of the menu is a combination of vegan and gluten-free. This choice is a bit farther from campus but will likely offer cuisines that will appeal to everyone, no matter what they’re in the mood for.

Near Linger in the Highland Park nighborhood is a great spot for breakfast bowls: Prosperoats. Offering build-your-own bowls with granola, yogurt, and fruit (like an Açai bowl), they’re a decidedly healthy option that’s a bit pricy, but worth it.

And for easy walking distance from campus, check out everything 16th Street Mall has to offer, including Mellow Mushroom Pizza, Hapa Sushi, Rio Grande, MAD Greens, and Pho 16th Vietnamese Grill (to name a few).

Having a different diet shouldn’t mean sacrificing the chance to try adventurous restaurants and enjoying Denver’s nightlife. Happy eating!

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