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Colorado, a happier state of mind! I don’t know if it’s the altitude, the food, the myriad of outdoor space and activities, or the generous number of sunny days, but the people here just seem happier. Denver, in particular, has stricken me as a phenomenal place to live, visit, eat, and connect with nature. Even the Denver Airport has upped its game with higher quality, real food choices! This was my second visit to the city and the expectations were high after my first visit in 2016. Fortunately, Denver did not disappoint! All of my expectations were surpassed and I enjoyed a delightful 8 days of pure nourishment!!
In a little over a week, I was able to scope out a number of spots worth recommending based on their ability to nourish both the body and the mind. Whether it is your first time or you are a Denver area local, take the time to nourish yourself in this happy city!
mmm…Coffee! A Paleo Bistro
910 Santa Fe Drive, Denver CO 80204
There is so much to love about this tiny little bistro! First of all, it is a totally Paleo restaurant and coffee shop in the heart of Denver! For anyone who has ever traveled while trying to avoid specific food intolerances or allergies, you know what I mean when I say this is like finding heaven on earth! It is quite liberating to walk into a restaurant and feel comfortable ordering anything.
Ok, so enough about my liberation experience. I had a chance to chat with the owners of this adorable establishment that has been serving up great food for 5+ years. Derek and Jami are two of the kindest people with a true enthusiasm for healthy food that tastes amazing! Their mission was brought on by their own experiences with finding better health by eating real food, so you know it is authentic. The place is cozy with a nice outdoor patio (for all of those sunny days), free wifi, and great company. Their housemade granola is paleo-tastic! The Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates are sinful! Whether you are looking for a coffee shop to hang out or work at, a good meal, or just a friendly atmosphere, I can’t recommend mmm…Coffee! enough!
Just BE Kitchen
2364 15th Street, Denver, CO 80202
This is still a fairly new restaurant in the downtown Denver area and I fell in love with the whole vibe of the place. It has a very light, airy space with beautiful quotes and affirmations painted on the wall to lift your spirit. The service here was unbeatable and everyone was so helpful and friendly. They are truly living up to the spirit of “Just BE”. Their menu is 100% gluten, grain and refined-sugar free and they’ve done a fabulous job crafting comfort foods in this fashion. The entire menu is amazing (I probably tried half of it in a number of visits)! A few highlights include the Bone Broth Bar, the Soothed Chicken Pot Pie, the Lifted Chia Seed Yogurt, and the Lavender Clover Honey Latte. They also have a selection of Bullet Coffees and gluten & grain-free beer and cocktails! They have plenty of tables and free wifi and the wonderful open feeling makes it a lovely place to work or meet a friend for lunch.
Etai’s Bakery Cafe
7357 E 29th Avenue, Denver, CO 80238
Various Locations around Denver & Boulder, including the Denver Airport
At first glance, I wasn’t sure that this restaurant would have much to offer a paleo foodie like myself, but first impressions aren’t always the most accurate. They boast that most menu items can be made to satisfy dietary restrictions and palate preferences – win! The company founder, Etai Baron, is actually the son of Udi Baron of Udi’s Gluten Free, which they proudly serve in their restaurants. They have a full menu including everything from traditional breakfast items, smoothies, and coffees to sandwiches, salads, and burgers. The menu is notated with dietary codes to help everyone find something that fits their preferences (I love this!). On two different occasions, I tried the Paleo Bowl (eggs, sweet plantains, chorizo, green chili, pico de gallo & avocado) and the Paleo Plantain Sandwich (braised beef, pickled onions, avocado, spinach and chipotle aioli served between two slices of smashed green plantains) and they were both darn delicious!
1710 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302
“Food for Enthusiasts” is their motto and let me tell you, I’m enthusiastic about their food! Goodness, this place was so fantastic on so many levels that my friend and I ate here for brunch and then came back for dinner that very same night! Everything from the atmosphere, to the friendly service, to the delicious real food, to the prime location makes this place a must-visit in Boulder, CO. They’ve labeled their menus with all of the dietary codes (dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, vegan, etc) which is always a good sign in my book and they promise no GMOs. Their Kickstarter Coffee and their Zeal Granola with house-made almond milk are out of this world! They cold-press their own juices and have a ridiculously tasty selection of smoothies and other beverages.
Since I already admitted that I came back for dinner, I’ll go ahead and rave about their signature bowls. They did their Beef Braise bowl over cauliflower rice for me and it was the most heart-warming meal after being out in the cold all day. They offer a wide selection of creative cocktails, including a Kombucha Cosmo, craft beers on tap, and certified organic and biodynamic wines. I can’t finish this without mentioning their desserts. My friend and I split their Apple Gingerbread and their Raw Cheesecake. Nothing has ever tasted so perfect on my tongue. Get the Raw Cheesecake! Seriously, get the Raw Cheesecake.
900 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202
12 locations in Colorado, including the Denver Airport
Using Michael Pollan’s advice “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” as the foundation for their restaurants, you will find that Modern Market brings a fresh and healthy spin to the “chain” restaurant industry. They’ve combined counter service with made-from-scratch foods, fresh from the farm or ranch, to deliver nourishing food quickly, without paying a premium! Their mission is to bring clean food to the world, making it as prevalent as clean water. Now that’s a great idea! They strive to meet as many dietary requirements as possible and are very transparent with their ingredient lists.
While dining at the 16th Street location in Denver, I loved that you can see right into the kitchen to watch your food being prepared! Between the salads, soups, pizzas, sandwiches, and homestyle plates, there is definitely something for everyone. I enjoyed the natural Angus steak with the fire roasted veggie medley and the rosemary sweet potato mash. Not too complicated, definitely too delicious! Lastly, there are 30 locations in total, 12 in Colorado, as well as restaurants in Arizona, Texas, Maryland, and Washington D.C.!
Concourse Restaurant Moderne
10195 East 29th Drive, Suite 140, Denver, CO 80238
If you are looking for a fine dining experience without the fine dining check, I highly recommend Concourse! Concourse Restaurant Moderne is serving up seasonally focused cuisine in a “concourse” themed atmosphere. The restaurant is located where an old airport used to be and they’ve created a space that pays homage to the concourse: “a space where pathways cross; a gathering of people; a meeting place”. Their menu is designed to be more of a family style experience, but can just as easily be served per individual. The only downside to this delectable menu was that because it was so highly curated, it wasn’t as adaptable to dietary preferences.
This limited my options a tad, but it was still well worth the dining experience. The wait staff was very helpful and considerate in helping me find an option that would be suitable for my needs. Great service practically makes up for the limited options, in my humble opinion.
The dinner menu was like admiring a piece of art! My friend and I enjoyed the Charred Humboldt Calamari with lemon emulsion and pickled celery hearts and the Wagyu Beef Tataki with smoked egg mayo and house-made potato chips as starters. For my main course, I was swept away by my ever-longed for favorite: a whipped foie gras. Oh, yes, and the prime hamburger that it came with. Tastebuds officially delighted. They also have a coffee bar on weekday mornings, brunch for weekend mornings, lunch Monday-Friday, and an afternoon happy hour and dinner every day.
2501 N Dallas Street, Aurora, CO 80010
One of my newly-found favorite styles of congregating is at local marketplaces. By marketplace, I mean a large area where multiple businesses have come together to serve the community in a connected form that provides not only various options but a place to commune. I’ve now been to a few of these in various cities and think that they are just the coolest places to hang out, work, meet friends, and dine. The Stanley Marketplace, located just outside of Denver proper, is another one of these well-planned, thoughtful spaces. Read their “Stanifesto” and you’ll see what I mean (I just love this!).
I spent some time working on my laptop in one of the common areas as I enjoyed a finely brewed coffee from Logan House Coffee Co. Free wifi, the buzz of connection, and the industrial atmosphere of the hangar space really spurred my productivity for the day. And the view of the Rockies is spectacular! With over 50 businesses in this one location and at least 17 offering food, there is easily something for everyone. Nourish your body while you are here with your choice of yoga, karate, pilates, HIIT, cycling, and more!
Denver Botanic Gardens & Cheesman Park
1007 York Street, Denver, CO 80206
On one of the many sunny days in Denver, take the time to go visit the Denver Botanic Gardens next to Cheesman Park. This garden, comprising 24 acres, is one of the largest and most diverse urban gardens I have ever seen! It is located right next to Cheesman Park which is a large green space with a loop trail that makes for a perfect post-lunch walk. The Botanic Gardens are not only a fantastic educational experience, they also offer tons of beautifully crafted outdoor space surrounded by plants and Mother Nature doing what she does best. This is the perfect spot to clear your head, breathe in the fresh, plant-cleaned air, and recharge your batteries. Make sure to check out the Science Pyramid for a very cool intersection of technology and nature!
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO 80465
This mostly natural rock area is definitely one-of-a-kind and well worth the drive outside of Denver to visit! While I didn’t see a concert here, I imagine that experience is truly unique. Aside from the concert experience, this place has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast. There are trails among the rock formations for hiking, stairs to run up and down in the amphitheater, and trails for biking and horseback riding. They even offer Yoga on the Rocks during the summer months. The park is free to use daily as long as there isn’t another event going on. Being among the rocks is a great way to ground down into the earth and center yourself outside of the bustling city. Plus the air here is just so darn fresh!
2300 Steele Street, Denver, CO 80205
The Denver Zoo is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon! This is quite a large zoo with a creative design and of course, lots of adorable animals! Spending time near animals is a great way to ground and reconnect with Mother Earth. The animals know how to do this so well because they haven’t been pulled so far away from their instinctual nature like we have (of course seeing them in the wild would be even better, but we don’t all have that luxury or adventurous desire). Watch the way that the animals interact with each other and with their surroundings, it is an excellent lesson in getting back to our more primal roots. Sometimes acting like an animal is a good thing 😉
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If you enjoyed this post, please check out some of my other City Guides for Healthy Travels!
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Want to enjoy a few home-cooked meals while you are traveling? Check out Airbnb! Airbnb is my favorite way to travel because I can stay in a home with a kitchen and enjoys the comforts of healthy, real food while exploring a new destination!
If you would like help staying healthy and happy while you travel, then Transformational Nutrition Coaching could help!
Book a FREE Discovery Session with me today and let’s work together to create a plan and transform your life!
I have saved a ton of money while eating Real Foods by shopping at Thrive Market! This has been my favorite place to shop for real food pantry staples and non-toxic home and personal products for over 2 years! You can read my review of their service in a previous post. Think Costco + Whole Foods + delivered to your doorstep!
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Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Marcelle encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research, and in partnership with your doctor, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. The information provided in this post and the entire contents of www.marcellephene.com are based upon the opinions of Marcelle Phene and are for general educational purposes, and have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.