Veg-head, plant-based, vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, flexitarian, chegan (cheating vegan)...whatever you call yourself, you'll fit right in Boulder, where every breed of vegetarian has been proudly shaping the dining scene for decades. Really, just about every restaurant in Boulder will happily accommodate vegetarians. But for some of the very best vegetarian and vegan meals in Boulder, start with the five below.
The vibe: This upscale-casual spot has a loyal fan following and owners who source some of the ingredients from their own farm. At Leaf, veg-heads can choose from anything on the menu — much of which can be made vegan, too.
The dish: The spaghetti squash peanut noodle dish is saucy and satisfying, but you might not be able to resist the buffalo “wings”-style cauliflower tacos.
The vibe: Warm woods, industrial metals and chalkboards, and chic subway tiles set the tone at this simple, elegant and homey restaurant that was slinging farm-to-table cuisine long before it was even called that.
The dish: Be brave and try Next Door's Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies, then bite into the juicy Cali-Style burger. If you want choices and like to plan ahead, their online menu has “vegetarian” and “vegan” toggle buttons, so you can find exactly what suits you.
The dish: Try the "Chicken, Bacon & Avo Club" sandwich, made with the restaurant’s proprietary seitan, herb-crusted plant-based chicken and zesty chipotle sauce.
The vibe: Thrive is one of those wonderfully crunchy, colorful Boulder spots that totally “gets” plant-based eating and harnesses the powerful enzymes in raw foods to delicious effect. You’ll likely see ingredients on the menu that you won’t recognize (shilajit, anyone?), but learning about the health benefits of foods is part of the fun here.
The dish: Stop in for a refreshing superfood smoothie or the yummy Holy Pesto salad — and don't miss the cacao coconut truffles infused with reishi. A rotating board of specials has heartier (but no less healthy) fare.
The vibe: A plush elegance dominates Jill's, just as you'd expect of a restaurant inside a Forbes Four-Star hotel (the St Julien Hotel and Spa). Rich woods, silk upholstery, warm lighting — and a view right into the contemporary kitchen where the freshest ingredients are turned masterfully into great dishes.
The dish: The Boulder Burger, featuring Jill's signature house-made black bean patty and tangy adobo mayo.
Top photo by Eli Akerstein.