Five best vegetarian restaurants in Denver

Categories: Best of Denver

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Danielle Lirette
Denver's vegetarian food scene is getting stronger all the time. All but the most vehemently meat-centric establishments in town have something besides salad to offer veggie-lovers, and ambitious, exclusively vegetarian eateries are opening all the time -- including Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, which we review this week. When you want to impress a carnivore with the versatility and tastiness of plant-based food, these are the five best places (in no particular order) to take them.

See also: The five best vegetarian/vegan dishes in Denver -- 2013

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5) Native Foods Cafe
680 South Colorado Boulevard

Yes, it's a chain restaurant -- and an import from California, no less! But when it comes to plant-based food that'll knock the socks off of anyone who tries it, vegan or carnivore alike, Native Foods is as good as it gets in Denver right now. The menu encompasses American, Asian, Mediterranean and more, spanning cuisines with dishes categorized into bowls, hand-helds, salads and "chefs favorite" plates. Native Foods makes its own meat substitutes, all of which are amazing -- the seitan is formed into shaved corned "beef" for Native's Reuben and spicy, juicy "meatballs" for the meatball sandwich above), and they've got the taste and texture to charm even the most hard-core meat-eaters. The dessert menu is just as good, if cupcake-heavy, with light, fluffy cakes paired with sweet, creamy icings. The first Native Foods in Colorado is in Boulder, and there's another opening soon at Colorado and Evans -- but judging from the crowds at the CitySet location, this city could use three or four more.

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4) Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant
1015 South Federal Boulevard

Thuy Pham, who opened Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant with her husband last fall in the former home of the award-winning Vietnam Grill, remembers cooking at her mother's side in Vietnam, but it wasn't until she moved to California fifteen years ago and began spending time at a Buddhist temple that she developed a passion for food. "I had a monk, the master, and he was a very good cook," she recalls. "He was very experienced in picking out healthy food, and he taught me." After years of preparing vegetarian food for the monks and nuns there, Pham and her husband decided to move to Denver, and they opened Lotus, which focuses on Vietnamese cuisine -- but all vegetarian versions, prepared with compassion and care.

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3) Nectar House
1947 South Broadway

Nectar House opened late last year in the lobby of a yoga studio -- an outside-the-box setting for a raw, vegan restaurant with an extravagant drink menu. But customers are continually wowed by the delicious food created within the constraints of both the setting and the milieu. The superfood salad is among the best salads in the city, and Nectar House also makes a remarkable raw, vegan version of pad Thai as well as Reuben sandwich. There are brunch offerings, too, as well as decadent desserts that will melt in your mouth.


Location Info

Native Foods Cafe

680 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Lotus Vegetarian - CLOSED

1015 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Nectar House

1947 South Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Govinda's Garden

1400 Cherry St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

City, O' City

206 E. 13th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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108 comments
s.lassoff
s.lassoff

Those look delicious! I can't wait to try them out and write my reviews!

smilingbuddhaface
smilingbuddhaface

If Native Foods is "as good as it gets,"  why is rated in the five slot?  Here I am worrying about thinking before speaking, when some folks don't even think before OR after writing!  Otherwise, decent list. I'll jump on the bandwagon here and say I will never ever return to Watercourse or City O City after having been treated with such obvious contempt time after time after time.  Thanks again!

Jeff Fuhr
Jeff Fuhr

Good vegetarian. Oxymoron. (Said the carnivore)

Ryan Moehring
Ryan Moehring

Lotus is the best on this list by far, but Masalaa is easily the best vegetarian in Denver.

Erica Hendrikson
Erica Hendrikson

Maybe if.the staff wasn't so rude at city o'city I would completely agree...

Jessica Penner
Jessica Penner

We're gonna have to try some of these places when you come out again! Jennifer Beckstead

Danee Chavez
Danee Chavez

Jaylee Adams yes we must veg cafe hop! Nectar house is inside my yoga studio on broadway!

Kay Dirling
Kay Dirling

I'm glad to see your comment - I'm a new vegetarian and a friend of mine has suggested we go to Watercourse!

Simone Anderson
Simone Anderson

LeAnna Con Nell, maybe some ideas for your next trip to Denver? :)

Lorrie Mick
Lorrie Mick

Jon- Tracy you and I should hit one of these up. Next week after work?

Matt Hougen
Matt Hougen

Watercourse isn't vegetarian, it is now completely vegan.

Jaylee Adams
Jaylee Adams

Danee I still need to try 4/5 of these. Letsss go to them all this summer!

Alex Turner
Alex Turner

How did watercourse not make the list?

Amy Harry
Amy Harry

Maybe how you'll go to Native with me? Or City O City. Seitan wings. YUM.

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