Why Native Foods Cafe is the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Denver

Categories: Best of Denver

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Ursula Romaine
As the longtime author of Veggie Girl, I ate a lot of green on my way to helping choose the winner of Best Vegetarian Restaurant for the Best of Denver 2014. And there was a lot of discussion over our ultimate choice: Native Foods Cafe, which came to Glendale last year. Denver is lucky to have some great homegrown vegetarian restaurants that have helped to cultivate this town's cultural scene -- but Native Foods upped the ante in the kitchen.

See also: Five best vegetarian restaurants in Denver

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Ursula Romaine
First things first: Yes, Native Foods is part of a California-based chain. But although we typically don't bestow Best Of awards on chain restaurants, there were plenty of reasons to do so in 2014. I visited Native Cafe multiple times, tasting something from every section of the menu, and everything I tried was delicious. I'm not the only fan of the place; it's so popular that there's usually a line forming at the door when this location opens for lunch. (There's a Native Foods in Boulder, too, and the company will open a third metro location on South Colorado Boulevard later this year.)

Native Foods creates a high hurdle for its kitchen by operating as an entirely plant-based (aka vegan) restaurant -- so there's no egg or dairy in any of the recipes. But the menu is still full of ambitious, well-executed dishes. I've taken more than one meat-eater to Native Foods, and on my most recent visit, a meat-eating relative proclaimed that her meal was the best she'd had for as long as she could remember -- and then she said she'd eat every meal at Native Foods if she could. I've never heard such an endorsement for any other vegetarian restaurant from a carnivore.

Not only is the food consistently delicious, but the service shines: You hardly have to look up at Native Foods before someone will bring you a drink refill or ask if there's anything else you need. Combined with the dishes coming out of the kitchen, that service pushed Native Foods over the top.

It's possible that the all-new, all-vegan Native Foods looks all bright and shiny now, but with time the service will slow and the kitchen will get tired. We'll be watching -- and eating. As for all the other vegetarian spots in town, there's always next year.


Location Info

Native Foods Cafe

680 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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20 comments
Jónatas Roze
Jónatas Roze

Thomas--that may be true. Maybe not. But regardless of City O's "hipness," the writer doesn't really explain *why* a chain restaurant is better than any of the local options. She just says it's good. More or less. Absolutely no context. Daniel--we don't live in Australia.

Naomi Wolinsky
Naomi Wolinsky

Food that mimics meat as best vegetarian restaurant? Nah, I don't think so.

Thomas Barnes
Thomas Barnes

City, O' City is not that great in the grand scheme of vegan / vegetarian restaurants around Denver.. so thats probably why. This is based on food, not on whats "hip"

sporobolus
sporobolus

so Native Foods has nice salty dishes that with meaty names that appeal to carnivores


and the service is sickly sweet, i guess some people like that too


Hunter Remer
Hunter Remer

They refuse to release nutritional information for the products. Makes you wonder how many calories and what the fat content is...

Phil Smith
Phil Smith

They are soooo awesome! IncreDibly reasonably priced for nice plated entrees that fly out of the kitchen. Honestly the best 100% plant based around. They also recycle their cooking oil into bathroom soap! And you don't have to deal with the snoody wait staff from city o'.

Sarah Joyce
Sarah Joyce

Its so delicious and completely vegan! I had the bacon cheeseburger and it wasnt super greasy and oily the way most restaurants make veg food. And it's all local, organic!

GirlScoutCookies
GirlScoutCookies

They suck ass! Their only redeeming quality is the drinks, everything else is disgusting. 

Rebecca Repp
Rebecca Repp

Uh, I still think City O City is the best! For all the same reasons that you just said that this other place is best.

Jeff Johnston
Jeff Johnston

never been there, but just looked at the menu, everything has meat in it? how can this be a vegetarian restaurant? I guess I need to go find out

Jónatas Roze
Jónatas Roze

Ok so it's good. But why is it better than City, O' City?

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

When you eat at a chain restaurant Vegan Baby Jesus cries. 

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