Food & Drink

8 Health-Conscious Denver Restaurants You’ll Actually Like

Published On 03/19/2015 Published On 03/19/2015
Fresh Thymes Eatery
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
The Corner Beet
Felfel Mediterranean
Fresh Thymes Eatery
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Adam Larkey Photography
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
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1. The Corner Beet 1401 Ogden St, Denver, CO 80218

We swear you’ll feel your eyes brighten and your skin soften the second you step foot in this sunny, homey vegetarian outlet owned by the duo behind Gypsy Juice Raw. Then you’ll down a shot of Galbi -- a blend of carrot, apple, turmeric, and ginger -- and feel your mind instantly sharpen. Then you’ll taste the balsamic-glazed avocado toast, or the potato-leek soup, or the tangy slaw that comes with the sandwiches, and feel your muscles just toning themselves. It's amazing.

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2. FelFel Mediterranean 4401 S Tamarac St, Denver, CO 80237

At FelFel, the charming owners are always making the rounds of the thronged dining room with platters of complimentary baklava. The menu basically mirrors the food pyramid of what is, after all, one of the world’s healthiest regions, with meats supplementing rather than dominating the vegetables, legumes, and grains on any given plate. More important, it reflects the TLC these guys put into their cooking. The pita’s fresh-baked onsite, the rice-stuffed grape leaves are homemade -- and everything from the hummus to the lentil soup to the roast chicken exudes wholesome soul.

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3. Fresh Thymes Eatery 2500 30th St #101, Denver, CO 49010 (Boulder)

Local, organic, and/or sustainably sourced ingredients for gluten-free, Paleo, and/or vegan diets from a cafe built on a co-op–inspired business model. On paper, it’s all so virtuous you could puke (not, by the way, a viable weight-loss method). But in practice, Fresh Thymes is a refreshingly good... time. Think of it as an old-fashioned farm stand crossed with a sleek modern deli, where you can do the grab-and-go thing or dine in with a beer or glass of wine. You can customize a plate from an ever-changing selection of proteins and sides at the counter or opt for surprisingly hearty à la carte fare, like the creamed kale-mushroom dip with flatbread, mac & cashew "cheese," or pot pie on Tuesdays. And you can appreciate the fact that, lifestyle politics aside, this place is all about comfort food, plain and simple.

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4. Root Down 1600 W 33rd Ave, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

Chef-owner Justin Cucci turned an old gas station into a trendy restaurant that uses all the right, hipster-friendly ingredients; offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options; and serves a bottomless mimosa brunch. The dimly-lit space features mosaic windows (with excellent views) and eclectic art, but the universally lovable dishes, like spinach and ricotta gnocchi and diver scallops, are likely what make this funky spot a neighborhood staple.

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5. Parsley 303 W 11th Ave, Denver, CO 80204

In a quaint row house painted bright green, this little hideaway cheerfully serves up equally green lunchtime grub with a side of old-school antiestablishment rhetoric. Apparently, fighting the power doesn’t interfere with making mighty fine soups, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Try the peppery, sesame-seeded "texture tuna" on excellent City Bakery ciabatta or over a bed of spinach, paired with a made-to-order, all-organic juice blend like the carrot-lemon, and you’ll burst with enough energy to fuel a protest movement yourself. Or at least, like, a workout.

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6. True Food Kitchen 2800 E 2nd Ave, Ste 101, Denver, CO 80206

A haven for yogis, cross-fit addicts, and wellness gurus alike, this healthy-eating mecca is all about food that feels as good as it tastes. True Food Kitchen's menu is focused on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free foods. Standout dishes include the quinoa burger topped with avocado, hummus, tomato, and feta, and the ancient grains bowl with miso-glazed sweet potato, turmeric, grilled portobello, and grass-fed steak. The entrees are as colorful as they are protein-packed, and the space is equally bright and lively. And because even the most wellness-minded folks need a drink every once in a while, the cocktail menu features concoctions like "farmers market sangria," topped with organic apples and pears.

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7. Zeal 1710 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

This colorful all-day hangout was founded by a triathlete whose taste for clean, lean, mean cuisine drives a kitchen that also derives inspiration from global traditions. Standouts include the breakfast fried rice with eggs, the carrot-falafel burger, and the miso bowl with eggplant and wild mushrooms; wash ’em all down with the unusually savory cold-pressed "green juice" or a cocktail that, supposedly, helps you detox even as you retox.