Where to find NoCo’s best feel-good, taste-good meatless meals.
IN HIS BOOK VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good, Mark Bittman explains the benefits to embracing a vegan diet. The New York Times food columnist realized he was onto something after losing 35 pounds in four months and appeasing his doctors with lowered blood sugar and cholesterol. Bittman’s premise is easy to stick to (and easier on the planet’s food supply and global warming). The best part—it’s super restaurant-addict-friendly.
Whether you are vegan for a day or a veggie-head for life, here’s where to head for earthy, feel-good freshness in the Fort:
The OG of the vegan scene, Rainbow has been feeding Fort Collins since 1976. Each dish is house-made from start to finish and the menu is packed with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Snag a seat on the serene garden patio and dig into Steve’s Choice—a feast of grilled tofu with spinach, dried cranberries, quinoa, veggies and brown rice served with a tortilla and red chili. 212 W. Laurel St., 970-221-2664, rainbowfortcollins.com
THE GOLD LEAF COLLECTIVE
Fort Collins’ first entirely vegan restaurant opened in April 2017 as a spin-off of the popular Silver Seed Food Truck. Breakfast, lunch and dinner revolve around Colorado farms and foragers with the goal of proving that ethical, plant-based fare can be delicious. Order The Pinnacle, a stack of seitan bacon, hummus, adobe tofu, and house pickles with mustard and cheese served on focaccia or greens. For dessert, there’s to-die-for rhubarb crumbcake. 120 W. Laurel St., 970-682-1633, thegoldleafcollective.com
Ask locals where to score yummy organic vegetarian food and odds are likely they’ll send you here. Sacha and Jill Steinhauser opened their restaurant in 2009 and continue to kill it with creative plant-based takes on meat-eater classics. Start with the Asian lettuce wraps with fried tofu and stir-fried vegetables and finish with Kentucky Fried Freedom—a platter of battered and fried seitan, mashed potatoes and gravy, smoky black-eyed peas and garlicky greens. 160 W. Oak St., 970-689-3234, tastyharmony.com
DAM GOOD TACOS
Hit Dalzell Alley across from the Colorado State University campus for fresh, earth-conscious affordable tacos. The founders started in the Mobile 66 gas station in Basalt and cruised around Fort Collins breweries in a taco cart until opening their brick and mortar in 2013. Vegan and vegetarian options brim at this hole in the wall, where everything is made from scratch. Look under Signature Tacos for the Veggie Deluxe with pinto and red beans, cheese, grilled onions, roasted corn salsa, tomato-onion pico and lettuce. Finish it with the tomatillo-avocado sauce. They also serve meat tacos, if you’re into that. 120 W. Laurel St., 970-222-1527, damgoodtacos.com
NYALA ETHIOPIAN CUISINE
Owner and chef Etage Asrat recreates the traditional Ethiopian dishes she grew up with, using organic, locally grown ingredients and fresh Ethiopian spices. Almost every dish here is vegan and gluten-free. Get acquainted with teff, the world’s smallest grain, and Tibs, sautéed dishes with East African flair. Try the duba wot—butternut squash stewed in a red pepper sauce and seasoned with Ethiopian spices—paired with something from Nyala’s small but impressive Ethiopian wine list. 2900 W. Harvard St., 970-223-6734, nyalafortcollins.com