Colorado Springs is home to five plant-based restaurants. Here’s what’s new and exciting for local (and visiting) vegans, as well as anyone interested in veg-forwarding dining:
The Burrowing Owl, 1791 S. 8th St.
Four years ago, The Burrowing Owl opened as the first vegan bar in Colorado Springs. The bar now often includes interesting daily specials such as vegan sushi and chimichanga nights. Bar food is still the star of the show, of course, and the new BLT ($9) — a plant-based twist on the summer classic — is a showstopper. Maybe it’s the nostalgic white bread. Or the umami-forward take on mayo (hello, balsamic vinegar). Or the healthier way to make vegan bacon crispy for that crunch combo of bacon and lettuce that we all love. (The secret? The bacon is air-fried.) It’s a savory summer sandwich that satisfies.
Honorable mention: The Mac Attack O’s ($9) is bar food at its finest: mac ‘n’ cheese tacos with crumbled potato chips and salsa.
Nourish Organic Juice, 303 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
For health nuts, the two downtown juice bars have it covered. Consider Nourish for a post-Manitou Incline refueling. The Summer Love Frap ($4.59) is refreshing, with watermelon and lime juice blended with crushed ice and sweetened with agave syrup. Bright red and slushy, it’s a great summer treat. Pair the frap with the Lime Bites ($3.49). The dense combo of nuts (almonds and cashews), dates and coconuts in the form of three tasty truffles hits the spot.
Honorable mention: Hearty salads ($6.95-$8.39) with the freshest ingredients are always on the menu.
Ola Juice Bar, 27 E. Kiowa St.
At Ola, the other juice bar mainstay, juiced and blended fruits and vegetables are the reasons the regulars keep coming back. But the new breakfast burrito ($8) delivers texture and satiety. Tofu scramble, shredded potatoes, quinoa, sunflower seeds and loads of veggies stuffed in a flour tortilla feels a lot like comfort food, but it’s healthful and hearty and sticks to your ribs for hours. Served in two tight handheld wraps, it’s easy to eat on the way to the office.
Honorable mention: The locally made gluten-free granola with plant-based milk ($6.50) is great for kids (and a filling alternative to a hot breakfast).
Santana’s Vegan Grill, 3220 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs’ groundbreaking vegan fast-food joint keeps expanding its menu, and Santana’s may have outdone itself with its latest burger offering. The BBQ bacon cheeseburger with guacamole ($9.74) is a plant-based burger sweetened with BBQ sauce, layered with crispy vegan bacon and melted cheese, and topped with a generous dollop of house-made guacamole, fresh tomato and lettuce. Grab a few napkins because you’re going to need them.
Honorable mention: The enormous breakfast burrito ($8.99) is stuffed with vegan egg, sausage and cheese (plus tons of vegetables).
Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics, 1625 W. Uintah St.
Initially launched as an allergen-free bakery, today Sweet Elizabeth’s is in a larger space with an expanded menu. Come for breakfast, lunch or treats, and you’ll see that doughnuts are what fly out of the bakery case. The chocolate doughnut ($3.50) is filled with whole grains and fried in coconut oil. The “healthier” approach to breakfast baked goods, this doughnut is dynamite with vanilla frosting (or lemon or chocolate) or purists can enjoy it plain.
Honorable mention: The Whoopie Pie-style ice cream sandwich ($4.50) is worth the trip because everyone deserves frozen whipped vanilla coconut cream stuffed between gluten-free chocolate cake cookies.