Colorado: Where Dairy-Free Food is Essential Fuel

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Last Updated September 2020! In a state where mountain climbing is a weekly activity, cross fit is typical daily exercise, and becoming a yoga instructor is a top career, you can bet nutrition takes center stage. Consequently, there are numerous restaurants in Colorado that cater to paleo, keto, whole30, gluten-free, plant-based, and of course, dairy-free diets.

That’s why we’ve been able to create this extensive guide to restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and ice cream shops in Colorado that are friendly to dairy-free diners. It’s a collection based on research and reader recommendations (send yours!), that’s divided into local restaurants (first) and chains (second).

Local Colorado Restaurants Recommended for Dairy-Free Eats

The Colorado landscape is populated with mountains, plateaus, and rivers. Consequently, free range lamb, bison, and trout are popular local foods that can be found on many menus. Elk is also gaining popularity, and chili verde is a local specialty that can easily be ordered dairy-free. These dishes can often be found at local microbreweries – Colorado has hundreds of them!

The Centennial State is also no stranger to plant-heavy cuisine, and dairy-free options seem to come standard on many menus. The restaurants listed below are ones that we’ve discovered with a solid dairy-free selection. We’ve listed these recommendations alphabetically by city, and then by the restaurant or shop name.

⭐️ = Restaurant is either dairy-free, has a dairy-free menu, has dairy-free labels on their menu(s), or lists top allergens with menu items. (At the time of our last review.)

Boulder

  • Fresh Thymes Eatery ⭐️ – Stephanie P. recommended this restaurant to us. “Fresh Thymes Eatery is very focused on allergen-friendly eating.  All the staff members are knowledgeable about what ingredients are in what, and they have very clearly marked menu items, with soy and nuts specifically mentioned and no hidden dairy.  It’s a fancy casual dining environment with alcohol available.” In fact, this is a gluten-free and peanut-free establishment with many vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and keto menu options. When I sent an inquiry, they reaffirmed their “no HIDDEN dairy” claim. They merely use cheese on top of some dishes. “None of our sauces, dressings, breads, or desserts contain any dairy products.”
  • Fresh Thymes Marketplace ⭐️ – This sister shop to their eatery contains a gluten-free bakery, specialty meals and bento boxes, a bone broth bar, and small batch provisions to go. Most of their menu is dairy-free, and includes some surprises like almond milk ricotta and their signature cashew cream sauce.
  • Gelato Boy ⭐️ – Formerly known as Fior di Latte, this gelato shop has expanded to two locations in Boulder, two in Denver, and pint shipping throughout the U.S. And their dairy-free gelato selection is big! It includes creamy flavors like Cookies & Cream and Caramel Apple Butter, made with a base of coconut milk, cashew milk, and/or oat milk. You can order in a cup or cone (two are dairy-free, one of those is gluten-free). They also offer almond milk and oat milk for their tea, espresso, and coffee drinks. And they can make you a dairy-free milkshake, ice cream sandwich, or brownie à la mode.
  • Kim & Jake’s Cakes – This purely gluten-free bake shop makes stunning cakes and cupcakes. They take custom orders for other special diet needs, including dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, soy-free, and more. But they also have many dairy-free items on hand, including fresh baked breads, paleo cookies, and usually some other sweet treats.
  • Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar ⭐️ – Stephanie P. emailed this dairy-free recommendation to us. “Shine is a little bit hit or miss – sometimes the food is amazing and sometimes it’s not. But the service is always great and the environment is good for a super fancy night out.  The menu items are very clearly marked, and people who are both gluten and dairy free can eat nearly everything on the menu!” This whimsical eatery is actually 100% gluten-free, and menu items are clearly labeled for dairy-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly. According to the staff, they also have allergen protocols to help prevent cross contamination. They serve dinner, healthy drinks, and even several dairy-free desserts.

Breckenridge

  • Piante Pizzeria ⭐️ – Enjoy the ultimate dairy-free, après ski cuisine at this purely plant-based restaurant. They wood fire your vegan New York-style pizza as you relax in their cozy vintage farm dining room. Their creations are topped with housemade sauces and their own cashew cheeses – not to mention some very intriguing vegetables and “meats.” They also serve a range of healthy salads, and cheesecake, tiramisu, and sweet knots for dessert. Go ahead, you earned it!

Denver

  • Beet Box ⭐️ – Croissants and donuts take center stage at this vegan bakery and lunch cafe. But they also bake cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and so many other pastries. Their bread loaves and freshly made sandwiches are also popular. The options include paninis and “melts” made with cashew cheese. Various gluten-free options are available and they take special diet orders.
  • City, O’ City – This hip vegetarian hub covers all the bases with brunch, coffee, a vegan bakery, lunch, dinner, late night snacks, cocktails, and happy hour. Their broad, comfort food menu is generously labeled with vegan and gluten-free options, including vegan yogurt, cashew ricotta, and Daiya cheese alternative for many items.
  • Gelato Boy ⭐️ – As mentioned in our Boulder section above, this ice cream shop has two Denver locations, and several dairy-free gelato flavors to choose from. And we aren’t just talking sorbetto. These are creamy, decadent, dairy-free flavors that you can order in a cup or one of their dairy-free (gluten-free optional) cones. They also serve dairy-free coffee drinks, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, and brownies!
  • Just BE Kitchen ⭐️ – This fast casual restaurant is 100% free of gluten, grains, refined sugar, soy, corn, peanuts, and legumes; 99% dairy free; and committed to accommodating special diet needs. They actually offer a Whole30 menu (which is big!), and have protocols for handling food allergy orders. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, have a coffee bar and bone broth bar, and even craft some healthy desserts.
  • Little Man Ice Cream – They always offer some creamy vegan ice cream flavors, like Chocolate Salted Oreo, Horchata, Pina Colada, and The Munchies. The base is usually coconut and almond, but sometimes it’s rice. And they have a unique selection of naturally dairy-free sorbets, ranging from Raspberry Peach to seasonal Candied Ginger Grapefruit.
  • Sweet Action Ice Cream – In addition to dairy ice cream, Sweet Action makes dairy-free and vegan ice cream in a variety of creamy, unique flavors (like Coffee + Donuts, Thai Iced Tea, Cinnamon Roll, and Salted Butterscotch). The flavors do change often, but they have at least 2 vegan options at each location on any given day. The vegan ice cream can be enjoyed in a cup, by the cone, or packed into pints to enjoy at home.
  • Sweet Cooie’s – This was the second location of Little Man Ice Cream, but every location has a different name. They always offer some hand-crafted vegan flavors made from coconut and almond milk or rice, like Peanut Butter Oreo, Horchata, Chocolate, or Lemon Lavender Poppy. Their pineapple, strawberry, and blueberry sauces are reportedly vegan, and many of their toppings, including the sprinkles, are dairy free. They also offer a vegan ice cream pie.
  • Uno Pizzeria & Grill – This popular chain restaurant has one location in Colorado. See our Uno Dairy-Free Menu Guide for details.
  • Voodoo Doughnut – This unique doughnut chain out of Oregon offers several vegan doughnut flavors daily, which can include maple bars, cream filled, apple fritters, and other creative raised and iced varieties. They also bake a vegan cake doughnut, and can make almost any donut vegan if you order ahead. They don’t offer any gluten-free donuts. There are two locations in Denver.
  • Watercourse Foods – They have always been vegetarian, but in 2012, this cafe went completely vegan and hasn’t looked back. They have a bakery on site, blend creamy dairy-free shakes, and offer a full menu of sandwiches and salads made with plant-based meats and cheeses.

Durango

  • Grassburger – This recommendation was originally sent to us by Molly L. “They offer dairy free, gluten free, and even vegan options. They even have dairy free cookies and dairy-free milkshakes!!!” This fast casual burger joint serves grass-fed beef, turkey, and vegan burgers in both sandwich and bowl formats. According to their allergen menu, everything is dairy-free, except for the cheese, ranch dressing, and dairy milkshakes. They use Earth Balance for buttering needs, and appear to only make fries (regular and sweet potato) in their fryer. Everything but their potato bun is gluten-free (they have a gluten-free bun), and they don’t use any fish, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame seeds.

Fort Collins

  • Tasty Harmony – This organic vegetarian restaurant is mostly vegan, and serves all types of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and bowls. They also make smoothies with almond milk and offer vegan desserts. Their menu includes both dairy-free cheeses (many cashew-based) and dairy cheeses, so order carefully.

Lakewood

Loveland

National Chains with Several Colorado Locations

There are many more chains in this state, but these are the ones we recommend most for dairy-free options.

This Guide is Continuously Updated with Recommendations

We welcome you to recommend other dairy-free friendly restaurants. Leave a comment or contact us and tell us why you like a certain restaurant. Restaurant owners and employees are also invited to reach out and let us know how you welcome dairy-free customers.

Please kindly let us know in the comments if any of these restaurants close. We want to keep this list current for you, but aren’t always notified when a restaurant closes. Let us know and we will quickly update!

This Guide is for Informational Purposes Only

Menus, ingredients, kitchen procedures, management, and restaurants are subject to change at any time. Always read the menu and discuss your dietary needs with the staff before ordering. Make sure that they can accommodate your situation.

There is always a risk for potential cross-contamination of allergens in any commercial kitchen. If cross-contamination is an issue for you, always speak with the manager to ensure that your meal can be safely prepared. Listings here do not guarantee that a restaurant is safe enough for your individual needs. Only you can make that decision.

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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