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Deborah Lastowka Headshot

Dear Denver, I Don't Eat Anything With a Face. Where Can I Still Get My Grub On, Yo?

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I have said it before, and I will say it again, "It is really an exciting time to be a vegetarian".

In the summer of 1995 I decided to stop eating meat. I had just graduated high school, and it was more or less experimental, which was the reason why I did most things when I was 18. The last non-vegetarian thing I ate was chicken wings from Pinocchio's in Media, Pennsylvania. I remember this because I had decided to become vegetarian, but then got drunk with my friend Nicole and we ordered wings and ate them on my bedroom floor. The next day I woke up and was like, "Oh shit, I am supposed to be a vegetarian".

I honestly don't care what other people eat, but this decision has made more and more sense to me with each passing year. And, I am happy that there are now so many more vegetarian options, other than just eggplant parm or some nasty Portobello mushroom sandwich (believe it or not, both eggplant and mushrooms gross me out). So here you go. This is not an exhaustive list, but some solid choices for full-time, part-time or questioning vegetarians. If you feel that I missed some place that you love, leave me a comment. Bon appétit, bitches!

City O'City: Vegetarian/vegan bohemian bar, perhaps one of my favorite places in Denver. Luckily I live right across the street. So I go. A lot. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late-night food -- it's a great go-to spot any time of the day. Even my brother who is very much a carnivore, goes multiple times when he is in town. Cool design, great beers on tap, words of wisdom written in the john, and hipster eye candy out the ying yang -- what more could you ask for? Monday - Sunday: 7 - 2am; happy hour twice a day: 2 - 6 pm and 11pm - close. Full bar.

Watercourse: Denver's OG vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Full, creative menu, but it kind of doesn't matter. Because I order The Grinder. Every. Single. Time. It's so good. Breakfast served until 5pm. And if you ride your bicycle to either Watercourse or City O, you receive 10 percent off of your bill. Boom. Monday - Thursday: 11am - 10pm; Friday - Sunday: 8am - 10pm. Beer and wine available.

Native Foods Café: Sure it's a chain, but made-from-scratch, fast-casual all-vegan fare is just what Denver needs. Not the coolest location, but just peep their menu. It may feel impossible to make a decision from all of that yum, but I am sure you will persevere. Monday - Sunday: 11am - 10pm. Beer and wine available.

Govinda's Garden: Another affordably priced option for vegetarian and vegan fare in our fair city. All-you-can-eat buffet-style; communal seating. Prices range from $9.95 - $12.95. Fridays & Saturdays: 5:30 - 9pm. No alcohol.

Lotus Vegetarian: Choose from an extensive all-veggie menu featuring soups, burgers, sandwiches, Asian delights, veggie sushi, organic juices, smoothies, and desserts. Monday - Thursday: 11:30am - 9:30pm; Friday & Saturday: 11:30am - 10pm; Sunday: noon - 9:30pm. No alcohol.

Sputnik: Hipster vegetarian food at it's finest. Sputnik serves weekend hangover brunch and stays open late enough for you to start working on your next one. Best sweet potato fries in town (especially with the habeñero jam) and I triple love the Bahn Mi sandwich with tofu. Monday - Friday: 10:30 - 2am; Saturday & Sunday: 10 - 2am. Full bar.

True Food Kitchen: This is probably where those dumb ladies on Sex & the City would eat, but regardless True Food Kitchen has a cool atmosphere and a tasty, veggie-friendly menu. Kale dishes for days. Monday - Friday 11am - 10pm; Saturday 10am - 10pm; Sunday 10am - 9pm. Full bar.

Linger: Global vegetarian food options in LoHi. Linger is the place to go when your taste buds need something new. Great flavors, great textures and thoughtful presentation. A little bit of a scene, so unless you go at an off time, prepare to look cute while you wait. (Plus: One of the best rooftop decks in town, if not the best.) Happy hour Tuesday - Friday: 4 - 6:30pm, in the bar area only. Full bar.

Steve's Snappin' Dogs: I pretty much identify as a vegetarian frat boy at heart, and this place really fits the bill. Breakfast burritos, veggie burgers, veggie green chile, grilled cheese, tasty fries, fried green beans, chocolate covered bananas, and milkshakes. Yum! Additionally the staff is uber nice and I am seriously considering having my next birthday at Steve's. Oh, and they also serve beer. Monday - Thursday: 11am - 8pm; Friday & Saturday: 11am - 9pm; Sunday: 11am - 6pm.

Uncle: One of my favorite restaurants in town. Next time there happens to be a cold, rainy night in Denver (which I know is infrequent, but after you eat here you'll start wishing it happened more often) head over to Uncle to slurp down one of the best noodle bowls you've ever had. Menu changes on occasion so ask which items can be made veggie. Go early or on an off night because shit gets busy. (And I'd highly recommend the fried green tomato steamed buns. Yeah, that's right.) Monday - Saturday, 5 - 10pm; closed Sundays. Serves alcohol.

SubCulture: Sub shop, which offers creative vegetarian/vegan offerings, as well as beer and mixed drinks. Plus they now serve breakfast sandwiches (for just $4.75) on the weekends until 11:30am. Fun, communal outdoor seating and free bike delivery! Monday - Thursday: 11am - 9pm; Friday & Saturday: 9am - 10pm.

Marquis Pizza: I have had a fair share of vegan pizza in my life, and most of it just makes me feel kind of sad. The vegan pizza at the Marquis however, is awesome. For reals. Sunday - Thursday: 5pm - midnight; Friday & Saturday: 5pm - 2:30am.

Nectar House: Located inside of Kindness Yoga studio, this "organic living foods cafe and elixir bar" serves up casual raw breakfast and lunch options, along with a myriad of potions. Monday - Saturday: 9am - 9pm; Sunday 9am - 5pm.

Beet Box: New vegan bakery serving fresh pastries, breads, cakes, savory treats and coffee. (Their potato & kale tart is one of the best things I've eaten all year.) Located in the San Rafael neighborhood of Denver, between Downing and Ogden Streets. Monday & Tuesday: 7am to 5pm; Wednesday - Friday: 7am to 7pm; Saturday: 8am - 7pm; Sunday: 8am - 5pm. Now serving vegan sandwiches as well! YUM.

Sweet Action: Tasty vegan ice-cream! And tasty non-vegan ice-cream! Follow them on Facebook to learn about new flavors being offered daily. Wacky delish. Sunday - Thursday: 1 - 10pm; Friday & Saturday: 1 - 11pm.

Food Trucks

Vegan Van: There is always a line at this truck, and it's because it serves up tasty vegan food. Stalk them on Facebook to know where you should be in order to shove their tasty tofu creations into your mouth hole.

WongWayVeg: Specializing in local, seasonal, from scratch vegetarian and vegan food that's ready to go. Look for the bright green truck.

Baba's Falafel: Falafel balls! Falafel quesadillas! Falafel nachos! Follow them on Facebook to learn the phrase of the day and get a free or discounted snack!

Matt's Snack Shack: Awesome vegan beer brats. Get one all pimped out with a side of fries and you won't be able to slap the smile off of your face.

The Special: Vegetable-forward catering and food truck from the peeps that brought you Wafflegänger. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

Special Events

Chomp: Chomp is yet another great event in town that makes me say, "I effing love this city". This monthly community vegan dinner just moved to a new location, The Horse Barn, and is open to all. For just a $8 - $10 donation, enjoy a heaping plate of delicious vegan food, based on the chosen monthly theme. Note: the new location does not allow Chomp to sell alcohol, but feel free to BYOB.

Neat Market: This pop-up market is the coolest, even if you aren't permanently riding the vegan train. Bring yo cash and pick-up some fresh pasta, vegan wine, confectionaries, seasoned seitan, tamales and baked goods. Nothing not vegan, son - there are even a couple of vegan food trucks! Held every third Sunday of the month at The Horse Barn from 11am - 3pm.

The Garden: This Park Hill home offers a wide range of special events, including cooking classes, gardening workshops, tours, movies, potlucks, food tastings, farm-to-table dinners, and more.

Raw Food Night at Root Down: I take that back, this is where Samantha and those other bobble-heads would be. But luckily Denver is Denver and an event like this doesn't make you want to barf with pretense. First Tuesday of every month.