Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vegan eating in Colorado (and other adventures along the way)

We traveled out to Colorado for a family reunion, and here are some gathered thoughts and musings from the trip:
  • Rob and Mia are two of the coolest people I know.
  • Denver is a really neat city. We stayed downtown, and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Our hotel was inexpensive,but recently remodeled. The staff at the front desk was super nice.

  • City o City is a fantastic vegan restaurant. So good,in fact, that we ate there twice! The neighborhood was very urban. When I had tried to go there in the past, my folks were concerned about the location and the locals. There were no concerns this go-round. In fact, we were very comfortable walking there.

  • Ordered for dinner: We started with cocktails and buffalo seitan wings. I ordered the BBQ tofu plate, which came with Mac and cheese and greens. Rob got the Summer Kimchi Stew, and Mia got the vegan Savory waffle topped with veggies and vegan cheese fondue. Rachel got the don noodle bowl, and Jeff got the El Jefe veggie burger. City o City is a vegetarian restaurant, and Mia, Rob and I all had vegan meals.
  • The next morning, we wanted to go for a run, and the front desk clerk gave us directions to Cheesman Park, which was a gorgeous run!  We earned breakfast at City o City and returned there.

  • Some of us started with Bloody Marys, which included skewers of pickles, peppers, and brussels sprouts.  Mia had another waffle- this one being carrot cake in flavor, with icing and candied carrots on top.  I had the biscuits with vegan tofu gravy, Rob had the City Relleno with tofu.  All in all, this was one of my favorite restaurants ever to eat at, and I will absolutely return there.
  • Heading out of Denver, we decided to make a few adventure stops along the way.  First up, the Hammonds Candy Factory, where we passed on the factory tour, but bought lollipop provisions for the trip.
  • We went to Golden, Colorado, to the Coors Brewery, but there was an hour and a half wait.  Am I kidding?  You might think so, since it was a THURSDAY, and it was COORS, but no.  So we passed on that, too.
  • We stopped in Boulder, Colorado, at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, and after sampling their teas in the tea room,decided to give that tour a go.  It was fun and interesting, and the Mint room was absolutely refreshing.

  • In Boulder, we had a late lunch at Native Foods.  This is a chain out of Southern California, that has restaurants in a number of states out west.  It is all vegan, but you wouldn't think it just popping in.  A lot of the dish descriptions read meaty, if you know what I mean.  I ordered the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl (incredibly healthy- wonderful tempeh), Mia had the Classic Deli Reuben (deceptively vegan- it looked and tasted like a real reuben according to the table's meat-eaters), Rob got the Indo Noodle Salad (my favorite of all that we ordered- great peanutty sauce), Jeff got the Portobello and Sausage Burger with sweet potato fries, Rachel got the Baja Blackened Tacos, and we HAD to try the mac and cheese, so we split a side of that.
  • When we went to leave, I ended up talking with one of the chief executives of the chain who was there interviewing new employees.  She told me that they are planning on opening 4-6 Native Foods restaurants in the DC area in the next few years!
  • Finally, we ended up in Estes Park, Colorado, at the YMCA of the Rockies where we spent the weekend with family. 

  • A group of us ran the first morning, and running mountains (steep + high altitude) is TOUGH.  Then we did an hour of yoga, and topped it off with a 4 mile hike.  After that we decided we could either run OR hike, but not both.
  • We hiked each day we were there, one day doing a 9 mile hike with Jeff & Rachel, the next (because our legs were sore) a much shorter hike with Tim, Jess, Niki & Ryan.
  • Rob, Tim, and Josh did that same 9 mile hike the day before us, and saw a BEAR.  I am so jealous.  We really wanted to see a bear, but only saw what it left behind...
  • Climbing that trail, though, was incredibly gratifying- when we arrived at Sandbeach, it was one of the prettiest sights I'd ever seen.  
  • Hiking DOWN a mountain is much easier than hiking UP.
  • Vegan eating at the Y was not overabundant.  There was fruit and soy milk available each morning, and a salad bar each afternoon.  Two nights we were there I requested an additional item to be made, and each night it was tofu.  The first night, it was served with asparagus, the second with curry and sirrachia.
  • After the 9 mile hike, I wanted something just a little more vegan friendly, so a group of us went out to Poppy's Pizza and Grill in town.  It was a neat little pizza place on the river, with a number of vegan options on the menu.  I chose the Hummus pizza, which was incredibly tasty.  It may have been the hike, but I thought it was great.  The best part about this restaurant was the incredible swiftness that they were able to seat and serve our party of 12.  Kudos to Karen, our waitress.
  • We had a fantastic time- great food, great exercise, but the best was the company.  I love being able to spend time with my family- especially with my brothers and their families.  The only thing that would have made this trip better was if my folks were able to come.  I missed them!

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