Dining out as a vegan certainly has its unique set of challenges, especially when you’re looking for a more “fine dining” experience. Fortunately, there are a decent amount of restaurants with vegan options along the Front Range, and Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant is one of the best. Leaf offers a seasonal brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and dessert menu served in a modern, serene, earthy setting.
The extensive menu is clearly marked with a “v” next to anything that is vegan. The vegan crab cake sandwich, Jamaican jerk tempeh, and Hungarian stuffed cabbage are all hearty options for lunch or dinner. For brunch, try the biscuits and gravy with house-made vegan “sausage”, French toast, or a vegan benedict made with spaghetti squash noodles, black beans, and an avocado “hollandaise” sauce.
But the vegan options don’t end there. Most vegetarian dishes can be easily made vegan, indicated by the “vo” (vegan option) next to it. Items like the mushroom burger, Rueben, and huevos rancheros can all be altered to be free of dairy and eggs.
My personal favorite time to visit is during happy hour, which is every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then 8 p.m. to close on Sundays through Thursdays. Some delicious options are spicy buffalo cauliflower tacos with a vegan bleu cheese dressing, crab cake slider, crispy harissa tofu, and a flat bread with dal puree, smoked cashew paneer, roasted squash, and fresh spinach. Wash it all down with draft beers ($3.50), a glass of wine ($5), or one of their martinis made with peak spirits mell vodka ($7).
The owners took their passion for local, fresh, seasonal ingredients to a whole new level by creating a farm in nearby Lafayette called Three Leaf Farm located on the banks of Coal Creek. This allows them to offer organic, sustainably produced herbs and produce for Leaf and other restaurants they own, such as Chautauqua Dining Hall, Zucca Italian Ristorante, and Aji Latin American Restaurant.
Image credit: Raw Manicotti via Leaf