No one wants to feel left out.
We’ve all been there, though. Friends want to go to dinner, you make the reservation, then you only find out at the table that someone can’t order anything due to a dietary restriction of one kind or another. Not only is it frustrating, it can be embarrassing. Fortunately, Boulder has plenty of restaurant options where no one has to be excluded, and you can make plans without having to worry ahead of time.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Pizzeria Locale, 1730 Pearl St.
Pizza is usually a safe bet for anyone thanks to its infinitely customizable nature, but in Boulder, the gluten-free crust is a great addition, too. Obviously, Locale isn’t a completely gluten-free environment, but its crust is one of the better options around. Great choices for wine and cocktails, plus a few well-selected beers, means that pretty much anyone can tailor a meal to be great. The mais is a menu favorite. Who would have expected corn to be so good on a pizza?
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, 1535 Pearl St.
Not every night out needs to be a fancy affair, and Mountain Sun fits the bill perfectly on those nights. Gluten-free bun and bread options just cap off a menu with plenty of comfort food options top to bottom. Additionally, there are house specialties like the tempeh Reuben that can’t be found other places. While the centerpiece of Mountain Sun is always going to be the tasty local beers, they keep a couple wine options and a delicious Colorado-brewed cider on tap for the non-beer-drinkers who need a fun option for before a show at Boulder Theater right down the street.
Rincon Argentino, 2525 Arapahoe Ave.
Even in Boulder, it’s rare to find foreign food that caters to modern dietary needs. Rincon’s delicious, traditional empanadas are extremely popular around town, for dining out, ordering in and for catered events. The restaurant has a limited — but fantastic — gluten-free section, but that’s easily compensated for in other areas, including a chimichurri salad that’s second to none. If you’re there for dinner, don’t miss the Argentine wine selection or the Quilmes beer; if it’s lunch then back to the office, their yerba maté is tasty, too.
Centro Mexican Kitchen, 950 Pearl St.
The Boulder twist on South-of-the-border. From kale salad to Mahi tacos with kimchito, everything has a particularly local slant. Most importantly, that slant means the restaurant is incredibly understanding and helpful about special dietary needs. Whether that’s substituting a corn tortilla for the usual flour or helping find a different sauce to avoid dairy, Centro does a great job meeting the needs of whomever might be coming in for a marg.
Leaf, 2010 16th St.
This one sort of moves in the opposite direction. Leaf is the premier vegetarian restaurant in town, with most of the menu vegan or gluten-free from the start. That being said, any open-minded meat-eater will be more than happy with the selection at Leaf, which doesn’t replace meat so much as it doesn’t require it anyway. The spaghetti squash peanut noodles and buffalo cauliflower tacos are great examples of dishes that are plenty interesting — and filling — without ever needing meat to pull it off.
The list doesn’t end there. For Italian, the Med is a great spot; for something more exotic, Dushanbe Teahouse is always a treat. Even Mustard’s Last Stand, which prides itself on being the best stop for a hot dog or sausage, has an unexpectedly extensive vegetarian selection, with gluten-free substitutions, as well.
Honestly, it would be easier to make a list of places that don’t have good vegetarian or gluten-free options than the ones that do. Regardless, some places stand out, and whatever you’re looking for, no one has to feel left out.