Vegan Eats in Durango

by Patty Templeton

Vegans, rejoice! You have options to eat in Durango.

For folks not familiar with a vegan diet – think vegetarian, so no meat, but extend that to not including any animal byproducts either. No cheese, dairy, honey, eggs, and so on. A dietary vegan eliminates animal products from their diet, while an ethical vegan extends that philosophy into other areas of their life (like not wearing leather, not using products tested on animals, etc.).

Being vegan can be kind of a pain when you wanna go out to eat with pals. There’s a lot to be considered. Sure, a restaurant may have a vegan entrée or appetizer or menu items that can be modified into being vegan, but did they share space in a fryer or on a grill with animal products? Stricter vegans might find this shared space unacceptable, while other vegans adopt an attitude of “close-enough.” This isn’t a commentary on how strict of a vegan one can be, but more so a space to showcase Durango restaurants that are attempting to create vegan-inclusive menus rather than relegating veg-heads to olive oil-drizzled baked potatoes or half-ass salads. OK, OK, there’s also some joints on here that aren’t necessarily trying to please vegans but do have vegan options, if you know what alterations to ask for. When possible, DGO’s noted if a vegan item would share space on a grill or in a fryer with animal products. It is up to the diner to double-check with their server about ingredient changes or production methods.

Here’s a roundup of some, though not all, of the vegan dining options in downtown Durango:

Backcountry Gourmet at 11th Street Station1101 Main Ave. Gourmet sliders and sides. The Fried Zuchinni Slider is vegan if you omit the Chipotle Ranch and sub chimichurri. Also, all salad dressings are vegan, so if you 86 the cheese, the Quinoa Salad and Backcountry Salads are options.

Bloom Café309 West College Drive American fast casual. Bloom is a lunch joint located in the Albertson’s parking lot. There are plenty of vegetarian options. For-sure vegan options include the Garden and Quinoa Salads.

The Box at 11th Street Station1101 Main Ave. Wood-fired pizzas. Their dough and red sauce are vegan. If you minus the cheese, there are build-your-own pizza options.

Cairo Café1849 Main Ave. Homemade, locally-sourced Egyptian cuisine. There’s a heckton of vegetarian dishes at Cairo Café. The Hummus and Pita is a delicious starter. The Falafel Pita and Eggplant Pita sandwiches become vegan if you cut the feta. The Eggplant Rice Bowl can be vegan if you ask for tahini sauce (instead of tzatziki) and no feta.

Carver Brewing Co.1022 Main Ave.Contemporary, handcrafted, high-end brewpub. Carver Brewing Co. updates its menu seasonally. Almost any of its breakfast options can be turned vegan. They will substitute tofu for eggs, avocado for meat, and most dishes can be made dairy-free upon request. One of the most popular breakfast options is the Scramble Verde with tofu. For thicker meals later in the day, try the Thai Curry Quinoa Bowl with Tofu or the Persian Braised Cauliflower (minus the yogurt).

Other notes: The green chile is not vegan. In rad news, Carver’s doesn’t use a fryer, they bake their vegan-friendly fries.

Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen862 Main Ave. Contemporary American cuisine with Southwestern flair. If you skip the cheese, the Cauliflower Steak and Warm Roasted Veggie Salad are vegan. The pizza dough and red sauce are vegan, so cheeseless pizzas are an option. Fire-Roasted Jalapeño Guacamole is good for the noms. The Focaccia and Shishitos & Shiitakes apps are solid, minus the dipping sauces. Skip the bacon and the Roasted Brussels Sprouts make the cut. The Apple Quinoa Salad works, leaving off the chicken and cheese. (The Balsamic and Ancho Vinaigrettes are also vegan.) Also, the Zucchini & Squash “Zoodles” are vegan, if you leave off the bacon and sub pizza sauce (the roasted tomato and green chili sauces are made with chicken stock).

East by Southwest160 East College DriveAsian fusion cuisine. East By Southwest has a Vegan Sushi Set that includes Carrot Soup, Vegetable Futomaki, and five Vegetable Nigiri sushi.

El Moro Spirits and Tavern945 Main Ave.Modern rustic cuisine with extensive mixology menu. If you minus the cheese, the Beluga Lentil Salad and Beet Carpaccio are vegan. The Beet and Apple Salad is vegan without cheese and subbing a red wine or harissa vinaigrette. The Falafel Gyro without cheese and subbing a house salad is in the clear. The Root Vegetable Shephard’s Pie can become vegan if you don’t top it with the creamy mashed potatoes.

An almost: Depending on how strict your diet is, the KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) is almost vegan. It’s tossed in a sauce that includes honey, and El Moro’s fryer is used for both vegetable and animal products.

Eolus Bar and Dining919 Main Ave.Fine dining multi-cuisine. If you don’t mind a shared fryer, the French fries are great, but the main vegan option at Eolus is the Veggie Roll on their sushi menu – if you leave off the aioli. Pro tip: The price is half-off during happy hour.

Gazpacho New Mexican Restaurant Y Cantina431 East Second Ave.Contemporary Mexican cuisine. The Bean Burrito, Vegetarian Tamale Plate, and Vegetarian Enchilada are all vegan if you skip the cheese. The fresh-made Vegetarian Green Chili Garden Burger is a 100 percent vegan patty and features soy cheese.

Grassburger726 ½ Main Ave.Casual, sustainably-sourced burgers and more. Grassburger has a Vegan Black Bean Burger – just make sure to leave off the Chipotle Mayo. There’s also a Vegetarian Black Bean Bowl that becomes vegan by skipping the cheese. They do not have a separate fryer or grill space for vegan versus animal-based products.

Himalayan Kitchen992 Main Ave. Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian Cuisine. There’s loads of vegetarian dishes at Himalayan Kitchen, but there’s also a few vegan ones. Baigoon Bharta, Kumari Tarkaari, Vegetable Curry, and Tse Phing are all straight up vegan.

Homeslice Pizza441 East College Dr. and 2915 Main Ave. Homeslice’s pizza dough and red sauce are both vegan. If you skip the cheese, there’s a ton of veggies you can pile up for a vegan pizza.

The Living Tree680 Main Ave.Fresh, organic, casual cuisine. Living Tree has a Vegan Sweet Potato Chili and an array of salad choices with vegan dressing options. They will also, randomly, have vegan treats, like raw, vegan “Snickers” and “Twix” dessert cups.

Manny’s Fresh Co. at 11th Street Station1101 Main Ave.Modern Asian cuisine. The Wakami Seaweed Salad is vegan, plus vegan sushi rolls are coming to the menu soon.

Mariana’s Authentic Cuisine at 11th Street Station1101 Main Ave.Indonesian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian Fusion. Mariana’s is a fresh, homemade vegan heaven. She has two sauces – ask for the vegan house sauce. Spring Rolls, Mariana’s Salad, Steamed Jasmine Rice, Chop Suey (with tofu), Kung Pao Tofu, Chai Tea, and Thai Tea come vegan as-is. Ask for no egg on the Gado-Gado, Kwetiaw Sirem, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, and Vegetarian Dish and they are vegan. Tofu is a meat substitution option.

Mongolian Kitchen1135 S. Camino del Rio, #230Mongolian BBQ buffet and ala carte Chinese cuisine. Mongolian Kitchen has a lot of vegetarian dishes. Most of these can be modified into vegan fare by asking your server for no egg, fish sauce, or oyster sauce and, obvs, adding tofu. Try out dishes like the Vegetarian’s Delight, Vegetable Lo Mein, Kung Pao Tofu, Sautéed Broccoli, Tofu with Garlic Sauce, Broccoli with Garlic Sauce, Hot Sesame Tofu, and Tofu or Vegetable Fried Rice.

Ore House147 East College DriveIf you make a reservation at the Ore House a week or more in advance, they’ll create a custom vegan meal with in-season, locally-sourced veggies. A high-end vegan dining experience starts at $40 for three courses.

Raider Ridge Café509 East Eighth Ave. Locally-sourced, fast casual café fare. If you nix the feta, the Portabella Breakfast Wrap is vegan. The Big Canyon Breakfast Wrap is a solid choice, along with the Animas Valley Vegan lunch wrap. Skip the feta and the Greek lunch wrap works. You can also add tofu to your wrap.

Seasons of Durango764 Main Ave. Hearty American fare with an emphasis on locally- sourced foods. Seasons does not have any dedicated vegan menu items, and anything fried may be in contact with fish and gluten. They will, however, create a vegan dish if you call at least 48 hours in advance. The earlier you call before your visit, the longer the chef has to figure out a gorgeous dish.

Steamworks Brewing Co.801 East Second Ave. Casual American cuisine. The pizza dough and red sauce are vegan, so veg pizzas are an option if you subtract the cheese. The Indonesian Peanut Salad without chicken works. Take away the meat and cheese and the Mediterranean Salad, Southwest Salad, and Spinach Salad are vegan.

Thai Kitchen101 W. 11 St. Contemporary Thai food. Dishes like Pad Thai, Vegetable Stir Fry, fried rice varieties, and most curries can be adapted to vegan dishes. Ask your server for a vegan plate with a tofu substitution and no egg, dairy, fish sauce, or oyster sauce.

Turtle Lake Refuge Café848 East Third Ave. The Turtle Café is an all-vegan, organic, local, wild and raw food. Heck and yes! The only catch, the joint’s only open for lunch service on Tuesday and on Friday from 11:11 a.m. to 2:22 p.m. The menu changes depedning on what ingredients are available locally. The menu is usually available on Twitter day-of and about an hour before service. The cafe is on the backside of the Rocky Mountain Retreat building.

Zen Cuisine150 East College DriveContemporary Asian cuisine. The Zen Cuisine menu has a plentiful amount of vegan options clearly marked on their menu. You could start your meal with Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls, Brussel Sprout Chips, Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, Carrot and Ginger Bisque, or a veg sushi roll. Entrée possibilities include Vegan Pho, Yellow Curry with Tempeh, Pineapple Fried Rice, Chiang Mai Noodles, or the House Pad Thai Noodles with Tofu (minus the egg).

Zia Taqueria3101 Main Ave. and 400 South Camino del RioFast, casual Mexican food. At Zia’s you can build your own burritos and rice or salad bowls. Lime Cilantro White Rice, Mexican Whole-grain Brown Rice, Pinto, and Black Beans are all vegan. They have grilled vegetables, fajita veggies, and vegetarian green chile. Just leave off the dairy.

Bonus breakfast news: Durango Bagel, 106 East 6th St., has vegan-friendly bagels. Rendezvous Doughnuts, 139 East Fifth St., lists on their website that they are working on vegan doughnut options.

Vegan options are current as of January 2017 but ingredients and preparation techniques are subject to change. Patty Templeton


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