20 Surprisingly Healthy Lunch Spots in Denver

20 Surprisingly Healthy Lunch Spots in Denver

It’s a fact: Staying healthy is a priority for residents of Denver. And with features like the Cherry Creek bike trail, year-long farmers markets, and endless boutique fitness joints, it’s pretty easy too!

But when you’re busy with work and you only have an hour for your lunch break downtown, making a healthy choice isn’t always as easy. How can you grab a healthy meal and still get the best bang for your buck? How long does it take for farm-to-table (and table-to-belly)?

To take this pressure off — and put the pleasure back into eating – here’s a list of healthy restaurants in downtown Denver who do lunch right.

  • Honor Society

    Honor Society Denver
    image via Honor Society Denver

    Another fast-casual favorite downtown, Honor Society revitalizes traditional comfort food with a healthy twist. One of the most exciting things about this restaurant—a game-changer—is its customizable menu. We get to choose from a variety of different proteins for a salad, a sandwich, or a plate. As for the seasonal side that comes with your dish, you can finally ditch the fries and reach for mashed sweet potatoes with grass-fed butter (amazing), roasted Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and pomegranate, or another tasty accompaniment.

  • Watercourse Foods

    Watercourse Foods, CO
    image via @anotherhungryvegan

    Who said vegan food couldn’t be satisfying? This mural-covered Uptown eatery specializes in plant-based comfort food that’s sure to please herbivores and carnivores alike. WaterCourse is one of the few places in Denver where you can indulge in sophisticated vegan alternatives like cashew mozzarella, cauliflower BBQ wings, and tempeh chorizo. And if Brunch Wrap Supreme sparks your interest, stop by during Watercourse’s brunch Fridays-Sundays from 9am-3pm.

  • Next Door

    Next Door Denver
    image via Crystal M. - Yelp

    Housed in Union Station’s spacious, historic left wing, Next Door is the more relaxed sister of top Denver restaurant, The Kitchen. At Next Door, you’ll find a farm-fresh spin on classic pub food (yes, healthy bar food does exist). Shared plates including spicy chickpeas and hummus will gear you up for entree offerings like shrimp tacos and mushroom ragout. And you’re gonna want to pair that with a side of balsamic beets or quinoa salad.

  • Brider

    Brider, Denver CO
    image via @infatuation_den

    Nothing says quick lunch like counter service. But no one does counter service like Brider (between Union Station and LoHi. The name “Brider” comes from a traditional method of meat cooking, but don’t let that mislead you about this healthy joint’s lunch options. In fact, Brider’s expansive lunch menu caters to all types of dietary needs (not just red-blooded meat-eaters). Whether you choose the vegetarian falafel sandwich, the sweet potato and avocado salad, or the butternut squash and pear soup, you’ll leave this light-filled haunt feeling fresh and energetic.

  • Biju’s Little Curry Shop

    Biju's Little Curry Shop
    image via Biju's Little Curry Shop

    Even if you’ve never been to India, this RiNo establishment’s rich, flavorful varieties will transport you across the Pacific. A trip to Biju’s often entails an encounter with Biju himself, who is happy to explain the ins and outs of his restaurant’s options. You can customize your vegetarian or meat bowl with toppings like herb yogurt, cilantro and mint chutney, or a side of chapati bread. Plus, if you’re a fan of smoothies, you can always try the Mango Lassi – a simple, good-for-you dessert made with low-fat yogurt, mangoes, and Indian spices.

  • Bubu

    image via Bubu

    Just when you thought you were sick of the build-your-own-bowl fad, enter: Bubu. Sporting the tagline “The Fresh Revolution,” Bubu delivers nutritional, locally-sourced, ingredients for individualized bowls. And trust us — these combinations are far more exciting than your average burrito bowl. Next time you’re looking for a fast, affordable lunch in Larimer Square, you might want to check out Bubu and test out the experimental flavor combinations for yourself.

  • Olive and Finch

    Olive & Finch
    image via @fromdustytodictator

    Olive and Finch has all the flavor of your favorite sandwich shop, plus a touch of country charm and French class. Salads, soups, and sandwiches are the main attraction here, but lunch-goers can also choose from a variety of breakfast items like egg sandwiches and heaping veggie scrambles, all made with fresh, cage-free eggs. Heads up: The inside of Olive and Finch’s Uptown spot is quite cozy but it fills up fast, so you might end up waiting for a seat (and getting a free pass to a longer-than-normal lunch).

  • MAD Greens

    MAD Greens
    image via MAD Greens

    Another downtown DIY salad spot, MAD Greens is a small southwestern chain that personalizes its offerings for each state. Colorado’s menu features an ode to Denver’s most famous Titanic survivor, the “unsinkable” Molly Brown. It’s heaping with all Molly’s favorites, including spinach, onions, grilled chicken, and fresh mozzarella (Leonardo DiCaprio not included). MAD Greens also provides a detailed nutrition sheet, so you can see EXACTLY what you just ate.

  • Root Down

    Root Down
    image via Root Down

    With two on-site gardens that supply fresh vegetables to its own chefs and its sister restaurants, Root Down takes “farm fresh” to a whole new level. Root Down is focused on creating world-inspired dishes for the everyday omnivore, and they also provide a host of vegan and gluten-free options. The retro, organically sourced eatery in The Highlands is only open for business day brunch on Fridays, but think of it this way: a vegetable-laden omelette is the perfect prep for a weekend of mountain adventure.

  • Green Fine Salad Co.

    image via @greenfinesaladco

    Eating salad for lunch is a healthy choice, but let’s face it: salad usually leaves us feeling hungry again two hours later. That’s not the case with Green Fine Salad Co., which dishes out heaping salads filled with grains, nuts, proteins, and other goodness to keep you full till dinner. Opt to build your own bowl, or choose from a variety of pre-designed signature salads and wraps. With salads on the cheap and a prime location at 17th and California, this salad company is convenient, to say the least.

  • Green Seed

    healthy restaurants in denver
    image via greenseedmarket.com

    Denver Central Market in RiNo is full of some seriously cool local makers (and one hell of a bar). Green Seed bringsv the healthy to the space with their loaded salads and bowls made with their own fresh produce. Want to one-stop shop? Grab some of their produce to go and build your own bowl at home!

  • Just Be Kitchen

    healthiest lunch in denver
    image via @justbekitchen | instagram

    Here’s the scoop on LoHi’s Just Be Kitchen: it’s impossible to order something unhealthy. The entire menu is free of all gluten, grains, and refined sugar. That means it’s a favorite among the gluten-free and paleo crowds, but trust us — you don’t need to follow either diet to love this grub. The menu changes seasonally but they hang onto a few customer faves year round like a cleaned-up chicken caesar (with almond flour croutons and cashew dressing!) and a green chili burrito (with sweet potato hash and an almond flour tortilla). Find ’em in LoHi (by REI).

  • Ohana Island Kitchen

    best poke in denver
    image via @airboo13 | Instagram

    We don’t know when poke became a thing in landlocked Colorado, but we aren’t complaining. Ohana’s healthy Hawaiian eats will have you feeling fresh and light no matter the season. The menu is small and simple but packed full of flavor. Go experience their aloha spirit at their shop at LoHi.

  • Five on Black

    healthy restaurants around denver
    image via @fiveonblack | Instagram

    Healthy Brazilian? Yes, please. This fresh and tasty spot downtown serves up build-your-own bowls of protein, veggies, and sauces that are FULL of Brazilian flair. Think Chipotle for Brazilian food — the combinations of flavors are endless. In a hurry? Order online and your food will be ready and waiting for you.

  • Tokyo Joe’s

    healthy alternatives in denver
    image via @tokyojoes | Instagram

    However you define healthy, we think we can all agree that when a restaurant lists its ingredients and nutrition labels, it’s a good thing. With Asian staples like sushi and poke and lunch favorites like salads and bowls infused with Asian flair, there’s plenty of variety at Tokyo Joe’s. And since many items come packed with fresh veggies and lots of protein, there are also plenty of healthy choices. Plus, it’s a local chain, which means you’re never too far from a Joe’s.

  • Whole Foods Union Station

    image via @traildogtreats | Instagram
    Union Station

    We aren’t telling you to head to the prepared foods fridge at Whole Foods for lunch (but you can if you want to). We’re telling you to check out the epic Whole Foods flagship store at Union Station. It houses all of your hot and salad bar faves, but also full restaurants Tel Aviv Street Food and birdcall. You could eat a different healthy cuisine every day of the week here. We wouldn’t blame you if you did.

  • Moxie Eatery

    Moxie fills a serious void on Broadway for fast, fresh, and healthy food. There are options for any kind of diet — from plant-based to paleo. They’ve got enormous veggie-packed salads (try the Green Giant) and legit sandwiches on local bread (we like the Acorn Squash for vegans and Lambwich for meat-lovers). And they serve it all in their clean and cheery space.

  • Protein Bar

    coolest restaurants in denver
    image via Protein Bar | Facebook

    Salads, wraps, bowls — it’s all protein-packed at Protein Bar. And we’re not talking powders and supplements here, we’re talking high-quality meats and plants that will keep you full all afternoon long. Need more? Grab a bowl of soup or a smoothie to go! They’ve got two locations downtown: at Union Station and on the 16th Street Mall at Glenarm.

  • Modern Market

    image via @modernmarket | Instagram

    Modern Market gets it. Their food is made with simple, whole ingredients purchased from local farmers and ranchers, and from select suppliers that share their values. This Boulder-born market can be found on 16th Street Mall (and elsewhere around Denver and the ’burbs!), you can try one of their loaded salads with actually healthy dressing, or build your own plate with options like sustainable salmon and umami Brussels sprouts.

  • True Food Kitchen

    best food in denver
    image via True Food Kitchen | Facebook

    The open kitchen at True Food in Cherry Creek is always busy and always full of mounds of real (true) ingredients being chopped and prepped for your plate. With a huge variety of insanely healthy and insanely delicious options for every mood, you’ll struggle to decide… and then be back for more.