Narrowing down the healthiest restaurants in Boulder is an impossible task, partially because it’d be way easier to list the handful of unhealthy restaurants in Boulder. Most places here value locally sourced, organic, house-made, healthy everything. Even the late-night snacks, desserts and bar food have better-for-you options.
But most importantly, we realize that every single person is a completely unique bio-individual. So what’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. Your body knows what it needs and what makes it thrive. One man’s fresh beef broth could be another (vegan) man’s stomachache.
That all being disclaimed, when we are craving a high-quality, tasty meal that will make our bodies feel great, there are certain places we think of first. They stand out for their quality, flavor and emphasis on health — pretty much across the board for anyone.
You know it’s a fresh restaurant when a mini garden of fresh herbs are the first thing you see when you walk in. Zeal’s health-conscious menu is made from the “cleanest organically grown ingredients available,” which change seasonally and are always local when possible. Nothing here is overly processed, there are no GMOs and everything is cooked with organic, 100 percent coconut oil or organic EVOO.
Food here is globally inspired, so it’s super fun and flavorful. The menu is easy to navigate and clearly labeled for different dietary needs and allergies, although Zeal’s cooking style is already centered on a “very low use of common allergen foods.”
Our favorite thing to order: Start with the beet hummus: roasted beet, chickpea, cut veggies and flax crackers. (Beet hummus is a Big Thing in Boulder right now.)
You absolutely must check out the Broth Bar, with both vegetarian (chickpea miso broth) and regular (72-hour bone broth) options. Get a cup of broth and then add your favorite flavors from a spice, herb and veggie mini-buffet. For the main course, try the tasty vegetable rainbow curry: seasonal roasted vegetables, sesame seeds, raw sprouted lentils, toasted coconut, coconut curry, over rice. (We usually hold the rice and ask for more veggies.)
2. Fresh Thymes
Fresh Thymes offers tasty whole food. It’s always gluten-free and peanut-free, and it never contains preservatives, artificial ingredients or unnatural additives. No cane sugar or artificial sweeteners.
It’s inspired by clean, old-fashioned and simple food: Nothing is genetically modified; animals are fed grass; poultry is organic. The restaurant values sustainable practices and earned a perfect “six-link ranking” on the Good Food 100 List.
Local is a priority, too. The only time Fresh Thymes taps into food beyond local boundaries is if it’s not available here, and if what’s available elsewhere is organic.
“We spend the majority, if not all, of our food costs to support local good-food producers and purveyors who are doing right by the environment and right by you, the consumer,” Fresh Thymes writes on its website.
This restaurant even considers healthier fat options, using coconut and EVOO instead of canola and soybean oil.
Got a special dietary need? Fresh Thymes has categories for people who eat vegan, paleo, dairy-free, FODMAP and candida.
Our favorite thing to order: Dragon Tacos: Abbondanza’s blue corn tortillas (can sub for cassava tortillas), Korean marinated skirt steak, house-made kimchi, carrot cucumber slaw and Sriracha aioli. Or for vegetarians, the Grilled Cauliflower Tacos, on those same blue corn torts, with macha salsa, avocado, lime and spicy red cabbage slaw.
3. Blooming Beets Kitchen
Blooming Beets is totally gluten-free, totally grain-free and even soy-free. It’s mostly dairy-free, too; the menu notes when dairy is used (even butter). The meat here is grass-fed, wild-caught or pastured.
What makes Blooming Beets even more outstanding is it offers special vegetarian and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) menus.
“Our dream is to provide the healthiest, cleanest and the most delicious food on the planet in a friendly, positive and intimate setting,” according to Blooming Beets.
Our favorite thing to order: If you don’t mind eating butter, try the new, local, pan-seared pork tenderloin with roasted cinnamon apples, brussels sprouts and cauliflower puree. Or for a healthier spin on a hamburger, try the Bunless Smoky Wild Burger, made with ground elk, venison, bison and wild boar, and served with poached egg, crispy sweet potatoes, organic arugula and smoky aioli.
If those sound too indulgent for you, there’s always the new vegan cream of carrot and ginger soup.
Raw foodies, this one’s for you. Thrive is a health-focused joint that serves raw, vegan, organic, gluten-free, soy-free dishes. To qualify as a raw foodery, no food is heated above 118 degrees.
One thing that makes Thrive stand out to us is its intentional use of Ayurvedic herbs, which are intended to provide different effects on the body (as noted on the menu). The plates here are packed with superfoods and can be accentuated by a long list of supplements.
Everything is sourced locally and made from scratch when possible. Even the non-dairy milk substitutes, like nut “mylk,” are made fresh with unpasteurized almonds and raw, hand-cracked, sprouted cashews. Spring water is exclusively used in sprouting and food prep.
The highlight here are the Superfood Smoothies that even tell you what they claim they can do for your body. For example, the Lavender Lacuma (sprouted cashew “mylk,” blueberries, banana, lemon, vanilla bean, lavender, lacuma, damiana, hemp protein and coconut crystals) is supposed to be calming, cleansing and act as an antidepressant. The menu also pairs the smoothies with “crystal attunements.” The Lavender Lacuma is attuned to the amethyst. Feel free to add in all kinds of superfoods, from ionic magnesium to living silica.
There are also salads, pudding and porridges, drinks (including kombucha). Even the desserts are unique, like a liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Our favorite thing to order: Try the Power Porridge: sprouted almond mylk, gluten-free oats, chia seeds, almond butter, banana, agave and raisins. Or order the Rainbow Magic salad (how could you not, with a name like that)? It’s mixed greens, avocado, beets, tomato, carrots, bell peppers, green onions, blueberries, purple cabbage, cashews and anti-inflammatory turmeric dressing.