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11 Gluten-Free Restaurants in Denver and Boulder We Love

Ditch the gluten, not the flavor at these local spots

Denver is kind of a gluten-free mecca. Udi’s Bread—now the number one gluten-free brand in America—saw its start in Colorado, gluten-free cafés line the streets of Boulder, and Denver is home to the nation’s first 100-percent paleo (an inherently gluten-free diet) restaurant. Some local gluten-free restaurants are crushing the gluten-free game with I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Gluten pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, and so much more. Here are 11 gluten-free restaurants in Denver and Boulder to check out.


Pizza at Silvi’s is available gluten-free

1. Silvi’s Kitchen {multiple locations}
Speaking of Udi’s, Silvi’s Kitchen is an offspring of the bread brand of sorts. Though the Bar-on family sold Udi’s several years ago, the local bread barons are still trafficking in yeast and flour through their catering service and restaurants, including Etai’s Bakery Cafes and Silvi’s Kitchen. The gluten-free tradition lives on, too, and GF options fill Silvi’s menu of award-winning wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and internationally inspired entrées. At either of Silvi’s Kitchen locations in Arvada and Glendale, GF guests will find options like Polenta Cake, Silvi’s Cobb Salad, and Bone-In Short Ribs. But there’s more—any sandwich can be ordered on GF bread and any pizza can come on GF crust. Pair with a selection from the list of GF beers.


Riot Wings at Fresh Thymes

2. Fresh Thymes Eatery {2500 30th Street, #101, Boulder; 303.955.7988}
When Owner Christine Ruch was diagnosed with both multiple sclerosis and celiac disease in 200, she overhauled our diet by ditching gluten, dairy, and egg. Now, she follows a paleo diet. While Fresh Thymes’s menu doesn’t match Ruch’s way of eating entirely, there are tons of options for vegetarian, vegan, and paleo diners and the entire menu is 100-percent GF. So no asking questions or scouring options—you can have it all! Try the customizable Mac Attack with cashew cream sauce, Yucatan Tempeh Tacos, or a grilled Verde Pizza paired with a GF Upslope beer. Top it off with something from the ogle-worthy dessert counter, like an Almond Butter Cup.


Award-winning fare at Panzano includes gluten-free options aplenty

3. Panzano {909 17th Street, Denver; 303.296.3525}
While some restaurants are blatantly GF spots, Panzano is a GF mecca disguised as a northern Italian restaurant that happens to be one of the best in Denver. For Executive Chef Elise Wiggins, her desire to cater to the GF came after her brother found out he had celiac disease. “I wanted to provide for these people,” Wiggins says. So she rose to the challenge of mastering pizza and bread dough minus the gluten. Has she succeeded? Recently, a guest ordered a GF pizza, took a bite, and told her server it wasn’t GF. When the server explained that the pizza was GF but just happened to taste like the real thing to a T, the guest was overjoyed. 5280 even dubbed Panzano’s gluten-free program Top of the Town.

So what’s Wiggins’ secret? Tapioca flour. Think about tapioca pearls—they’re spongey, kind of gooey. “When you mix it up with rice flour and sorghum flour, it really binds and you’re able to get a stretch like you would with gluten,” Wiggins explains. Now, Panzano offers separate GF breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. Some highlights? A hamburger on a GF focaccia bun, Eggplant Parmesan Pizza, and Piadina con Crescenza—GF flatbread with Crescenza cheese, prosciutto di Parma, white truffle oil, and balsamic vinegar reduction.

Highland Tap Burger

Going gluten-free at Highland Tap is as easy as swapping buns

4. Highland Tap & Burger {2219 West 32nd Avenue, Denver; 720.287.4493}
Award-winning burgers? Check. Killer beer list? Check. Tons of gluten-free options? Double check. Not only does Highland Tap mark menu items that are GF on its menu, but it also lets you order any of its delicious burgers on a GF bun. GF options include the Chicken Tikka Masala Poutine, Organic Quinoa Salad, and Angus Flatiron Steak and Frites. Or, just order what Zagat dubbed one of the top 15 burgers in the U.S. in 2014 on a GF bun: the Shroom Luva’s featuring an all-natural beef patty, sautéed mushroom blend, Emmenthaler cheese, and white truffle aïoli.


Sister restaurants boast vibrant colors on the walls and on the plate

5. Tangerine {2775 Iris Avenue, Boulder; 303.443.2333} and Arugula Bar e Ristorante {2785 Iris Avenue, Boulder; 303.443.5100}
You might not know it from the outside, but Chef Alec Schuler’s breakfast and fine dining spots next door to one another in Boulder are havens for vegans and GF diners alike. First, check out Tangerine for breakfast or lunch to enjoy GF dishes like Polenta and Romesco with poached eggs, or the Tangerine Reuben on GF bread made with Bella GF flour. Over at Arugula, you’ll find GF options from the antipasti to the dessert course. Start with PEI Mussels, then savor a Grilled Pork Tenderloin paired with any of the totally GF contorni (sides) like Anson Mills Soft Polenta or Mary’s Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread. For dessert, choose from Flourless Fudge Cake, Ricotta Panna Cotta, or a Gluten-Free Coconut Cake with vanilla buttercream and shaved coconut.


The ghosts of this former mortuary space probably appreciate the gluten-free options, too

6. Linger {2030 West 30th Avenue, Denver; 303.993.3120}
Another GF paradise in disguise! All of restaurateur Justin Cucci’s restaurants are at once veg-friendly, in the GF groove, and hotter than a hippie wearing a wool poncho at Burning Man. Root Down, Linger, and the newest addition, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, each have their own unique personality, but all boast funky vibes, décor featuring random object Cucci enjoys collecting (e.g. Jäger bottles and Lite Brites), and dietary restriction-friendly dishes. At Linger, the menu marks items that can be ordered gluten-free. Try the Devils on Horseback (bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-filled Medjool dates with Sambal gastrique), the Wagyu Sliders, or Tom Kha Soup with coconut milk, lemongrass, butternut squash, and Thai basil. GF diners stay tuned; this year Cucci will outdo his own diet friendliness with Vital Root—a restaurant with zero wheat flour, among other sometimes offenders specializing in veggies—when it opens on Tennyson. 

Julia's Kitchen

It’s all gluten-free here

7. Julia’s Kitchen {3980 Broadway, Boulder; 720.389.5578}
Julia Hellerman founded Julia’s Kitchen nearly four years ago in a small shopping mall off Broadway to serve the food she likes to eat. “It’s truly how I eat and what I like to eat,” Hellerman says of the restaurant’s menu. And that’s GF, organic, vegan, and—most importantly—with diversity. Get down to business with Toast with Za’ater “Butter” or a Veggie Burger on a sprouted grain sourdough bun. Julia also operates a full-on bakery featuring a lineup of flourless breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goods made with sprouted grains and other nutritious ingredients. Your conundrum of where to procure a GF birthday cake for yourself or loved one just got solved.


The Zeal philosophy is gluten-lite

8. Zeal – Food for Enthusiasts {1710 Pearl Street, Boulder; 720.708.6309}
Wheat is scarce on Zeal’s menu so the vast majority of dishes here are GF-friendly. Get your pancake fix in the A.M. with the Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes made with oats, flax, rice flour, banana, walnuts, and maple syrup. For lunch or dinner, try a Conscious Kale salad with sprouted lentils, a Vegetable Rainbow Curry Bowl, or a Grilled Fish Sandwich with sustainably farmed tilapia, spinach, Moroccan chimichurri, and olive-sundried tomato tapenade on Kim and Jake’s gluten-free oat bread. The dessert menu is also usually GF in more ways than one; it’s free of both gluten and guilt with options like Raw Cheesecake, Seasonal Chia Pudding, and the Raw Ball Trio.


9. Thirsty Lion {1605 Wynkoop Street, Denver; 303.623.0316}
Originating in Oregon, Thirsty Lion showed up in Denver right next to the new Union Station and already has a second Cherry Creek location in the works. This gastropub and grill serves up elevated bar food that pleases all, from classic pub grub like bacon cheeseburgers and brick oven pizzas, to healthy fare like a Tuscan Kale Salad, to sushi, to an entire menu of GF options. Thirsty Lion also encourages guests to alert their server to their allergy so they can ensure dishes contain no traces of gluten. Savor the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna, the Grilled Steak Salad, or the Sonoran Chicken Enchilada Stack featuring spice-rubbed smoked chicken with white corn tortillas, roasted pasilla chiles, cheddar and Jack, garlic cream sauce, guajillo chile sauce, and chipotle aïoli with Napa slaw. What’s for dessert? GF Crème Brûlée.


Believe it or not, this fettuccine is gluten-free

10. Difranco’s {955 Lincoln Street, Unit D, Denver; 720.253.1244}
Italian might not seem like the most inherently GF fare what with the pizzas and pastas and panini, but that’s a fact that matters not at Difranco’s. You can order any of the sandwiches on gluten-free bread and any of the pastas with Cappello’s Gluten Free Fettuccine. We’ll take the Meatball with “Denver’s best red sauce” and Pecorino Romano, plus the Penne with a habit-forming prosciutto-vodka sauce, fresh parsley, and Pecorino, please. Of course, some Italian mainstays are totally GF by nature, like the Meat and Cheese Platter so that’s a great way to start your GF feast here.

Boulders best burger

A GF burger on a delicious lark

11. Larkburger {multiple locations}
One of this local burger chain’s original founders suffers from celiac disease and as a result you’ll find tons of GF options on the menu here. The entire menu is available GF, except for the brioche bun, which can be easily swapped out for the GF bun option. That’s good news since Boulder voted Larkburger Best Burger in our DiningOut Prime Picks contest! While Larkburger isn’t a totally GF kitchen, they take great care with GF orders to avoid cross contamination. Sink your teeth into the classic Larkburger on a GF bun made with 100-percent chuck Black Angus beef with a side of the outstanding Truffle and Parmesan Fries. Of course, milkshakes are totally GF, too, so end the meal on a sweet note with the seasonal Salted Caramel variety.

Not a gluten-free fan? Check out one man’s quest to debunk the trend by eating bread and bread alone for a month. 

Also into the paleo thing? Here are 9 restaurants to check out. 

Ditching meat, too? Here are 11 vegan dishes we love.

By Maya Silver | Editor