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On the Rise: Fast-Casual Healthy Restaurants in Denver

Making healthy eating fast and affordable

Healthy eats at Lyfe Kitchen

Healthy eats at Lyfe Kitchen

By Elizabeth Woessner | Online Editor

The fast-casual concept—a hybrid of fast food and casual dining—seems to be popping up everywhere. According to Forbes Magazine, “for the fifth consecutive year, the fast-casual segment’s growth has far surpassed that of every other restaurant segment.” In Denver, this trend has quickly combined with our desire for healthy food options. It seems we want fast, fresh, healthy food at reasonable prices and a recent crop of new restaurants have proved themselves ready to feed this need.

 

Mod Market {multiple locations}

In February of this year, Denver-based Mod Market opened it’s seventh outpost in the Front Range on the 16th Street Mall downtown. Owners Rob

Salad at Mod Market

Salad at Mod Market

McColgan and Anthony Pigliacamto serve what they like to call “The Mod Diet,” or simply real food. Everything on the menu is made from scratch without preservatives and artificial sweeteners. The offerings include soups, salads, sandwiches, and pizza with gluten-free options available and all nutritional information (calories, fat, protein, carbs, fiber, and sodium) printed right on the menu. modmarket.com 

 

Protein Bar {multiple locations}

Chicago-based Protein Bar has already opened three Colorado locations including one close to Denver’s Union Station. As it’s name suggests, the menu is packed with high protein, lower calorie options. Their signature Grilled Protein Bar-ritos all come in at around 600 calories and are packed with quinoa instead of rice, wrapped in a low-calorie whole-wheat tortilla, and stuffed with your choice of grilled or chilled protein. theproteinbar.com

 

Lyfe Kitchen {8505 Park Meadows Center Drive, Lone Tree; 303.706.9100}

Chef Art Smith—known as much for having been Oprah’s personal chef as for having lost 100 pounds through diet and exercise—is the mastermind behind

Lyfe Kitchen

Lyfe Kitchen

Lyfe Kitchen. With locations in California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, and Colorado, Lyfe Kitchen’s motto is “Eat Good | Feel Good | Do Good,” and they live up to that motto through their healthy menu and commitment to using locally and sustainably-sourced ingredient whenever possible. With choices to please everyone from flexitarian to vegetarian, omnivore to vegan, Lyfe Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. lyfekitchen.com

 

Tropical Smoothie Café {multiple locations}

Tropical Smoothie Café is an Atlanta-based chain that currently has three locations in Denver owned by Michelle and Kriss Shriver. They offer “Supercharged,” “Nutrified,” and “Low-Fat” smoothies that can be

More than smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Café.

More than smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Café.

supplemented with boosts of probiotics, vitamins, herbs, or protein. The menu offers toasted wraps, sandwiches, and flatbreads with many choices that are less than 500 calories, vegetarian, and/or gluten-friendly. The menu changes seasonally and now through the end of August, a 221-calorie Korean BBQ taco is available with a flour tortilla filled with seasoned steak, kale slaw, cucumber, and a spicy Asian barbecue sauce. tropicalsmoothie.com

 

Bubu {1423 Larimer Street, Denver; 303.996.2685}

Chef Troy Guard, arguably one of Denver’s most prolific restaurateurs, is also getting into the healthy fast-casual game with the opening of Bubu on July 17 in the Larimer Square underground space that once housed TAG Raw Bar. Diners will build their own bowls starting with white or brown rice, noodles, or salad and followed by a choice of proteins, locally-sourced vegetables, and other toppings like kimchee and bubu arare, crispy puffed rice pellets that add crunch and texture and are the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Cocktails, wine, beer, and local organic pressed juices from The Pressery will complement the menu. Bubu will be open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. bubu-denver.com