Vegan Options at the Denver International Airport

Vegan Options at the Denver AirportPlease note:  This post is regularly updated to keep up with current vegan options at DIA.  It was last updated in March 2014.

Because of its hub status and snowy location, I have spent many, many hours at the Denver Airport.  Luckily, as far as airports go, it’s not a bad one for the vegan traveler.  In addition to several stores where a person can amuse herself during an unexpected layover, there are also many vegan options for times when one’s travel rations have run out.

In case you should ever find yourself in a similar situation to my husband, who was stuck at the Denver Airport for two days in March, here’s a list of your vegan options and where you can find them.  (As always, check with your server about the ingredients when you order since menus change.)  Remember, the A, B, and C gates can all be quickly accessed by way of the tram at the lower level.  If you have the time, go exploring.

cantina taco salad

cantina burrito bowlCantina Grill – B Gates Mezzanine & Jeppesen Terminal, East Side Level 6

Cantina Grill has three different kinds of salsa, a vegetarian taco, burrito, and taco salad, which are vegan without the addition of cheese or sour cream.  Their burritos can also be ordered as a bowl, as seen above.   The black and pinto beans are made without lard, and the rice is made with water, not animal-based broth.  They offer both a to-go area and a restaurant-style area, where food can be ordered at the table instead.

Chef Jimmy’s Bistro & Spirits – A Gates, Center Core

This restaurant has a full bar and is open late for red eye flights.  They offer an udon salad with peanuts.  (Thanks for the tip, JL!)

Colorado Sports Bar – B Gates, Near B30  

According to the PCRM Airport Food Review from 2011, they offer a Portobello mushroom sandwich.  Just ask them to hold the dairy-based cheese.

Einstein Bros. Bagels – C Gates Center Core, Jeppesen Terminal Eastside

Many of the bagels at this chain are vegan.  (Obviously the Honey Whole Wheat is out and any that have cheese.  The pumpernickel & chocolate chip are also not vegan.)  You can see their nutritional information here.  (If it has cholesterol, of course, it’s not vegan since there’s no cholesterol in plant foods.)  Add hummus and veggies, and it’s a filling sandwich for on the go.

Itza Wrap! Itza Bowl!Itza Wrap!  Itza Bowl!  Peanut SauceItza Wrap!  Itza Bowl! – B Gates Center Core

Itza Wrap, Itza Bowl is owned by the same company that owns Cantina.  Any item can be made as a wrap or a bowl as the name would suggest, and then it can be filled with a base of either brown rice, white rice, or udon noodles.  Top it with tofu or vegetables, and then add a sauce of Thai Peanut (above), Teriyaki, or Sweet and Sour.

Jamba Juice – B Gates Mezzanine

For a vegan option, get one of the All Fruit Smoothies or Fruit & Veggie Smoothies.

Lefty’s– A Gates, Near A 46; B Gates, Near Gate B48; C Gates, Near C48

According to the PCRM 2012 Airport Food Review, this pub with three locations offers a veggie Philly sandwich.  Just ask them to hold the dairy-based cheese.

Modmarket – B Gates (ESTIMATED OPENING: JUNE 2014)

Modmarket, a Colorado chain focused on natural foods, will be opening in the B Concourse in June 2014, according to an email exchange I had with them.  Almost all of their salads can be made vegan with a few tweaks (i.e. by substituting tofu and/or using Daiya cheese.)  Most of their salad dressings, except for the creamy dressings, are vegan, because they use agave syrup instead of honey.  A lot of their sandwiches can be made vegan by substituting tofu.  For breakfast they are planning to offer a number of vegan steel-cut oat breakfast options.  They won’t be offering pizzas at their DIA location.  You can read all about my last visit to one of their other locations by clicking on this Modmarket review.

New Belgium Spoke – A Gates Commuter Facility, Near A61

At New Belgium Spoke they offer prepackaged snacks for travelers in addition to newspapers, magazines, and a full-service bar.  According to the PCRM 2012 Airport Food Review, they have a veggie hummus platter.

Que Bueno – B Gates, Near B52

Que Bueno offers burritos, chips, salsa, and guacamole.  I had a vegetable burrito with black beans (request no cheese) and a side of chips & guacamole during my last visit. The vegetables had a good amount of spice on them, making the burrito less bland than some other airport options.  It’s also very big, making it large enough for two people to share. For more heat, ask for a container of sliced jalapeños to go.

Root Down - C Gates

This Denver-area restaurant focused on seasonal and local fare now has an airport location at the top of the escalators from the tram.  This is easily the best place to eat vegan at the airport.  On the menu, there is a “V” next to the items that can be veganized. The veganizable options include: sweet potato fries, edamame hummus, sweet potato falafel,  roasted beet or Caesar salad, veggie burger sliders, a tofu reuben, or country fried tofu.  During the brunch hour they also have a breakfast burrito and tofu scramble that can be prepared vegan.  Click here for a full review of the DIA location of Root Down.

Starbucks Coffee – B Gates, Near B83

In addition to specialty coffees with soy milk, one can typically find a variety of nuts and dried fruit for sale.

Tamales by La Casita – C Gates, Center Core

According to JL at JLGoesVegan, this Mexican restaurant has vegan options, including a breakfast burrito.  (Hold the cheese and egg, add beans.)

denver airport vegan optionsTCBY Frozen Yogurt - C Gates, Center Core

This fro-yo stand now offers vanilla almond milk frozen yogurt.  (Thanks to Leslie for letting me know!)

Wolfgang Puck Express – B Mezzanine

Wolfgang Puck Express offers a variety of salads with mixed greens and spinach that can be made vegan by omitting the animal products.  For easier ordering, sit at the bar and chat with the servers about mixing and matching your salad ingredients.  They also have a changing soup of the day, which may or may not be vegan.  Unfortunately, a cheeseless pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express is not vegan, because the crust is made with honey.

One more note about options at the Denver Airport, I noticed that Udi’s recently opened a location in the B Gates, and since this fast casual restaurant usually has vegan options, I walked by to see their menu.  Unfortunately, there didn’t appear to be anything vegan.  I sent them an email asking if they planned on including vegan options at the airport, but I didn’t hear back from them.  If you happen to have some time, perhaps their menu will have expanded by your next visit.

For more vegan options at airports, check out my posts on the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport.  You can also read more about vegan options at the Denver International Airport here on this post by Barb at That Was Vegan?

35 thoughts on “Vegan Options at the Denver International Airport

    • You’re welcome! It seems like at least 50% of the time we’re flying through Denver. I’m glad it happens to be one of the more pleasant airports!

  1. I’m at the Denver Airport all the time! This is great!

    Chef Jimmy’s in Terminal A has an udon noodle salad with peanuts that is awesome (had it for breakfast this morning) and La Casita in Terminal C has vegan Mexican food (breakfast burritos – hold the cheese and egg, add beans!).

    Thanks so much for this great resource!

  2. Vegan options at DIA … this is my favorite:

    Panda Express, at the DIA Terminal AND in Concourse A. I look forward to this every time — their steamed vegetables with steamed _brown_ rice. A satisfying very-healthy choice . It’s not on the menu — just ask for a large or double-serving of steamed vegetables (and the steamed rice, white or brown if they have it — lately they have).

    I’ve always been charged way less than the standard fare — the staff loves the irreverence of asking for the only truly healthy and ethical choice, not even on the menu. (Tipping largely makes them accomplices).

    You can WALK from the DIA Terminal to Concourse A through the bridge-tunnel (an alternative security point). Nice little walk before or after a long flight. I slightly prefer the Concourse A Panda Express … you can go there even if your flight is through the Concourses B or C — it’s on the way — the train stops there.

    – Phil

    • Hi, Phil! Thanks for your input! I haven’t checked out Panda Express, since I’ve always heard that everything there is either covered in a sauce that contains chicken broth or is cooked in chicken broth. According to some reports, even the mixed vegetables are cooked in chicken broth. However, I haven’t personally contacted Panda Express, and so I can’t say for sure. Have you contacted them?

      On their website, Panda Express notes that nothing there is vegetarian – http://www.pandaexpress.com/company/#!/faq/Question-8. However, that could be more of a cross contamination issue than an ingredient issue. It’s not entirely clear. They don’t have an option of seeing if there is chicken broth in the mixed vegetables, but it does note that the mixed vegetables have milk in them. http://s3.amazonaws.com/PandaExpressWebsite/files/pdf/Nutrition_2030118.pdf Animal-based butter, perhaps? If it is butter, maybe it could be omitted upon request…

      • Thanks, Cadry, for talking a closer look at this. I guess there’s no chance that the “milk” indicated in that chart is a nut, bean or seed milk. How unnecessary — I hope they change this.

        They should be more specific. I wonder how people would react to showing that bodily fluid as “bovine milk”. It comes from a type of sweat gland of a bovine. (I call it “bovine milk”).

  3. Hello!

    Thanks for this exhaustive list! Although, I would like to point out that Einstein Bagel uses L. Cysteine (an amino acid) as a food stabilizer in most if not ALL of their bagels.

    “The majority of L-cysteine is obtained industrially by hydrolysis of poultry feathers or human hair. Synthetically produced L-cysteine, compliant with Jewish Kosher and Muslim Halal rules, is also available, albeit at a higher price.”

    The only bagel I could find that did not contain this ingredient is their Sun Dried Tomato Bagel, which could have been a typographical omission since their plain bagel recipe contains this ingredient.

    I had called their corporate office to inquire about the source and they could not verify which one they use, probably the less expensive “animal based” kind since their bagels are produced in massive quantities.

    Thanks again Cadry!

    • Thanks for the note! I emailed with Einstein several times last winter about the L. Cysteine issue. To keep things simple, I hadn’t included that dialogue in the post, but it’s certainly worth noting as it is a concern. Here’s what they said:

      “Thank you for your interest in our products. The criteria for Vegan are defined as:
      – Containing no animal ingredients or animal by-products
      – Using no animal ingredients or by-products in the manufacturing process
      – Not tested on animals by any company or independent contractor

      According to the criteria mentioned above, these four bagels cannot be considered vegan at this time:
      – 100% Whole Wheat with Honey – contains honey and that disqualifies that item from being considered vegan (animal by-product)
      – Pumpernickel – contains soy lecithin which may be derived from an animal source
      – Chocolate Chip – contains milk
      – Asiago – contains milk

      We are pleased to say that we have finalized a transition over to a synthetic form of L Cysteine in our bagel recipes. At this time all bagels we produce for Einstein Bros. and Noah’s are made with a synthetic form of L Cysteine that does not contain ingredients derived from animals. However, please note that will not make any claims that any that our items are guaranteed to be vegan at this time as we do carry animal products in our stores and the possibility for cross-contamination does exist.

      I hope this information has been helpful. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

      La-Shawn Lattery

      Guest Services
      Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc.”

  4. hhank you for the tips! The veggie burger served at Boulder Beer in Boulder contains cheese. I have not asked at the airport location but have assumed it is the same.

  5. This comment doesn’t really have anything to do with Denver airport, but I didn’t see another way of contacting you. I’ve read a lot of your post in the last 8 months or so since I’ve discovered your blog. I know that you are really good at putting into words, how vegans feel about some of the criticism we get from non-vegans or total vegan haters. Like the posts you did about vegan “burgers” and other “meats” and meat like textures…

    Anyways..

    Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to verbalize my thoughts when someone tries to “attack” me and tell me that there is no such thing as a vegan because that plastic, that paint, that drywall, that rubber, that glue/adhesive, that blah blah blah has some sort of animal derived ingredient in it.

    I don’t know if there is an animal derived ingredient in my cell phone case or computer monitor or the paint on the walls of my house.

    I do know that I can control a lot of what I buy and food is the main thing that I can guarantee is vegan, next would be my clothes. I do not buy leather, fur, silk, wool, etc…. and I try to buy clothes/shoes that mention the word vegan in the description. Again I do not know if the plastic that my deodorant stick is housed in has animal ingredient or the rubber soles of my running shoes. But I try my best. If I know there is a guaranteed vegan option I always buy it. But not everything a person needs in life has a vegan company making it…

    I’ve heard other vegans say that it’s not about striving for perfection, but for progress. I feel like that is what I/we are doing. Hopefully the more we continue to insist on plant based items, the more companies will start purchasing plant based ingredients to make whatever it is they are making….from paint to plastics to glue to rubber to WHATEVER!!! :) Hopefully the more we DON”T eat meat, dairy, eggs, fish, etc. the less dead animals there will be to be making all the gross animal derived ingredients, and hopefully there will be a lot more vegetable by-products to make everything we could ever want and need in life :).

    I’m sure I have rambled enough, and hopefully I worded myself so it makes sense to read….I’ve been a vegan for 2 years now and I’m never going back for any reason, but like I said, it’s hard to live a normal life on a small budget and have an absolute guarantee that all my plastic devices and containers and whatever else don’t have animal ingredients in them. I’m trying…believe me!! What are your thoughts on this…????

    • Hi Robyn,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I wrote you back with a lengthy response yesterday, only to have the internet eat my comment. Let’s try this again! :)

      I can totally hear the frustration in your tone. It makes me wish that I could reach out through cyberspace and give you a hug.

      I really think you said it all! Being vegan is not about trying to gain some kind of personal purity. It’s about doing what we can to make the most compassionate choices possible. Doing the things you are already doing – not eating animals and their secretions, not buying products with wool, silk, feathers, or leather, not supporting companies that test on animals… Those are all concrete things that we can do to put our money where our values are and show companies that there is a demand for compassionate products.

      Billions of animals are killed every year for meat. To subsidize that meat and make it even cheaper, companies sell the byproducts of the meat industry. That’s the very reason why it can make it difficult to avoid animal byproducts. They’re so omnipresent and cheap, companies use them, and like you said, it would be difficult to know whether there is anything animal-based in the sealant in a book or rubber in the soles of shoes. Hopefully as the demand for meat decreases and demand for compassionate products increases, companies will move to plant-based ingredients instead.

      I don’t think it helps the animals to spend the time we could be using volunteering at animal sanctuaries, leafletting, writing to congresspeople, or baking vegan cupcakes for the office party, to instead be researching the ingredients in your computer monitor. Making someone who is already vegan .0000005% MORE vegan is considerably less useful than encouraging someone who is 100% not vegan to consider the compassion in their choices.

      I know how defeating it can feel to do your best, only to have others minimize your efforts as “not enough.” Luckily, I am not vegan for the naysayers. I am vegan for the animals. I’m vegan because it feels good to live a lifestyle that is in line with my own ethics and values of compassion and non-violence. Whether or not someone thinks I’m “vegan enough” is none of my business. I’m not doing it for them.

      Thanks again for the thoughtful question, Robyn.

      All the best,
      Cadry

      P.S. My email address is cadryskitchen@gmail.com. Feel free to write me there or in the comments section anytime.

  6. I haven’t found myself at the Denver airport in along time, but if I do, I’ll refer back to your post for guidance. We were just at both Detroit and Minneapolis airports. At Detroit, we barely had time to run to our next flight, but at Minneapolis, we headed straight to C concourse to French Meadow Bakery to pick up “spa salads” to take on our connecting flight to Seattle. None of the other locations of French Meadow had any vegan offerings on this trip. One of the flight attendants, upon seeing us digging into our organic salad greens, veggies and tofu, commented that she wished they had food like that on the plane.

    • I didn’t realize there were multiple locations of French Meadow in the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport. Good to know! It’s so nice that there are those kinds of options available there. Hopefully someday all airports will have truly good options like that!

  7. I’m really surprised at how vegan friendly Denver airport is – whenever I have to head out of my usual (London) airports, I always take sandwiches with me just in case! I like the Mexican type choices in Denver – I’d pick them every time!

    • I’m a big packer too! On a flight last winter, when a TSA person checked my bag he noted that I had “a gourmet meal packed.” (You think the candelabra was too much?) No matter what kind of food is available at the airport, I’d always prefer my own organic, homemade food instead. However, sometimes that is harder to manage when you’re super busy and/or coming back from a trip, where there wasn’t any access to a kitchen.

      I almost always opt for Mexican-type choices too. It seems like it’s harder to mess up beans, rice, and vegetables. Airport Mexican food is blander than I’d prefer, but it’s still passable.

      Hey, kind of off topic question, do you have much access to Mexican food in England? When I’ve visited, I’ve had a hard time finding much of it.

  8. What a great post! You should make this into a smart phone app! I have eaten at the Cantina – before going plant strong but good to know I can still eat there.

    I guess I will bookmark this post for future reference – thank you so much!

    • That’s a good idea, Tami! I’m such a novice to smart phones. I actually was using a flip phone until just a couple of months ago! Do you know anything about how one goes about making an app?

  9. Denver Int’l Airport was one of my least favorite airports, including SFO (I think generally for domestic flights). We fly very often on international flights including business class (loved the vegan meals, too)…plus it’s nice to know that they have vegan options. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you! I will be flying to Denver for the July 4th weekend and after my bout with the Mexico City airport food choices, I am ever-grateful for your post here. Love your soups and posts!

    • That’s great, Amanda! I’m glad that this post will be useful for you. Have fun on your trip! And thanks for the kind words about my soups and posts. I’m glad you like them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


× 7 = thirty five

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge