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 Grill – B Gates Mezzanine & Jeppesen Terminal, East Side Level 6
While I wouldn’t seek out Cantina Grill if it was a restaurant in my town, for airport fare it’s my top pick at the Denver Airport. They have 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 theirnutritional 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! – B Gates Center Core
Owned by the same company that owns Cantina, this is my second favorite choice at the Denver Airport. 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.
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, and salsa. According to the Denver Airport website, vegan options are available.
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.)
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.