By Vicky Dorvee 

Healthy local eats


January 17, 2019

Courtesy photo

Don’t fret about your resolutions to eat better. Healthy options abound at nearby restaurants.

The turning of a page to a new year often signifies a time to improve our bodies, minds, and spirits. For those who have vowed to eat healthier to achieve their goals in 2019, there’s no need to swear off the pleasures of eating out. Niwot, Gunbarrel and South Longmont offer a medley of restaurants with healthy fare.

Here’s a smattering of local establishments offering delicious ways to eat mindfully. Each eatery was asked for its philosophy on healthy food, what accommodations the kitchen is able to make for customers with specific dietary requests, and a couple of healthy dishes offered.


1914 House – Nick Mastronardi, owner

121 2nd Ave.

Philosophy: “Every protein we offer is all-natural. We offer Red Bird chicken which has no hormones or antibiotics and the chickens are cage-free. All of our meats are part of the Never-Ever Program. They are grass-fed and do not contain antibiotics or hormones.” Mastronardi said. “And we always wanted to have a really strong vegetarian side of our menu too, specifically salads. All of our greens are organic and we buy as much locally as possible. Kilt Farm is one of our main summer product purveyors and we buy our tomatoes from Dooley.”

Accommodations: The menu contains many gluten-free options. Ask your server for any special requests, such as vegetarian or dairy-free options.

Healthy dishes:  Lots of salads, including a Mediterranean Salad. There are fresh seafood entrees in addition to courses prepared with their high standard meats.

Niwot Tavern- Juan Reyes, chef

7960 Niwot Rd.

Philosophy: “We always make healthy, fresh dishes and provide the best food for our customers,” Chef Reyes said.

Accommodations: The Tavern offers gluten-free buns and quite a few vegetarian options. Reyes recommended asking for any needed accommodations, such as no dairy, and the kitchen will make adjustments to recipes. There are also many side dishes to swap out.

Healthy dishes:  Grilled salmon with steamed zucchini, broccoli, carrots and rice. Ratatouille made with eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash in a tomato base. Marinated veggie kabobs.


Up Dog Café- Hannah Froman, manager

6565 Gunpark Dr., Ste. 110

Philosophy: “We believe in using whole food ingredients. I have a degree in nutrition science so I use a lot of that to create our options. We pay attention to our portion sizes and a lot of people tell us they are the perfect size. We use a lot of nutrient-dense ingredients and a lot of raw foods.”

Accommodations: Food items made onsite are gluten-free and vegan.

Healthy dishes:  A seasonal smoothie featuring turmeric, an ingredient known for its anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting properties. Omega three-loaded chia pudding options. The café also offers quite a few grab-and-go selections because it’s attached to Yoga Loft, and after classes, it’s the perfect way to head out the door with something nutritional in hand.

Café Blue – Kevin Middleton, owner and executive chef

5280 Spine Rd., Ste. 103

Philosophy: “I believe in moderation in everything. I think you should use genuine ingredients and by that I mean, don’t use margarine, use butter. But don’t eat a stick of butter every day,” Chef Middleton said.

Accommodations: Ask for items that are blackened instead of fried for lower calories. Feel free to request other modifications too, like a salad or soup on the side instead of French fries.  “If I can accommodate a customer, I do,” Middleton said.

Healthy dishes: A quinoa salad loaded with vegetables and a blackened chicken breast served with a vinaigrette dressing.

Morning Table - Celene Andreano, owner

6565 Gunpark Drive, Ste. 190

Philosophy: “We actually have a sustainable green project, and most of our employees walk to work,” Andreano said. “We want to lower the carbon footprint in every way we can and we’ve built our menu around healthy items, that’s really important.”

Accommodations: There are many gluten-free menu options and customers are encouraged to request any other adjustments they need.

Healthy dishes: The Red Bowl is a quinoa, veggie, and avocado bowl with a Kimchi sauce. Vegan Porridge or Boulder Balls, both served with edible flowers, are healthy and beautiful.

Element Bistro - Eric Lee, general manager

6315 Lookout Rd.

Philosophy: “Our philosophy was that we need to have some healthy options although the crux was to have a menu that offered a lot of variety and satisfied a lot of tastes and budgets,” Lee said. “We also did make a commitment to have a lot of gluten-free options.”

Accommodations: There are vegan and vegetarian options on the menu and they do make adjustments for gluten-free and dairy-free customers. They take extra care to keep their fryers gluten-free, so their calamari and fish and chips are fair game for those who are gluten-free.

Healthy dishes:  A grilled veggie board or arugula and garden salads.

Aperitivo - Miguel Vazquez, executive chef

5530 Spine Rd.

Philosophy: “For me, it has to be flavorful and all of my dishes have to be balanced with a protein, a starch, and of course a vegetable too. So then we have vitamins, starch for energy, and protein to fill your body,” Chef Vazquez said. Aperitivo is known for its global fusion recipes. Vazquez leans toward natural flavors seasoned with a little salt and pepper and avoids saturated fats in his food preparations.

Accommodations: Gluten-free and vegetarian or vegan options are found throughout the menu and special requests are encouraged.

Healthy dishes: Congee, a savory rice pudding, prepared with vegetable stock, rice, and garlic.Vegan roasted seasonal vegetable salad with avocado vinaigrette.

South Longmont

El Mercado and Urban Thai, both located in Prospect - Miguel Vazquez, executive chef

721 Confidence Dr. and 2030 Ionosphere St., Prospect

Philosophy and accommodations: Vazquez’s philosophy of balanced dishes and available accommodations extend to these two restaurants as well. El Mercado opened in October 2018 and features “modern Mexican” dishes. Urban Thai offers authentic Thai favorites.

Healthy dishes:  Fideos con Calabacitas, a vegan Mexican squash soup with pasta and vegan tacos with refried beans are available at El Mercado. At Urban Thai, a seasonal pumpkin red curry with peas and carrots.

Cavegirl Coffeehouse – Lori Abramson, owner

720 100 Year Party Ct., Prospect

Philosophy: “My philosophy on serving healthy food is that I love to share knowledge about how eating differently could potentially heal chronic disease,” Abramson said. “Refined sugar especially is the leading cause for many chronic illnesses. Tons of sugar causes inflammation which can lead to unhealthy autoimmune disease.” The restaurant also sources organic and local ingredients.

Accommodations: Cavegirl’s menu is 100 percent gluten-free and refined sugar-free. Nothing contains soy, corn products or preservatives. Every ingredient is listed for in-house prepared items. They also offer paleo and vegan options.

Healthy dishes:  A long list of smoothies made with plant-based milks, fresh nut butters and vegetables. Sandwiches made with organic vegetables and proteins. A large list of organic coffee and healthy drink options like Kombucha.

First Watch - Amber Hancock, manager

2055 Ken Pratt Blvd.

Philosophy: “We are as freshly prepared as you can get in a restaurant.  We get fresh produce every other day and everything is cut daily,” Hancock said.

Accommodations: They accommodate gluten-friendly items, but are careful to say the restaurant doesn’t have an exclusively gluten-free prep area. Customers with allergies will have their food prepared with extra care. Requests for dairy-free and vegan options are easily accommodated.

Healthy dishes: The Power Wrap, which is an egg white frittata with mushrooms and spinach in a tortilla. The Power Breakfast Bowl filled with quinoa, veggies, and basted eggs drizzled with olive oil.


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