A smaller health food store with a new deli is Durango Natural
Foods (970-247-8129), at 575 E. 8th Avenue. They regularly feature
vegan items like tempeh tandoori, sandwiches and soups. I was happy
to hear what the deli offers is "almost always all vegan."
At 1021 Main Avenue sits a little store called A Health Forest (970-385-4659),
with energy bars, vitamins, drinks and personal care items. The
employees are knowledgeable and full of tips for tourists wanting
to know about the town.
Another place to get food for-the-road is northeast of downtown
at the corner of County Road 250 and Florida Road. Old Town Bake
Shop (now called Bread and located at 42 County Rd 250, 247-5100)
creates crusty and delicious kalamata olive bread, baguettes, and
other selections. Or you might try Johnny McGuire's Deli (970-259-8816)
Johnny McGuire's Deli is at 601 E. Second Ave. Much to my liking,
I discovered the filling "4:20 Vegan" sub sandwich, packed
with avocado, hummus, and veggies-and they even deliver for free!
Right next door to A Health Forest, at 1019 Main Avenue, is The
Buzz House (970-385-5831), with tasty and inexpensive fare. Local
art is cheery as is the owner, who prepares tofu veggie scramble
with a bagel and fresh fruit, or tofu burritos with rice, beans
and salsa - on both of these dishes you can request no cheese, which
is easy because this cafe speaks vegan. An extra thrill: this delightful
small eatery makes vegan muffins.
To my surprise, I also found a yummy tofu scramble, accompanied
by fried potatoes and a bagel, at the hopping Carver's Restaurant
and Brewery (970-259-2545). Located at 1022 Main Avenue, Carver's
serves eggplant caponata, salads, a portabello sandwich, and other
vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan on request. They have live
music in the patio, and are one of the venues hosting the local
bluegrass festival each spring.
Another bustling place is Mai Thai (970-247-8272), a tiny, casual
restaurant at 1050 Main Avenue. Not only is the price right but
the food is great, whether it be the roasted vegetable stir-fry
with garlic sauce, or either the yellow or panang curries, both
of which come with no fish sauce. There are few tables, so be prepared
to take your food with you if stopping by at a popular time. I suggest
calling ahead for the hours, since I have often found a "closed"
sign hanging on the door.
Looking for a true taste of Durango culture, where healthy-looking
people chain their mountain bikes and dogs outside while they sip
lattes? Head to Steaming Bean Coffee (970-385-7901) at 915 Main
Avenue, my favorite place to get a chai (they have several types
to choose from) with soymilk. At this charming cafe, vegan soups
are frequently advertised on the sandwich board outside, except
for during the hot summer days. Don't miss Hummingbird
Herbals (970-259-8965), a pleasantly aromatic store
selling tinctures, bath salts, bulk teas and more. Hummingbird
Herbals is located at 230 E. College Dr.
The Durango Farmer's Market (www.durangofarmersmarket.com) sells
herbal products too, along with fresh, mostly organic produce and
flowers for loved ones. The market typically runs every Saturday
morning between mid-June and mid-October, depending on the weather.
You can find the friendly farm folk on 8th Street between the train
tracks and Camino del Rio.
Those desiring a sampling of New Mexican cuisine might like Gazpacho
(970-259-9494), at 431 E. 2nd Avenue. Unusual for Durango, the menu
includes a vegetarian section. To ensure an entree is vegan, simply
request no cheese. My favorite dish is the chalupas, crispy corn
tortillas with guacamole, refried beans, lettuce and tomato. Note
the green chile, often made with pork, is vegan.
Cyprus Café (970-385-6884), at 725 E. Second Avenue, has a lovely,
more formal ambiance, including an outside patio. While at first
glance I saw nothing vegan available, I'd heard Cyprus Café had
vegetarian food on their Mediterranean menu, so I asked what they
could whip up for me. I was impressed with the falafel, served with
grilled pita and olive oil, hummus and baba ganoush, chopped cucumbers
and tomatoes--some of the freshest I had tasted in Durango. I made
sure they omitted the yogurt cucumber relish called tzajiki. I also
shared an assorted olives appetizer (we had fun attempting to stab
olives, soaking in olive oil, with a fork).
A Durango veteran, one of the few vegetarians I have encountered
here, told me the best restaurant in town was 937 Main (their address
on Main Avenue). Known for their eclectic American cuisine, this
restaurant also goes by the name Ken and Sue's Place (970-259-2616).
Staff told me the menu catered to vegetarians more than vegans,
but they could create something special. I went for the angel hair
pasta, delicious in both flavor and presentation, with sweet oven-dried
cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic and basil. The sounds of a water fountain
in the back patio and stylish wooden tables added to the tranquil
Another great spot is Grandma Chung's, which recently reopened
at 100 Jenkins Ranch Rd. #H, Skyridge Village, 259-0600
I learned every Tuesday is vegetarian night at Bayou Doc's (970-259-6486)
at 701 E. 2nd Avenue, where Cajun Creole food can be found. Sample
offerings include an artichoke pasta with white wine sauce, and
red beans and rice. Since they offer rich foods for all eating preferences,
if you are a vegan be sure to specify you want no butter in your
If you are willing to be patient, realizing you may need to ask
more questions of wait staff who may not be familiar with veganism,
the Wild West can work for people eating a meatless diet. Maybe
an all-veggie restaurant will grace Durango soon, as health consciousness
and responsibility to the environment and animals increase. If you
are traveling through more of Colorado than just Durango, and want
information on dining options, you could contact the Vegetarian
Society of Colorado at 303-777-4828. Their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org,
and the website is www.vsc.org.
Paige Newman has been a vegetarian for 26 years, the
last seven of which she has been vegan. She has written articles
and other veggie publications.