Gluten-Free Travel in Colorado Springs

Three weeks ago today, I was suffering with the flu in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I had to look for an urgent care facility on my smartphone and head there urgently from my hotel. The freezing rain and frigid temps of Denver did nothing to help my illness and as the hours crept on as we slowly drove to Colorado Springs, the sicker I felt. Sadly, I spent my entire first day in Colorado Springs at urgent care, the Walmart pharmacy, and my hotel bed. I even spent some hours on the floor of the hotel bathroom. With a fluctuating fever, the cold tiles of the bathroom were the only place that felt comfortable to me. Needless to say, this was NOT the trip to Colorado I was expecting.

But a girl gotta eat, right?! Isn’t there an old adage: Starve a cold, feed a fever? And fed that fever I did!

Over Easy: A Daytime Eatery
28A South Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

I discovered this place through FindMeGlutenFree. I ate a delicious gluten-free English muffin, an omelette with spinach and cheese, bacon, and hash browns. Staff will let you know all gluten-free menu items. I sat at the bar eating breakfast with a lovely woman who was also gluten-free. We chatted about gluten-free food, GMOs, travel, family and more. She was so kind and gave me tickets to a concert that night. Unfortunately, I was too sick to go and forgot her name but it was one of those unique experiences with a stranger that I love experiencing when I travel.

Breakfast at Over Easy

Breakfast at Over Easy

 

EmergiCare
402 W. Bijou St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Sadly, this is where I spent my Friday morning getting chest x-rays to rule out pneumonia and being tested for the flu which was positive. The staff was friendly and thorough which made getting sick from home at least tolerable. Unfortunately, I learned that there is no pharmacy in downtown Colorado Springs and you needed a taxi or a car to get there. I felt so crappy that I waited to fill my prescriptions until the afternoon. You can read my Getting Sick on Vacation post for more details and how to prepare for becoming sick away from home.

EmergiCare Colorado Springs

No sightseeing for me except for the inside of this urgent care!

The Rabbit Hole
101 North Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

This place was cool and totally random. My boyfriend found it on Yelp so I wasn’t sure if there would be anything I could eat on the menu. Once we found the place (it looks like a subway station and we walked right by) we descended the stairs to a funky underground restaurant. The menu is clearly marked with a symbol to indicated gluten-free and the waitress was very helpful to point out what was safe and how things were prepared. We ate VERY well at this restaurant, but I was fading fast at this point and just wanted a bed.

After dinner, we took a second trip to the Walmart pharmacy and then I tucked into bed for the night around 8pm.

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The Rabbit Hole’s entrance to the underground restaurant

 

The next morning I woke up to blue skies and a raging fever. I headed back to bed (or the cool bathroom floor) for a few more hours before we had to check out of the Antlers Hilton. This is the oldest hotel in Colorado Springs and was quiet during our winter stay. The staff was very friendly and helped me use the fax machine so I could change my flight home. I was supposed to fly to Wisconsin to see my sister, but under the advisement of the urgent care doctor I changed my flight to fly home early instead. So sad!

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The Antlers Hilton, Colorado Springs

Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery
321 North Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO

Before we left Colorado Springs, I knew I MUST go to Coquette’s Bakery. This place is 100% gluten-free and got rave reviews on FindMeGlutenFree, Yelp and more. It really does deserve it’s own post.

When I walked in this place, I felt like I was walking into gluten-free heaven. The front bakery cases were full to the glass with tempting gluten-free baked goods. Behind the bakery cases, was a lovely restaurant. It looked like a diner with a trendy bar in the back. I was so excited to be there that I forgot about my flu for the meal.

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Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery, a celiac safe haven

 

When I saw the Monte Cristo on the menu, I knew that was what I must get. As a lifelong celiac, I never had a sandwich like this in my life. A Monte Cristo is a ham and Swiss sandwich in a battered deep-fried hoagie, side of strawberry preserves & powdered sugar. WHAT?!?! Let’s read that again. YES! A battered deep-fried hoagie! This was probably the most delicious sandwich I had in my entire life. This sandwich made my whole sick trip to Colorado worth it. Oh, and truffled french fries. Remember, this place is 100% gluten-free so the fries were totally safe!

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Monte Cristo at Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery

 

DE-LISH-OUS!!

My boyfriend had the Rise and Dine savory crepe which was eggs, ham, onion, tomato and red pepper hollandaise with truffled french fries. I was so into my sandwich, I didn’t even try his breakfast. He said it was one of the best breakfasts he had and did not even care it was gluten-free.

And with every breakfast comes dessert…

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One piece of cake, two forks

I think if I had been feeling less fluish, I would have purchased more at Coquette’s Bakery before I left. I did manage to buy a slice of blueberry coffee cake and a loaf of bread. There were so many delicious baked goods in the display cases and a fully-stocked freezer with baguettes, bagels, challah bread, buns, muffins, and more.

The baked goods change everyday and honestly, I don’t think you will be disappointed with anything. This place is a must for any gluten-free trip to Colorado Springs.

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Loved it! I highly recommend this place.

 

Garden of the Gods
1805 North 30th Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80904

My boyfriend and I checked out of the hotel and decided to go for a drive. I was reclining in the front seat, snoozing and soaking up the sunshine through the car windows. The temps hit 55º F which was a welcome warm-up on my feverish body. We decided to go to Garden of the Gods since we could easily drive there and it didn’t require me to do any strenuous hiking or walking.

I loved Garden of the Gods. It reminded me so much of my first solo trip to Sedona, Arizona. The red rocks against the bright blue sky lifted my spirits. This place is really beautiful and only a short drive from downtown Colorado Springs. I highly recommend a trip here! I wish I had been feeling better because I would have loved to hike and explore this park a little bit more.

Pikes Peak
5089 Pikes Peak Highway
Cascade, CO 80809

This 19-mile drive to 14,115 feet is worth it, especially if it is a clear day like it was when we were in Colorado Springs. You either pay by person or carload and the prices to enter this park vary by season. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. The higher we went, the lower the temperatures dropped. The trees also stop growing too as you approach the top of the mountain because of the lack of oxygen with the increasing altitude.

Oh the altitude… It killed us! When I got out of the car at the top of Pikes Peak I felt awful. At 14,115 feet above sea level this is some HIGH altitude and the highest I ever experienced in my life. I felt drunk, nauseous, gassy, and dizzy. It was like my body was losing function by the second. Add the flu and I felt like I was going to pass out any second. I looked over at my boyfriend and he was looking just as green as me. We walked slowly to the gift shop to sit for a minute and to use the restrooms. The Pikes Peak staff must have a warped sense of humor because they had these crazy hologram photos in the bathrooms. Nothing is more disorienting than using the bathroom and thinking a lion is jumping out from the painting on the wall. I had to tell my man immediately what I saw to confirm I wasn’t crazy and he saw them in the men’s room too. It is one trippy experience!

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Smiling through the altitude sickness and the flu.

 

We took a few obligatory pictures at the top of the mountain but both were really affected by the altitude and decided to leave. The mountain top closes at 4pm in the winter, so we had to head down anyway. Note to self, make sure to give your body time to acclimate to altitude when traveling in the future!

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The view was worth it!

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Facing east (I think) from the top of the mountain

 

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Not what a celiac wants to see on a drive up a mountain. Good thing I wasn’t “glutened”!

Federal Bar and Grill
2544 Federal Blvd.
Denver, CO

We slowly made our way down from Pikes Peak, leaving the high altitude behind, and headed back to Denver to catch our flight the next morning. By the time we got to Denver, I was exhausted but hungry. It was a big football day and the first place we went was packed. We wound up eating dinner at Federal Bar and Grill. I found this place using FindMeGlutenFree again where I read the owners had celiac disease. The hearty burger on a gluten-free bun was exactly what I needed.

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Southwest Burger: Pepper jack cheese, fresh made roasted corn pico de gallo, and avocado on a gluten-free bun. Not pictured, sweet potato fries made in a dedicated fryer.

 

Being sick away from home sucks, I am not going to sugar coat it. I was achy, tired, coughing, and just feeling miserable. Colorado Springs is very beautiful once the sun starts shining and the blue skies come out. I wish I could have enjoyed more of the trip but I just could not physically handle it. Major shout out to the boyfriend who took very good care of me on this trip. Buying my meds, rubbing my head, hugging me as I cried through my fever. He is the best! I did my best to be a trooper, but I paid for it. I went straight home after we landed on Sunday night at JFK airport and did not leave my house for four full days. This was the first time I got this sick during travel but I managed to deal with it the best that I could. I would definitely go back to Colorado to do more exploring, hiking, biking, and enjoying the beautiful state. Oh, and to eat another Monte Cristo at Coquette’s Bistro! But next time, I will leave the flu at home!

 

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About Erin Smith

Living with celiac disease since 1981 and eating gluten-free long before it was "trendy", Erin Smith has a unique perspective of growing up in the gluten-free community; Founded Gluten-Free Fun in 2007; Founded Gluten-Free Globetrotter® in 2011; Founded GlutenFreelancer® in 2014. Erin was the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group, a social community of more than 2,000 members for over a decade and has recently started a support group in Northern California.
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7 Responses to Gluten-Free Travel in Colorado Springs

  1. Kaila511 says:

    I’m so glad you went to Coquette’s! I’m very fortunate that every time I return to Colorado Springs, my friends are more than willing to eat there. It’s moved down the street from my alma mater right after I graduated.

    You hit many of my favorite tourist spots in the Springs too. Since my guests are usually adjusting to the altitude, I tend to take them on some of my favorite shorter hikes. My other favorite spots are the Olympic Training Center since they have a free tour and the Air Force Academy.

    The flu has been spreading like wildfire out here too, I had it back in December. I hope you feel better soon! And, I hope that you have the opportunity to visit Colorado when you’re feeling better in the future. 🙂

    • Erin Smith says:

      Thanks for the comment, Kaila! It was my second time in Colorado but my first time in Colorado Springs. I love the outdoors and was so bummed that I was so sick. It was a very lovely little city and I would love to go back. I’m still dreaming of that sandwich at Coquette’s!

  2. Erica Feld says:

    Dear Erin, Getting the flu has its perks as it seems with all the delicious gluten-free places and people you encountered. Hope you’re feeling better. Thanks again for sharing. Erica

  3. Barb says:

    Have you tried the new all gluten free restaurant in the West Village?

    • Erin Smith says:

      Barb, are you talking about Senza Gluten? Yes! I have been there a couple of times already. We had an NYC Celiac Meetup event there. The entire restaurant is 100% gluten-free! The tiramisu is amazing.

      • Barb says:

        That’s the one! My daughter and son-in-law live in the West Village and she sent me a review from someone who went there. Tiramisu! Oh, I need to go there on our next visit. I was resigned to never eat it again.

  4. julie says:

    While Coquestte’s is our go-to restaurant for all celebrations (and they are in the process of moving as of April 30 2017), the second 100% GF restaurant in Colorado Springs is Tapateria. tapateria.com
    As you might guess it’s a Spanish Tapa (ors d’oeuvres) place. Plenty of options to choose from. My favorites are Chorizo & Figs and Artichoke & Pepper Salad. Tapateria been open for a few years now and if you throw in a dessert you’ll have plenty to keep you full and happy you found this place. It’s in “Old Colorado City” which is on far West Colorado Blvd. It has it’s own little touristy hot spots to shop at and lots of summer festivities in the area.
    We travel a fair amount and I’m always amazed that my town is the one with two 100% dedicated GF restaurants. Large cities do too, but for the size of the Springs, it’s pretty darn awesome.
    Hope you’ll come back soon!

    I’m hoping to visit Israel…any suggestions?
    Julie

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