Colorado, Denver, general, USA

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


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.

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!

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.

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!

Monte Cristo at Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery



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…

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.

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!

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!

The view was worth it!
Facing east (I think) from the top of the mountain


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.

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!


Denver, general

Gluten-Free in the Mile High City

Denver in December
Denver in December

Back in December, I had a travel first. I planned a totally impromptu weekend trip, hopped on a plane, and met my friend David for a rendezvous in Denver, Colorado. While most of my trip planning is rather fast and furious, this trip kind of came out of nowhere and it excited me that I pulled this off with less than 2 weeks of planning. Granted I was only going to Denver for 3 days, but I was excited to become one of those “pick up and go” travelers and meet a friend in a city that neither of us had been to before. Traveling with a  friend who is a vegetarian and me a Celiac, we knew our food choices could be limited in Denver. With a little research, we ate well, enjoyed the Mile High City together exploring the 16th Street Mall, walking all over Denver, and spending an awesome afternoon at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

View from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
View from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Our first meal kind of sucked. We stopped at Rialto Cafe on the 16th Street Mall for brunch as we set out to explore Denver for the first time. I read they had gluten-free menu items available for dinner, but there was nothing explicitly gluten-free on the menu for brunch. David and I both wound up with a gross omelettes. Brunch would have been a lot better if I could have enjoyed the endless mimosa bar, but I have been limiting my drinking due to other health issues and I chose not to imbibe.

Dinner on Saturday night was awesome. We made a reservation at Vesta Dipping Grill after recommendations from my friend and rave reviews from allergen-free travelers online. Vesta has not one, but FOUR, allergen-friendly menus on their website including gluten, nut, lactose, and shellfish. I used OpenTable to make our reservation which allows you to include a direct note to the restaurant to alert them of your allergies before you even get there. When we arrived at Vesta, the hostess already knew I needed the gluten and shellfish menus and gave them both to me when we sat down. Now that is service! I was able to cross-reference the menus when ordering and spoke to the waiter extensively about what David and I were going to order for dinner that night. The waitstaff was very patient with the Celiac/shellfish-allergy girl and the vegetarian guy. We ordered tons of tapas including cheeses, veggies, meats (for me), and tons of dipping sauces which are Vesta’s signature sides. These sauces range from savory to spicy and everything in between. We had a great time trying all of the sauces and sharing our meal.

Dipping away at Vesta Dipping Grill
Dipping away at Vesta Dipping Grill

Sunday morning was probably one of my favorite meals of the trip to Denver. It was FREEZING but sunny as David and I trekked over to Watercourse Foods. This place not only had an extensive gluten-free menu but was vegetarian too. This was a brunch match made in heaven for the two of us. I chowed down on the biggest gluten-free banana pancakes of my life while David ate some kind of tofu chorizo egg scramble. I also had an awesome smoothie which I don’t normally order at restaurants since I make smoothies every single morning at home. I was very pleased with the accommodating staff and the ease of eating both gluten-free and veggie at Watercourse. I highly recommend this quirky restaurant for brunch in Denver.

Amazing gluten-free pancakes at Watercourse Foods
Amazing gluten-free pancakes at Watercourse Foods

Dinner on Sunday night was at Mellow Mushroom. This is a chain pizza restaurant that I first enjoyed in Portland back in the fall. They offer a gluten-free pizza shell with make-your-own toppings. I am off the sauce (yes, both tomato and booze) due to acid reflux so I made a pesto with cheese gluten-free pizza. Mellow Mushroom doesn’t have a chain restaurant vibe which is nice so with more than 156 locations nationwide it is a nice go-to restaurant for a gluten-free pie. All Mellow Mushroom locations serve gluten-free pizza upon request. They are also very careful with their preparation and have a disclaimer about their gluten-free pizza ingredients and preparation on every menu. I love this attention to detail.

Monday was our last day in Denver and I was sad that our weekend of exploring the Mile High City went so fast. David and I wound up at City O City, the sister restaurant to Watercourse Foods, for brunch. City O City clearly marks all of their menu options for gluten-free, gluten-free options, vegan, vegan options, and if the dish contains nuts. I love easy to navigate menus such as this one. I ate chilaquiles, one of my favorite dishes and had a few cups of delicious coffee.

Delicioso chilaquiles!
Delicioso chilaquiles!

Overall, I was pleased with the gluten-free food I found in Denver. It was a cute (and clean) little city to explore but I am not sure I will head back there any time soon. I was there only three days and I feel that I saw everything I needed to see. I would love to go back and head out to the Rocky Mountains if I ever make it to Colorado again.

Do you have any gluten-free favorites in Denver? Share them in the comments below.

Me freezing in the Mile High City!
Me freezing in the Mile High City!