Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Three Colorado Springs Outdoor Adventures and Gluten-free Eats

As a state, Colorado is known for many things. Its many rivers, for instance, or that its capital of Denver claims to have invented the cheeseburger. When this college celiac first visited Colorado Springs, it made sense that I fell in love with these two traits: Colorado’s outside beauty and its plentiful gluten free eats. As I prepare to move to Colorado in a few months, though, I’m particularly dreaming of three Colorado Springs sights and three gluten free restaurants to refuel at afterward!

1. The Colorado Springs Zoo and Boriello Brothers Pizza

Don’t walk into the Colorado Springs Zoo expecting a huge park, but it makes up for its small size with quality and natural beauty. I knew it was going to be a memorable trip when we saw giraffes eagerly eating lettuce out of visitors' open hands. While my home zoo wraps giraffe feeding in miles of red tape, all we had to do was pay $2 for lettuce and wash up after. Can you say, Score? Then we rode the lift to the top section of the zoo. The beauty of Colorado never ceases to amaze me and as I sat hundreds of feet up in the air, the view of the mountains, lakes and houses down the valley seemed like a gorgeous mirage. 

After wearing the rubber off our shoes from hours of walking, we were starving and decided on Boriello Brothers Pizza for lunch. A local had recommended the restaurant and I was ecstatic to read on their website that they offer gluten free pizza with separate toppings and cooked in a separate oven. Color me impressed. 

Because we hit the restaurant past lunch hour, it wasn't busy and we ordered immediately. The cashier knew about celiac disease and cross contamination and guided us through the menu to ensure we only ordered gluten free toppings. Fifteen minutes later, our gluten free pies appeared. My favorite parts of the pizza were definitely the crunchy crust and abundant toppings. Overall, Mom and I agreed that it was the best pizza we've had eating out. Even better, it was also decent leftovers, too.

2. Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Red Robin

If you’re a fan of history, museums or overpriced souvenirs, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings (home to the ancient Anasazi) is the outside adventure for you! The small park/museum allows visitors to explore the homes carved directly into the mountainside. As we walked through the rooms, I gawked at the food storage containers (blocks of rock carved next to the wall), meticulous windows and fire pits. Even more amazing, as we climbed deeper into the caves, the heat that forced Mom and I to hide under sun hats (comfort > fashion), disappeared. My favorite part, though, was a tree that the Anasazi used for cooking: it smelled exactly like vanilla! 

After a few hours of exploring, heat and hunger drove us back into the car and toward a nearby Red Robin. Despite the pack of parked cars surrounding the restaurant, we were quickly seated at a corner booth. Like usual, I spelled out my celiac autobiography to the waitress, who directed me to the gluten free menu via the Red Robin app. I also confirmed that there was a dedicated fryer for the steak fries since this can vary by location.

In the end, I ended up ordering a turkey burger with lettuce on their gluten free bun with steak fries. When our food arrived only a short time later, all of our jaws dropped at the size. My first bite of my turkey burger skyrocketed me to heaven. It tasted light and juicy, but charred on the edges. The bun surprised me the most by being fluffy, solid enough to not fall apart and perfectly crisp. As for the steak fries, I never wanted them to end – and, at Red Robins, this “bottomless” side never does! Although Red Robins appear in several states, the one in Colorado Springs proved especially celiac-safe and delicious.

3. Starsmore Park and Coquette’s Bistro

For a low-key (but beautiful) hike free from the tourist crowd, lace-up your sneakers and head to Starsmore Park. Featuring many different trails to run, hike or bike, Starsmore Park also includes a lake – often enjoyed by plenty of dogs (no human swimmers allowed). If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, you can try to take a shortcut like my dad and I did...climb up the mountainside...and end of discovering a car graveyard underneath a roadside cliff. I suggest, however, that you instead stick to main trail and enjoy the plentiful waterfalls, rock formations and huge trees! If you need a gorgeous new Facebook photo, this is your backdrop!

As for food, I saved the best for last: if you are ever in Colorado Springs, you need to go to Coquette’s Bistro – whether you eat gluten free or not! Located in Downtown Colorado Springs, Coquette’s is an entirely gluten free bistro, bar and bakery that offers anything from fried chicken and waffles to savory crepes to their infamous cheesecake. 

Despite being overwhelmed by the choices, my family and I decided on the BBQ bacon burger, cider battered fish n’ chips, and chicken pot pie served with a side salad and truffle fries. When our dishes arrived thirty minutes later, I was literally in shock. I couldn’t believe I could safely eat everything – even the croutons in my salad – and my family couldn’t believe how delicious everything tasted. As for dessert, we ordered several cupcakes, cookies and slices of cake to-go. Our favorites? The flaky and soft chocolate chip cookie and (huge) slice of moist carrot cake with tangy cream cheese icing. A post-hike feast never tasted so good!

Although I’ve been living in California for four years now, this girl is ready to become an official “Coloradan.” If you’re craving a breath of fresh air – or a bite of delicious, gluten free food – Colorado Springs is the perfect town to stop by...or stay awhile!

Author Bio: 
Casey Cromwell is the blogger behind “Casey the College Celiac”. She began her blog a few weeks after being diagnosed with celiac disease and now uses it to share her experiences as a gluten free girl in college. Her blog features personal stories, gluten free (and often vegan) recipes, restaurant reviews, college tips and everything in between! You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter (collegeceliackc) and Pinterest and Facebook (Casey the College Celiac). 

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see it's live - looks great! Thanks for involving me in such an awesome project!