From food to energy, Colorado businesses are on the cutting edge

By Mary Rose Roberts
It’s easy to fall in love with Colorado. Each trip I take, I learn something new, climb new peaks or ski unchartered territory. This also applies to food options, as the state has some of the best vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free options that can be found on every street corner. From Udi’s pre-made sandwiches at Wash Perk in Denver to gluten-free pasta at Relish in Breckenridge, Colorado-based restaurants are conscientious of their diners’ needs. So when my three besties and I converged on Summit County, Colo., this past weekend, I knew where we were stopping for lunch: Beau Jo’s Colorado Style Pizza in Idaho Springs.

Idaho Springs is a quaint mountain town off I-70, the main highway to the ski resorts and peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The skinny streets are lined with mountain gear stores and boutiques, as well as art galleries and restaurants. BeauJo’s fits right in. Parking is behind the restaurant, and in autumn, you have a view of aspens, evergreens and a waterfall. Inside, it has brick and pine walls lined with black-and-white photos of times past and antiqued floors.

At first, the young hostess sat our group across from a table full of children. But my girl from Texas wasn't having it, and instead, moved us across the restaurant to a corner table with a street view where we could talk, catch up and people watch. My friends in general are good sports and are always up to follow me on a mini-adventure. Food is no different. If I was gluten-free, they were gluten-free.  We looked over the menu, ordered a honey-based cheesy bread and four personal pan, gluten-free pizzas.

While we waited, we read more about the restaurant. I knew about its gluten-free and vegan pizza options, but we all soon learned about their environmental consciousness. The owners use electricity generated through wind power via Xcel Energy’s Windsource program. In fact, they currently are the 16th largest user in the state of Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota. The wind is complemented with solar panels, helping to power the Idaho Springs and Boulder restaurants. The restaurant also uses biodegradable to-go containers, recycles and buys locally when possible in order to reduce their environmental footprint and help local businesses.

The gluten-free pizzas were served with a thin, crispy crust. I ordered cheese, tomato and garlic and the ingredients blended into a perfect balance with each bite. Everyone at our table agreed that it didn't taste gluten-free and that no one would be the wiser.

The gluten-free pizza wasn’t cheap—though I’ll pay extra for wholesome local ingredients. The pizzas are personal pan, but in my opinion could served two, and start around $13.

BeauJo’s is just one more reason I love Colorado and its businesses. I'm all ready to head back to the love of my life, God's Country. Girls' trip anyone?

Photos by Texas Friend, R.S.

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