Every summer, the Front Range becomes a home base for athletes of all types from around the world. After all, the high elevation, radiant sunshine, and extensive trail system are the stuff of outdoor enthusiasts’ dreams. But if it’s the sports climate that brings runners, cyclists, and hikers here to train, it’s the lifestyle they discover that brings them back—sometimes for good, like when I relocated to Boulder from Houston in 2016 to further my marathon career.
A huge part of the area’s appeal for athletes is the food scene: a thoughtful blend of healthy and indulgent spots, with farmers’ markets, food halls, and farm-to-table restaurants leading the way. It’s in these places that trainees caffeinate before early runs, replenish after hard rides, and bond over quality fuel.
Here are seven of my favorite Front Range restaurants for athletes in training, and what you might consider ordering at each:
Avery Brewing (Boulder)
Though its 30-tap tasting room is something to behold, Avery Brewing isn’t just a destination for beer lovers. Located steps from Gunbarrel’s Twin Lakes Trailhead, Avery’s outdoor patio is also an ideal place to cool off and refuel after a workout. Carnivores should try the protein-rich Meat, Meat, Meat platter (smoked tri-tip, pulled pork, and bratwurst), while vegetarians dig into the wholesome Buddha Bowl, replete with quinoa, roasted and pickled vegetables, and avocado-coconut dressing. The fan-favorite White Rascal ale pairs well with both.
Though more fast-casual than its cousin restaurants Acorn in RiNo and Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, Brider maintains its founders’ commitment to quality ingredients and an everything-from-scratch ethos. The Denver rotisserie is available for both dine-in and take-out meals, spanning breakfast to dinner, coffee to cocktails. I love the Thai-inspired sweet potato and avocado salad as a fresh-yet-satiating midday bite; I like adding chicken for a lean protein boost.
New Moon Bakery & Café (Nederland)
After a long run on the infamous Magnolia Road, popularized by the University of Colorado’s cross-country team, Nederland’s New Moon Bakery & Cafe is the place to be. Order coffee and a pastry while you await the main event: the Wrap. A giant egg-battered tortilla stuffed with cheddar, tomatoes, guacamole, and either bacon, eggs, or mushrooms, its blend of carbohydrates and protein is just what your body craves after a grueling workout.
Pizzeria Locale (multiple locations)
Pizzeria Locale, with fast-casual outposts in Denver and the original sit-down establishment in Boulder, attracts an active following—and not just because co-owner Bobby Stuckey is an avid runner and former pro cyclist. Locale’s dedication to seasonal, local sourcing and Neapolitan-style pies makes it a great option for pre-race (or workout) dinners. Grab a training partner, ask for a wine recommendation from the knowledgeable staff, and top off your glycogen stores with two pies: the margherita (tomato, mozzarella, and basil) and funghi (oyster mushrooms, garlic oil, and three kinds of cheese).
Stowaway Kitchen (RiNo)
This trendy, travel-inspired cafe is the perfect precursor to a weekend run. I like to fuel up with an aeropress coffee and the Killer Whale Granola (whipped yogurt topped with house-made almond and pomegranate granola, pecan-coconut crumble, and banana slices) while nailing down details for the adventure ahead.
Woodgrain Bagels (multiple locations)
The slightly sweeter, smaller style of bagel served at all three locations of Woodgrain Bagels are baked fresh throughout the day, and well worthy of a detour. Go early or during the week to avoid the weekend brunch crowd, and dig into the nutritionally balanced Woodsman Loaded Sandwich (scrambled eggs, meat of choice, cheddar, avocado, and arugula) on an Everything Bagel.
Urban Egg: A Daytime Eatery (multiple locations)
Don’t let the long lines and even longer menu at Urban Egg: A Daytime Eatery intimidate you. The popular breakfast joint, with eight Colorado locations, has something for everyone—including those with raging appetites. The carbohydrate-rich pancake flight, with flavor options like blueberry streusel, cinnamon swirl, and strawberry cheesecake, will kickstart your recovery and have you ready to run again in no time.