Food allergies and healthy(er) eating are front-of-mind for many chefs. These days, it’s not just about having vegetarian and gluten-free options. It’s about recognizing that people are more conscious of what they’re putting in their bodies while still wanting the experience of dining out.

Perhaps the best new restaurant to encompass this philosophy is Fresh Thymes Eatery, a fast-casual spot that opened at Boulder’s Steel Yards in August. In a city known for its locally sourced, allergen-free dining options, Fresh Thymes still stands out. After chef-owner Christine Ruch was diagnosed with both celiac disease and MS, she realized that changing her diet was one of the most important factors in staying healthy. (It helps that she’s also an instructor in holistic nutrition.)

The menu—made up of salads, sandwiches, counter items, baked goods, and shared plates—reflects Ruch’s lifestyle, with dishes suitable for vegans, the dairy-free, those with nut allergies, and more. Everything is is 100 percent gluten-free, organic, GMO-free, and, when possible, locally sourced. Diners can order at the counter or pick up items from the take-out case.

Before fall officially calls it quits, head in for the Farmers Market Salad (pictured, above), a fresh blend of arugula, grilled Munson Farms peaches, toasted pecans, smoked Haystack Mountain goat cheese, and sherry-peach vinaigrette. Wash it down with a glass of house-made honey-ginger limeade. For something more filling, order the free-range chicken (pictured, left) with pesto and your choice of two deli counter items (I suggest the Mediterranean salad and daily flatbread). Just make sure to save room for the brownie. Gluten-free desserts are often overly dry and dense, but not this one. Sweetened with honey, the thin morsel has a rich chocolate flavor without becoming saccharine.

Take Part: Fresh Thymes is a CSR (community-supported restaurant). In fact, the eatery opened with the help of purchased memberships. Investors make a one-year donation of $250, $500, or $1,000. In return, they receive monthly restaurant gift cards that end up totaling more than their original investment. New memberships are being accepted through December 31.

2500 30th St., #101, Boulder, 303-955-7988

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at