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Rocky Hunter and David Grant want you to love vegetables as much as they do. This past November, the chefs and long-time friends debuted Gladys, a food stall that embraces and elevates all things plant-based. Named after Hunter’s grandmother, Gladys’ goal is to invoke the spirit of warm, “grandma-style hospitality” for every guest they serve while getting patrons hooked on dishes like hot coconut chowder with potato, celery, and crispy onion and a root vegetable reuben sandwich.
Hunter and Grant use the mantra “plants forever” to describe the ethos behind their restaurant. Simple, vegetable-centered meals aren’t just delicious—they also support a healthier lifestyle and are better for the environment. “By choosing a vegan lifestyle, you not only advocate for ethical treatment of animals, but also create fundamental changes necessary to our food systems,” Hunter says.
Hunter and Grant, who are long-time restaurant industry veterans, have both been vegan for over 15 years and aimed to bring the practice into their professional careers. Before opening Gladys, Grant served as the culinary director at Capital Hill’s City O’ City and Watercourse Foods, both of which are popular plant-based restaurants in Denver. Meanwhile, Hunter worked most recently as the executive chef at Country Club’s Fruition, where he always ensured there were vegan options on the menu. When creating the Gladys concept, the pair wanted to put together a menu that celebrated vegetables as the centerpiece, rather than simply a meat alternative. “We not only have a passion for veganism, but a passion for simply crafting great food,” Hunter says.
Gladys’ menu shifts regularly to showcase the best seasonal vegetables, which are grown by the Gladys team themselves or sourced from local farms. Right now, the menu has an array of vegan takes on comforting favorites that are perfect for enjoying in cooler weather. Start with the caramelized carrot sticks or fried Brussels sprouts, then go for the beans and grains bowl with pan-roasted autumn squash, Rancho Gordo charros beans, freekah grains, sour cream, and fresh herbs. Or nosh on the winter wedge—Gladys’ take on the classic salad—a plate of charred endive with seckel pear, roasted squash, parsnip, pomegranate, and smoky walnuts dressed with a white wine and mustard vinaigrette. “I love the Winter Wedge,” Grant says. “I think when most people think of a wedge salad, they think of summer, so it’s kind of fun to flip their perception of what they think the dish should be.”
For a heartier meal, the Reuben sandwich—made with tender celery root in place of pastrami—is a must. Garnished with chicory kraut and horseradish crème fraîche, we bet your meat-eating friends will like the plant-based version more than the original. “The root-vegetable Reuben has been the people’s champion so far,” Hunter says. “It’s a great leverage point to our menu and our playful take on working with vegetables to create menu offerings that are both new and familiar.”
As for what’s next, the pair hopes to continue to grow the food stall’s following while still maintaining the Gladys standard and vision (follow Gladys on Instagram to keep up with their ever-changing menu). This spring, you can expect to see lots of tender green vegetables, crunchy peas, and strawberries woven throughout the menu; also keep an eye out for the fresh-baked chocolate chunk cookies.
“We love connecting with our community through the food we make,” Hunter and Grant said in an email. “We will continue making great-tasting, vegetable-focused food to not only sustain our guests, but to also challenge, encourage, and inspire our community.”
5505 W. 20th Ave.