The sign outside of Beet Box will lead you straight to the doughnuts.EXPAND
The sign outside of Beet Box will lead you straight to the doughnuts.
Veronica Penney

Hidden Gems: Flaky Pastries and Filling Sandwiches at Beet Box

Beet Box Bakery & Cafe is located at 1030 East 22nd Avenue, on a quiet corner where the Uptown, Five Points and City Park West neighborhoods come together. The inconspicuous cafe offers an eye-catching array — if you care to look through the window — of pastries and doughnuts baked from scratch. But unlike other Denver neighborhood bakeries, everything at Beet Box is vegan, and a sizable portion of the pastries are gluten-free.

Since opening as a wholesale bakery and farmers' market vendor in 2008, Beet Box has morphed into a neighborhood bakery and cafe that also makes gluten-free and soy-free items to serve customers with a range of dietary restrictions.

At the heart of all of the food lie quality raw ingredients. “We grind up raw beets for our beet brownies, cook caramel for turtle brownies, blend cashews to make milk for lattes, bake the bread for our sandwiches, mix gluten-free flour blends for our gluten-free items, and so on,” says owner Blair Ednie. Ice cream fans may find the caramel familiar: Beet Box sells some of it to Sweet Action Ice Cream.

Beet Box's avocado melt pairs avocado with cashew cream cheese and fresh veggies.EXPAND
Beet Box's avocado melt pairs avocado with cashew cream cheese and fresh veggies.
Veronica Penney

Beet Box’s pastries are well known in Denver, but the sandwiches often fly under the radar. The small cafe offers an array of sandwiches, all under $10, for the lunch crowd. Options include the chickpea tuna salad, a cremini panini with cremini mushrooms and cashew cream cheese, and a tofu banh mi with house-pickled veggies served on a baguette. You'll also find an egg-free breakfast sandwich good enough to make our list of the ten best vegan sandwiches in Denver.“Before we began serving breakfast sandwiches, we spent a long time trying out different ways to add protein to a sandwich without using seitan or other so-called fake meats,” explains Ednie. The solution was a housemade chickpea farina patty and smoked, maple-glazed tempeh. Of course, the bun is also made from scratch.

Those with a sweet tooth will delight in a seasonally rotating selection, including cakes and tarts. Beet Box bakes with berries and other produce only when they are in season and plentiful. Pumpkin fans will want to try the year-round pumpkin doughnuts with either maple or chocolate frosting.

Beet Box's cremini panini includes cremini mushrooms, cashew cream cheese, arugula and almond-basil pesto on house-baked bread.EXPAND
Beet Box's cremini panini includes cremini mushrooms, cashew cream cheese, arugula and almond-basil pesto on house-baked bread.
Veronica Penney

“We tried to take away the pumpkin doughnuts one spring, thinking that customers would see them as un-seasonal, but we were wrong, and we disappointed a lot of pumpkin-worshipers,” says Ednie, adding, “Don't fix it if it ain't broke.”

For new flavor inspiration, Ednie looks for novelty. “We look for ways to add a flavor or texture that is underrepresented in our current assortment. How can we bring a new ingredient to a customer's attention, or make a really good version of a classic like a chocolate chip cookie? We usually have a half-dozen new products in the works. Some of them will not prove out, but hopefully some will.”

As Beet Box continues to grow and change, look for an expanded menu of savory foods, sandwiches and more sweet treats in the future. Beet Box is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Go to the Beet Box website or call 303-861-0017 for more information, or to get in a last-minute Thanksgiving pie order, which can be placed through Sunday,  November 19.

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