DIA Still Flying High as Spot for Healthy Eating

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For the second year in a row, Denver International Airport has been named one of the top ten airports in the United States for healthy options by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization. DIA ranks seventh, with a restaurant lineup that "features an array of healthful Colorado favorites," according to the report -- and several of the spots it name-checks are among Cafe Society's top ten restaurants at DIA, healthy or not, including our Best Restaurant at DIA in the Best of Denver 2014: Root Down. See also:Ten Best Restaurants at Denver International Airport -- 2014 Edition

According to the report, 83 percent of the airport's restaurants offer at least one qualifying cholesterol-free, plant-based entrée, such as leafy green salads, veggie wraps or black bean burgers. Here's more of its assessment:

Denver Chophouse offers salads, which can all be made cholesterol-free with options like grilled portobello and arugula or fresh greens with avocado, garbanzo beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, and blueberries," the report notes. "Denver Chophouse also offers fresh, colorful side dishes including cabernet mushrooms, roasted rainbow carrots and apples, asparagus, spinach, and sweet potato fries. At Root Down, travelers can opt for steel-cut oats with coconut milk, veggie burger sliders, roasted beet salad, or a tofu bento box to go. Etai's Bakery Cafe offers the prepackaged Power Salad with coconut-charred kale, arugula, hazelnut cranberry quinoa, green apples, shaved carrots, and celery root with preserved lemon vinaigrette. Travelers can pick up the fig and tomato bruschetta at Cru Food and Wine Bar or head to Colorado Sports Bar to sample vegan burgers made with sunflower seeds, brown rice, black beans, and vegetables.

DIA has been working to transform its concessionaires, adding more restaurants with local connections. "Denver International Airport continues to increase the variety of dining options for our customers, with an eye toward providing local flavors that include healthful selections," explains Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day.

And there are more to come: This month, the very healthy, Colorado-based mini-chain Modmarket is set to open its first location at DIA, on Concourse B, a second spot will open on Concourse C early in the new year.

Not surprisingly, one of our favorite dishes at DIA -- the chicken-fried steak burrito at Elway's, a real gut-bomb -- does not rate a mention in the committee's Airport Travel Guide for eating healthy. In fact, Elway's doesn't rate a mention at all. But if you're looking at a healthy wait before you can catch your connecting flight, that bar is a real score.

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