Adaptogens, antioxidants, superfoods: They can all be intimidating if you're not up on the latest health and nutrition terminology. But tasty, comforting and filling are things we can all get on board with. If you're just starting to explore plant-based eating, you could do worse than put yourself in the hands of a chef with years of fine-dining experience. That's what you'll get at Lacuna, a yoga studio, juice bar and cafe at 2590 Lawrence Street.
Megan Whiteside and Trent DeMichele opened Lacuna with the goal of combining Whiteside's yoga expertise with a juice bar. DeMichele thought a full breakfast and lunch menu would add to the health and nutrition needs of their yoga customers. The couple was already friends with chef Carrie Shores, who had headed the culinary program at Work Options for Women and was executive chef at Table 6 before that. Shores says she's been following a plant-based diet for the past three years, and she welcomed the opportunity to create the same kind of food professionally.
"It's all about balance and the ability to order healthy food after a workout," Whiteside explains.
Shores adds that everything on her menu is organic and free of meat, eggs and dairy, and that most of it is naturally gluten-free or can be ordered gluten-free on request. In addition to the food menu, the chef worked with Whiteside and DeMichele to perfect the ten juice recipes Lacuna offers, all named for gemstones.
So you can get your nutrients in liquid form with the Sapphire (tinted blue with Blue Majik spirulina extract), the Garnet (made with more than a dozen vegetables and fruit), or the Onyx (which combines ginger, lemon, lavender, honey and activated charcoal). Nut milks, smoothie bowls and steamed beverages are also available, many boosted with ingredients intended to help your immune system, cognitive functions and overall health.
But even if you're not into yoga or cold-pressed juice, Lacuna is worth a stop for a chilled noodle salad loaded with avocado, mango, fennel, cabbage, sesame seeds and matcha vinaigrette — a satisfying bowl with hints of Asian flavor. Curry soup, thick enough to be called a stew, includes seasonal veggies, sprouted grains and almond cream.
Shores makes cashew milk, almond milk and oat milk in-house, and uses the pulp left over from pressing juices to add flavor to many of her dishes. She also makes gluten-free buckwheat bread with nothing more than whole buckwheat that's been soaked, ground and baked in a loaf pan with a little salt. Try it in the avocado toast (which otherwise comes on sprouted-wheat bread) with coconut-milk feta, or with apple butter and housemade jam. Salads made with greens grown at Altius Farm next door round out the menu.
Whiteside and DeMichele agree that you don't need to be vegan to enjoy an occasional plant-based meal, and explain that many of their customers are just looking for light and healthy options, especially during the holidays, when overindulgence is almost guaranteed.
Lacuna's cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Call 720-899-5644 or visit the Lacuna website for more details.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.