Zaatar toast with a Lebanese blend of spices, marinated in olive oil, on 16 grain bread topped with labneh (kefir cheese), tomato and cucumber at The Corner Beet on April 19 in Denver. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
While clickbait listicles and so-called Instagram stars have spent recent months shouting about clean eating and #celeryjuice from their corners of the web, the Corner Beet has been quietly sitting on its corner in Capitol Hill for more than four years, a sweet beet-and-flower mural decorating its exterior, serving creative, scratch-made — and, yes, clean — eats to a growing fan base.
It was, in fact, green (and red and orange) juice that inspired owner Nikki Hazamy to open the Corner Beet in August 2014. She co-founded Gypsy Juice, a cold-pressed juice company, to fill a hole she saw in the local market when she moved to Denver from New Jersey. After acquiring the building at the corner of North Ogden Street and 14th Avenue, Hazamy and her business partner (who is no longer involved with the company) realized they had more space than they could fill with juice. So, they crafted a bountiful menu of coffee and tea drinks, toasts, salads and more.
Since then, the plant-loving eatery (seriously, there’s greenery everywhere inside) has raised the expectations for vegetarian and vegan food in this city, joining the long-beloved City, O’ City and Watercourse Foods in appealing as much to the general public as to those adhering to a particular way of eating.
The Corner Beet’s veggie-focused menu is unapologetically trendy because it has to offer the latest and greatest. There’s golden milk and CBD tea and avocado toast and, most recently, fiber-rich Maya nut because Hazamy says it’s the next big trend in superfoods. But there are also oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies and breakfast burritos and a PB&J (with house-made jam). It’s this mix that appeals equally to regulars and to newbies seeking out the latest Instagram trend.
Inside, the café is cozy; the sun streaks through the spaces between the greenery that lines one long wood counter. Outside, a fair-sized sidewalk patio buzzes when the weather warms. Chalkboard signs of all shapes and sizes line the wall behind the ordering station, as well as the floor and table next to it. Order something “for here” and instead of a number, you’re given a card with an illustration of an ingredient — lime, beet, romaine — accompanied by a list of its health benefits. Staffers come across as genuine and ready to help the unfamiliar or indecisive navigate the menu.
Health food advocates keep telling us that eating well can — and should — be easy and satisfying. The Corner Beet is all the proof you need.
Drinks: Caffeinated or no? Hot or cold? Classic or experimental? It’s best to walk into the Corner Beet knowing at least what category of drink you want, or risk becoming overwhelmed. Espresso drinks are expertly crafted (though don’t expect a fancy design swirled into your foam) using roasts from Pablo’s Coffee and Copper Door Coffee Roasters, two of the many local purveyors the Corner Beet works with. The matcha latte ($4 for a 12-ounce) has just the right amount of sweetness to cut through the tea’s natural bitterness. The cold-pressed juice lineup — all served in glasses to limit waste — changes by the day, but you can’t go wrong with the kale-spinach-ginger Bon Vivant or beet-forward Root to Love ($6.50 to $12). Of the house-made iced teas, the golden-hued Spring Meadow ($3.50) — a blend of passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm and lemon peel — is light and refreshing and doesn’t tip toward saccharine, the downfall of many an iced tea.
There’s no alcohol to be found here, but the Corner Beet does serve eight kava drinks (and runs a kava happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. that gets you $1 off). Kava is a root native to the islands of the South Pacific that’s believed to help reduce anxiety. A tasty entrée into the shrub is to drink it chilled, like in the bright kava cooler ($8), which swirls the ingredient with mint and lemon. The candied ginger topper is a bonus.
Hits: Two of the most over-hyped food trends in recent memory are avocado toast and açai bowls. And yet, we’d return to the Corner Beet for those very dishes. The former — simply named “Avocado” on the menu ($8) — seems to have been inspired by Jackson Pollock, arriving at your table with a sundial of sweet drizzled honey and plentiful specks of spicy red pepper flakes decorating the smashed avocado and crunchy-crusted bread from Golden’s Grateful Bread Company. (Add an egg for an extra $1.50.) There are four açai bowls on the menu. The Superfood version ($13.50) tops a purple, pureed berry and banana mixture with sliced banana, goji berries, fresh berries, coconut slivers, chia and hemp seeds, bee pollen, granola and drizzled honey. It’s a filling, bright, can’t-finish-it-in-one-sitting order. (All dishes can easily be made vegan, and there are plenty of gluten-free offerings, too.)
A glass case at the counter showcases the treats of the day, and we’d recommend snagging something to take home. Everything on display except for the baklava (produced by Denver-based BKLVA) is made in-house. Recently, the selection included matcha-ginger cookies ($3), lemon-lavender-blueberry muffins ($4) and the showstopper, a pair of crumbly sugar cookies stuffed with a swoon-worthy honey buttercream ($3).
Misses: There’s not much to fault the Corner Beet on. Dishes are smart and not overly complicated. The Miso Fine salad ($11) did suffer from cough-inducingly salty tofu (perhaps the kitchen got too excited about the tamari glaze) and went too heavy on the house-made sesame dressing. Otherwise, the mix of cucumber, pear, pickled daikon and carrots topped with almonds was beautifully presented and balanced the ingredients well.
Service: It’s order at the counter, grab a seat at the Corner Beet (sorry for the rhyme). Staff greets everyone like an old friend, and the napkins and silverware are always stocked. However, the team does seem to get overwhelmed on occasion. A matcha chai ordered became a matcha latte delivered. And, an issue that should be rectified quickly: We did experience some issues — not discovered until later — with dishes showing up as a different (higher) price on our bill than they were listed on the menu.
Bottom Line: The Corner Beet is a gathering place for its Capitol Hill neighbors, but its inventive, homemade bites are worthy draws for anyone in the city who’s seeking a meatless meal.
Price: Açaí bowls ($9.50 to $10.50); Toast ($5 to $9); Salads ($4 to $12); Pastries ($3 to $7); Coffees and teas ($2.50 to $6.50); Juices, smoothies, and kava ($6 to $12)
Fun Fact: In November, Hazamy opened Rooted Heart Yoga & Wellness next door. The boutique studio has room for 13 mats. Students get a discount at the café and vice versa.
Restaurant Info: The Corner Beet, 1401 N. Ogden St., 720-295-4447; cornerbeet.com. Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday. Reservations: Not accepted. Parking: Street parking
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