Meet the Women Behind Denver’s Easy Vegan Restaurant

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Taylor Herbert and Alexi Mandoli, owners of Easy Vegan. Photo courtesy of Easy Vegan

Eat and drink

Feast on locally sourced seasonal vegan comfort food at this gay-owned and operated pop-up kitchen.


If you’re looking for delicious plant-based food that isn’t centered on health or diet culture, look no further than Denver’s newest queer, female-run restaurant, Easy Vegan. The fare, served in pop-ups around town, is exactly what the name suggests. Easy Vegan offers simple, vegetable-based specialties – think creamy honey-nut ramen, loaded baked potatoes, and gooey cosmic brownies – that will satisfy your cravings for familiar dishes, drinks and desserts. .

Co-founders and partners Alexi Mandoli and Taylor Herbert launched their business plan at the end of 2019, with the goal of opening a food truck in spring 2021. With Mandoli’s 15 years of professional experience in the kitchen at Catering by Design and Herbert’s surplus bar and restaurant management expertise at the now-closed LGBTQ + drag restaurant and bar M Uptown, the couple knew their dream of opening Denver’s all-new vegan hotspot was within reach. .

“We wanted to bring something different to Denver,” Mandoli said. “Too often we feel like we’re compromising our dining experience by eating plant-based foods. The options can be slim, boring, or seem like an afterthought.

In August 2020, women entrepreneurs officially launched Easy Vegan, much earlier than expected, due to the pandemic. After both losing their jobs in the hospitality industry, they decided there was no better time to bring a vegan dining experience to Denverites who were fed up with cooking at home. Herbert, a bartender at Asbury Provisions at the time, thought the University of Denver area gastro pub would be perfect for hosting Easy Vegan pop-up dinners. Before they knew it, Mandoli and Herbert were running a full bar, restaurant and kitchen in Asbury on their own for a limited capacity of around 25 guests at a time. During the first six months of operation, the Easy Vegan was a pop-up twice a week with a new menu every week.

Now, foodies can still find the year-round dinner club-style dinners in the Denver area (check Instagram and Facebook for times and locations), and enjoy a seasonally-priced menu. weekly. A seated dining experience typically includes at least five chef-led vegetable courses (including a fruity intermezzo dish between courses) and a full bar with featured cocktail pairings. Dinners sell out every time, so Mandoli and Herbert recommend reserving a table as soon as the menu drops.

The menus at the duo’s pop-up restaurants are a good taste of what they plan to bring to their permanent restaurant, which is slated to open next year in Capitol Hill, South Broadway or Uptown. The couple’s hope for Easy Vegan is that it delivers an interactive, whimsical, and unpretentious dining experience.

“Our goal is to reinvent vegetables beyond the constraints of health fashions and diet culture and create beautiful, delicious and exciting foods where you don’t feel like you’re missing out without a meat protein. , or even a meat substitute in the center of your plate, ”says Herbert. Guests can expect sustainably sourced vegetables from local farmers, as well as Mandoli and Herbert’s own 300 square foot garden. Be sure to keep an eye out for the creamy honey nut ramen – a newer menu item they’ll serve throughout the winter months – as well as various savory dishes like potato pierogis with gravy. with wild mushrooms, carrot osso bucco and kohlrabi and leek soup (new dishes are revealed almost daily on Instagram).

Next summer, you’ll also find the Easy Vegan Tent at select Denver Farmers’ Markets in City Park and on South Pearl Street.

“There are a lot of great vendors out there who do handhelds and meat substitutes really well, so we wanted to do something different,” says Herbert. “Our loaded potatoes quickly became public favorites. Who the hell doesn’t love a potato? “

Mandoli and Herbert always encourage customers to try any loaded potato on the menu, including the elote and pierogi varieties, as well as the umami-laden Japanese sweet potato topped with truffled taro chips, fried onions, seeds. black sesame and coriander. And diners can satisfy their sugar cravings with Easy Vegan Cosmic Brownie or Oat Cream Pie, both made with dairy-free ingredients.

Mandoli and Herbert plan to open Easy Vegan’s permanent restaurant in mid-2022, but in the meantime, check out a pop-up dinner to whet your appetite.

“We don’t just want to be a great vegan restaurant in Denver, we want to be a great restaurant,” Mandoli said. “Period.”

Stay up to date with the latest Easy Vegan pop-ups and takeout options at @theeasyvegandenver, theeasyvegan.com and [email protected]

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