Written by Meredith Allen

The Burrowing Owl: 3.5/5
1791 S 8th St.
4 p.m.—2 a.m.

The Burrowing Owl is one of two wholly vegan eateries in Colorado Springs and the sole vegan bar. Located at 1791 South 8th St., it is a bit far from campus, but if you have the means to get there, it is worth the trip. The Burrowing Owl offers customers the opportunity to pleasantly engage with a cuisine that has a certain stigma. Often times, vegan meals are seen as lacking in nutrition (particularly and wrongly protein), flavor, and a sense of heartiness. However, I think The Burrowing Owl does a solid job wooing tofu/tempeh skeptics and plant-based enthusiasts, alike.   

If you are of age, The Burrowing Owl maintains a pretty extensive drink list. For those who are avid beer drinkers, it is important to note that there are no on-tap options. With that said, the variety of canned beers available is impressive and each comes with a reusable koozie for a dollar extra. If you are in the mood for a hoppy craft beer or a simple PBR, The Burrowing Owl has you covered. It should be noted that the beer menu lacks detailed description, though. You will have to ask your server about alcohol content and flavor subtleties.

In regards to cocktails, the Vodka Gimlet offers a margarita-like choice, but is a bit too sweet. The Roots Bloody Roots, which is The Burrowing Owl take on a Bloody Mary, is served with delicious pickled vegetables, but lacks depth. It has a nice kick to it, but pales in comparison to Urban Steam or Over Easy. Because drinks are already pre-mixed in mason jars, it is difficult to request modifications. Next time I visit, I will try the Red Bush, which uniquely combines whiskey, rooibos tea, and rhubarb bitters.

When it comes to the food, The Burrowing Owl offers hefty portions. The Slopper is the go-to and can feed two when an appetizer or drink have been thrown into the mix. It features local King’s Chef green chili, which packs a spicy, but not too offensive punch. Prepare for a vegan cheesy mess and full stomach.

The Bread & Spread leaves room for improvement. I enjoyed the earthiness of the kale walnut dip, but its nutty base was on the verge of overpowering me. The rosemary white bean dip is too subtle and the spicy peanut dip seems it would do better mixed with rice noodles than bread. Overall, this dish provides a healthy option, though.

On the note of health, I would like to call attention to the fact that The Burrowing Owl is not the place to go if you are searching for a big bowl of greens. There is a Ranch Salad, but this place caters to a niche market: those searching for a little plant-based naughtiness. Sure, a jackfruit sandwich is a far healthier, environmentally sustainable, and ethically sound alternative to pulled pork, but The Burrowing Owl is not a health food store; it’s a bar.

I suspect that catering to this niche will prove profitable for The Burrowing Owl over time. Less than a year old, it relies on word of mouth over direct marketing. If you are interested in the menu and daily alcohol and food specials, you will need to check out The Burrowing Owl’s Facebook. There is no standard menu posted to Yelp or other review sites. Additionally, you can expect variation as the establishment evolves.

If you walk into The Burrowing Owl during the daytime, it will feel a bit dark, though there is an outdoor option for sunnier Colorado days. That same darkness, however, creates a sense of coziness at night. On their website, the bar notes that their “focus is open dialogue and listening.” I met a fellow customer who expressed he was a bit uncomfortable discussing meat or anything political in a place that totes “VEGAN AS FUCK” stickers. In regards to the political stigma of veganism, I would say fear not. Whether you enjoy a good flank steak or a macrobiotic rice bowl, The Burrowing Owl staff is warm and welcoming. If you have hesitations, I encourage you to go try the menu and engage with this new, reasonably priced business. I know I will be making my return for dessert.

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