On rare occasions, local vegans find themselves in a location where they can truly have it all: excellent coffee and tea with nondairy cream and milk, specialty health drinks, a range of sweet and savory delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and dessert.
Usually, this happens at a 100% vegan or plant-based restaurant. Sometimes, though, all of these things can be found at a mainstream eatery — meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, as well as tofu, vegan cheese and plant-based milk. And that’s the case at Javalato, a charming new spot in northeast Colorado Springs.
The “Java” is for coffee and the “lato” is for gelato, and you’ll get both at this quirky venue that seems to be a coffee house and an ice cream parlor but also a juice bar, Chinese teahouse and even a daytime eatery that happens to be open until 9 p.m. It’s the latest dining concept by Tanya Baros, owner of Yellow Mountain Tea House in Old Colorado City, and it works.
On my first visit, I arrived early for breakfast. Opting for an oat milk latte ($3.50), I was pleased to learn the trendy, grain-based milk is made in house. Creamy yet light, the robust cup of caffeine did its job. The plant-based breakfast options vary from fancy blackberry toast with house-made cashew ricotta ($10) to acai bowls ($9) to smoothies and juice ($5) to my top choice, the vegan burrito ($9). The large, hot-pressed flour tortilla bursts with vegetables. Heavy on potatoes, the burrito is peppered with spinach, squash and onion and served with salsa verde and pico de gallo. A bowl of fresh fruit comes on the side and rounds out a colorful plate.
For a healthy boost post-breakfast, consider a cup of warm Ayurvedic moon milk with almond or oat milk ($5.50) to make it vegan (they do not use honey). The pink moon milk is visually stunning from the red roses and purple dragon fruit and fragrant from the cardamom. My preference, however, is the savory gold moon milk; the earthy turmeric and cardamom balance with the sweet notes of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla.
I returned for lunch, as so named on the menu. Javalato is open until 9 p.m. and you can order anything from the menu at any time. Since coffee and gelato are the driving force of the cafe’s name, I started with a nod to Italy: the vegan panini ($11). Hot-pressed like the breakfast burrito, its base — locally made bread — is colorful thanks to the house-made arugula pesto. The peppery leafy green is a great stand-in for traditional basil in the verdant sauce and lightens up the more complex sautéed (nearly caramelized) onions and mushroom. Served with a small strawberry spinach salad (hold the cheese), this is an incredibly filling meal. Equally so is the nod to the teahouse side of the establishment: the vegan noodle bowl ($11). The enormous serving is overflowing with rich broth, lamian noodles, bok choy and perfectly fried tofu. Pro tip: Slurp it fast because that delicious, piping hot broth continues to cook the noodles when left to sit.
Your toughest decision at the end of any meal at Javalato might be this: Just which vegan gelato or sorbet scoop shall you try? And try you can, as tasting spoons are available to help make that crucial decision. While the flavors change frequently, there are always several vegan flavors. From the coconut to the toasted almond to the dark chocolate pomegranate, the focus on fresh and real ingredients is apparent.
Javalato is one of the few places offering an early-morning (6 a.m.) vegan breakfast — a hot meal that, like the brunch and lunch options, is healthfully designed and thoughtfully prepared. I will confess, though, that what draws me back in is the cafe’s namesakes: coffee and gelato.
Because I can never say no to a hot, robust cup of coffee and a cold, rich scoop of vegan ice cream.