March 18, 2015

Great Greek Food in Boulder – including Gluten-Free and Vegetarian!

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Update: We are sad to announce that Volta has closed its doors.

With great pleasure we recently learned that Boulder has a Greek restaurant, Volta, that serves a number of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. Indeed, almost everything at Volta can be made GF, and the vegetarian dishes are abundant and easy to discern on the menu. The restaurant has actually been open for over a year, but we only recently found out about it and wanted to share our discovery with our readers. We have also been in contact with a server at the restaurant who gave us some details about the gluten-free and vegetarian options, and these will be helpful to keep in mind if you decide to visit Volta.

Volta is near the intersection of Canyon and Folsom, within the orbit of McGuckins – it is only about 100 feet north of the hardware store and within the same block. It is right by a Charles Schwab, which might be easier to see from Canyon depending on your approach. The name of the restaurant is the transliteration of the word “βόλτα” into the Latin script. After a somewhat extensive conversation with a Greek friend via Facebook, we decided that the best way to render “volta” in English would be something like “perambulate” – i.e., “walk around” or “stroll.”

The publisher of this site, Anne P. Mitchell, went to the restaurant about a week ago. She reported that the food is good, and that the restaurant has an admirable awareness of, and sensitivity to, the gluten-free diet. She also had an excellent server, Leigh, who basically knows every contour of the menu, and we corresponded with her to find out exactly what gluten-free options are available. She explained the situation clearly and succinctly, so we’ll quote her explanations at length:

“As far gluten free items on the current menu, everything is naturally or can be made gluten free other than the moussakas (veg and lamb) the spanakopita (these are premade and cannot be changed) and the pasta dish. We change our menu frequently, so a guest should always ask about options. For example, the calamari salad is currently breaded and fried and the saganaki is dusted with flour, but we can easily pan sear the calamari and dust the saganaki in rice flour. For the most part, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine is gluten free, other than the bread of course. We don’t currently offer a GF bread option, but can serve cucumber slices with the dips, etc.”

She goes on later to explain that the “kitchen is very open to accommodating changes,” so the bottom line is that if you want something gluten-free and it is possible to do this, the kitchen can accommodate you. Leigh didn’t mention this, but having worked in restaurants ourselves, we feel compelled to note that any substantial modification, even if it is technically possible, probably shouldn’t be requested during a particularly busy time, like in the middle of the Friday dinner rush, or whenever else Volta’s receives the most traffic. During this periods, it is best to stick to the menu, especially since so much of it is gluten-free by default.

The vegetarian dishes are also explained well by Leigh: “As far as vegetarian dishes, it should be fairly obvious from the menu except for the dishes with which people may not be familiar…skordalia (dip with mashed potatoes, walnuts, garlic), saganaki (sheep’s cheese flambe), gigandes (greek lima beans with tomato sauce and feta), spanakopita (phyllo with spinach, onions and feta), etc. There is not a lot of ‘hidden’ meat or gluten in our dishes as they are traditionally made with local and/or organic ingredients.”

Basically, what you see is what you get, and the only trick is to understand what you are in fact seeing. And this really shouldn’t be too hard because the menus seem reasonably informative – it is not as if they just list the name of a Greek dish and leave it totally unexplained – and your server can help clear up any confusion. If you are eating gluten-free or vegetarian, you’ll have to be in dialogue with your server anyway, especially because the menus are always changing, so an explanation of some Greek words won’t be much of an added burden.

If you are interested in checking out the restaurant’s menus, they can be found on the Volta website. There are several different menus listed on this page, but there is overlap between them, so while their selection is diverse and the menu you use will depend on when you visit, there aren’t hundreds of dishes to sift through or anything like that. If you plan on visiting and want specific directions, this is the address to search for:

2480 Canyon Blvd.
Boulder, Colorado 80302

Overall, if you like Greek food and are gluten-free or vegetarian, or both, Volta is definitely worth checking out.

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Great Greek Food in Boulder - including Gluten-Free and Vegetarian!
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With great pleasure we recently learned that Boulder has a Greek restaurant, Volta, that serves a number of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes.
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