Zeal – Food for Enthusiasts, located in the heart of iconic Pearl Street, is “something special,” as described by owner Wayde Jester. Zeal is loaded with paleo, organic, local and delicious fare for enthusiasts and non alike. We visited the bright, modern bistro and were met with smiling chefs and baristas whose commitment to “real” food shone through at every angle to customers. Zeal offers breakfast, lunch, small plates, and dinner items as well as an extensive array of juices for the “conscious cleanser.” “Zeal” means great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. To say this definition fits is an understatement. Wayde Jester, in his own words, “shut the door on [his] old career … because [he] felt like Zeal was needed in this world.” Jester sought out to remedy the lack of quality, local and responsibly produced ingredients missing from the food scene, citing the expression “paying up to eat down.” He found that restaurants whose missions included serving healthy, unprocessed, and organic food items were often expensive and did not cater to the breakfast or lunch crowd. So, without having the “first clue about what it takes to run a successful restaurant,” Jester followed his gut and opened the doors to Zeal – Food for Enthusiasts. The rest is history. Delicious history.
Our first stop on the menu was the Cauliflower Wings ($8), sure to appeal to the pickiest of meat-eaters. The sauce is supremely Buffalo-style with a hint of lemon tahini that adds the perfect zing. This appetizer can be washed down with a “drink the rainbow” Juice Flight ($8). All juices are cold pressed, organic, and run on taps. We are not in Tropicana land anymore, Dorothy. This is pure, unadulterated Boulder. And we love it. Those who seek out zesty, tart treats will love the House Pickles & Ferments ($7), which consist of kraut, kimchi and a chef’s choice. Both plates are perfect for sharing with a group, making it easy to try multiple appetizer items.
For the main course, it does not have to be Tuesday to enjoy the Paleo Jicama Shell Tacos ($12). Loaded with chicken, beef or fish and a huge helping of flavor, these tacos can be shared as well (though we won’t judge if keep them for yourself). If tacos aren’t your forte, the Colorado Striped Bass ($19) is a local treasure, paired with fingerlings and grilled asparagus that looks almost too good to eat. Almost.
Zeal speaks volumes about community. The attention to detail surrounding all aspects of the food preparation allow for Celiacs, vegans, food allergy sufferers and “regular Janes and Joes” to enjoy a meal together without the worry surrounding the restaurant’s ingredients. This is where the “food for enthusiasts” subtitle comes into play. Jester’s explanation, “You don’t have to be one to enjoy Zeal, but for those that ‘get it,’ it’s so much more than just a meal out,” helps explain what keeps people coming back. Not only do the food dishes reflect the owner’s original vision of serving “a delicious meal that feeds your soul while nourishing your body,” so do the staff. Zeal is a team effort on every front, and when people come together for a common goal, the effect on the customer is profound.