Perhaps you’re contemplating a vacation to the scorching Southwest (my Christmas was spent bathing in the 70 degree sunshine, thank you very much), or maybe you’re simply wondering what kind of vegan options exist in an otherwise conservative region of the country. I’m here to tell you that, at least in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, vegan-friendly restaurants abound. Finally, denizens of the desert can celebrate plant-based fare with a burgeoning landscape of fresh salad, vegan sandwiches, and soy ice cream. During my brief visit home, I made sure to take advantage of all my favorite neighborhood haunts.
True Food Kitchen, 15191 N Scottsdale Rd #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85016
On Christmas Eve, my father and I decided to forgo the traditional Tofurky roast and mashed potatoes, opting for a starter of grounding miso soup, followed by the restaurant’s signature Shiitake & Tofu Lettuce Cups. Paired with a Spiced Apple Sidecar, it was a perfect meal.
Nourish, 7147 E. Highland Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Before a day of post-holiday shopping, my family and I ventured to a relatively new vegan-friendly establishment. While Nourish features a number of meat-laden dishes, the restaurant also specifies what menu items are vegan, vegetarian, raw, and paleo. I chose the Raw Veggie Burger (containing a mix of veggies, hemp, flax, and sprouted seeds) with pesto dressing and a side of the Raw Beet Carpaccio (red and gold beets, avocado, walnuts, tahini, and lemon). It was a light and nourishing meal indeed!
Pita Jungle, 1001 N 3rd Ave #4, Phoenix, AZ 85003
Perhaps my favorite restaurant in the greater Phoenix area, Pita Jungle relies on fresh, seasonal vegetables to create tantalizing appetizers and entrees. Their house-made hummus is the best I’ve tasted. On this visit, I tried a seasonal special: wood-fired mushrooms in adobo with quinoa and baby kale.
Green New American Vegetarian, 2022 N 7th St Phoenix, AZ 85004
For those that prefer meat analogues and traditional American fare, Green New American Vegetarian is for you. I had a ladies’ lunch with my mom and sister, and we positively swooned at the options (everything at Green is 100% vegan!). My mom ordered the Artichoke Chicken Salad (left), I selected the Spicy Peanut Chicken Salad (middle), and my sister opted for the Wendy’s Pickle (right). Though we were too full for dessert, the Phoenix location features Nami, its sister coffee shop next door. Check out the menu here, which features every espresso under the sun, soy-based “blizzards” (called Tsoynamis–the restaurant’s namesake), and a variety of pastries.
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Photo: Molly Lansdowne