If hearing “vegan food” conjures images of a bland scoop of lentils, plate of unembellished mixed greens or humble bean patty doing its best ground beef impression between a whole wheat bun, it’s time to reevaluate.
The annual Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is back for its second year, running from Sept. 11-18, with more than 20 restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks and pop-ups showing off their best vegan offerings. For plant-based eaters, it’s an opportunity to try someplace new. For the vegan-curious, it’s an opportunity to explore the delicious possibilities of a diet without meat, dairy or honey.
Most offer a prix-fixe multicourse menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But some restaurants are offering a single course meal with accoutrements. Please note that any references to dairy products such as “cheese” or meat such as “sausage” in the descriptions are vegan versions.
All menus are on phoenixvegan.com. But, these 11 stood out from the rest, either for the selection, value or both.
Both lunch ($20) and dinner ($33) menus come with fresh squeezed house-made lemonade. Choose an appetizer of an egg roll filled with creamy mac and cheese, candied yams and collard greens, or deep fried corn on the cob topped with house-made sauces. A Cajun seafood boil with sausage, corn, broccoli, scallops and potatoes; and Nana’s Soul Special with barbecue ribs slow smoked over hickory and glazed with barbecue sauce, deep fried chicken, creamy mac and cheese, collard greens, baked beans and cornbread are entrée choices. Dinner includes a choice of southern peach cobbler or Granny’s fluffy and moist pound cake with a touch of cheesecake for dessert.
Details: 777 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler. 480-963-9490, facebook.com/NanasKitchenC.
Giving Tree Café
Three menus will be offered daily at Giving Tree Café. For breakfast ($15), begin the day with buckwheat pancakes topped with macadamia nut butter, fresh fruit and maple. The meal comes with coffee or tea. Take a lunch ($20) break with a barbecue jackfruit pancake stuffed with spicy mac and cheese and jackfruit topped with mashed potatoes with sweet mustard, barbecue sauce and maple. It comes with a choice of Superfood soda. For dinner ($33), choose from five different Krunch Raps (original, Korean BBQ, Mediterranean, Big Maxx or breakfast), that comes with a side of turmeric cauliflower with mint chutney and blueberry cheesecake for dessert.
Details: 2024 N. Seventh St., No. 111, Phoenix. 480-630-0200, givingtreecafe.com.
This family-owned eatery with El Salvadoran roots specializes in hearty comfort food dishes from throughout Central America. Stop by any of its five Valley locations throughout the day for all day dining options. For breakfast ($15), enjoy country diced potatoes with bell pepper, tomato and onions served with casamiento rice, plantain slices, refried beans and two thick handmade corn tortillas or a pupusa. Add a JUST Egg if you like for an additional cost. A two-pupusa lunch combo ($20) features a choice of pupusas with beans, squash, spinach or a combination of two, served with two sides, curtido (slaw) and salsa. It comes with agua fresca, vegan horchata, tropical fruit salad beverage, Jamaica or tamarindo. Dinner ($44) starts with a tamale with chipilin and cheese and is followed by a choice of chile relleno, rice, beans and two handmade corn tortillas or a pupusa. A bean-filled plantain empanada is dessert. Dinner comes with agua fresca, vegan horchata, tropical fruit salad beverage, Jamaica or tamarindo.
Details: 12550 W. Thunderbird Road, El Mirage. 623-225-7442. Other locations at salvadorenorestaurant.com.
Both lunch ($20) and dinner ($33) menus come with a beverage choice of agua fresca, hibiscus tea or Dragon’s Blood (strawberry, pineapple, coconut water). Both also include an appetizer of elote, tapatio crema, Tajin and cheese, or queso dip and chips along with an entrée. Choose from four main course options including a tempura cauliflower taco with pico, slaw, crema and cheese; Chickpea Chorizo Dilla made with chickpea chorizo with fried potatoes, pico and cheese; the Papa Verde Dilla with potatoes, diced green chiles, pico and cheese; or a bean burrito with Spanish rice, crema, onion, cilantro, cheese and grilled chiles. Dinner also includes a churro for dessert.
Details: 1339 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix. 602-399-4024. Other location at dillalibre.com.
La Locanda Ristorante Italiano and La Locanda Italian Bistro
Both sister restaurants will offer the same four-course dinner ($44) that includes a Vacanza cocktail made with luxardo aperitivo, fresh pink grapefruit juice and triple sec with a lemon twist. Traditional bruschetta with roma tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic drizzle is the opener. A spring greens salad with carrots, red onion and dried cranberry with citrus vinaigrette follows. Choose between linguine with garlic sauce, sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives or penne arrabbiata made with a spicy Italian plant-based sausage and roasted garlic tossed in a spicy tomato sauce. Ponder a “cheeze” cake with strawberry coulis or lemon sorbetto for dessert.
Solar, a Vegan Eatery
Located in the Tempe Food Court, head here for lunch ($20) or dinner ($44). Both come with non-alcoholic Sangria Senorial. The two-course lunch menu starts with a mixed green salad with charred corn, red bell pepper, cucumber and roasted cherry tomatoes topped with crispy paprika onion strips and served with chipotle ranch. A choice of three entrees follows: two jackfruit enchiladas in corn tortillas topped with nut-free cheese and served with mild green salsa; a burger composed of two Impossible beef patties seasoned with the Spanish house blend and topped with choice of melted pepper jack, chunky hatch chile pico de gallo or green salsa aioli; or two green shredded jackfruit tacos deep fried in white corn tortillas topped with the house lemonade coleslaw and herb cheese dust with a side of green salsa. The dinner menu includes the salad and entrée options plus choice of appetizer: mini empanadas stuffed with jackfruit simmered in a red chili blend and served with lime and pepper guacamole; or charred jalapenos stuffed with cheese, herbs and smoked paprika panko. A mini chimi stuffed with banana vanilla pudding and tossed in cinnamon sugar with a side of warm dark chocolate and caramel is dessert.
Details: 1900 E. Fifth St., Tempe. 480-862-9065, solarveganeats.com.
A succinct offering ($20) satisfies with Sloppy Josiahs made with ground Where’s the Beef, grilled onion, garlic, peppers and sloppy sauce on a potato bun. Flash-fried Louisiana brussels sprouts tossed in southern hot sauce joins the party. A peaches ‘n cookies ‘n cream shake also incorporates Oreos and whipped cream for good measure.
Details: 3301 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 480-239-6983, beautburger.com.
Freak Brothers Pizza
A three-course menu ($25) starts with the family recipe for Lebanese hummus paired with two oven-finished pita breads. For course two, the Sophisticated Vegan 12-inch pizza is anchored with a house-made pesto base, Miyoko’s liquid vegan mozzarella, sausage, rainbow cherry tomatoes, arugula, feta crumbles and MiaBella balsamic. Choose from three locally-made desserts: sea salt brownie by Sugarloaf Lane Bakery; churro cupcake by Positively Frosted and chocolate chip cookie by Yum AF Bakery.
Details: 901 N. First St., Phoenix. 602-354-7723, freakbros.pizza.
This vegan street taco food truck will fill you up with the loaded Barbacoa Vegano Plate ($15). Jackfruit and mushrooms are slowly cooked in a red chili stew with potatoes and green olives. Refried beans cooked with soy chorizo, Mexican cold pasta and three corn tortillas are part of the deal.
Details: 2144 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. aztacosveganos.com.
Simon’s Hot Dogs
A three-course menu ($20) begins with a starter choice of chili mac empanadas, roasted peppers and potato empanadas or Maduritos sweet plantains. For the main, consider the Lebanese Dog with tahini, tabbouleh and garlic sauce; a dog topped with sweet corn and barbecue onions with parmesan or a Southwest chili slaw dog with chipotle mayo. They come with a side of macaroni salad, dirty fries with cheese, bacon bites and ranch or chipotle sweet potato. An alfajor, a popular Latin American cookie, is dessert.
Details: 4280 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale. 480-426-9218, simonshotdogs.net.
Steep Tea Company
Two options await. Breakfast ($15) features the breakfast bao with a lotus leaf bun filled with seasoned tofu and sausage potatoes topped with pea shoots. Lunch ($20) includes a lotus leaf bun bao with chicken, cucumber, carrots, crushed peanuts and barbecue sauce and three crispy vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce. Both come with a choice of beverage: pistachio matcha latte, maple peanut butter café latte or the Dragon #7 made with organic green tea, unfiltered apple juice and lemon juice.
Details: 960 W. University Drive, Tempe. steepteacompany.com.