It may not be the healthiest of states to be vegan in, but as Nick Abell finds, it tastes pretty great.

Not many people think of the deserts of Arizona when they think of vegan food… and that’s understandable. We’ve been a little behind of the times, but thanks to our vegan-friendly neighbour California, plant based business is booming in the valley.

 

Arizona

 

Now, I’ll admit that I’m a little biased. I have been living in the ‘Valley of the Sun’ for over 10 years. That being said, our selection of vegan fare has always been a tad underwhelming. Not anymore! Currently, we have over 15 strictly vegan restaurants (plus 16 vegetarian places). Best of all, most are new additions to the vegan scene.

Let’s start our journey in Phoenix, Arizona — specifically, in the ‘Art District’ (known as 7th Street in Downtown).
Here, you will find an entire street dedicated to local, artisan, and largely plant based food. What more could a vegan ask for?

First on our list is Green New American Vegetarian. These guys are no joke, in fact they have been awarded PETA’s number one Faux Chicken Sandwich in the US. Green is the restaurant to go to if you’re craving greasy, vegan comfort food. We’re talking: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Spicy Buffalo Wings and their signature dish: The Big Wac. The perfect menu to convince non-vegans that missing out isn’t necessary any more.

Aside from the food, Green also has a sister bakery called Nami. Specialising in all things vegan pastry, coffee and ice creams they are most known for the world-famous tSoynamis: a vegan blizzard-style soſt serve mixed with all sorts of vegan goodness. Think of all of the sweet things that you occasionally love to treat yourself to after a hard week at work — gummy worms, cookies, peanut butter, chocolate syrup — if it’s got sugar in it, it’s usually here.

Next on our list is a restaurant situated right down the street from Green: The Coronado. This eatery got its name from the historic neighbourhood — The Coronado District — it resides in. If there’s such a thing as hipster heaven, this is it. This is a restaurant that specialises in producing artisan dishes that still provide all of the same, fabulous flavour, only slightly fancier. The restaurant itself is quite surreal to eat in, as it’s an old house that’s been renovated into a restaurant, meaning you literally feel like you’re dining on someone’s front porch. A great and novel touch!

The Coronado nails it with their brunch menu: Tofu Scramble Burritos, Biscuits and Gravy and enough vegan baked goods to see you through until Christmas. Best of all, they manage to create brilliant flavour combinations that you’d never think to make yourself — their Golden Turmeric Oatmeal Cookies are delicious.

 

The Coronado

 

For the last stop on our trip, we’re heading to the suburban city of Mesa. Downtown Mesa finally has its first 100 per cent vegan sandwich shop: Volstead Public House. For those who don’t know, the Volstead Act was the US act that enforced prohibition. Why would a sandwich shop be named after such an atrocity? Quite simply, their basement used to be a speakeasy — it’s history right under your feet.

This café deals with all things vegan grilled cheese with coffee to wash it all down. The laidback coffee shop vibe of Volstead is ideal for relaxing, and it is where I am frequently to be found working on my laptop whilst enjoying a tasty sandwich.

 

The Volstead Public House

 

Right next door to the café is the world famous Nile Theater, a venue operating since the twenties. Visiting the café, it is clear to see how much they honour the history of the building. The exposed brick, vintage fixtures, and historical pictures all tie into a wonderful time-travel kind of experience.

So there you have it — three delicious recommendations of restaurants to visit if you ever find yourself in sunny Arizona, from somebody who knows them well. It may not be the healthiest of places to find vegan food, but we can finally call ourselves a vegan-friendly destination!Being vegan may be difficult, but thank goodness you don’t need
to worry about seeking out food options in Arizona any more. There’s plenty of choice here.

• Nick Abell is a vegan recipe developer and photographer for blog Serving Realness. He has been vegan for seven years and lives for sharing his love of food.

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