Vegetarian Phoenix: 10 Great Spots for Fresh, Bold Flavors in the Valley



Whether you're craving pizza, sammies, burgers or your favorite ethnic cuisine, the Phoenix vegetarian restaurant scene boasts a pretty impressive selection of healthy, delicious and meatless dining options. Forget about trade-offs: the flavors at these ten Valley restaurants are bold, fresh and delicious. Chances are that even dedicated carnivores won't blink twice at the lack of rib-eyes or pork chops on the menu at these inviting restaurants. 

Consider Green New American Vegetarian, one of the city's most popular vegetarian cafes, where the staff dishes out sandwiches, burgers and po-boys that rival their meaty counterparts in taste and heartiness. The noodle bowls and gourmet salads are especially popular. 

The Loving Hut, an international vegan restaurant chain with two locations in the city, offers an extensive menu of meatless dishes, including Asian entrees, American classics (try the Hawaiian Burger), and luscious desserts.

For fresh eating on the go, skip the fast food drive-thru windows and stop at Pita Jungle, a favorite gathering spot for health-conscious locals, where the large menu of wraps, salads, burgers and entrees offer a wholesome yet tasty alternative to junk food. 

If you're looking for a nice lunch spot with an eclectic selection of vegan and vegetarian fare, check out Desert Roots Kitchen in Tempe. The menu is always changing, but you can depend on fresh fare and a pastry case full of goodies. 



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Flower Child is the latest chic restaurant from Fox Restaurant Concepts. The operating philosophy is fresh, healthy fare, with a decidedly vegetarian bent. But even die-hard carnivores should find something to satisfy their hunger here. The eclectic menu has a wide selection of fresh salads, whole grain wraps, sandwiches, vegetable plates, soups and bowls. The ambiance is hip, fun with a good dose of chic. Start with the Asian Avocado salad, the corn quinoa, or the avocado hummus. All are excellent. For an entree, try the pho, which is fragrant with fresh ginger, basil, and cloves. There is also a large selection of baked goods, with many gluten-free options.


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Desert Roots Kitchen is a vegan and vegetarian cafe tucked away in a colorful alley in downtown Tempe. Chef and owner Leslie Robin dishes out hearty and delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine featuring fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. The menu changes frequently but often features pasta salads, rice and bean dishes, vegetarian tamales, vegetarian chili, soups, mixed greens, hummus, and an array of vegetarian deli items. Deli meals are prepared and ready for voracious diners. Only covered outdoor seating available, but there's plenty of shade to be had for an enjoyable, healthy and delicious lunch. The cafe is also known for its delicious homemade desserts. Only open for breakfast and lunch, but it's worth making a pit stop if you're in Tempe.


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Although not strictly a vegetarian restaurant, the Persian Garden Cafe offers a great selection of Persian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian and Vegan cuisine. Appetizers include Middle Eastern classics such as hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and baba ghanoush, done here with simple yet fresh preparation. Get a little of everything with the Vegetarian Sampler, which comes with hummus, tabouli, falafel, and dolmeh served over both brown and white rice, fresh veggies and homemade naan. The cafe offers a unique stuffed acorn squash falafel, and don't miss the fresh herbal salad served with lentil soup. Don't miss the chai tea, which is rich yet refreshing.


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"You don't have to be a die-hard Yogi to dine at True Food Kitchen," is the house motto at True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale. Even if you don't consider yourself a health nut or foodie connoisseur, chances are you'll find something to love on the eclectic (and healthy) menu. True Food Kitchen has built a menu based on the principles of anti-inflammatory eating, where food is used to repair the damage caused by the daily stress of living. That doesn't mean the food is not delicious. Take a bite out of the Turkey Lasagna, which is stuffed with fresh spinach, creamy ricotta cheese, and organic tomato. The eclectic menu also includes gluten-free pizzas, salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes and more. There's also a long list of nutrient-rich smoothies and fine wines.


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This regional chain is a favorite with local foodies and health-conscious enthusiasts. The large, eclectic menu features wraps, salads, burgers, wood fired pizzas, and several delectable sides, as well as a small but very satisfying dessert menu. Try the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus for starters, a house favorite, or dive right into the wraps menu, which features hot and cold selections, including Mediterranean Roasted Chicken, Broiled Chicken Pita, Gyros, Falafels, and even a Philly Steak Pita. Seasonal specials include the Wood-Fired Fresh Salmon, Wood-Fired Chicken, Mahi Mahi with Pita Chips, Chicken Del Sol, and Chicken Tikka Masala. There is also a drink menu featuring beer and wine.


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Even if you're not vegetarian, you'll appreciate the fresh, flavorful cuisine at this Vietnamese and Pan-Asian cafe. There are nine items on the "Lunch on the Run" menu, and you really can't go wrong with the selection of aromatic, tasty lunch plates. Regulars speak highly of the Spicy Lemongrass Tofu, featuring sauteed tofu with lemongrass, green and white onions, all simmered in a savory curry coconut sauce. The Kung Pao Soy Chicken offers a spicy take on the Chinese classic that is exciting and filling. Lunch on the Run selections include rice and a small side salad, perfect for eating healthy on the go.


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This all-vegan restaurant features a diverse menu of American comfort food and ethnic specialty dishes. Fresh ingredients and ingenious preparation ensures that even the most ardent meat-lover won't miss a thing. Appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, desserts, and variety of specialty beverages can make it hard to pick from the extensive menu. Try the Hawaiian Burger, made with the house soy patty, pineapple, onion, mushroom, vegan butter, teriyaki sauce, lettuce, tomato, and veganaise, served with a side of crispy French fries. The Sweet & Sour Divine entree, made with soy protein, bell peppers, pineapple, carrot, onion, and sesame seeds sauteed with the house sweet & sour sauce, is also a winner.


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Once a humble downtown Phoenix food truck, Short Leash Hot Dogs is now one of downtown Phoenix's most-loved local eateries. The restaurant specializes in gourmet hot dogs - but these are not your typical ballpark hot dogs. They come wrapped in toasty, pillowy naan bread and topped with an assortment of unique, fresh ingredients. For example, there's the currywurst, a knockwurst sausage slow-cooked in a tomato and onion curry broth and then topped with crunchy onions. The results are playful and delicious. New hot dog specials grace the menu regularly. Don't miss the "Rollover" menu, featuring a delightful mix of gourmet donuts, including the infamous "The Bear" doughnut, a smoked gouda and bacon donut filled with peanut butter custard and topped with cracker jacks. The flavors are initially confusing, but ultimate a palate-pleaser.


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Pomegranate Cafe
Photo courtesy of Pomegranate Cafe


 

Delicious meets nutritious at this Chandler-area gem. Healthy, wholesome, yet still delectable, brunch and lunch selections are artfully created and served using only the highest quality ingredients. Try the Breakfast Burrito, made with your choice egg or tofu, seasonal veggies, harvest hash, Anasazi beans, vegan or cheddar cheese and then wrapped in a spinach tortilla and served with the house salsa. French toast is an art here, and the a selection of fresh baked goods is available for you to take home. If greasy breakfasts are not your thing, head to the Pomegranate Cafe, where flavor and quality combine for a perfect first meal.


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Vegetarian comfort food? That might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but the loyal following of foodies who lunch at Green understand exactly what that means. Po-boys, sammies, and burgers are thick and juicy and loaded with toppings--and all made with 100% vegan cheeses and mock meats. Specialty salads include Jerk Tofu Salad, Ranchero Salad (featuring vegan bbq wings), and a tasty Balsamic Picnic Salad. Appetizers, Asian-inspired bowls, and flatbread pizza are also on the menu. Try one of Green's homemade lemonades or limeades with your lunch or dinner. Even diehard carnivores will love the huge selection of comfort food favorites.


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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