By Josephine Morris, Food Policy Coordinator for the Humane Society
The American Southwest is known for its beautiful sunsets, wide open spaces, dry climate and vast mountains that reach farther than the eye can see. As more and more people move plants to the center of their plates, the Southwest has also become a hot spot for delicious flora-based cuisine. The food industry magazine Fast Casual reports, “Three-fifths (62 percent) of general population consumers say they consume meals without beef, pork, chicken or turkey at least once a week.”
Numerous large organizations in the Southwest such as Intel Corporation, Arizona State University and Dallas Independent School District are making big changes by moving plants to the forefront of their dining operations. This helps their employees and students eat healthier plant-based foods while lessening their impact on the environment. According to the Sierra Club, “Eliminating or reducing meat consumption in your diet is one important way to reduce your contribution to climate change, since animal agriculture is the single largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions from food production.”
Whether you travel to Arizona, New Mexico or Texas or call one of these states home, there are an abundance of outstanding dining choices for people looking to fill up on plant-powered meals.
Locations: 2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 8, Tempe, AZ 85281 2022 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Green is a funky and modern diner that masters comfort food and celebrates vegetables. They make their own plant-based meats for mouth-watering meals like the Black Jack Pita with blackened Cajun meatless chicken and artichoke hearts and the Argentine Po-boy with seitan steak and caramelized peppers. Save room for dessert and order a Cookies ‘n’ Cream Tsoynami which combines soft serve ice cream with Newman-O’s and organic chocolate. Rumor has it that Green is a favorite takeout spot for Bill Clinton and Madonna.
Location: 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 28, Phoenix, AZ 85048
Patrons can often see local farmers delivering their produce right to the counter. The café has expanded three times since it opened in 2010 due to popular demand. Their robust breakfast menu features plates like Wild Western Tacos that combine tofu, mixed vegetables, potatoes and cashew cream and their Lumberjack Sandwich with tofu, tempeh bacon and avocado have made this a local hot spot. Owned and operated by a mother-daughter team Cassie and Marlene Tolman, Pomegranate creates food that is a labor of love.
Location: 2990 N Campbell Ave #120, Tucson, AZ 85719
You will often find Sunny Holliday, owner and operator, behind the counter at Lovin’ Spoonfuls where she’s proud to offer an entirely plant-based breakfast, lunch and dinner in a warm atmosphere. For breakfast, the Stack O’ Pancakes is a must. Or you can pick from a variety of scrambles complete with meatless ham and home fries. Lunch and dinner offerings include plenty of options from pasta bowls and salads to burger baskets. Bring the littles ones to enjoy some Golden Nuggies or a Kiddie Pup.
Location: 2201 Silver Avenue SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 (two other locations)
Annapurna’s is where nature and organic food meet in the heart of New Mexico. Yashoda Naidoo, the restaurant’s owner and operator, aims to serve food as simple as possible. It shows in dishes like the Cauliflower Chapati Tacos, which are filled with crisp fried cauliflower, shredded veggies and sambal chili, and the Saag Paneer, a creamy, spiced dish served with house made cheese. The menu is robust and the varieties of chai tea are plentiful.
Location: 317 Aztec Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
When in Santa Fe, Indulge Café is a must stop for lunch or an afternoon treat. The Best Burrito Ever combines pesto, quinoa, black beans, corn and spinach into a giant tortilla that is sure to fill you up. Or you may want to start with dessert first since the Ma Chérie Bakery is located within the café. The bakery churns out double chocolate cupcakes with wild orange frosting, lemon cake with coconut crème filling and raspberry frosting and chocolate coconut sparkle cake with a cinnamon crust.
Location: 112 Dona Luz St, Taos, NM 87571
Located in the heart of Taos, El Gamal provides a unique vegetarian dining experience with Middle Eastern roots. Their food is made from scratch with authentic, worldly flavors. Start with some traditional favorites like dolmas, samosas, baba ghanoush, or tabouli. If you can’t decide, check out the sample plate with a side of hummus. The hummus is so popular at El Gamal, they have an entire bar dedicated to different varieties!
Location: 2421 Webberville Road, Austin, TX, 78702
If you’re in need of something unexpected and delicious in Austin, check out BBQ Revolution. This all- vegan food truck is dedicated to making the best in plant-based barbecue. It’s no wonder they have thousands of followers on social media with specialties like No Bull Brisket, Tempeh Ribs and Smokey Curls. You can top off one of the plant-based proteins with a side of BBQ Baked Beans, Mac N’ Cheeze or Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. With options this hearty and delicious, nobody will miss animal-derived meat.
8. Spiral Diner
Locations: 1101 N Beckley Ave, Dallas, TX 75203 & 1314 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104
Even in the Lone Star state, there’s a diner that serves plant-based, mostly-organic food. Spiral Diner opened its doors in 2002 and has become a favorite for herbivores and carnivores alike. Fresh favorites like the taco salad with Mexican quinoa, black beans, veggies and ranch dressing and comfort foods like The Cowboy Burger with homemade bacon and barbecue sauce make you want to return again and again. Shakes and sweet treats from their in-house bakery satisfy even a gargantuan sweet tooth. As if that’s not enough, Spiral’s beer list is extensive and breakfast is served all day.
9. Viva Vegeria
Location: 1422 Nogalitos St., San Antonio, TX 78204
Latino food is a must in Southern Texas. Vegeria does not disappoint. That’s why USA Today nominated Vegeria as one of top ten vegan restaurants in the nation. Vegeria embraces urban gardening, organic and seasonal produce and a farm-to-table mindset to create all-vegan, all gluten-free Tex-Mex favorites. The sweet potato poblano flautas and tacos with garbanzo chorizo and calabaza are local favorites. Ask for a glass of the coconut horchata to complete the Tex-Mex experience.
This is just a sampling of the many vegetarian restaurants in the Southwest that serve up delectable food. Many traditional restaurants are incorporating a variety of vegetarian menu items which makes it easy to follow the Three R’s of eating: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards no matter where you choose to eat.
What would you add to this list of best vegetarian restaurants in the American Southwest? Please share in the comments below!
About Josephine Morris
Josephine Morris is an outreach coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States Farm Animal Protection campaign. She works with schools, universities, health care companies and corporations to serve more plant-based foods. Josephine has several degrees from Arizona State University and she completed a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in June 2012.
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