If you – like most Americans – are constantly trying to eat healthier, one of the best things you can do is eat less meat. There are a lot of statistics to back this up, but here are just two:
The average American male (who eats more than 200 pounds of meat a year) has about a 50 percent chance of dying of a heart attack. Cutting that intake in half also cuts his risk in half.
The average woman who eats meat daily is three times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who eats meat once a week.
So why don’t Americans eat less meat? Well, one prominent reason is a widespread perception that vegetables, fruits and whole grains can’t taste as good as a juicy steak.
But chances are the typical restaurant-goer hasn’t tried many, if any, of the vegetarian options available nowadays. From faux-meat dishes to ethnic fare, here are nine East Valley restaurants where the vegetarian food is so delicious you won’t miss that steak:
2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe 480-941-9003 greenvegetarian.com
Owner/chef Damon Brasch’s 100 percent vegan eatery is a favorite of vegetarians and meat lovers alike. The spicy buffalo “wings” (pictured) dare you to tell the difference from the real thing, and the BBQ “chicken” sandwich has been named the best faux-chicken sandwich in the country by PETA. Another menu favorite is the spicy peanut “chicken” salad with miso vinaigrette dressing. Be sure to save room for one of the tSoynamis (think DQ Blizzards) made with vegan ice cream.
Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen
4980 W. Ray Road, Chandler
This friendly, fast-casual eatery boasts a menu with a whopping 88 vegetarian items, including 14 kinds of dosai (rice crepes) and nine curry dishes. Start with a bowl of rasam (spicy lentil soup) or samosa (potato, onion and peas in a flaky crust), then move on to house specialities like parotta kurma (a multi-layered bread with mixed vegetable curry) or channa batura (puffy bread with garbanzo bean curry). Halwa, a pudding of almond paste and carrots, provides a sweet finish.
6140 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler
What started as Sasha Raj’s simple juice bar – with just five juices and five smoothies – has evolved into a full-fledged vegan-vegetarian bistro and bakery. The breakfast menu offers vegan Eggs Benedict and fruited quinoa. Lunch options range from jalapeno poppers (baby bell peppers stuffed with spicy almond cheese) to Thai coconut curry pita pizza (pictured) to a daily veggie burger. Pastries include eggless cupcakes and organic seasonal pies.
4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee
(480) 706-7472 pomegranatecafe.com
This neighborhood cafe from mother-daughter team Cassie and Marlene Tolman challenges the stereotype that healthy food is bland or boring. The breakfast-lunch menu changes constantly, but stalwarts include a quinoa tabouli salad, a BLT sandwich (pictured) made with tempeh bacon, a stir-fry tofu-and-veggie bowl and Tacos Vivos (walnut meat wrapped in green leaves). Wash them down with a juice cocktail or no-sugar-added fruit smoothie.
1250 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe
1949 W. Ray Road, Chandler
1431 E. Williams Field, Gilbert
1850 W. Southern, Mesa
Three ASU grad students looking for healthy restaurant options near campus launched this full-service Mediterranean restaurant in 1994, and it has since grown to 13 Arizona locations. The menu of salads, pitas and wood-fired lavosh pizzas live up to its slogan, ”The art of eating healthy.” It’s one of the few locally owned restaurants that lists complete nutritional information on its website.
Cornish Pasty Co.
960 W. University Drive, Tempe
1941 W. Guadalupe Road, Mesa
Pasties (pronounced PASS-tees) are hand-held turnovers that were eaten by tin miners in Cornwall, England, for hundreds of years. Although the sturdy pastries traditionally were stuffed with meat and potatoes, Cornish Pasty’s menu features a full page of vegetarian options, including balsamic-marinated portablla mushroom, eggplant parmesan, Mexican vegetarian ground beef and even peanut butter and jelly (pictured).
Cheba Hut “Toasted” Subs
960 W. University Drive, Tempe
1710 Southern Ave., Mesa
This cannabis-themed sub shop, which debuted near ASU in 1999 and has grown to 14 locations in six states, offers a half-dozen veggie sandwiches, including the Humboldt (guacamole, sprouts, lettuce, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers, pickles and your choice of cheese), the Majic Mushroom (teriyaki-glazed portbella) and the Griefo (hemp cream cheese pepper jack). Enjoy a hemp brownie for dessert.
1804 E. Southern Ave., Tempe
This Mill Avenue fixture for 16 years recently moved into slightly larger digs at McClintock and Southern but still serves the same delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The roast lamb and chicken shawarma are rave-worthy, but non-meat eaters will be just as happy with dishes like vegetable sunbusek (fried dough filled with potatoes, onions, peas and carrots), vegetarian moussaka (sautéed eggplant in a tomato sauce) and sabzi (a blend of spinach, onions and whole black-eyed peas).
849 W. University Drive, Tempe
This family-run eatery’s authentic Ethiopian cuisine consists of a shared platter with injera, the country’s crepe-like sourdough bread, covered with different types of spicy stews called wats. Diners simply tear off pieces of injera – use the bread served on the side, not under the wat – to scoop up the wat. Lalibela offers a dozen wats, seven of them vegetarian. Recommended are the tikil gomen (cabbage, potatoes and carrots) and yekik alicha (yellow split peas and onions).
Post Author: Jess Harter, MxSW. Mouth by Southwest