Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Southwest Fiesta!

We recently returned from our Southwest Vacation. We Started in Sedona, AZ, drove north to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and then east to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM. Here are the vegan-friendly restaurants we found:

This little gem was in Sedona, AZ. In addition to great food and sweet service, we also got to stand in line behind the local artist whose fantasy paintings decorated the restaurant (no Jeff Goldblum or Ted Danson, but still fun). Our first day at D’lish, I got a huge BBQ Seitan Sandwich that was drenched in sauce. Jim got a Tostada which was barely visible under the fixins that topped it, but was really good. Also they had a fantastic Tempeh Salad. The Hummus was OK, but we're spoiled with our NY Israeli joints. The next day we got massive Burritos. Oh, and did I mention Truffles? How do 5 Spice, Coconut, Ginger, and Curry Truffles sound? They should sound good because they, like everything we tried here, were D'lish! This was my favorite food stop of our whole trip. –Ev
Agreed! D’lish was my favorite joint out of all the joints we stopped at. I loved it. And the outdoor seating was really nice. -Jim

Mountain Oasis
Mountain Oasis was the first restaurant we hit in the college town of Flagstaff AZ. Mountain Oasis is not fully vegetarian but they are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. It's a cute place right across the street from Heritage Square at the heart of the historical district of Flagstaff. The staff was friendly and helpful. We had the Shiitake Spring Roll appetizer and Veggie Burgers. The rolls were great! The burger was a little mushy for my taste, but I tend to be picky about veggie burger texture. Overall, Mountain Oasis seems to make quality food and there are lots of yummy-sounding dishes on the menu I wish I could have tried. -Jim
This place was really cute. The Burgers, while mushy, were really tasty. They reminded me (in a good way) of meatloaf sandwiches I'd have as a kid. They were even better eaten cold in the hotel room.-Ev

Macy’s European Coffeehouse
Macy’s European Coffeehouse had the most NYC vibe of anyplace we'd been, which is to say it was full of young, artsy, aloof people with caffeine addictions. Our first day here we arrived when the kitchen was closed so we just had some Soup. It really hit the spot! The next day we came for a Vegan Waffle breakfast ($5 and deeelicious), and lo and behold they also had massive Cinnamon Buns which we promptly devoured. We managed a third visit swinging back from the Grand Canyon en route to Santa Fe and I got the Veggie Burger and Jim got a BLT. This place was great. Great food, relaxed atmosphere, and good drinks. –Ev
If I was a college student in Flagstaff I would hang out here often. Good food. Good vibe. -Jim

Dara Thai
We stopped for Lunch at Dara Thai in Flagstaff AZ. As you know if you read this blog, I love Thai food. And Dara didn't let me down. We got Garlic Tofu lunch specials and they were super savory and salty and good. The flavor actually reminded me a bit of Rice Ave in Jackson Heights, Queens, which is one of my favorite Thai places. They had a really decent-sized vegetarian menu in addition to the standard stir-fry dishes that can be ordered with tofu or vegetables, and the staff was friendly and understanding when we told them to hold the fish sauce. -Jim
Really yummy. We also got a noodle dish here to eat later on for dinner which was like a Thai noodle/Chinese Chow Fun mix-up. YUM!-Ev

Aztec Café
Aztec Café in Santa Fe was really cute and hippydippy. We met a really nice guy bundling all kinds of sage in the outside dining area. As for the food, the Salad was really big and tasty. We also split a Pesto Sammich and Hummus Sammich. I'd never had a Pesto Sandwich before, and I really liked it. It was on rye/pumpernickel swirl bread, so how can you go wrong? –Ev
I would have liked to try this place again. They didn’t have a ton of options but I think they had a couple of other vegan items, and it had a cute, laid-back atmosphere. -Jim

Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and World Café
It had been almost 2 weeks since we'd eaten Dosas when we got to Annapurna in Santa Fe NM, which is a long time for us, so we were pretty excited to go to Annmapurna. The first time we were there we ordered a dosa and some Dahl, which is an indian lentil soup. Well, it was nothing like NYC Dosas and Dahl, so that was a tiny bit disappointing, but it was still tasty. Everything seems fresh and healthy at Annapurna, and their Soy Chai is the best I've ever had (like, by far). We went back the next day (that's a good sign) and tried an Uttapam and TLT sandwich and enjoyed them. I'm guessing this might be the place to go if you're a vegan in Santa Fe since the menu is huge and all vegetarian/vegan. Also, it's a nice big space with some cool private booths where you sit on the floor on pillows. Oh, and they have some tasty vegan desserts! -Jim
They also had Masala Fries. So good! One server was not so nice (or just having 2 really bad days), but the owner was really nice. They also have another location in Albuquerque. -Ev

Flying Star
When in Albuquerque, eat all three meals at Flying Star Café. At least, that's what we did. The hours never quite lined up for us to try any other places, but we really enjoyed the food here. For lunch, and breakfast the next morning, we got the Vegecado, which was black beans, brown rice, green chiles, salsa and tofu with a soft tortilla to wrap it in. YUM! For dinner we had the fried Soy Chicken Burger on a roll with avocado and usual burger fixins. We also split the Mediterranean knosh which was hummus, olives, bread, and veggies. Although I was sad that I never got to try the vegan soft-serve at Vitality juice Bar, the Flying Star treated us well! –Ev
Albuquerque has a lot of vegan places. It’s a shame we only got to try one. Flying Star is actually a local chain and they’re not exclusively vegan or vegetarian, but they definitely had some good vegan options. -Jim

The Bottom Line
I can't help but make an unfair comparison between our Southwest vacation and our trip to Austin TX last year. We ate a lot of good food on this trip, but I wasn't quite as impressed with the food on this trip as I was with the food in Austin. But that comparison isn't fair! Why? Because we were jumping from city to city on this trip and didn't have time to explore like we did in Austin. The fact is, we found a lot of great vegan food on our trip despite the fact that we were in a constant rush. Imagine how much more we would have found if we had more time! Overall, I’d say veganism is definitely alive and well in the Southwest, and I would love to go back and find more vegan restaurants that were hiding from us. -Jim
We did a lot of hiking on this trip. I think for a few days we just lived off of Lara bars and water. I remember having an arugula salad at a hotel and thinking "AHHHH! Food with texture and moisture! YAY!" This was a very different experience for us. It was the first time we didn't have a big city as a destination but got to see many smaller ones. Also, we're probably going to make a trip back to the Grand Canyon, but that would just yield a review of Lara bars. -Ev