Can the Meat: The Top 5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Phoenix

PREVIOUS POST Can the Meat: Top 5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Atlanta
NEXT POSTCan the Meat: The Top 5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Boston

Ever heard of Meatless Monday? It’s a a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, to reduce individuals’ meat consumption by 15 percent. The hope is, with scientific study backing it up, that by cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health and reduce our carbon footprint. Whether you’re looking to go meatless on Mondays (or any other day of the week), or are a dedicated vegan or vegetarian, here are the Top 5 restaurants to enjoy some tasty dishes sans meat.

1 Pomegranate Cafe

Pomegranate Cafe may be fairly new (it opened fall 2009), but it's already won us over. This charming neighborhood cafe was established by mother-daughter team Marlene and Cassie Tolman and appropriately serves nutritious, family-friendly food with wonderful presentation for breakfast and lunch. And these women know their stuff: Both are graduates of prestigious culinary schools and involved in children's food programs in the community, and Cassie is hard at work on a kids' cookbook. The menu items at Pomegranate are made with fresh, organic ingredients that come from local farms and artisans. For breakfast there's homemade granola, toast with pomegranate jam, crispy tofu, an avocado sandwich, berries and cream parfaits and more. For lunch, we like the quinoa tabouli salad, the ultimate "un-chicken" salad with crispy tofu strips, garden burger and Buddha's Bowl of veggie stir-fry.

4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 28, Phoenix, AZ 85048 480.706.7472 web

2 Green New American Vegetarian

Green's chef Damon Brasch first fell in love with fresh ingredients and fresh homemade food cooking with his grandparents in their kitchen. And when you eat at Green, you'll most definitely recognize that kind of handmade quality and care in the food, no matter what you order. Everything served is 100-percent vegan, described by Brasch to be new American comfort food, but we'd like to add something to that. We think "new American" now means multicultural and eclectic, because we've tried everything here from edamame and vegan chili fries to classic flatbread pizza and coconut curry rice bowls. But whether you get a po-boy, sammie, burger (try the mexicali) or one of the more Asian-inspired tofu and rice/noodle bowls, rest assured that whatever comes in contact with your taste buds is going to pack a lot of flavor, flavor, flavor.

2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 8, Tempe, AZ 85281 480.941.9003 web

3 True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen focuses on sustainable, good-for-you food, featuring lots of fresh produce and whole wheat breads and pastas. Executive Chef Michael Stebner strives to achieve a wholesome balance in all his globally inspired dishes, having created an entire menu based on the principals of Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet and food pyramid. The restaurant partners with local McClendon's Select, the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, and the Town and Country Farmers' Market in order to bring the very best local produce to its tables and patrons. The restaurant, located in Biltmore Fashion Park (with a second location to open by the end of 2010 in Scottsdale Quarter), serves brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert and a kids' menu, as well as an impressive selection of wines, beers, sakes and cocktails that are either organic, sustainable or made with organic and sustainable ingredients. Those who want their food to be vegan, vegetarian, or even gluten-free are in luck here, as True Food offers something for everyone, and has marked their menu accordingly so you can find exactly which dishes adhere to your preferences.

2502 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 135, Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.774.3482 web

4 Bombay Spice Grill and Wine

Bombay Spice Grill and Wine creates delicious traditional Indian dishes using all the wonderful spices Americans have known to come and love: cumin, turmeric, coriander, saffron ... But they manage to prepare these tasty entrees without the use of butter, ghee or cream, instead using minimal amounts of 100-percent extra-virgin olive oil to reduce the fat and cholesterol content and shift their focus to authentic cuisine that's heart-healthy and nutritious. Their roti and naan breads are made fresh every day, and they grind all their precious spices on a daily basis as well. Almost all menu items are gluten-free and vegetarian or vegan, and include such wonderful items as tofu masala, spicy veggie curry, chickpea curry, cumin potatoes, seasoned lentils and vegetable biryani.

10810 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85028 602.795.0020 web

5 Cafe Lalibela

Have you ever had Ethiopian cuisine? No? Oh are you in for a treat. Cafe Lalibela has been open for business in Tempe since 1998, serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes in the Ethiopian tradition. Choose a wat or several, a wat being a stew-like sauce made from vegetables, meat or both, and it will be served on a platter accompanied by injera, a thing crepe-like bread made from Ethiopian grains. You'll then tear off a piece of injera and use it to scoop up the wat. Enjoy. Repeat. It's easy! And did we mention quite delicious and satisfying? Vegetarians will like the Azifah wat (lentils with onion and green pepper), the Shiro Wat (ground peas with garlic and ginger, onion and berbere, the Tikil Gomen wat (spiced cabbage with carrots and potatoes) and others. You can choose exactly which ones you want, or you can order one of the suggested combinations off the menu, such as the Vegetarian Exclusive combination, which will allow you and friends to try a little of everything. The traditional teas here are amazing, hot or cold, to enjoy along with your meal.

849 W. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281 480.829.1939 web

connect with haute living National