Vegan@Large Roadtrip: Arizona

Monday, December 28, 2009

Seeing as how we're getting ready to move to the other side of the world (in less than a month!! Holy crap, what am I doing blogging when I should be packing?!?!?) we thought this winter break we'd take a chance to take in the most All-American sight there is: the Grand Canyon.

On Saturday we drove from my parents' house in Henderson about five and a half hours to the South Rim. Along the way we saw the Hoover Dam, a whole lot of mountains, and disappointingly no Elk, despite what roadsigns kept promising us. It really is pretty amazing and breath-taking, though I might have enjoyed it a bit more had I not been so cold and dizzy (I get terrible vertigo). The pictures can't really do it justice -- it's something you have to see for yourself.

By the time we drove another two and a half hours to our hotel in Sedona we were starving. We had planned to eat dinner at D'Lish, a vegan restaurant whose website claimed they were open till 9:00. When we got there at 7:45 they wouldn't serve us and told us that they were closing because it was slow. Hmm... sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was pissed, but luckily Tim had spotted a sign for another vegetarian eatery from the road.

So we turned around and to check out ChocolaTree which was a complete 180: cozy, friendly and inviting. The meals were fairly standard salads, soups and entrees. Tim got a veggie burger and I had a "Fiesta" plate of quinoa, beans, salsa, and tasty guacamole. Everything was super fresh. I liked that many of the dishes had options to be raw or cooked. Something for everyone (if everyone is a hippie). They also had some yummy raw desserts (like this pecan pie) and sold a ton of chocolates. Most are made with honey unfortunately, which seems like such an arbitrary non-vegan ingredient to cling to. But we grabbed a few made from agave.

The next day we decided to give D'Lish another chance. The website said they opened at 10 and we pulled in around 11 only to see the "Closed" sign in their window. Tim walked up to see if we had misread their hours, but it turned out that there were people inside who were marginally nicer and let us in this time. Oddly, they kept the "Closed" sign up the entire time and thus we were the only diners. I think someone needs to help these guys with their marketing.

Anyway, we split an herbed tofu wrap and a tempeh BLT and I was underwhelmed. It's 2009. Not every vegan dish needs to have sprouts on it. When you add an "S" to BLT it becomes a B.S.LT. Ya know what I'm sayin'? But, for a small town, it's hard to complain about having multiple veggie options. Sedona is an adorable mountain town with views to die for, but definitely not for the hippie-fearing. Lots of crystal shops and liberal use of the word "mystic."

We decided to fly out of Phoenix, thinking a bigger city might have better veggie options. We drove two hours to Tempe because I wanted to have dinner at Green, a restaurant I'd heard great things about and had an awesome menu. But alas, they are closed on Sundays. Foiled again!

Instead we ended up going to Blue Nile Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant with extensive vegan options, clearly marked. In fact, on Sundays they also have a special organic, raw menu. We stuck with splitting a ten dish veggie combo. Lentils, chickpeas and stewed veggie galore. It was a wonderful meal to end our trip. You can see all the photos from my Christmas vacation here.