Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen isn’t kidding about the “vegetarian” thing. Of the restaurant’s nearly 100 menu items, not one contains so much as a trace of meat. Instead, you’ll find South Indian specialties such as uthappam (a crisp, dosa-like pancake) and a variety of curries made with stuffed eggplant, spiced cheeses, or marinated cauliflower. Finish your meal on a sweet note by ordering an Indian dessert such as gulab jamun or by going around the table and saying six things you like about each person there.
Tina says her restaurant is her second home, a feeling that grew during the days when she ran the entire kitchen alone and worked to make every guest feel like they "had been invited to her home for a dinner party," according to azcentral.com in 2007. For each platter of food set before her houseguests, Tina draws culinary inspiration from her childhood in Ethiopia, using sense memory to season simmering pots of lentils, grilled beef, and herb-crusted chicken. Instead of silverware or miniature loading cranes, Tina serves each meal with an accompanying basket of traditional injera, a tasty, spongy Ethiopian bread that allows diners to scoop out each sauce-laden bite without the need for silver-, gold-, or bronze-ware.
When Brad and Marcy Olsen opened Thrive Acai Bowls & Smoothies back in 2011, they envisioned a space that would focus on all aspects of healthy living—somewhere you could eat healthy foods and minimally processed supplements amid an active community of like-minded health professionals and businesses.
Acai—dark purple berries that are rich in antioxidants—are the foundation of Thrive Acai Bowls & Smoothies' main product, acai bowls. Each bowl contains a blend of frozen acai and other antioxidant-rich fruits, topped with granola and fresh fruit with a drizzle of honey. But what the bowls don’t contain is equally important: All acai bowls are dairy-free and can be made without gluten. They also contain no added refined sugars or highly processed nightmares. Thrive Acai Bowls & Smoothies also promotes healthy living with its selection of whole-food supplements. These can help raise the body’s antioxidant levels, which in turn may slow down the damage of cells by free radicals.
Food is medicine. These are the first words of Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House's vegetarian philosophy. It means that, just like prescription medication, the food we consume should be chosen carefully, as the wrong choice can hurt us and the right one can make us feel unstoppable. That's why they seek to feed (literally and figuratively) customers everything they need to achieve optimum physical and spiritual health, starting with Mother Nature's own ingredients. From the mainstays of their cuisine to the most scantily used spices, every element of Chakra's cooking undergoes strict inspection to ensure it is of the absolute best—and safest—quality. For instance, the chefs typically cull their ingredients from local and organic sources, but because many of the best spices come from abroad, the team rigorously tests each and every herb to ensure it's devoid of pesticides, heavy metals, and preferences for monarchical rule. Once ingredients meet the stipulated standards, the crew can get cooking. They make a variety of rich, flavorful, and completely vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan upon request, drawing on culturally diverse influences to create gluten-free chili, roasted-vegetable thin-crust pizzas, and Moroccan nomad stew laden with chickpeas and raisins. The café, however, is only half of Chakra’s offerings. A full health store abounds with bulk herbs, herbal teas, essential oils, and custom-made formulas and capsules made in-house. Owner Kita Centella, who has practiced herbal medicine since 1983, uses her training and experience in astrological herbalism to create medicines completely from scratch, taking into account not only the healing properties of each herb, but also the alignment of the planets.
The Phoenix New Times has long been a fan of Pomegranate Café, but the organic, vegan eatery gained a new admirer in 2013: Forbes Magazine. Forbes named Pomegranate Café one of its 10 Top Wholesome U.S. Restaurants—and for good reason. Owners and mother-daughter duo Cassie and Marlene Tolman fuse their respective talents to create healthy, meat-free dishes. Whereas Marlene focuses on nutritious baked goods, Cassie, a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Cookery School in NYC, enlists vegan philosophies to craft food that is as earth-friendly as it is nutritious. But despite the healthy focus, Pomegranate Café's fare never lacks in the taste or presentation departments. By sourcing seasonal ingredients from eco-minded local farmers and artisans, Cassie and Marlene ensure brunch eats such as banana-nut french toast come topped with fruit at the peak of freshness. The same goes for lunch and dinner, when sandwiches, wraps, quinoa bowls, and some house specialties take over the menu. Many avoid gluten, and others are raw, meaning all ingredients are uncooked, cooked below 115 degrees, or served in their original pixelated form. Favorites include a POM burger on an ancient grain bun, or a bowl of quinoa piled with avocado, walnut meat, and beans, along with the sweet juices and smoothies Cassie makes by blending together fresh fruits and super foods. For those who wish to learn how to create healthy food and live a wholesome lifestyle beyond café hours, Pomegranate Café also offers frequent classes taught by health and nutrition experts.
In 2008, brothers Yuen and Peter Yung opened the first How Do You Roll? restaurant, devoting it to inventive, customizable sushi. Since then, the eatery has expanded to multiple locations across four states—and in February of 2013, after they pitched their concept to the notorious panel on ABC's "Shark Tank," an investor decided to sink his teeth into helping the business grow even further. The shark-worthy idea? Chefs invite customers to build their own sushi rolls or bowls, beginning with white or brown rice, which can then be topped or rolled with ingredients such as raw spicy salmon, grilled chicken, avocado, and strawberries. Sauces such as wasabi mayo and toppings such as chili powder finish off each roll.
Other favorites at How Do You Roll? come in the form of preset combinations such as the Mango Tango, whose krab stick, salmon, vegetables, and mango salsa are assembled by a chef holding a rose in his teeth. The menu also caters to healthy-minded diners with low-carb bowls, gluten-free options, and 13 rolls that contain fewer than 300 calories apiece.