I was sad to see the Phoenix Coyotes’ season end after round one of the NHL playoffs. Not only will I miss yelling Pruuuuu and Korpedo as loud as possible, but we also finally found some place to eat vegan food at the Westgate City Center that doesn’t make us sick.
While my heart is and always will be in NY with the Rangers, the Coyotes slowly worked their way into my life this year for the first time since I moved to town. Because the trip from central Phoenix out to Glendale is way too long for us, my husband and I normally have to eat near the arena prior to a game. Here’s a recap of our sad adventures in vegan dining, along with the final happy vegan food option that we discovered during the playoff season.
Our first attempt to find vegan food near the arena was a total gut-bomb. We have, on occasion, enjoyed a Johnny Rockets Streamliner (vegan Boca burger), along with some fries. We truly appreciate that they list specific information for vegetarians on their site. However, getting served there prior to a game A. takes way too long, and B. the food prep clearly shows signs of being rushed. And, I don’t know about you, but slamming an undercooked vegan burger and cold fries kinda makes me ill for hours to follow. So, we decided against trying that ever again before a game.
Despite my husband’s sixth sense with these things, I suggested that on our next trip we try Moe’s Southwest Grill. We ordered their “Art Vandalay (vegetarian)” burrito minus the cheese and sour cream, and with the guac on the side. The menu offered tofu as an option, so I asked for that. I got a funny look followed by “are you sure?” Some confusion ensued, including an ingredient listed no longer being included (maybe the guac?) because tofu substitutes for it (despite it not saying that on the menu). And then came the joy of them saying, “Well, it will take awhile” and hearing calls go out to the cooks to get tofu from the walk-in freezer, because apparently it wasn’t ready and waiting like the rest of the ingredients. That means no one ever orders it, which is a bad sign. Then, the geniuses on the food line went ahead and made the guts of the burrito long before the tofu was cooked, and decided to “keep it warm” while waiting for the tofu by putting it in some kind of quesadilla heating device. The result? Nasty barely cooked and flavorless tofu in a lukewarm burrito with soggy heated lettuce. Oh, and the salsa we tried with the chips was inedible. It tasted like vinegar. I got a big “I told you so” from the hubby after that one…
Our next adventure in west-side vegan dining was a win on both the flavor and quality front, but tested my patience because I’m a “we have to get there in time for warm-ups” kind of hockey fan. After the previous two food fails, we decided to stick to safe territory and go to the Pita Jungle near the Arrowhead mall. Pita Jungle has never disappointed me. We had a lovely Macro Platter and consumed gallons of their delicious iced tea. It went down very well, and stayed down well too! But… it just isn’t close enough to the arena to be a regular. We’d have to work an extra 1.5 hours into the evening to accommodate going there.
For the next game (and Paul McCartney concert), we explored the food “options” within the arena itself. I saw that Tortilla Flats had a bean burrito that they could make with no cheese. Aside from it tasting as bad as you’d expect for arena food, we immediately got gut-aches. It’s just no fun to endure a sour stomach during a hockey game. “Never again” came from my husband’s mouth on that one. I think that for the next few games we decided to make a quick Daiya cheese crisp at home before leaving for the game, and then just eat fries and pretzels at the arena (with the assumption of vegan-ness, not the confirmation of…). The first time we had fries they were good, but the next time they were awful. I also learned that the regular pretzel shape is far superior to the braided pretzel. I have no idea why, it’s just the way it is.
Finally, as we reached the playoff season, we parked in a different area and walked by Which Wich. I’d never heard of it before, so we stopped and looked at the menu. Who would have thought that a sandwich shop would be vegan heaven in Glendale? Not only are there multiple vegan options to pick from on the #6 vegetarian bag, but their website’s nutritional info makes it very easy to see what is vegan and what is vegetarian. The black bean patty is unfortunately not vegan. I highly recommend the hummus sandwich on wheat though – it’s toasty, good and left me feeling great! My favorite part of eating there is being able to select exactly what I want on my sandwich – no mystery condiments or veggies. I’ve actually started craving their sandwiches, which is going to be a problem since the Coyotes were eliminated on Tuesday night.
So in summary, I’m ready for the’10 – ’11 hockey season to start now since my teams are both out and I want a Which Wich! There are a lot of other restaurants at Westgate too that we haven’t tried, but none looked vegan-friendly to me. Let me know if you’ve found something else vegan to eat out there as well. All tips are appreciated!
Related — My husband’s view of the Westgate via his blog: http://derrickbostrom.com/bostrom/2010/02/03/the-changing-face-of-phoenix/