Downtown Phoenix has been a question mark in my mind since moving here 13 years ago. I grew up in Central Florida, where despite suffering from the same suburban sprawl as Phoenix, downtown Orlando was where you went at night for everything – food, bars, dancing, sports, theater, music venues, people-watching, etc. In Phoenix, if there isn’t a ball game going on, downtown is usually empty at night. However, thanks to a few entrepreneurial restaurants and merchants, that’s starting to change.
Jamaican restaurant The Breadfruit, which opened on Pierce and 1st St. in 2008, is one of our favorite vegan-friendly downtown dining destinations.
While the menu is limited for vegans (and they eliminated a vegan entrée since we were last there), what they do offer for vegans is clearly marked, and very good.
During our most recent visit, I ordered the House Tropical Salad, which makes for a fun light meal.
The salad includes typical spring mix lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. What makes it great is the fresh pineapple, chocho (a Jamaican fruit) and totally unique dressing. The dressing combines orange zest with ginger and poppy seeds to create a slightly textured, bright vinaigrette with a tiny hint of spice.
My husband got the main vegan entrée, Coconut Curried Tofu.
The tofu looks/tastes more like seitan but is soy-based protein chunks. The curry is very mellow compared to the heat levels I’ve previously experienced with Jamaican foods. The dish also comes with three vegan sides: rice and peas (red beans), coconut steamed veggies (cabbage, green and red peppers), and roasted sweet (ripe) plantain pieces.
Other vegan items on the menu include Plantain Avocado Spring Rolls, Festivals (sweet bread sticks) and Chutney, and I think the corn on the cob is also vegan (but make sure you ask what they put on it). They have a Jamaican patty that is vegetarian, but they aren’t sure if the crust ingredients are vegan. I believe the Sweet Potato Pudd’n desert is also vegan, but haven’t tried it yet since it violates my “vegetables are not desert” policy (I know I have issues). The first time we visited, they had dumplings which could be made vegan. We were the only ones there so they made a special vegan curry sauce for us that blew our minds (and noses). It’s not on the menu though, so we haven’t had it since.
The Breadfruit also features a host of fresh-made juices, teas and Caribbean soft drinks. It’s BYOB (with a corking fee) but they’ve applied for a liquor license so that may change soon.
While I’m still looking for something to do in downtown Phoenix after dinner aside from First Fridays, drinking at the revolving bar at the Hyatt, or going to Modified, at least I’m down there more often now. The Breadfruit is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays.
For an out-of-towner’s review of the Breadfruit, visit Portland’s Stumptown Vegans blog. We’re going to visit Portland this summer so I’m using this blog as a way to pick out which of the many vegan places to try. Got any recommendations for us?