No Vortex for Vegans in Sedona

I was hoping to avoid ever having to write a negative post about a vegan restaurant in Arizona. However, my recent experience at ChocolaTree Café in Sedona left me with no choice.

ChocolaTree Vegetarian Restaurant

With the demise of D’lish, the only other 100% vegetarian restaurant in Sedona, former raw turned vegan restaurant ChocolaTree became our focus for a day trip out of Phoenix.

The menu online looked promising enough, with a variety of standard vegan food options plus some interesting looking desserts. We arrived at about 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday, well past lunch hour, and found a line at the order counter of about six people. It was pretty clear from watching the not-so-streamlined order process that we’d be in for a bit of a wait. The counter person told the people in front of us it would be about 15-20 minute for any cooked food. Okay, no problem, we’re patient types. When it was our time to order, we selected a raw appetizer since we were hungry, a raw veggie sandwich and a cooked veggie burger, plus two deserts.

The small dining area inside was full, so we went to the garden in the back, which was nicely shaded even if the rickety patio tables/chairs were less than comfortable. It was pleasant enough, but the guy serenading his dining companions with folksy acoustic guitar tunes didn’t provide the type of peaceful ambiance I was after. Our next warning signal that our experience at ChocolaTree wasn’t going to go well came in the form of a seminar taking place on the ground next to us on fasting and cleansing. Aside from not wanting to hear about the importance of “poop” while I’m waiting for my meal, the more they talked about not eating, the hungrier I got. From looking around at the other tables full of people with no food, it felt like the entire restaurant had decided that fasting was the way to go that day.

From what we could tell, there was one person serving all the food, and she was stressed. She brought free appetizers to everyone else in the garden to apologize for the wait, but completely ignored us. We watched as various people got up and went inside to complain, came back with desert before lunch, etc. and then we eventually started to see some food come out. Forty-five minutes later, our raw appetizer of Thai Spring Rolls emerged.

ChocolaTree Thai Spring Rolls

Truth be told, they weren’t bad, but then again, we were starving by that point. The coconut-curry wrap was interesting and different from anything I’ve had before, but the massive amount of sprouts with a few other veggies inside the wrap left me cold (and still hungry). The sprouted nut dipping sauce was intensely garlicky, but palatable.

I lost track of how long it took for our lunch entrees to emerge, but it was probably another 15 minutes. My husband stuck with the safe option of a veggie sandwich.

ChocolaTree veggie sandwich

As you can tell from the picture, sprouts must be on sale in Sedona. There was nothing interesting or unique about this sandwich, other than it being vegan, and I suppose the $9 price tag for $1.50 worth of veggies is worth a comment. The sprouted grain bread was decent enough though.

My choice was the veggie burger.

ChocolaTree veggie burger

That thin red layer at the bottom of all those sprouts and lettuce is the veggie burger. It didn’t taste bad, and it was definitely unique, but all I could think of was “where’s the beef” while I rapidly consumed it.  It seemed to be beet-based, but the sandwich also had a tomato blend on it which added to the flavor. I certainly wouldn’t drive to Sedona for it again, but it was at least creative.

By this time (about 1.5 to 2 hours later), we just wanted to get the heck out of town, so my husband went inside to ask for our desserts to go. This wasn’t a problem, because the desserts we ordered were pre-packed. When we got home, we started eating our slices of double chocolate ganache cake and coconut cream pie. Both tasted horrible. To quote the menu, these deserts were supposed to be “pure vegan nourishment homemade with natural sweeteners.” But, to add insult to injury, we looked at the ingredients listed on the to-go containers and found that both contained honey. Seriously? They weren’t even vegan! Sorry, no pictures. They went straight into the trash. Later, I found a review of ChocolaTree’s chocolate online that asked what I thought was a very relevant question: “It’s not supposed to taste like ass, is it?”

After having so many good vegan dining experiences around the world, going back to a 1972 stereotype of what a vegan is supposed to eat (i.e. sprouts) was an incredible disappointment, especially in Sedona, “town of enlightenment.” I’ll always give a restaurant an initial pass on poor quality service, but given the total bill for our meal was over $50 and the dessert wasn’t vegan, I just can’t recommend going there and will certainly never go back unless someone can convince me that I’m wrong about this place. Other folks have written positive reviews of ChocolaTree, so maybe I just caught them on a bad day. But clearly there has to be some place good for vegans to eat in Sedona. I just haven’t found it yet. I welcome any feedback on other places to try in town.

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7 Comments

Filed under Travel, Two Legs, vegan food

7 responses to “No Vortex for Vegans in Sedona

  1. 4legsgood

    Yes, it was! Especially the dessert!

  2. Nikol

    I ate at D’Lish a couple of times before it closed but I’ve never been to ChocolaTree. Last time I was in Sedona for a sketching class I ended up eating hashbrowns with spinach and tomatoes for breakfast each day at a diner and bagels with almond butter for lunch. You should try Rene’s next time you go. They have a great vegan Seitan Wellington and I love to eat dinner there.

  3. YogaLove

    Wow! What a strange review – I mean I eat there every day and it’s the best vegan/vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to! I hope you’ll give it another change! I’ve never heard of someone having a bad experience there!

    • 4legsgood

      Thanks for the comment – I’m glad to hear our experience wasn’t the norm. Maybe we caught them on a bad day? They were clearly short-staffed. I checked out their site and it looks like they’re no longer claiming that their deserts are vegan (clearly stating that they use honey), so that’s a start. I’m planning another trip to Sedona so if I can, I’ll give them another try. Do you have any other recommendations for vegans in Sedona?

  4. Juniper

    Hi Friends!

    What a strange experience! I’ve never had an unpleasant experience there… in fact it’s the only restaurant I eat at in Sedona!
    The ingredients are truly the highest quality around…. the integrity….atmosphere…. Taste…. Delicious!
    All organic, gluten/sugar/dairy free nourishments.

    I hope you’ll give it another try when you come to town and let me know what your experience is!

    Blessings

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