Update: I’m even more sad to say, the Scottsdale location didn’t make it either. They’re closed! I hope they open up somewhere in Central Phoenix again, but with Cafe Rio now on Camelback & 20th, I doubt it will be near me.
One of my saddest food days this year was when I learned that Kokopelli Mexican Grill closed its Camelback and 20th St. location in the Biltmore area of Phoenix. My co-workers and I visited this locally owned counter-serve restaurant at least once a week to grab a quick and healthy lunch. Nearby Baja Fresh, Chipotle or even That’s a Wrap can’t replace Kokopelli for me. My loss is my husband’s gain however, as the restaurant relocated close to one of his workplaces in North Scottsdale, at 14747 N Northsight Blvd. in the Northsight Crossing Center. But for me, it’s now a Saturday-only option and I’ve only made it there once since they moved.
Kokopelli provides fresh ingredients and fast, no-hassle service, which was perfect for my busy workday. Plus, the menu offers multiple items that can be made vegan if you leave out the cheese and sour cream. I always stuck with the vegetarian burrito though.
Navigating Kokopelli’s burrito assembly line was a ritual for me. “Vegetarian burrito, whole wheat, black beans, add lettuce, green sauce, no cheese or sour cream, chips and salsa, one hot one mild.” The result was a simple but great vegan meal. While other nearby chains offer similar items, they can’t beat the fresh-made salsas, just-fried chips and slow-cooked beans at Kokopelli.
When I visited Kokopelli recently, the restaurant was completely dead – we were their only customers. But my husband assures me they get plenty of weekday lunch traffic. Maybe they’ll do well enough in their new location to open a second one in the Biltmore area again someday!