Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tediberto’s: Vegan and gluten-free Mexican food in downtown Phoenix

<Note: Sadly, it looks like Tediberto’s has closed as of mid-December. Hopefully they’ll be back! I crave the nachos.>

Tediberto’s , a new vegan and gluten-free Mexican restaurant on Roosevelt and First Street, has a unique vision. The restaurant presents patrons with a club atmosphere, and the late-night hours to match. Tediberto’s offers an authentic craft cuisine that makes it distinctive both as a vegan dining experience and as a Mexican restaurant.

After much anticipation among Phoenix’s vegan community, Tediberto’s finally opened for business earlier this summer. We’ve made it there three times, and each time the menu had expanded and offered new items for us to try. The latest version of the menu has adopted a “tapas” approach, offering the widest variety of dishes yet.

Tediberto's menu

Rather than describing our experiences during each visit, I’ll just run through everything we’ve tried so far. I’ll start by saying that everything at Tedi’s is very spicy – which I love and appreciate, but it may not work for everyone. Items can be made “gringo” style, but even that has a kick to it.

The No Whey Jose Nachos are a must try.

Tediberto's no whey jose vegan nachos

We’ve had them twice, and they’ve been consistently good. The vegan chorizo is robust and spicy. Although I personally prefer a Daiya-style melted cheese topping on my nachos (okay, on everything), the queso provides enough of a gooey texture to satisfy the vegan cheese lover in all of us.

The chips and salsa are also excellent.

Tediberto's chips and salsa

Tedi’s salsa is fresh and full of chopped jalapeno. The chips are a bit generic, but more than substantial enough to support all the toppings.

We were served salads on our first two visits, but for some reason, not on the third.

Tediberto's salad (with chips and salsa)

The salads were different each visit – one was predominantly kale, the other was cabbage-based. The salads weren’t highlights of the meals, but they provided a nice mouth cooler after the nachos or chips and salsa. They also reflect the fact that the restaurant  continues to tinker with its offerings.

We’ve tried two different types of tacos – La Borrachita and La Sirena.

Tediberto's vegan and gluten-free tacos

I highly recommend La Borrachita tacos, which uses the same delicious chorizo as in the nachos. Meant to emulate fish tacos, La Sirena tacos were too bland for my tastes but they might be good if you are looking for something less spicy.

On the first and second visits, the tacos were soft shelled, but on the third, they were fried/hard shelled. I’d recommend fried if you are given a choice!

Tediberto's la borrachita vegan and gluten-free tacos

The Tostada De La Tierra is a lighter dish featuring a mild mole sauce.

Tediberto's vegan tostada de la tierra

This one is probably another good option for the heat sensitive.

Another standout on the menu is the No Pesadilla Quesadilla.

Tediberto's no pesadilla quesadilla

Gooey, rich and chewy (and based yet again on Tedi’s signature chorizo!), this may be my favorite of their creations.

I also tried the enchilada.

Tediberto's vegan enchilada

I loved the unique rich red sauce, but unfortunately I was scared off by the chef’s “triple-Thai heat” warnings and ordered it gringo style. It could have been hotter for me. Next time, I plan to try it at full heat!

Last but not least, Tedi’s touted their onion rings special on their Facebook page so I had to give them a try.

Tediberto's vegan and gluten-free onion rings

Vegan and gluten-free onion rings are not an easy trick to pull off, but these were great. The curried ketchup, chipotle and mustard dipping sauces were a nice touch.

Tedi’s has the ambition and vision to become a staple in our dining rotation, and I’m rooting for them. But if you go in the near future, be prepared for a restaurant still in its growing-pains stage. The atmosphere is quirky, the hours are irregular and they continue to fine tune the menu items. Though they have attracted a dedicated following among the young club scene, they have a lot to learn about how to create an inviting dining experience for the average “off the street” customer. The staff at Tediberto’s has plenty of passion, youthful energy and enthusiasm. I really hope they make the transition from hip late-night hang-out to top-notch restaurant. I’d love to see Tediberto’s survive and thrive.

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Filed under downtown Phoenix, Two Legs, vegan food, vegan Phoenix

Sensational SoChu House: a vegan-friendly hot spot near downtown Phoenix

We’ve been fans of chef Johnny Chu since the first time we ate at Fate years ago. We loved the Asian tapas at Sens too, but missed the variety of vegan entrées available on the Fate menu. With the opening of SoChu House, we get the best of both worlds – and then some.

For starters, the parking is the best of all three locations. That may sound trivial but I just don’t travel with $3 worth of quarters on me usually. Also, the restaurant is in a larger space that still has a hip look and feel, but is much less cramped.

Chu’s flair for creating intensely flavorful sauces is still in full force on the SoChu menu. Previous favorites such as the red curry with tofu remain, but he’s added some new items and made slight changes to some dishes.

We always enjoyed the wide variety of fried tofu tapas on the Sens menu, but had a hard time picking one dipping sauce over another. The new SoChu Tofu tapas dish comes with two spicy sauces — pineapple ginger and sesame — so we no longer have to choose.

SoChu Tofu

Both dipping sauces are “I will save it to put on my rice later ” good. The pineapple ginger sauce is available on other items, but the sesame sauce is unique to this dish and not to be missed.

Our waitress told us all of the entrées can be made vegan with tofu, and Johnny stopped by to point out other vegetarian options on the menu as well. For the entrees, we tried a previous favorite plus an item that was new to us.

House Dynamite with tofu has been one of our default choices since the days of Fate.

SoChu House Dynamite with tofu

The flavor of the sauce continues to be terrific. It’s spicy with a hint of sweet. However, the kitchen may not be quite dialed-in yet at SoChu House. It was not as delicate as it used to be in terms of the subtlety of the flavor, variety of the vegetable mix and quality of tofu preparation (the breading was a touch soggy).

The Spicy Basil entrée with tofu may look similar to House Dynamite, but the flavor was distinctly different.

SoChu Spicy Basil Tofu

I thought it was spicier, and had a more robust, less sweet, sauce. The basil was strong but not overwhelming. Spicy Basil Tofu is also available in the tapas area of the menu, but might be a dipping sauce rather than with vegetables.

For those of you who have loved dining at Fate and Sens over the years – don’t worry, you’re still in safe hands! You can continue to enjoy most of the old favorites, but also try something new. I have my eye on the new Pepper Mint and Chili Citrus entrées, so we will have to head back soon. Or maybe instead we’ll try to get out to Chandler to try Chu’s Tien Wong Hot Pot or to The Mint in Scottsdale, but the Mint doesn’t look quite as vegan-friendly based on the online menu.

Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the adorable key chains they gave us with the check.

SoChu House key chain frontSoChu House Key chain back

Too cute! I’m guessing they were left over from the grand opening?

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Filed under downtown Phoenix, vegan food, vegan Phoenix