Tag Archives: Daiya

Dallas does vegan!

While I wouldn’t call Texas a top vegan travel destination, it does offer some unique eats that always makes the trip worth it. On one recent visit to the Lone Star State, we trekked to Dallas and visited Spiral Diner & Bakery.

Spiral Diner Dallas

Spiral is the closest to Phoenix’s Green Vegetarian that I’ve experienced in Texas. It’s completely vegan, and serves “comfort food.” The menu has a lot to offer! I tried the Patty Melt.

Spiral vegan patty melt

It was a soy burger patty with melty Daiya cheese and grilled onions.

My husband is a sucker for vegan “barbecue” and got the Chopped BBQ San’ich.

Spiral vegan BBQ

The grilled seitan and barbeque sauce were sloppy and delicious.

Best of all was the desert. We had a slice of coconut cake.

Spiral vegan coconut cake

It was light, moist and the frosting was particularly great. Sprinkles!

Spiral is a bit off the beaten path of downtown Dallas, but it’s worth the effort to get there! We were sad that we weren’t there long enough to try them for breakfast.

As big as it is, I can’t help but feel there is a lot more to explore in Texas! If you have any vegan favorites, especially in Austin, please let me know so I can try them next time I’m there!

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New menu at Green and Bragg’s Factory Diner coming soon!

In case any fans of Phoenix’s Green Vegetarian haven’t heard the news yet, proprietor Damon Brasch has made some changes to the menu to start the new year. Gone are the flatbread pizzas, the Green burger, the meatball-oriented items (po-boy and bowl) and maybe a few other things I didn’t order frequently.

However, the additions more than make up for the losses. To start, the Big Wac is on the menu! I was never a fan of the non-vegan version, but Green’s is out of this world. It will be very hard for me to not get the Big Wac every time we go to Green.

I resisted the urge today (having already gotten one earlier in the week), and instead tried the Artichoke Chicken Salad, along with the Mac n Cheez from the kids menu.

Green's vegan artichoke chicken salad and mac n cheez

The blackened mock chicken in the salad was crisp and lightly spiced. I’m not usually one for a creamy dressing, but the light lemon flavor sat well with me.

The Mac n Cheez had a good blend of Daiya and what I assume was a homemade cashew cheese, which made it nice and gooey. I was surprised that there was a touch of garlic in it though, given it was for kids.

My husband’s choice may be a challenger to the Big Wac’s priority status. The new BBBQ Bacon Burger was messy and fabulous.

Green's vegan BBBQ bacon burger

It was the same thin burger patty used in the Big Wac, but it was covered in tangy barbecue sauce, caramelized onions and tempeh bacon. It also comes with oodles of mushrooms. I’ll be opting out of those when I give it a try.

Next on the list for us to try is the Lemon Pesto bowl or maybe the Black Jack Pita. Other news of note is that the Wendy’s Pickle is now officially on the menu instead of being a whisper item. Also new is a Blonde Alfredo bowl, but I’ll have to be talked into that since alfredo sauce has never been a favorite of mine, even in pre-vegan days. (Although oddly enough, the Ritz Carlton made a vegan alfredo for me at an event I was at recently, and it was outstanding.) Additionally, the menu now features “kids” items, such as a nice basic burger, pita-quesadilla and chicken nuggs or digits. I was assured that immature adults can order from it too!

Get in there and have fun trying all the new items!

Thanks to a tweet from @WesleyTech, I also learned that a new vegetarian and vegan restaurant is opening up in the old Bragg’s pie factory on Grand Ave. south of Roosevelt, which will be called Bragg’s Factory Diner. They don’t seem to have a website or menu up yet, but they are actively monitoring their Facebook page and said they will probably open in March. And there will be pie! However, they are so close to my other favorite, Treehouse Bakery, that pie may be less of a priority than vegan Pop Tarts.

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NYPD Pizza Delivers on Its Promise: The Perfect NY-Style Vegan Pizza in Phoenix!

When I moved to Phoenix 15 years ago, my ability to successfully adjust to living in this town hinged on one important thing: the need to find decent NY-style pizza. I tried many “local favorites” and determined they were all inedible. Finally, two recommendations from friends rang true: Ray’s and NYPD Pizza. Both were at least 30 minutes from where I lived at the time, but I was raised in an Italian family that regularly traveled vast distances for “good pie.” But as both restaurants expanded their footprints, I was becoming a vegan. And so, my search for the perfect NY-style pizza was rendered pointless. Or so I thought!

In July, a co-worker told me that NYPD Pizza had posted a question on its Facebook page, asking for name suggestions for their new vegan pizza, which would be made with Daiya cheese. I of course freaked out with anticipation. They said they would have it in stock in August. Despite my constant stalking and hounding of their Twitter feed and Facebook page, and calling the restaurant, no vegan pizza appeared on the menu. Finally, I gave up and stopped checking. I wrote it off as a promise unfulfilled. Until last Friday.

I was trying to decide where to have dinner on Friday night, and checking to see if Green had posted any new specials on its Facebook page. The answer was “no,” but something made me think, “I should check NYPD’s page.” To my surprise, they had announced “the Veganizza” the week before, while I was out of town!

I went to the NYPD website to get the specifics, and saw the “Gluten-Free/Vegan” menu option and became even more excited. Just be sure, I called my nearest restaurant to confirm they actually had Daiya in stock. All systems were go!

While the Veganizza wasn’t actually listed on the menu in the restaurant yet, I didn’t panic. The waiter didn’t blink when I said “16-inch Veganizza please!” But he did come back to the table once he put our order in to say, “It will be about 25 – 30 minutes,” which makes us think we got their first one…

It was worth the wait! In my eagerness to get my hands of my first slice of Veganizza, I forgot to get a picture in its pristine state.

NYPD Veganizza

The Veganizza comes default with Daiya, Roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, basil and garlic. While it lacks the fake meat found on zpizza’s Berkeley Vegan, it makes up for it with excellent flavor and the perfect NY-style crust (defined as: very thin, but firm enough to fold).

NYPD Veganizza slice

The proportions were perfect (just enough cheese and sauce) and the basil and spinach were a great combo. My only recommendations are that they should make sure the cheese goes all the way to the edge (which is always a complaint of mine with pizza – never leave a cheese gap)! And they need to cook it just a little bit more, but this seems to be an issue with restaurants that are new to cooking with Daiya – they just don’t trust the cheese! It’s okay though, because we had enough left over to cook it a little longer at home the next day. Next day pizza can’t be beat!

NYPD veganizza twice cooked

The best part is, there’s an NYPD three blocks away from my office, so the phrases “Who wants pizza for lunch?” and “Hey honey, you worked late, how about I just pick up a pizza on my way home?” have re-entered my life! However, I think “I’m going to ride the exercise bike for awhile” may need to be uttered more frequently now as well!

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Phoenix Street Food Update: Vegan Pizza and Tacos!

Now that the weather is getting a bit nicer in Phoenix, it’s time to start exploring the outdoors again – in particular outdoor vegan eats! There are days when I just sit and contemplate what I love more – vegan pizza or tacos. This is a tale of both!

I rarely get a Friday afternoon free to head down to Food Truck Friday, but I was highly motivated when I learned that the Pizza People food truck has a vegan Daiya cheese option. Quite possibly the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had was from a food truck in Portland called Pyro Pizza so I had to check  these Pizza People out!

Pizza People Food Truck

The menu was ideal – a good sized pizza for one, with a decent options of veggies.

Pizza People menu

My husband went for spinach and mushrooms, and it was a very pretty pie. I chose a green peppers and onions pizza.

Pizza People mushroom and spinach vegan pizza

Pizza People green peppers and onions vegan pizza

The crust was nice and fluffy and the red sauce tasted fresh and light. I would, however, suggest they use a little less cheese (I know that’s sacrilege coming from Daiya-obsessed me). My guess is that chefs are nervous that Daiya won’t melt so they over-do it, and the excess soggifies the pie. I saw some table-neighbors’ dairy pies that had the right ratio, so Pizza People, lighten it up a bit please and you’ll have an outstanding vegan pizza!

While we were there, we checked out the menus on the other trucks. Clearly I’m going to have to track down the Uprooted truck at a future date. Check out the menu!

Uprooted Kitchen menu

A week later, I found out Green Vegetarian was setting up a food tent at the Arizona Taco Festival, and lucky me — I won tickets by suggesting they make potato tacos! The festival was much more massive than I expected, but I’ll go to great lengths for Green’s tacos – so I was willing to battle the chaos.

The sign for the Green tent was a little more subtle than some of the others, but they seemed to be getting plenty of traffic.

Green Vegetarian's Taco Tent menu

Green was serving two types of tacos: carne asada and potato with refried beans.

Green's vegan carne asada taco

Green's potato and beans taco

Both came with a side of cabbage salad and a delicious hot sauce I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting at Green. I enjoyed the carne asada tacos, but not as much as a steak taco special I’ve had a Green before.

The potato and bean tacos were fantastic. They only thing that could have made them better was, you guessed it, a nice helping of Daiya. I now want tacos, especially these, added to the Green menu! I know they’d be a hit, because, well, I ate five of them!

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The Big Tease: Specials at Green

Lately, Green New American Vegetarian’s proprietor Damon Brasch has become the biggest vegan food-tease in the Valley via Green’s Facebook page.

Green's Facebook page

He’s driving me “specials” crazy. It’s bad enough that I crave Green’s thyme fries and spicy peanut chicken salad on a daily basis. And now that Green’s Phoenix location is 10 minutes away from my home and/or office, I go there far more than anyone should. But to make matters worse, Damon has twice the ability to tempt me to make an extra trip with his somewhat-weekly and always intriguing specials for both locations, which he teases his loyal patrons with on the Facebook page days in advance.

Case in point: Damon posted last Friday that there would be new specials coming up soon. I hadn’t seen any posted over the weekend, but twisted my husband’s arm that we should go to the Phoenix location on Saturday to get salads, since we’d be “in the neighborhood.” While there, the person taking my order said they should have new specials on Monday. I had the day off on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so beginning at about 10:30 a.m. I stalked the Facebook page to see what they’d be, hoping to go for lunch. By 1:15 I had given up, figuring “maybe Tuesday” and made lunch at home. At 1:30 p.m. The Teaser posted that the Tempe location has an amazing sounding special: “The 1970’s PO BOY- our tasty throwback Nature Burger patty with a tahini lemon dressing over fresh lettuce, tomato, sliced cucumber, and alfalfa sprouts. A bit of vegan mayo on a toasted po boy roll make this classic, one vintage sandwich – comes with a side.” I griped, and then realize I have a meeting tomorrow right by the Tempe location and can squeeze in a visit before or after.

Then the fatal vegan food-addict blow came. Fifteen minutes later Damon posted that the Phoenix location special is an “Aspen Mountain Grilled Cheese n Tomato Soup – Colorado cracked wheat, buttered and toasted with vegan American slices and a side of house made tomato soup with organic elbow corn pasta- Throwback- Just like mom used to make.”

That was it. I couldn’t take it. I finished up my household chores (a rationalization/justification for having a second lunch) and hit the road. Here’s the result:

Green's vegan grilled cheese special

The bread was grilled perfectly – just greasy and crispy enough to give it some bite. The “cheese” was a bit dry/flavorless, but I think we all know that my penchant is for Daiya (which this wasn’t). I should have asked for pickles (which I always put on my grilled cheeses for some reason).

The soup was spot on — tangy and robust, and given some extra boost by the pasta.

Green's vegan tomato soup

Once it clicked in my brain to dip the grilled cheese into the soup, my day was made.

Of course while I was there I had to pick up a couple of brownies from Nami – which I swear are the world’s most perfect brownies (vegan or not).

Green's vegan brownies

Crisp on top and on the edges, chewy inside, and with just the right amount of chocolate decadence.

As to that special in Tempe, I’ll be trying it tomorrow for sure! Be forewarned that the best specials usually only last a couple of days. I’ve been burned too many times waiting til the weekend only to hear “we just ran out.” Get there soon!

Special note: for those not “in the know” – there is an off-menu  special that is always available and definitely worth trying – the secret wendy’s chicken (but I call it the Chick-fil-a because of the pickles).

Green's vegan Wendys special chicken

It’s fried “chicken” pieces with hot sauce, pickles and mayo (but I leave off the mayo).

It’s become a regular for me (much to my waistline’s chagrin) – almost surpassing the no harm chicken parm or the secret bbq chicken sandwich.

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Phoenix Vegans: Naked Pizza Is Test Marketing Daiya Here!

Naked Pizza

Run run run to a Naked Pizza soon! Or, given that there aren’t any locations in central Phoenix yet, maybe take a bike, car or bus.

I received a friendly note that Naked Pizza is test marketing my favorite vegan cheese —  Daiya — in the Phoenix metro but it took me a few weeks to make my way to one. When I finally did, the pizza completely blew me away. Not only are their pizzas made with healthful ingredients such as probiotics and multi-grain flours, but they also taste great.

We tried the Superbiotic (but without the mushrooms) with Daiya cheese and gobbled it up so fast we burnt our mouths.

Naked Pizza vegan superbiotic pie

The dough was delicious – both light and flavorful, the wide variety of veggies tasted fresh, and they used just the right amount of Daiya to make it cheesy without being too gooie. The only downside is they aren’t really set up for dine-in (their website touts “no freak chemicals or dine-in”) and only had small tables outside. It’s still pretty hot in Phoenix and the smell of parking lot isn’t really my favorite dining ambiance.  Since it was so far away from where we live, bringing the pizza home wasn’t really an option.

Please go to Naked Pizza soon and let them know how much you loved having a vegan cheese option for your pizza so they keep it on the menu once they open new locations in Phoenix! They plan to have 12 locations open in the metro by early 2012! You can also leave a comment for them on Facebook or Tweet them your thanks.

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Pomegranate Café Keeps Getting More Special(s)

This is just a reminder that if you haven’t been to the Pomegranate Café in Ahwatukee, Ariz. (south of central Phoenix) yet, you are seriously missing out. They keep their daily specials current on their Facebook page, which is great motivation to get us to go there despite living 30+ minutes away.

Today I was drawn to the restaurant for their blueberry and lemon flapjacks special and out of curiosity to see if their frittata special was vegan (it wasn’t), but we ended up ordering two different specials. It’s the only place in town where it actually pains me to have to decide what to get each visit because I want to try everything. When they keep featuring such creative and tasty specials, it makes it even harder for a Libra like me to make a decision!

After ruling out the frittata, I went with the summer vegetable quesadilla special.

Pomegranate Cafe vegan quesadilla

It was a lot better than the last quesadilla I had at Pomegranate, because it was full of sweet potatoes, zucchini, green chili peppers and oodles of my favorite vegan food item – Daiya cheese. It was served with a side of baba ganoush, which I didn’t think was necessary. I’d rather have chips or a green salad instead.

My husband settled on the scramble special.

Pomegranate Cafe vegan tofu scramble

This consisted of vegan chorizo; tofu; sautéed peppers, onions and zucchini; avocado; pinto beans and Daiya vegan cheese, plus a spinach tortilla. The chorizo was full of flavor and spiced up the dish.

We also got a slice of strawberry cake to-go.

Pomegranate Cafe vegan strawberry cake

That’s going to be dessert later tonight, but I took a nibble and it was outstandingly yummy.

Pomegranate was absolutely packed today, which leads me to believe they need to expand soon! Here’s hoping they open a  restaurant in central Phoenix someday!

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