As much as I love cooking and entertaining at home, I also love dining out in Tucson. Although Tucson doesn’t exactly have a cornucopia of vegan restaurants like some other cities, I’ve found many that have vegan-friendly options on the menu, and others that are happy to accommodate when asked. Whether it’s for drinks and appetizers at a local resort, or a festive dinner with some friends, Tucson has lots of places to enjoy. Here are some of my favorite familiar haunts:
- Ignite at The Ritz-Carlton
Prickly pear margaritas and live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The resort is just minutes from my home and nestled in between mountains so that I feel like I’m a world away from my day-to-day.
- Dos Locos at Hilton El Conquistador
The restaurant patio is the perfect place to view the Catalina Mountains — all pinks and purples at sunset! Also just minutes from my home, which makes it a convenient place to chill out after a long day.
- Arizona Inn
Lunch or dinner at this historic inn is always a treat, and the dining staff is happy to help vegans put together something scrumptious. Most recently, I went with my dad as my date to a Phi Beta Kappa luncheon. The others sitting at our table all enjoyed their meals, but they were quite impressed with the vegan dishes created for me.
- Saffron Indian Bistro
A good “date night” spot. The food at this northwest hotspot is always wonderful, and the atmosphere has a slightly urban feel to it: modern decor, and a pretty diverse crowd with good energy. Favorites: Chana Masala and Mushroom Do Pyaza. Also, the Pudhini Paratha — layered whole what bread with mint — is amazing.
- Harvest Moon
We started going to this Chinese restaurant at its first, smaller location. Now right next to a movie theater in Oro Valley, it’s a real hub of activity. For an appetizer, try the Crispy Tofu, which inspired my husband Seth to create his own, similar recipe for his 10 Minute Vegan series. For a main course, I usually have Moo Shoo vegetables.
- Flavor of India
Owned by the same family that owns Gandhi in central Tucson, this Northern Indian restaurant is one of our right-in-the-neighborhood favorites. I love the Mutter Gobi, which is a blend of peas and cauliflower, and also the Veggie Biryani.
I love the vibe here, energized and laid back at the same time. The New American Cuisine menu doesn’t have a lot on it that’s vegan-friendly at first glance, but the chef always puts together a nice plate for us, comprised of “sides” such as the forbidden rice, grilled asparagus, baby bok choy, and other seasonal vegetables.
- Candela Peruvian
Any time I sit down to dinner here, it brings back memories of some great meals I had overlooking the town square in Cusco, Peru..
This “modern gastropub” is located right outside the university gates, and therefore a convenient place for me to treat myself to an “Asian Salad” every once in a while for lunch. It’s a mix of Napa cabbage, black sesame seeds, fennel, and ginger sesame dressing, served with slivers of tofu. Also a great place for drinks after attending performances at the university’s Centennial Hall.
- Lovin’ Spoonfuls
A casual vegan restaurant that’s located in central Tucson, not far from the university area. Daily specials are always a bonus to an already diverse menu. I usually go for the stir-fry or the homemade adzuki burger, but friends recently had a lunch “tuna melt” that they absolutely loved. We’ve organized a Vegan Tucson Meet-Up at Lovin’ Spoonfuls for Friday, September 30th at 7:30pm. Feel free to join us!
- The Garland Bistro
I love this little converted house — perfectly quaint setting for a late breakfast or lunch. The garland will substitute baked tofu in any of its dishes, so this is where I go when I’m in the mood for an “omelette.” I usually get spinach tomatoes and bell peppers in my tofu scramble. Sooooooooo good! For lunch, I’ll order a bowl of soup (great daily specials!) along with the homemade hummus served with pita bread.
- Eclectic Cafe
This truly is a Tucson fave of mine that I don’t get to as often as I’d like because it’s on the other side of town. Vegan gazpacho and the black bean burger are favorites.
- The Tasteful Kitchen
The newest kid on the block in terms of vegetarian/vegan fare, and an instant fave for me. Seth and I just went for dinner last week and, it was so amazing, I’m going to be posting all the details (including pictures!) tomorrow.
- Village Bakehouse
Makes vegan wedding cakes and birthday cakes/cupcakes to order.
- Ambrosia Cakes
Creative vegan specialty cakes for any event. I’ve also ordered mini cupcakes from them for a SALDF cupcake extravaganza at the law school.
- Red Velvet Cupcakery
I first had a Red Velvet cupcake in D.C. It’s not a franchise, but the owner’s dad lives here in Tucson, which makes me very lucky. The Tucson location is on University Boulevard, right outside the campus gates. Just recently, RV recently added a vegan White Velvet cupcake to its repertoire, and I have only one word for that: wow.