Vegans and vegetarians won’t go hungry in Tempe, Arizona.
Did someone say tempeh? Truth be told, I really had no idea how to pronounce the name of the city in Arizona I was planning to visit. It wasn’t until I looked it up that I discovered that it was pronounced temp-ee and not like the traditional Indonesian soy food that I loved to eat. Whether I have tempeh or Tempe on my mind, I’m likely thinking about yummy food. Thankfully, there are tons of vegan options in Tempe, Arizona, partially due to the high university student population as the home of ASU.
Dining at some of the best Tempe restaurants is just one of the bucket list of things to do in Tempe. I’m going to show you all of the delicious ways to pile those veggies high on your plates while traveling here. Or perhaps you’re new to the vegan diet and you live in Tempe? I’ve got the best vegetarian and vegan options for you. While it wasn’t possible to try every vegan restaurant in Tempe during my three days in the city, I sampled as much food as humanly possible…for research purposes, of course. Here are my favorite Tempe vegan restaurants and dining options in Greater Phoenix, Arizona.
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Green New American Vegetarian
After boarding an early morning flight and traveling from Toronto to Phoenix, I was pretty hungry. My first stop in town and my first Tempe vegan restaurant was Green New American Vegetarian. It’s rather fitting because Green is the oldest 100% vegan restaurant in Tempe. I was so pleased to see such a variety of menu items, and it was so difficult to choose. Everything sounded amazing, especially considering that I was pretty starving.
Green serves mostly American style comfort foods gone vegan, although you shouldn’t think that means it isn’t healthy. There are plenty of healthy and comforting meals on their menu, as well as the not-so-healthy ones. Whatever your indulgence, I feel like you really can’t go wrong. There are appetizers (spicy Buffalo “wings” or chili cheese fries, anyone?), as well as sandwiches and burgers. Perhaps you could try their “Big WAC” or “BBBQ Bacon Burger”, rather than their fast food equivalents.
I ordered the Thai Peanut bowl, while my veggie loving non-vegan dining companion ordered the Coconut Curry bowl. Mine had a great balance between the fresh veggies and the spicy kick from the sauce. I’d order this one again in a heartbeat. Apparently, the coconut curry bowl was a huge hit, too! While there were tons of different beverages to order, I tried the Sweet Lime juice and it was super refreshing. Definitely visit Green when you travel to Tempe (or if you live in Tempe and you’re looking for a great lunch spot).
If there’s another vegan restaurant in Tempe that you need to try, it’s 24 Carrots. At its heart, 24 Carrots is a juice bar that also happens to be a natural cafe serving up 100% plant-based meals. They also specialize in raw food, and their menu is largely gluten-free. You can dine there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and there’s a separate brunch menu from 9:00am-11:00am from Tuesday through Saturday, and from 9:00am-2:00pm on Sunday.
It will take weeks and weeks for you to try all of their juices, smoothies, appetizers, and main dishes. Again, it was another difficult choice as everything sounded delicious. I started with the Jalapeno Poppers, which are absolutely nothing like the deep fried ones you’d find on a pub menu. These ones were delicious little morsels of red pepper, topped with a spicy almond milk cheese. Heavenly!
For my main course, I ordered something from their menu board of specials: the harvest quesadilla, “Chickun Calabacitas y Papas”. It had soy-based chickun, potatoes, zucchini, corn, onion, green chilis, and vegan cheese. It’s not often that I find vegan quesadillas on the menu, so I jumped at the chance to sample this one. It was absolutely divine, and I’m pretty sure I ate every last bite.
24 Carrots has a huge display of desserts to tempt you, many of them being raw and gluten-free. I opted to take one of the chocolate donuts to go, as I was so full from my meal but thought I could enjoy a late night snack back in my hotel room that night. The donut was moist and super rich, and will surely satisfy any chocolate craving you might have. 24 Carrots is one of my favorite Tempe vegan restaurants and one that you must add to your list. Oh, and while you’re over at the restaurant, be sure to check out the nearby Changing Hands bookstore for new and used books, as well as interesting gift items. I really loved that store!
Snakes & Lattes
Now, Snakes & Lattes isn’t a 100% vegan Tempe restaurant by any means, but they’re certainly vegan-friendly. Snakes & Lattes is a board game cafe that comes straight from my home, Toronto! There are three Snakes & Lattes locations in Toronto and they’ve opened their fourth cafe right in Tempe, AZ. I was delighted to visit a little piece of home right in the middle of Arizona.
It’s actually pretty hilarious as I had this explained to me. In Canada (and the rest of the world), there’s a popular board game called Snakes and Ladders. For some reason, in the United States, someone at some point decided to call the game, Chutes and Ladders. Are snakes offensive to Americans? Do Americans prefer chutes to snakes? I have no idea. Anyway, the point of this story being that the play on words, Snake and Lattes for a board game cafe doesn’t really make much sense in the USA. Well, hopefully everyone eventually learns the meaning behind the name and why it makes total sense.
Snakes & Lattes Tempe is a fabulous outing for you and your besties. Grab your favorite group of friends and enjoy a night of food, drinks, and games. There are shelves and shelves full of every game imaginable, from the newest releases to your childhood faves (Electronic Mall Madness, anyone?). Our group played a game that was brand new. The best part is that there are staff members on hand to quickly explain the rules to get you started.
While you’re playing games, you can order from their menu of comfort foods, shareables, poutine (gotta bring the Canadian influence!), burgers, pizzas, and desserts. The vegetarian items are marked with a little leaf, the vegan choices have a little vegan V, and the gluten-free ones are also clearly marked. Our table split the Vegan Disco Fries, which are one of the most popular items on the menu. It’s portobello gravy, vegan cheddar, tomato, and scallion, poured on top of fries. Yum!
For my main meal, I ordered the Impossible Burger that had mac sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and vegan cheddar, along with a side of fries. I also ordered a local wheat beer, the Santan Mr. Pineapple out of Chandler, AZ. I had never tried a pineapple beer and I was such a fan! I’d drink this one all the time if we had it at home.
While you might not think about Snakes & Lattes as one of the top downtown Tempe restaurants, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s a fantastic casual dining spot if you’re getting a group of friends together. You’re certain to have a really fun evening, even if you decide to strictly stick to games and coffee.
When we arrived at Culinary Dropout, it seemed as though all of Tempe was there! It’s a huge restaurant space with multiple rooms, a live band, and games. With locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson (and also Las Vegas and Austin), it’s a popular place for a reason and you won’t want to miss it. While it’s not a vegan or vegetarian restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, they have a number of options for the veggie folks in the gang. It’s a wise choice as it seems like there’s at least always one or two of us in the bunch, right?
Our group ordered a few appetizers, and the one that I gorged on was the hummus. What can I say, if there’s hummus around, I’ll find it! I could live off hummus quite easily. If I got to live off the hummus served at Culinary Dropout, I’d be more than okay with that. It’s one of the best hummus appetizers that I’ve had at any restaurant. Topped with cucumber relish and za’atar, and served with flatbread, I could have simply eaten a giant order of this hummus as my meal.
However, there’s one vegan main course that I had to try, mainly because it’s the only vegan main course. But, our server informed me that it’s actually one of the best things you can order off the menu and it’s a favorite item among many guests. The Spicy Vegan Curry was quite delicious, especially with the griddled sweet potato at its center. There were also shiitake mushrooms, snap peas, cauliflower, and eggplant over black rice. I really enjoyed this dish, though I prefer a little less sauce and a little more rice in my curries. It had the perfect amount of spice and I love anything made with coconut milk, really. So, please go to Culinary Dropout on the weekend with your best buds and give their vegan menu items a try.
On my last full day in Tempe, we started out the morning by visiting the wondrous Singh Meadows, a farmers market in town. If you love locally sourced food, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find Singh Meadows on 75 acres of property with green spaces, walking trails and shady spots. It’s a great place for a stroll or a picnic with the family.
Indoors, you’ll find a bustling farmer’s market with locally sourced food, as well as a 100% organic cafe, coffee and juice bar. When we visited on a Saturday morning, there were tons of samples of various oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit slices to taste.
We also stopped here for breakfast, and I am still dreaming about my glorious picnic basket full of delicious eats. Yes, I received my meal in a picnic basket! I ordered the Meadows Picnic Basket with Swiss chard, falafel, tempeh, wheat berry tabouli, and crispy pita (hold the feta for me). The menus change with the seasons, depending on what’s readily available.
If there’s nothing purely marked as vegan on the menu, just ask the staff. They’ll be able to modify some vegetarian meals to make them vegan for you. It’s really not a problem; they focus on using their own fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals. In fact, make a whole morning of it: dine at Singh Meadows, do some shopping there, and go for a walk around the beautiful property.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
I recommend checking out one of the best breweries in Tempe, Four Peaks Brewing. Sign up for a beer tour, and your guide will teach you all about their methods for beer production. I think that this was one of the most thorough and well explained beer tours I’ve ever taken. Perhaps it’s because Four Peaks Brewing takes their beer seriously. They even scientifically alter the water composition to create the same water as the style of beer it’s modeled after (now that takes commitment!). And yes, the beer is vegan-friendly, too.
The behind the scenes tour was enjoyable and insightful. Most importantly, it didn’t take long until we sampled the beer, too. Why not stay for a while after the tour and order a beer flight to try some different varieties, too? I loved ordering a flight of beer because I got to try several that weren’t offered on the brew tour that caught my eye.
The 8th Street Brew Pub uses beer as an ingredient in many meals, so I had to try their beer bread. My veggie beer bread was both colorful and delicious, and they easily altered the meal slightly for my vegan diet. In fact, our server happened to follow a vegan diet, so she went over my dining options with me. They aren’t clearly marked, but you can easily ask a staff member for assistance. For instance, their pretzels are also vegan! They also have beer sorbet in various flavors, like green tea and lychee, and it’s absolutely delicious. Cheers!
Inspired by the multicultural history of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico, Ghost Ranch serves hearty and healthy southwestern fare combined with refreshing cocktails and beer. You can clearly see the vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free meals denoted on the menu. Our whole table enjoyed a massive plate of chips, salsa, and guacamole, which was the perfect start to the meal.
It was a tough choice, but I decided on the vegetable enchiladas smothered in red sauce, which were absolutely delightful. My enchiladas came with a side dish, which are typically the Ranchero beans and rice. However, the server was quick to point out that they cook the beans and rice with pork, so I ate a side of roasted vegetables instead that were awesome.
I also indulged in a Prickly Pear Frosé Rita – a Rosé margarita with prickly pear, lime, and of course, tequila. It was dangerously delicious and the perfect way to beat the heat.
6th Street Market
If you happen to visit Tempe on a Sunday, run, don’t walk, to the 6th Street Market. The 6th Street Market in downtown Tempe happens every Sunday between 5th and 6th Streets on the east side of Mill Avenue, between 10:00am and 3:00pm. You’ll find up to 100 booths featuring locally made wares by artisans, live music, as well as a ton of intriguing food options.
There were even more vegan Tempe restaurants and food stalls there to try, and I really had no idea until I wandered around and my “vegan radar” started going off. I’d catch a sign advertising vegan cookies out of the corner of my eye. Then, I’d chat to the owner of another stand who informed me that I could find vegan tamales around corner. What started as a quest to maybe grab a cup of coffee turned into a plant-based gorge fest. I’m not complaining!
Raul’s Cocina has the best vegan tamales ever, as well as yummy salads to sample like chipotle chickpea salad, jalapeno chickpea salad, and hearts of palm cevice. While you’ll find Raul’s Cocina at the 6th Street Market, you can also find them at the Uptown Farmers Market and Veggie Rebellion (an all vegan grocery store in Glendale, Arizona).
Indulge Irresponsibly is a vegan bakery with some of the best cinnamon buns and cookies. They’ve also got allergy friendly and gluten-free desserts, so everyone can enjoy something sweet. You have got to try these cinnamon rolls. As I was flying out later that day, I brought one to the airport intending to eat it on the plane (it didn’t make it that far). I only wish I had bought more than one!
Basmia’s Sweet Treats
I discovered another vegan dessert stand at the market, Basima’s Sweet Treats, and I couldn’t resist trying their cookies, too. I tried some s’mores cookies with vegan marshmallows and chocolate chips baked into them. Yum! They’ve also got cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, and so much more. It’s nice to have more than one vegan dessert stand at a local market.
Tempe Vegan Honorable Mentions
While I couldn’t try all of the vegan spots in Tempe, there are a ton of other spots where you can find amazing plant-based meals. These make up even more of the best places to eat in Tempe, AZ. I’ll surely have to try more restaurants when I someday return to the city. Here are a few more ideas that are among the best Tempe restaurants:
- Desert Roots Kitchen: a vegan deli cafe and one of the best downtown Tempe restaurants
- Loving Hut: a famous worldwide vegan chain, although each one is family owned and operated
- Cafe Lalibela: an Ethiopian restaurant with lots of vegetarian and vegan options
- Udupi Cafe: A vegetarian South Indian restaurant with lots of vegan options
- Cornish Pasty Co: while their main focus is meat pasties, there are always at least a couple of vegan ones on the menu
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for a luxury stay in a prime location, definitely stay at the AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix/Tempe Downtown. My room was stylish, modern, and a great place to unwind after busy days out and about. The hotel has every modern amenity, like complimentary Wi-Fi, a bright and clean fitness center, a luxe bar, and an on-site restaurant. I dined at their restaurant for breakfast and there were a few vegan choices, like fresh fruit, bread and jam, and cereal with almond milk. Book your stay at the AC Hotel by Marriott and be sure to read reviews by fellow travellers.
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