Once in a great while, I come across food that doesn’t just speak to my mouth, or just hums for me, it sings in my soul. On the quest for great quality vegan food that holds the flavors I’m looking for, I have been disappointed. Yes, there is great food out there, and the partner and I frequent the places where we can eat without too much hassle. Me; no corn, no peanuts, Her; no gluten, no dairy (in case we are in vegetarian places). But they’ve all seemed to miss one or two notes.
Along came 24 Carrots, in Chandler, Arizona. I got excited when I heard about them, but life kept getting in the way. It is a bit of a trek from our house. I knew I wanted to try it, and I keep an eye on the social media, and the specials were starting to make me drool. We were able to visit the other day, and found a relaxing, yet vibrant atmosphere, coupled with a knowledgeable counter person, and good smells.
Nestled between a Subway, and a Caribbean house, 24 Carrots is a strip mall slice of vegan heaven. The juice bar is prominent, and there are small dining tables up front. In coffee house tradition, there is a lounge area with couches, and comfy chairs, and a large flat screen t.v. on the quote board. There is a small library, and you can read while waiting for food, unless you want to take advantage of the wi-fi on your mobile device.
There is so much to choose from. They have an extensive menu with a variety of vegan cuisines represented. I was interested in their specials, and the veggie burger. I’ve been disappointed so far with most of the grain burgers I come across. It was Taco Tuesday, with Soyrizo Tacos on the special board, so the partner ordered two of those. I went for the Roasted Tomato Burger. We decided on the Raw Jalapeno Popper appetizer. After having a nice chat with Marcus, the counter guy, we ordered juices and food, and sat and waited.
The wait was a little long, and that could have been for several different reasons, but once the food came, we were not disappointed. The Raw Jalapeno Poppers looked exquisite. Almond cheese stuffed into baby bell peppers, laid out on a bed of mixed greens, with what looked like a bit of cilantro pesto. Then there was the Soyrizo Tacos. Soyrizo smothered with avocado puree, purple cabbage, onions and mushrooms, all wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla. An optional side of chips with a pineapple salsa fresca completed the plate. Then came the Roasted Tomato Burger, the ever present LTO, an oat bran bun, served with a refreshing mixed green salad with not only sunflower seeds, but pumpkin seeds as well. I love pepitas!
Eye to stomach is what I’ve been taught as a chef, and 24 Carrots applied the rule. I wanted to eat everything as they set the plates down. But first, pictures! Can’t forget the pictures. Then we dug in. I’ve found my home for vegan Sonoran flavors. This is what I’ve been looking for. One other place came close to pleasing my chili/lime/cilantro craving palate, and that was Native Foods Cafe in Southern CA. Glad to know the flavors exist closer to home. The first bite into the Popper caused a bit of ecstasy in my mouth. A burst of flavors, and my mouth was singing. Then I tried the burger. Satisfying, and it did not squish or fall apart. It was warmed all the way through, and the basil aioli came through all the way. The salad was dressed perfectly, not too much, not too little. And I ate it all. We took a couple of the poppers home, and as I was writing the first draft of this review, I had to go eat one, I got so hungry just remembering how good they were.
The report on the Tacos were excellent. I could only take a little bite due to the corn tortillas. I tried the salsa, and it was very pleasing. We had fresh juices to wash everything down with, Apple-Ginger, and Ginger lemonade. When I tried the ginger lemonade my mouth puckered. Thanks, I’ll stick to apple-ginger. But the partner really enjoyed it.
We will definitely return to explore the rest of the menu, enjoy the specials of the day (posted daily on their Facebook page— great use of social media by a vegan restaurant), the decor, and the fresh atmosphere at 24 Carrots. I hope you do too, if you are in the area. Support independent, and support local.