Pomegranate Cafe: Destination Dining for the Health Conscious

If, by chance, I lived in a house made of vegetables, I hope it would be built by Pomegranate Café's mother-daughter chef duo Marlene and Cassie Tolman.

I could picture myself falling back into a comfy chair of deep purple cabbage leaves and munching on pillows of collard greens stuffed with crunchy bright red and yellow peppers; lazily plucking thin strands of rich red beets from a tangled carpet; and bathing in a bathtub the size of a giant mason jar filled with a glowing amber liquid of cucumber, carrot, and golden beet with a frothy, sudsy top.

All this from a meat-eating gal of Midwestern stock.

Pomegranate's colorful, vibrant dishes taste as spectacular as they appear.
Jackie Mercandetti
Pomegranate's colorful, vibrant dishes taste as spectacular as they appear.

Location Info

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Pomegranate Cafe

4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Ste. 28
Ahwatukee, AZ 85048

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Ahwatukee

Details

Pomegranate Cafe
4025 East Chandler Boulevard
480-706-7472
www.pomegranatecafe.com
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Rainbow wrap: $8
Lumberjack sandwich: $9
Super green kale salad: $10.50
Dragon bowl: $8.50

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Pomegranate Café is the Tolmans' three-year-old cheery, all-day breakfast and lunch eatery in Ahwatukee. Everything on the menu is vegan, with some items having a vegetarian option. But Pomegranate doesn't advertise itself as a vegan restaurant — nor should it.

The emphasis here is nourishing, flavor-packed food and drinks using fresh ingredients — from colorful, vibrant dishes made with fresh vegetables and grains to fruit-packed smoothies and veggie juices to a bakery case stocked with homemade pastries. Above all, Pomegranate puts together these top-notch ingredients in smart combinations with hardworking flavors and a skillfulness not often found in many of the Valley's health-conscious restaurants.

If you are eating vegetarian — or vegan, or even raw — Pomegrante Café is a destination. For everyone else, it's a tasty neighborhood stop or, for carnivores not in the driver's seat, a fortuitous journey to Ahwatukee with a non-meat-eating friend or two.

The lunch menu includes a selection of sandwiches, salads, and bowls that would appeal to most everyone — not just vegans or vegetarians. And a sourcing list on the back reads like a local who's who of fresh fare: Sunizona Family Farms, Maya's Farm, Rhiba Farms, and Chile Acres. Served up on colorful plates, many dishes arrive looking like artful centerpieces for a well-set table — with the added benefit of being edible. And they taste as spectacular as they appear.

There is a chunky wrap called the Rainbow, made with collard leaves stuffed with avocado, crunchy red and yellow peppers, tomato, carrot, sunflower sprouts, a "cheese" made with almonds whose texture is a little grainy — and a side of cashew lemon dressing that makes the flavors from the vegetables come alive even more than you may have thought possible. The Grilled Cheese Napoleon is layered with melted cheese, sautéed seasonal veggies, and tomato and oozes a macadamia basil pesto that is wonderfully light and nutty between pieces of vegan bread that are also light and nutty, but with a slightly sweet edge. And a Smokin' BLT comes with the unique addition of crunchy cucumber slices and a mildly spicy chipotle aioli. (Note to carnivores: Tempeh bacon doesn't come close to the real thing, so it might be best to make another selection.)

And for non-meat eaters in search of a sandwich with an a.m. edge, there is the highly satisfying Lumberjack. More lightly delectable than its hearty moniker would suggest, this breakfast sandwich features egg or tofu, tempeh bacon, tomato, avocado, cheese, housemade hash, and chipotle aioli between pieces of toasted kamut bread.

The salads are as stellar and as deftly constructed as the sandwiches. Berry Bliss Salad delivers on its name, with juicy strawberries, creamy goat cheese, crunchy pistachios, avocado, and a bright dressing of pomegranate raspberry poppy seed. Large, ragged pieces of flaxseed crackers top a mighty and colorful garden of earthy and slightly bitter lacinato (or Dinosaur) kale, its dark green leaves mixing with field greens, carrots, tomato, avocado, and sunflower seeds alongside a purple nest of sliced beets, with a creamy and bright cashew lemon dressing.

And Pomegranate's Southwestern-inspired blue corn taco salad, brilliant in both color and flavor, is most decidedly a meal in itself. Made with blue corn chips, quinoa, guacamole, fresh salsa, mildly sweet Anasazi beans (first cultivated by the Anasazi Indians, who lived in the the Four Corners region), soy chorizo, walnut meat, and a creamy nacho "cheese," this lively bowl of greens makes for a satisfying layering of textures and tastes. Sure, the meat and cheese products may miss the tastes-like-the-real-thing mark for carnivores, but I wasn't about to put my fork down — and my vegetarian gal pals were taking copious mental notes.

For those looking for more grain-focused fare, there is a nutty and spicy bowl called the Dragon. More unique, flavor-wise, than the Teriyaki "chicken" bowl, the Dragon arrives as a colorful mix of seasonal stir-fried veggies, chunks of tofu, and brown rice or quinoa in a light sauce and topped with enough rich and crunchy chile almonds for every bite.

Before stepping up to the counter to order, make sure to check out the chalkboard of the day's specials behind it. There, one might find a featured hummus of Indian lentil spice, a homemade soup of roasted carrots and bell peppers, and the day's burger, quesadilla, and pizza selections along with a few breakfast items.

If the burger of the day is mushroom, black bean, and sundried tomato, be sure to order it. Slathered with a stellar creamy basil spread, packed with veggies, and housed in a downy bun, it is moist, richly flavorful, and probably better than most hardened carnivores would like to admit. A scattering of lightly fried potato slices complements nicely.

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2 comments
contact184
contact184

Love this place but a little on the pricey side. Can only eat here once in while. I can never leave without spending $30+ for lunch. Not a bargain by any means.

 
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