Best Vegetarian Restaurant 2011 | Fresh Mint | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Jamie Peachey
Looking for a tasty Vietnamese spin on your next meatless meal? Get to Fresh Mint, the easy-going vegetarian, vegan, and certified kosher eatery in Scottsdale, where owner and executive chef Mai Ly, with a dream to "create beautiful, good, healthy food for people," works her magic to create fresh, made-to-order dishes packed with flavor. Summer rolls, spicy lemongrass noodle soup, or green papaya salad are nice places to start; then jump into more "meaty" dishes like vegetarian citrus "spare ribs," five-spice pho with marinated soy beef, or the guest favorite and flavor-filled kung pao soy chicken, with veggies, crunchy peanuts, and classic kung pao sauce. The entrées are quite big, but, hey, if there are leftovers, who's complaining?
Courtesy of Green
We love meat. A lot. Meat on the bone. Beef ribs dripping with fat, Southern-fried chicken with the skin on, lamb chops, pork chops — you get the idea. But we'd give it all up — and toss milk and eggs in there, too — if you could promise us that every meal we'd eat would be as good as what we get at Green. From the edamame to the tsoynamis (the latter is a soy-based shake with mix-ins, like a Blizzard), everything at Green is good. Not good for you, necessarily, but probably better than a beef rib. The pizza's top-notch and so are the faux wings. We drive across town for the deep-fried samosas. If you're into fake meat, you'll be in heaven. Green's slated to open a Phoenix location soon — and we can't wait.

Best Vegan Restaurant Inspired by a New Age Guru

Loving Hut

Supreme Master Ching Hai is a wacky gal. She believes there were once four planets called Venus, that crop circles are road signs for UFOs, and that the world's coming to an end unless you go vegan.The New Age guru may at least have the vegan thing pegged. That is, if you believe climatologists who argue that factory farming of animals for human consumption creates more greenhouse gases than all the world's cars, planes, trains, and buses combined.You don't have to buy all of Hai's teachings, or even revere her as the living Buddha, to enjoy her followers' vegan dishes at the restaurant chain she founded, Loving Hut, which has two locations in the Valley and serves up tasty Asian-fusion fare using faux shrimp, beef, and chicken made of soy or yam. The vegan carrot cake may even make a convert out of ya. Why, just by noshing it, you're helping to end global warming. Who knew going green would taste so sweet?
It ain't much to look at and the hours are sketchy, but Wahsun is a secret worth discovering for those in search of platefuls of authentic Chinese fare at crazy-low prices. In a sparsely decorated room filled with Chinese regulars from the neighborhood, Wahsun's steaming dishes arrive as if they'd been cooked in a bustling home kitchen, packed with fresh ingredients and zero frills. Start with the mammoth, must-have egg rolls, then move on to Mongolian beef or the house chow mein. Those in the know can ask for the Chinese menu and open the door to more "daring" fare like roasted half duck, crispy-skin pork, and a seafood tofu hot pot. Whatever your adventure, make sure to bring the green in this cash-only establishment, not that you'll need much to get an authentic, exceptional Chinese meal — plus you'll leave with leftovers in tow.
James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda proves that delicious Japanese cuisine is eagerly awaiting your hungry mouths right here in the Valley. Teahouse by day and self-described funky izakaya (drinking place) by night, Nobuo at Teeter House transports you to the Land of the Rising Sun with elevated versions of Japanese snack foods such as pork belly buns and panko-fried soft-shell crab sandwiches. The menu is constantly evolving and ready to lead your taste buds on a journey to the Far East, whether you're looking for an extravagant lunch or a nosh over sake.
Alissa Irei
You know the dried ramen that comes with flavor pouches? Toss that garbage in the trash. Real ramen requires a broth injected with meaty flavors and spices over hours. The noodles form a base on top of which succulent toppings like fatty pork, hard-boiled eggs, naruto fish paste, and bean sprouts are added. Republic Ramen in Tempe is the real deal. In fact, Republic Ramen pays tribute to the Japanese noodle soup standard with miso, shoyu, and shio broth varieties as well as branching out with its spicy Republic Ramen broth. If you prefer udon or soba noodles, Republic Ramen has those, too.
Swing a dead cat in some parts of this town, and you'll hit a Thai restaurant or three. Or nine. There's no shortage of tom yum in these parts, and damned if we can figure out why — but we'll take it. If you want a really special Thai experience, though, head to a part of town where the pickings are slim — east Phoenix. Housed in an old Wendy's (drive-thru still operable for to-go orders!) Sa Bai Modern Thai lives up to its name, offering some new twists on old favorites co-owner Atchara "Holly" Willis enjoyed growing up. Holly is Thai. Her husband is not, but he's got a decade of restaurant management experience, and it shows in the attention to detail in both the food and décor at this sweet little cafe. We are particularly partial to the spicy fried jasmine rice, the pad Thai, and the seafood green curry. Oh, and the tom yum's not to be missed.
Lauren Cusimano
As delicious as it is inexpensive, Pho Thanh has become our go-to spot for a quick and easy bite of Vietnamese food. It's pretty obvious that we're not alone, either, because this summer, Pho Thanh doubled in size — taking over the adjacent storefront on the Viet-centric northwest corner of 17th Avenue and Camelback Road. And every time we're in the restaurant, nearly all the tables are full of diners slurping down big bowls of meat-filled pho, diving into tasty servings of bun (vermicelli noodles), or munching on $2.50 (not a typo — they really are that cheap) bahn mi sandwiches that rival, yes, those served at a decidedly more famous Vietnamese sandwich shop in the Southeast Valley. For taste, value ($20 will fill up two hungry people and send them home with leftovers), and cleanliness, Pho Thanh is quickly setting the standard for Vietnamese food in Phoenix.
Evie Carpenter
Your quest for kimchee stops here. Tucked away in a Chandler strip mall, Takamatsu has been serving authentic Korean eats for more than a decade. Watch sweet marinated strips of bulgogi (barbecued beef), pork belly, or tongue cook right at your table or try something a little more challenging, like black goat soup or kimchee bokeum (highly recommended). No worries if you're a Korean food virgin; the staff will walk you through the menu and answer any and all questions. Each entrée is served with an array of Korean sides, including delicious little morsels of mung bean and marinated cucumbers. After you have polished off dinner, your meal is completed with a tiny cup of hot cinnamon tea. It's like dessert without the guilt!
Jackie Mercandetti
About 10 months ago, the restaurant formerly known as Copper Kettle resurfaced along the light-rail tracks, in the form of Curry Corner. Situated a couple of blocks west of the station at Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard, Curry Corner has become one of our favorite new eateries. This mom 'n' pop joint serves bursting-with-flavor Indian-Pakistani food. We love to grab a few friends and order up a whole mess of dishes to share. The last time we were there, we had four entrées, two appetizers, tons of naan, and a couple of drinks. The total? Just about $40. An unbelievable deal, especially when you consider how good the food is. Here's hoping this joint is still around in 2045, when Valley Metro might get around to laying some tracks in your neighborhood.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of