Earth Plant Based Cuisine1325 Northwest Grand Avenue, Suite 7
If you get distracted by the tacos and other tasty Mexican offerings at Earth, you might miss the BBQ Sandwich, a simply named offering that’s anything but simple. It's built with seitan that's scratch-made using wheat protein for a high protein count and is surprisingly similar in looks and texture to real meat. The substantial seitan totally sponges up Earth's BBQ sauce and could easily pass as a pit-stop staple. It’s topped with organic slaw — an acidic cabbage cruncher that perfectly plays off the richness of the lavishly sauced seitan — and capped with toasted ciabatta that's crusty on the outside and soft in the middle, for a deliciously messy, finger-licking, grab-extra-napkins kind of ’wich.
Tacos Veganos2144 East Indian School Road
The Torta option at the Tacos Veganos food truck is a choose-your-own-adventure affair that starts with picking your plant-based meat: smokey asada, spicy al pastor, or pungent pollo. Each is marinated overnight in a secret blend of spices — owner Jose Bojorquez is tight-lipped when it comes to his trade secrets — for an almost flame-liked caramelized finish. It’s layered with melty cheese, refried beans, onions, cilantro, lettuce, and creamy avocado sauce on the softest Mexican roll you’ve ever bitten into. If spice is your thing, douse it with the truck's stinging red chile de árbol salsa; for a more acidic kick, go with the jalapeño-laced green. Either way, this is a meaty, melty, indulgent feat of flavor.
Whyld Ass Cafe4810 North Seventh Street
If the bread makes the sandwich, the Skinny Elvis from Whyld Ass is all shook up. This delightful creation is bookended by dense housemade banana bread that's kissed with cinnamon and amply sliced; it's a bona fide treat on its own, and makes you wonder why all peanut butter sandwiches aren’t made with it. But add in a slathering of natural peanut butter and berry compote and a turn on the panini press that leaves a crusty, ridged exterior and makes the moist middle even more heavenly, and you can’t help falling in love with this King. If savory is more your thing, Whyld Ass has you covered: The BLTA with housemade zucchini bacon, greens, tomato, avocado, and sunflower-seed mayo is a standout that will cure veg cravings and hangovers alike.
Early Bird Vegan1712 East Broadway Road
There isn’t much that's more comforting or nostalgic than a grilled cheese sandwich, and the Adult Grilled Cheez from Early Bird Vegan in South Phoenix proves you don’t need real cheese to get that melty hug. But this isn't just any grilled cheese. It’s a sigh-inducing mouthful that offers two types of vegan cheese (one of them Early Bird's signature blend made with organic Yukon gold potatoes that oozes with every bite) alongside grilled onions, beefy slices of tomato, and garlic butter on billowy toasted ciabatta. The Dr. J doesn’t disappoint, either (though it’s more of a breakfast thang). With stacked layers of tofu egg, sausage patty, avocado, tomato, and organic arugula with spicy southwest aioli on a toasted English muffin, it's the artisan answer to the Egg McMuffin.
Trash Panda VeganFood truck
The Buffalo Chkn Sandwich from Trash Panda Vegan is vegan comfort food, elevated. The cutlet is coated in panko and corn flakes for a crackling, satisfying finish, and the savory slaw — a medley of shaved organic purple and green cabbage, onions, house seasoning and vinegar — is fresh and zingy. The pickles are thick and tangy, and the bun is a toasted-just-right delight. But the clincher is the double whammy of housemade sauces (a creamy southwest aioli and a crimson Buffalo) that give each bite a delicious kick. Don’t let the truck's name fool you: Owner Krystal Harris, who also owns Early Bird Vegan, is a classically trained French chef and all about using locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Green New American Vegetarian2022 North Seventh Street
2240 North Scottsdale Road, Tempe
Inspired by late-night trips to a Chicago eatery for “the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life at 3 a.m.,” Damon Brasch, chef-owner of Green, created the vegan Chicago Cheesesteak. Stuffed with seitan that’s made in-house and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and tamari, it’s crisped up with just the right amount of oil and sizzle on the griddle to form craggy bits along the edges. Then it’s topped with caramelized peppers and onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and housemade spicy giardiniera. The whole hefty thing stays together with melty, snappy Daiya cheese that tastes just like the real deal and an impossibly soft hoagie-style ciabatta roll for a double-fisted sandwich that will take you places.
Welcome Diner929 East Pierce Street
The Jackfruit Po’Boy from Welcome Diner is a “faux boy” to be reckoned with. The star of the show is the jackfruit, beer-braised and saucy shredded morsels that mimic meat like a boss. But the zingy cabbage slaw is so charged with color and crunch that it practically jumps off the plate, and the Carolina-style sauce is a slightly sweet topper spiked with mustard as punchy as its blazing orange color. So it’s a stacked team, all stuffed into a toasty baguette that stretches your mouth and your tastebuds. The housemade chips and shoestring fries are solid sides, but if you’re wondering whether the Brussels sprouts are worth the $4 splurge, the answer is hell, yeah.