Earth Plant Based Cuisine does not have a street front. You’d have to pull into an iron-fenced parking space on Grand Avenue to see the plaza. Nestled in a cluster of other environmentally friendly shops, the eatery offers a quiet invitation.
Inside is simple but airy. Rectangular tables made of natural wood, surrounded by metal chairs, stand neatly in rows. Little succulent planters adorn the tables. This wood-and-metal theme recurs throughout the space. But two fixtures draw the eyes when you first enter the restaurant. One is a sliding panel featuring a brightly colored painting of the earth surrounded by plants with smiling animals in its center. The second is a blackboard of inspirational quotes ranging from “EAT TO NOURISH YOUR BODY,” and “El respeto al derecho ajeno es a paz,” to “Love yourself. You are cute."
Keyla Aguiler walks out of the kitchen to greet us. Only in her early 20s, she’s responsible for managing the restaurant. The earth painting is hers, as is the blackboard writing.
Soon, you notice the family’s imprint everywhere.
Earth Plant Based Cuisine is the epitome of family-owned and -operated. Opening a restaurant was the idea of Keren Aguiler, Keyla's sister. She wanted to share the family's food with the public. Eric Aguiler, or dad to the sisters, and his close friend (now business partner, Martin German) decided to make the dream become a reality.
It was a bare box when they found the space. What mattered most was that it be positioned among other environmentally friendly stores. This place is a true labor of love, every inch created by the family, every item sourced locally.
“My sister did the floor,” she says. Do you mean she helped? After all, she’s only 19. “No. She did it all, poured the concrete and polished it. Plus, she helped my father build the tables.” The wooden tables and ceiling panel, or cloud ceiling, are built from recycled wood pallets, the bar from recycled wooden beams.
The Aguiler family started eating vegan food about five years ago, not an easy task for a Hispanic family. They had to part with their favorite foods for quite a while. But then they decided to re-create vegan versions of their family recipes. Turns out, they were good at it. At potlucks, their meals won the praises of those traditional and skeptical relatives. Eventually, even the grandparents came around.
The family's goal as business owners is to prove to non-vegans that plant-based food can be just as delicious.
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“No. We don’t eat grass, nor just salads,” Keyla says. The food is prepared using only organic and non-GMO products. They compost and recycle. Moreover, to them, saving the planet means paying attention to the animals, too. As such, part of the proceeds from the restaurant supports animal shelters.
This place is no muss, no fuss, humble, and intimate. It fits at most 45 people. You order at the counter and they bring it to you. After the meal, you clear your plate and dispose of the leftovers in the appropriate bin for compost or recycling. The menu is entirely plant-based Mexican food with a number of tempting milkshakes.
Okay, there’s also a delicious Sonoran hot dog that should not be overlooked. For those who have more dietary restrictions, they offer soy-free and gluten-free options as well.
Earth Plant Based Cuisine.
1325 Grand Avenue, #7; 480-465-2110
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday