Chow Bella

Fresh Vegetarian Fare at 24 Carrot Juice

It's not always easy to find a place that serves quick, healthy, and satisfying vegan and vegetarian options. Even a lot of meat lovers like to hunker down to a big plate of vegetables, beans, and grains from time to time. 

There are a handful of restaurants in the Valley that fit the bill, and each neighborhood surely deserves their own vegetarian spot. Those in Chandler are lucky to have 24 Carrot Juice, conveniently located on Chandler Blvd. near the 202, I-10, and the 101.

While the Pita Pizzas come in Italian-inspired varieties, they also offer an Asian-inspired option. The Thai Coconut Curry Pita Pizza is fresh and delicious. It's topped with their house-made hummus and curry as well as lime juice, sesame, and seasonal veggies, which right now are red cabbage, carrots, and kale. The serving was definitely enough to justify spending $7.85, and one pizza is a filling meal on its own. The yellow curry sauce wasn't outstanding, but it was flavorful and nicely spiced. At first having hummus with a Thai coconut curry sounded odd, but it's a surprisingly great combo. Served as warm pita bread with cold curry sauce, it had a nice temperature contrast too.

Sasha Raj, owner of 24 Carrots Juice, sources as much fresh, local produce as she can find and uses what's available to update the menu on a daily basis. There are lots of daily specials to choose from, including the House Burger Basket, Farmers Feast, and a soup of the day. Menu standbys, like salads and Pita Pizzas, typically list "seasonal veggies" or "fresh veggies" as an ingredient.

The daily veggie burger special was a Pad-Thai Burger with pineapple pepper chutney, cabbage slaw, and lemon coconut vinaigrette. This burger actually packed quite a bit of heat - not scorching, but not timid either. The patty is made out of rice noodles, quinoa, and vegetables, so the texture isn't at all like meat...but who cares? It's spicy, flavorful, and original, making it the kind of thing we would return for again and again. Hopefully 24 Carrots opts to make it a repeating weekly special, preferably Wednesday through Saturday when they're open until 8 pm. (The rest of the week they close at 2 pm.)

What vegetarian restaurant would be complete without salad? Thankfully, 24 Carrots Juice has some unique offers that go beyond Caesar and ranch dressing, including a Raw Zucchini Noodle Salad. Organic zucchini is made into, not ribbons, but round noodles about the diameter of spaghetti. They're tossed with kale, fresh seasonal vegetables and greens, a seed medley, and dressing of your choice. The house dressing has a balsamic vinegar base, and other varieties of dressing to choose from include pom-berry vinaigrette.

Last but not least, 24 Carrot Juice does, of course, have juice and smoothies. Although "Juice" is in the restaurant name, the smoothie was the only disappointing part of the meal. The menu says that the Mango Smoothie is made from imported Alphonso mangoes with milk and yogurt. That's all true, but it was watered down with too much ice to appreciate it. As a big fan of mango lassis, to me this smoothie tasted like a poor imitation. So maybe it's best to order one of the fresh juice blends instead.

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Dominique Chatterjee