Lunch Under $10 at 24 Carrots

Good, cheap vegan food can be hard to come by in the Valley. But 24 Carrots Juice in Chandler hits the spot without being too boring, too greasy or too in-your-face.

Sandwiched between heavy-hitters like Subway and Starbucks, we half expected this pretty niche restaurant would be a ghost town, but it was pretty busy, a testament to its good food and friendly environment.

The menu is extensive, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. There are smoothies, fresh juices, breakfast, burgers and even made-daily vegan treats like pumpkin turnovers and mesquite chocolate chip cookies.

We ordered a half sandwich, half salad combo to maximize our tasting options.

The half Smoky BLT Club - with vegan bacon (a.k.a. spiced tofu), vegan garlic aoli, avocado and standard veggies - and half Autumn Bliss Salad, featuring apples, feta cheese and, although the menu said sweet orange blossom dressing, we're pretty sure we got the herb lemon dressing. But no matter, because it was all delicious.

The super herbed, vinegar dressing on the salad complemented the sharpness of the feta and the sweetness of the apple.

The sandwich was a tower of vegetables and thinly-sliced tofu with a slight smoky flavor. The aoli coupled with the avocado gave it all a creamy texture and packed with flavor.

The atmosphere is quite friendly; the employees know customers' names and are very attentive.

Be warned, though, that fresh food does take time, especially at 24 Carrots where they make everything from scratch and to order.

24 Carrots is located at 6140 W. Chandler Blvd. in Chandler, and you can order online through their website.

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