By Benjamin Leatherman
The oh-so-spicy "Buffalo '66" wrap.
I’ve got a somewhat scandalous confession to make.
While I’m 100 percent heterosexual, I freely admit to having something of a man-crush on Damon Brasch.
You can’t blame me, since the thirtysomething chef/restaurateur is the pimpest cat in the Valley’s vegetarian/vegan scene. How come?
As staff writer Michele Laudig described in her insightful profile of Brasch earlier this year, the dude’s renowned for the slew of phenomenally delicious animal-free eats he’s conjured up for each of his two restaurants: Green in Scottsdale, and That’s A Wrap in downtown Phoenix.
“I definitely have a passion for [vegan] food and the community knows that,” Damon says. “It’s definitely a crusade of mine to make food that’s healthy and also tastes good.”
Many of my vegan friends are also in rapture over Brasch’s culinary talents, freely gushing about the crab puffs or buffalo wings at Green, or the Veggie Jackson at That’s A Wrap. I’m more of a regular at the latter joint, only because it’s a mere three miles from my apartment.
And in recent weeks, I’ve had even more reason to crush on the place, as Brasch has added several new menu items. There's a total of four new wraps and salads available -- like the "Buffalo '66" and a balsamic picnic salad -- including some rather kick-ass options for meat-free peeps like myself.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the place, here’s the skinny: Every item on That’s A Wrap’s menu (be it salad, wrap, or rice bowl) is either sans animal products or can be ordered that way. For example, on my recent visit I had the chicken-centric “Buffalo 66” wrap made with grilled tofu instead of anything fowl.
The soy cubes were cooked in a fiery white wine and piled upon an organic mix of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies. Be warned though, it has a serious bite.
Up close and personal with the "Senorita No-Meeta"
I also picked up an old favorite of mine, the “Senorita No-Meeta” wrap. Containing a concoction of grilled peppers, organic black beans, garlic rice, and cheddar bits enclosed in a warm jalapeno tortilla, it’s a satisfying and filling selection.
And in case you’re worried about how the dish is prepared, Brasch says his chefs are meticulous about cooking tofu separately from meat products.
“We’re really careful about the utensils and preparation,” he says. “Most restaurants don’t go that far. I mean, it’s cool that Denny’s has a veggie burger, but you don’t want it flipped with the same spatula that touched a hamburger.”
Damn, you're smooth.
Probably the coolest new item at That’s A Wrap is a series of vegan smoothies. Available in six different flavors (including strawberry, mango, and chocolate), the frozen drinks are made from a blended mix of soy milk, organic fruit, filtered ice, and agave juice. The latter ingredient is a healthier alternative to high-fructose corn syrup or sugar, and gives each smoothie a delightfully mellow sweetness.
Since Brasch is happily married, chances are my man-crush will go unrequited. It’s all good though, since I can console myself with a couple Senorita No-Meetas. Plus the place is a hotspot for hottie vegan chicks.
Maybe I can crush on them.
That's a Wrap: Where hot vegan chicks go to eat.