The Stumptown Vegans Travel!
|The Breadfruit in Phoenix, AZ Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 108 E Pierce St. Phoenix, AZ 85004|
|Hours: Lunch and Dinner Only||Times Visited: 1|
The Breadfruit was a sigh of relief in downtown Phoenix. In the immediate area of the convention center and hotel land, there are disappointing vegan options around every corner, if you can even find them. With a car or time for public transportation you can head to the much talked about Green in Tempe and northeast to a Vegetarian House run by my favorite organized group that talks to animals, but this reviewer was a pedestrian with limited time. My hotel was across from the Arizona Center: home of Hooters, Pizzeria Uno, Subway, and My Big Fat Greek Restaurant. The latter of which told me their falafel was made of chickpeas, and that’s it. Nothing else in there. How reassuring!
So I was thrilled when I learned of the possibility of a real meal, full of vegetables and protein at The Breadfruit. It is a new Jamaican cuisine themed restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner hours, a few blocks outside of the main hotel area downtown. There’s something just so clean about Phoenix, and that follows into the interior of this restaurant. For a space that seemed so fresh, it was considerably comfortable. There were worn in walls of brick, paired with expanses of bold lime green. The indoor tables were solid black with two or four seats, and for a change during my travels, I wasn’t the only person dining alone. There was another patron having a quiet dinner and working on a laptop. It’s a place you could go on a nice date or a business lunch. With most of the indoor tables taken and one of outdoor tables also being occupied on a weekday evening, I imagine there’s much popularity on the weekends.
The two vegan entrées ($9.75 each) are clearly marked on the menu. The Pop Cho with Sweet Ginger is described as a vegetable dish of baby bok choy, pickled ginger, rosemary, onions, and garlic sautéed with rice wine vinegar, Pickepeppa and Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum. It comes served with ridiculously delicious sounding Jamaican sweet potatoes mashed with more garlic and rosemary. It was hard to pass on this and if I ever find myself in Phoenix again, it will be sampled. My waitress recommended the other vegan option and I took her up on the Coconut Curried Tofu. It was a sweet, sumptuous, Jamaican style curry. I’ve only had something like it once before at an Apron Activist dinner and the flavors waltzed back into my mouth. The rad, helpful waitress told me that the tofu described was actually going to be 100% Soy chunks. I wasn’t sure how I should process that besides thinking, “Yay, soy protein!” The tender, yet firm, two-inch pieces of soy are simmered in a classic Blue Mountain coconut curry sauce with more Pickepeppa (think of it as a tomato-tamarind based Jamaican ketchup), diced tomatoes, garlic, large pieces of scallions, and seasoned with thyme. It was served with traditional style red beans and rice, coconut steamed bell pepper, cabbage, and sweet plantains. The few plantain slices were oven roasted, which was a non-oily plus compared to pan frying, but could have used a bit of salt. The vegetables were nicely steamed, tasting faintly of coconut and the pepper they were dusted with. The sweet sides mixed well with the wholesome rice and beans alongside the vibrantly flavored curry.
A bunch of the starter items are vegan by default, but an entrée is an excellent amount of food for one. There’s no real need to order a starter unless you’re craving more plantains or wanting to make a meal out of starters, which include the side dishes to the meals above and Ital Coleslaw($2.75). I recall my waitress telling me that most of the vegetable dishes were, in fact, vegan, but inquire to be certain. Speaking of supportive staff members, one of the chefs also popped her friendly head out from the kitchen to see if I was enjoying my meal. I certainly was and she seemed thrilled that I was vegan and dining there.
On top of the reality of enjoying a substantial, dare I say, fancy, vegan dinner at The Breadfruit, there was a bonus – they had a housemade vegan dessert! – Ginger Sweet Potato Pudd’n ($5.50). The waitress simply told me the title and I started nodding my head. The Breadfruit’s signature dessert is a slice of firm pudding made up of grated Jamaican sweet potato, fresh ginger, raisins, nutmeg, and sprinkled with flaked coconut. Are you following me here? Every bite burst with sweet ginger and showcases sweet starch and coconut as a couple that’s meant to be. If you’ve had Papa G’s coconut mashed yams, you know what I mean. It’s unlike any sliced dessert I’ve had in recent memory. It had a creamy, almost grainy texture with the occasional, juicy raisin. The lucky pieces of pudd’n with toasted coconut are still on my freaking mind.
The Breadfruit also serves fresh carrot juice mixed with coconut milk and spices, Sorrel tea, Ting soft drinks, non-alcoholic Spicy Ginger Beer, and Blue Mountain coffee available with soy and coconut creamer. Their signature dessert alone is a reason to go back, on top of providing an exciting and Caribbean vegan meal.
Dear Phoenix folks,
Please know that this Stumptown Vegan would welcome a more thorough exploration of your city in the future, and a meal at Greens! Recommendations appreciated~