GLENDALE, AZ (GOOD MORNING ARIZONA) - Historic downtown Glendale, known for tree-lined streets, family-friendly festivals and quaint bungalow shops is making history again, as a sudden explosion of flavors and options puts the city on the map as a vegan dining destination.
It really took off when Veggie Rebellion, the state's first vegan grocery store opened in February 2018.
"We planted the flag and now they are coming," says owner Sandra McKee.
McKee says customers who stopped in for groceries often asked where they could also go to grab some lunch or dinner. So she started talking with downtown restaurant owners.
For Zach Willekens, manager at Cuff Downtown Bistro, adding vegan options to the menu was a "no brainer." He is a vegetarian himself and was always looking for ways to expand the menu. The restaurant now has a large vegan menu, and the vegan "Impossible Burger" often outsells Cuff's meat hamburger.
Just around the corner, Mi Vegana Madre is offering an entire vegan menu, including Mexican food favorites like tacos and empanadas among other choices. Owners Jose and Leticia Gamiz already had a vegan food truck and transitioning to a brick and mortar location seemed to be a natural follow up. Gamiz says he also found customers had been waiting for more options.
"Part of the fun of coming to events like Glendale Glitters is getting something to eat," he says. But for vegans the options had always been limited. But that is certainly not the case now.
Aside from Cuff and Mi Vegana Madre, you can feast on vegan pizza at Pizza Old Roma. Owner Kolby Waters says he was convinced to give the vegan cheese a try by McKee, over at Veggie Rebellion, and wanted a vegan pizza for herself.
For dessert, you can get a vegan pastry and coffee at A Shot of Java. Owner Lisa Dowd says she is getting more and more people asking for vegan options. You can even get vegan ice cream at Nomadic Ice Cream.
Cool down on a hot day with lemonade right next door at Lemoncade, Even Moe's Old Fashioned Burgers, where you will find diner favorites like cheeseburgers, hot dogs and milk shakes, has added a vegan burger option.
The city is also anxiously awaiting the arrival of Bonebreaker's Vegan Smokehouse food truck, by Chef Jason Wyrick, who also owns the nation's longest running vegan meal delivery service, The Vegan Taste, based in downtown Glendale.
While veganism, which excludes all animal products including dairy and eggs was once seen as a fad or "on the fringe" even non-vegans are now diving in. At Mi Vegana Madre, Gamiz says what diners are really looking for is great food, and if the vegan option tastes great, they are sold. And at Tangled Root Botanicals there are vegan friendly teas and skin care products as well.
All helping turn the city into one of the top 50 best cities for vegans in the nation, according to Wallethub.com. All of the restaurants are within walking distance of each other, giving vegan and non-vegan diners alike a chance to savor the flavor of Glendale.
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