to your health
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To Your Health
September, 2009, Page 170
Photography by Andrea Smith
Your body – and your taste buds – will thank you for these healthy, tasty options that will keep you feeling light in the lingering summer.
1301 N.W. Grand Ave., Phoenix
It may seem like an unlikely location, tucked inside the retro-cool but out-of-the-way 1940s Bragg’s Pie Factory building at McKinley Street and Grand Avenue. Yet chef/owner Ana Borrajo marches to her own beat, calling her trippy, sari-draped eatery “the culinary experiences of a globetrotter.”
You may have seen her at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, where for the past several years she ran a stand called Chill Out Café. This is bigger but similar, with a primarily vegetarian focus throughout breakfast, lunch and early dinner. Borrajo uses fresh vegetables (she grows her own herbs and often sources from Maya’s) to create light, lively dishes like Calcutta rolls (think omelet tortilla); tofu-raisin Marsala over rice, eggplant moussaka with soy “meat” sauce; or gypsy stew brimming with butternut squash, onion, green and white beans, pears, chickpeas and cilantro.
There’s meat, too, but with a healthy bent, such as Moroccan loaf, or chicken in zesty tomato-chipotle sauce atop fragrant basmati rice.
Even the healthiest eaters crave dessert, and Borrajo delivers with a silky crema catalana, mango-raspberry cake or peach melba under drifts of fresh whipped cream.
Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House
4773 N. 20th St., Phoenix
If you like it raw, baby, this place is for you. Anything on the lengthy vegetarian menu can be prepared vegan or raw. Ingredients are organic, natch, and though dishes may sound frightfully hippie, we defy you not to fall in love with delights like the surprisingly naughty-delicious “Fellowship” of nutty rawvocado dip, golden hummus and black bean sunflower hummus dunked with chipotle lahvosh and veggies.
The café, set amid an enormous selection of teas, herbs and spices, is designed to “nourish the body and soul,” and indeed it does, with antioxidant-licious dishes like Tacos Carnivale, a toss of crisp purple cabbage leaves spread with avocado-nut pâté, piquant chipotle salsa, and a vibrant mix of sprouts and veggies. Other highlights include the Moroccan Nomad stew, which is thick with chickpeas, raisins and cashews served over quinoa pilaf. One of our favorites is the “massage salad,” blending lacinato kale, raw walnuts and dried cranberries in a knock-your-socks-off citrus garlic marinade.
Finish up with raw cacao chocolate cups sweetened with agave syrup and flecked with hempseed.
Persian Garden Café
1335 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix
When Persian Garden opened nearly a decade ago, health-conscious eaters flocked to chef/owner Mahmoud Jaafari’s Middle Eastern emporium. Word got out about the ravishing spices, seasonings and brilliant flavors, and even carnivores began packing the place. Today, the eclectic menu entices as deeply as ever, drawing from a Persian base accented by Mediterranean, Italian, American, Mexican, Cajun, vegetarian and Asian influences.
The Mirza Faranghe features grilled eggplant, tomato, onion, garlic, feta cheese, fresh herbs and homemade cucumber-yogurt sauce over rice sprinkled with saffron-kissed onions, raisins and toasted almonds. Meat eaters can try the Wild Salmon Purple Shoots: Kodiak Island wild salmon grilled with fresh dill, garlic, olive oil, Persian spices, lemon juice and soy sauce alongside braised asparagus and grilled eggplant, topped with cu-gurt sauce and served with brown and white basmati rice in an almond saffron mix.
The setting is pretty, too, adorned with Persian carpets and carvings, all the better to linger over a slice of vegan carob chocolate cheesecake. “Your body will thank you later,” the menu promises; but our body thanks us now.
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