Suggested tagline for Helio Basin Brewing Co. in Phoenix: “Come for the beer, stay for the spectacular vegetarian fare.” Chef Tamara Stanger has drawn raves for her creative meatless offerings, including the chickpea tostada ($9) stacked with creamy house-made hummus. Sounds simple, but Stanger makes hummus the old-fashioned way by soaking dried chickpeas overnight, cooking them until tender and then adding baking soda to loosen and remove their skins. “It’s a long process, but taking the skins off helps the hummus be fluffier and less gritty,” she says.
Along with the expected tahini, lemon juice and garlic, Stanger adds a dose of earthy smoked paprika and juicy blackened Roma tomatoes for texture. She then piles a princely amount of the hummus, roasted onions and a tower of raw purple kale atop a crispy corn tortilla dusted with chile powder, paprika and brown sugar for a burst of unexpected flavor. She then garnishes the tostada with fried garbanzo beans and a tapenade made from prickly-pear-tea-soaked grapes and apple cider vinegar mixed with herbs. Helio Basin recommends pairing the dish with its house pale ale and seared banana cornbread ($6) – a fragrant and moist quick bread that’s reminiscent of buttery, crumbly cake. You’ll forget you just stopped in for a beer.
— Marilyn Hawkes
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