Spotting a vegan dish on Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House’s menu is nothing new. The venerable Cave Creek eatery has offered vegan fare for years, but recently unveiled a stand-alone vegan menu with a handful of new offerings. Looking to imbue the menu with Southwestern flair, co-owner Eric Flatt and staff created Sonoran vegetable sopes ($14), a vegan version of the traditional Mexican dish featuring a fried masa shell (dough made from organic ground corn) filled with meat and vegetables.
Executive Chef Brett Vibber forms the masa shells by hand and then fries them lightly in 100 percent rice bran oil until they’re golden brown. After sautéing chopped yellow squash, zucchini and cilantro, he braises the vegetables in an adobo sauce of paprika, oregano, garlic, sherry vinegar and salt. Next, he piles the mixture into the masa shells, tickling it with a house-made charred salsa of flame-seared cherry tomatoes, smoked serrano chilies, Spanish onion and fresh lime juice. To add extra texture to the plate, Vibber includes a hearty slaw of Napa cabbage, carrot strings, green onions, cilantro, fresh lime juice, cider vinegar and olive oil, then finishes the dish with roasted jalapeños and wedges of grilled citrus. For vegetarians, Vibber can add cotija cheese or serrano crema.
Cartwright’s sister restaurant, Tonto Bar & Grill, has had a vegan menu for about 10 years, so it made sense to have a similar bill of fare at Cartwright’s. “[We did it] before it was a cool thing to do,” Flatt says. “Vegans really like having their own separate menu.”
Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House
6710 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek
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