Berry Pancakes | Photo by Lisa Patel
Vegan & Vine, a family-owned vegan café/wine bar/market, opened in the Moon Valley area last May. I had been hearing about this newest addition to the Phoenix vegan scene for a couple months and was quite delighted when my editor asked me to check it out.
Vegan & Vine, easily spotted off the main road as you drive down East Thunderbird Road near North Seventh Street, is the lone vegan food spot in an area quite far from the cluster of go-to vegan eateries located in the lower part of Seventh Street in the Coronado District.
I decided to stop by on a Friday for an early lunch. I easily park my car in one of the many spots available right outside the cafe — a luxury compared to looking for parking at places my friends and I frequent in Downtown Phoenix. Upon entering the café , the first thought I have as I observe the dining area is that it is modern yet homey. The right side of the café is dominated by exposed red brick walls with wooden tables and black metal chairs. The left side, in contrast, features a sleek modern bar with a white countertop, wood paneling and a white tile backsplash. The all-wood ceiling and floors create a cozy atmosphere.
Grilled cheese & tomato soup | Photo by Lisa Patel
Manager Grace Lowland greets me and asks where I would like to sit. I opt to settle myself down at the bar to get the best view of the dining area, kitchen and customers. The dining area is pretty full and I notice my fellow diners are of diverse ages. The orders coming out look scrumptious.
I ask Lowland for the brunch menu in addition to the regular menu with the goal of trying one item from each. The daily brunch menu features options such as a breakfast burrito, tofu scramble and pancakes. The regular menu features an eclectic array of vegan small plates such as crispy tofu and buffalo cauliflower and main dishes such as an arugula and beet salad, a cheeseburger and a grilled cheese and tomato soup combo.
Given its name, Vegan & Vine fittingly has plenty of vegan wine options to choose from – mostly from vineyards in California and Oregon. They do have one Arizona source for their wines, the family-owned LDV winery located in the Chiricahua Mountains. They have a full service bar where you can order standard cocktails, beers from local breweries such as The Shop Beer Co. and Four Peaks Brewing Co., as well as espresso-based coffee drinks.
I am told the menus I am perusing are soft menus that have been developed by chef Paul Grzenia who has worked at the Talavera at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Scottsdale and multiple restaurants in Chicago, including working with Michelin-starred chef Giuseppi Tentori. Grzenia is working on creating menus for Vegan & Vine that will feature rotating dishes incorporating seasonal ingredients starting this fall.
Berry Beignets | Photo by Lisa Patel
As I take my time trying to figure out what I want to order, I am told the proprietor was inspired to go vegan after her 8- and 10-year-old daughters returned from camp about a decade ago, influenced by their vegan camp instructor. These two young women now help run Vegan & Vine.
A patient Lowland finally takes my order. I know they don’t quite go together, but I settle on the Berry Pancakes from the brunch menu and the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup from the regular menu. She insists I must try the freshly made Berry Beignets as well. How could I say no? I’ve been vegan for more than 25 years and have never had a beignet (my first trip to France was after I became vegan and I’ve never been to New Orleans).
First to arrive are my grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. The cheese is perfectly melted between two slices of toasted bread. My first bite into the grilled cheese takes me back to warm memories of childhood – those days of grilled cheese made by my mother with Kraft singles rather than fancy gourmet cheddar cheese. The tomato soup is creamy and closer in consistency to a bisque. Lowland tells me the creaminess comes from a bit of coconut cream added to the soup.
Next, I am served my stack of pancakes. They come with a generous topping of fresh strawberry and blueberry compote and thinly sliced toasted almonds. As I dig my fork and knife into the pancakes to get my first bite ready, I notice the pancakes are thick and fluffy. Once my first bite is in my mouth, I sense a hint of vanilla. Once I ask Lowland for a side of maple syrup, I experience pancake perfection.
Vegan & Vine market | Photo by Lisa Patel
By now, I am very stuffed. But I have to try at least one beignet. The soft pillowy puff pastry comes covered in powdered sugar with a rich chocolate ganache, strawberries and blueberries – a decadent treat to end my meal. The beignets are made fresh in house every day.
The food at Vegan & Vine is sure to satisfy whether you are vegan, vegan-curious or simply want to go meatless for a meal. The food doesn’t use the healthiest of ingredients, but everyone can indulge every now and then, right?
Overall, I look forward to coming back again and trying several of their other dishes such as the mac and cheese or the peanut butter waffle. Maybe, next time I will stop by with friends on a weekend, when Vegan & Vine offers handmade brioche doughnuts and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. I also hope to spend time browsing through their market area which sells candles, soaps, chocolate, bottles of wine and to-go food items.
Vegan & Vine also offers wine glass painting classes and wine tastings as well as live music on certain days of the month. You can look out for announcements on their Instagram feed.
502 E. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix, 602-296-7638, veganandvineco.com