Nestled in an unassuming complex surrounded by neighbors like McDonald’s and Panda Express, lies the “Best Phoenix Vegan Restaurant of 2012,” according to the Phoenix New Times. Even without the café’s high accolades from Times and Forbes, it only takes one visit to fall in love with this place. Pomegranate started out as a shared dream between the mother and daughter duo, Marlene and Cassie Tolman. According to the café’s site, Marlene has a strong background in nonprofit work, and received her Certificate in Patisserie and Baking from Scottsdale Culinary Institute’s Cordon Bleu. Cassie graduated from the nation’s oldest vegetarian culinary school, the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Between Marlene’s business-oriented mentality, and Cassie’s unique ability to bring vegan and vegetarian food to life, Pomegranate is now a prospering small business, providing both savory and sweet veggie-based meals for all types of eaters.
I’ve been going to Pomegranate ever since it opened in 2009. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this café is an autoimmune patient’s dream. There are options for every type of allergy, and the owners and staff are more than willing to accommodate any requests. Raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or reduced sugar, if it’s not on the menu, all you have to do is ask. For the juice and smoothie drinkers, Pomegranate has an array of fruit and vegetable options, like the rainbow juice containing: golden beet, red beet, carrot, cucumber, kale, apple, ginger, and orange. My favorite smoothie is the coconut cooler, with young coconut meat, coconut water, and frozen pineapple. It’s my healthy piña colada.
The café commits to using seasonal produce, so the menu does slightly change throughout the year. However, there are some menu staples, including my favorite, the raw Arizona Roll. This roll is the café’s take on sushi, using nori seaweed, avocado, vegetables, and almond “cheese.” Recently I tried the gluten-free Bountiful Bowl with brown rice, tepary beans, walnut taco “meat”, greens, avocado, and more. It was a flavorful and filling take on the traditional taco salad. If you’re looking for something a little less creative, then there’s typical breakfast fare, sandwiches, and vegetable burgers to appease the simple palate. For any fellow special dieters out there with parents and partners who eat anything and everything, this is the place to take them. Sometimes “vegan” and “vegetarian” come with interesting connotations that scare off your classic omnivore. Pomegranate Café certainly defies these connotations in the taste department, and its bright, clean, and casual atmosphere makes healthy seem mainstream – a much-needed shift for this country.
Place: Pomegranate Café
Where: 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 28, Phoenix, AZ 85048
When: Tues-Sat 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Mondays (Tip: They periodically change their hours, so always check before going!)
Who to take: From your carnivorous to your omnivorous loved ones, it’s great for anyone. It’s especially great for refueling with a girlfriend after yoga.
What they offer: Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, low-sodium, and reduced-sugar options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prices aren’t listed for the foods and drinks above, because they sometimes change.
For more information, and the above items’ current prices, head over to the café’s site.
Kelly Hultgren-Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis-Contributing Writer