Eating Vegan in Tucson, Arizona
We knew eating vegan in Tucson would be easy. We just didn’t think we’d be here so long! With the RV in the shop, we’ve got plenty of time to scour Tucson for all the vegan noms.
As we browsed Happy Cow for vegan food options, we ran across Yoshimatsu and saw they had loads of vegan options including several bento boxes. That’s right, vegan bento boxes! Japanese restaurants will usually have some vegan options, but finding vegan bento boxes isn’t that easy. So we had to go. We ended up going twice.
We each ordered a bento box, and then Kevin ordered two appetizers since he got the smaller bento. Below is the age dashi tofu. It is a battered and fried tofu in a broth with onions and mushrooms. The tofu itself is a bit soft. We love it, but it might not be the best choice for someone trying tofu for the first time.
And this is a stick of the brussels sprouts and the atsu age tofu. They grilled the sprouts and served them with a bit of sauce, teriyaki maybe? And the tofu was lightly marinated and grilled. It was firm tofu and showcased the tofu without being bland. This tofu would be a good choice for a newbie to try that doesn’t wholly mask its tofuness.
Next up is the Veggie Matsu Bento. Hey, I was hungry, so I got the big one. I had no idea what Tofu Caprese Salad was, but I’ll try anything if it’s vegan. It came with your choice of two skewers, and I got the same ones Kevin ordered as an appetizer. There was a little cup of pickles next to them.
The Tofu Caprese Salad turned out to be a very fresh cold tofu sprinkled with fresh ginger and served with tomatoes, and I’m honestly not sure what the green was. It was similar to basil. As longtime tofu eaters, both of us enjoyed the freshness of this tofu. We don’t usually eat the wiggly white blocks, but this was so good. However, it’s subtle and probably not for tofu beginners.
Below that, I had a bowl of assorted veg: cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and sugar snap peas.
And then next to that was a big pile of tempura vegetables with a dipping sauce. I think it was sweet potato, onion, and eggplant.
The reason I love bento boxes is the same reason I like thali; you get to taste many different things. And this is something I would never make at home. You’d have to spend all day in the kitchen for 10 minutes of enjoyment.
Kevin’s orange tofu bento box came with pickles, seaweed salad, edamame, a salad, the orange tofu, and rice. The tofu was soft inside like the agedashi tofu. The sauce was a little sweet and similar to a sweet and sour sauce.
Oh, and my bento also said it came with a four-piece avocado roll. And then this arrived. It was bigger than expected! I figured it would be a simple avocado make, just avocado inside and rice outside. But this roll was full of veggies, and the avocado was on top. We love veggie sushi!
And the second time we visited Yoshimatsu, we both got the Ginger Tofu Bento. The restaurant was slammed our first visit, and they were out of miso soup, but we got some this time. Miso soup is another dish that is not ordinarily vegan. Usually, it’s made with a fish broth.
And this is the bento box. It’s similar to the one Kevin had our first visit. The tofu was again soft inside. And it was like the agedashi tofu without the broth.
If we get a chance to go back, I want to try one of the noodle dishes. If you happen to be dining with omnivores, this restaurant is an excellent option that gives vegans loads of choices.
While we’ve found Tucson to be pretty vegan-friendly, there are few all-vegan restaurants. Loving Spoonfuls is all vegan and has been around for over ten years.
They serve breakfast (every day!), lunch, and dinner. We popped in here for lunch one day and made sure we were early enough for breakfast to be an option.
Kevin ordered the Golden Nuggets. They’re like chicken nugget strips. We got both the ranch and buffalo sauces.
My first choice was the kale scramble, but they were out of kale. The Horror! So I ordered my second choice, the Reuben. I’ve been making it my mission to eat vegan Reubens all over the country so why not add another one to my list.
I’ve had so many Reubens now that I have high expectations. This one was okay, but I wanted the tempeh to have more flavor. It was just a little bland. But since I can cook, I do have high expectations.
Kevin got the french toast. It was good but we’ve had the vegan french toast at Pick Me Up Cafe in Chicago, and they set a high bar. If you like more of an eggy taste to your french toast, this isn’t it. It doesn’t have that play between savory and sweet – it’s all sweet.
We wanted to like this food better. And I’m not saying it was terrible at all. It just felt like the restaurant hadn’t put their mark on the dishes. We probably need to go back and give them another shot and try some different things.
Being in the southwest, we don’t want to miss any opportunities to try vegan Mexican and Mexican inspired food. Tumerico doesn’t have a set menu. What the restaurant serves each day is based on what they find in the local markets. All the food is vegan by default, but they do have eggs and cheese that you can add.
First, let me tell you because no one warned us – the food is massive! If you don’t have an enormous appetite, and even if you do in some cases, plan to share a plate or have leftovers. That said, leftovers are delicious heated up.
So, remember how I said the menu changes based on the market? Well, I probably should have taken a picture of the menu each time we visited. But I didn’t. So I’m just going to have to wing it.
Every time you visit you get a bowl of soup. It’s light. Don’t worry about it filling you up.
My tacos were jackfruit and had a chimichurri sauce. The taco plates come with dressed greens, yellow rice spiked with veggies, and some melt in your mouth pinto beans.
Kevin got tacos that had eggplant in them. But you wouldn’t know that. It’s not eggplanty eggplant if that makes sense. I think it was the Tacos de Chicharron. Since we each got three tacos, we traded one.
When we went back to Tumerico, the menu had changed a little. So we had different options. There was also a box of vegan doughnuts on the counter. What? I’m not usually all about plain glazed doughnuts, but this one was amazing. Like, as good as Ronald’s but in a more upscale kind of way if that makes sense.
I got the avocado tacos and didn’t read and comprehend that it came in fried shells. Oh, darn. Each taco shell was full of avocado and held up nicely.
Kevin got the jackfruit carnitas plate, and it arrived as a mountain. It was huge! This jackfruit though is ridiculous. You will give it a side eye wondering if it’s meat. It isn’t, but it is the best jackfruit we’ve ever had. Ever. The soy chorizo was also fantastic. There was also some cubed fried eggplant that, again, wasn’t very eggplant-like. And I think rice and beans were under that pile somewhere. We had loads of leftovers.
We were curious about the pancakes in molé sauce that we heard about on our first visit, but they weren’t on the menu. So while we were eating Wendy brought out a plate for us. What? They were the perfect balance of sweet and savory. If you see these on the menu and want to try something you won’t get anywhere else, order them!
Are you jealous of your omnivore friends that have unlimited taco options when in the southwest? You need to visit Tanias 33 where vegans aren’t just an afterthought. As a bonus, we got to go with our friend Jill Sessa who we hadn’t seen since the Florida Keys last year. It’s always good catching up with other road buddies!
You’ll see the word vegan all over the menu and on the walls.
As much as we love rice, beans, and guacamole, we yearn for traditionally seasoned vegan meats. Tanias 33 has that. But they also have a lightly battered cauliflower that you have to try.
Seriously, zoom in and check out all your options on the menu. We recommend you get one of the combo plates so you can try a few different things. We visited a few times and still didn’t cover all the options.
I don’t drink high fructose corn syrup soda or diet soda but enjoy an occasional soda made with real sugar.
I got the two item combo with a cauliflower taco and the vegan tamale. Because when there’s a vegan tamale, you need to order it.
Here’s a close up of the cauliflower innards.
Here’s the tamale unwrapped. I’m honestly not sure what the filling was. Maybe the vegan machaca?
Kevin got the four-item combo. These are his tacos.
And then he had another taco and an enchilada. He and Jill both had the mushrooms and said they were insanely good. So much so that Jill ordered some to take with her.
On another visit, this time with The Motorhome Experiment as they passed through Tucson, I wanted to try the lentils, but they were out. So I got the soy verde enchilada and another cauliflower taco because they’re amazing.
On yet another visit, we got up on some burritos. Well, I got a regular burrito. Kevin got the large chimichanga.
Here’s my hand in the photo so you can get an idea the size of this burrito. Kevin couldn’t finish his. They have two bigger sizes!
Now, after typing this, I want to go back for lunch. This restaurant is another great place to go with your meat-eating friends. There’s something for everyone.
One of our AirBNBs was not far from 4th Avenue over by the university. We could walk to the co-op, coffee shops, and many other restaurants from here. It was so conveniently located!
The day we were planning to meet Paul and Lorena at Tanias 33, we knew we wanted to save stomach capacity for tacos, so we looked for a light option for lunch.
Revolutionary Grounds is a coffee and bookstore with a small cafe menu right on 4th Avenue. They had loads of books on politics, social justice, and history. We also thought this “blind date with a book” concept was fun. It reminded us of the Bibliomat in Toronto where you would put in your money and get a random book.
We both got the Che’s Fave sandwich on a bagel. It’s vegan turkey, cheese, avocado, pepperoncini, mayo, and hot sauce. And it was a delicious combination!
They also had vegan baked goods. The chocolate chip cookie was soft and chewy. The peanut butter blondie was almost fudge-like. They also had free wi-fi if you want to work there.
Since we were going to take the car out to go by the RV, we decided to try something out of the neighborhood. I’m always down for falafel and Kevin was in the mood for it, so we popped on over to Zayna Mediterranean. It was bustling for lunch – a good sign.
The website says right at the top that they have vegetarian and vegan options. The server told us exactly what was or could be vegan and gave us great advice.
I got the falafel plate. It included five falafel balls, hummus, baba ghannuj, grape leaves, and pita.
And Kevin got the cauliflower sandwich with the Zayna fries. The Zayna fries are house seasoned fried potato slices. It tasted like smoked paprika and some other spices. They’re outstanding! And so was the cauliflower. Is cauliflower the new kale? Apparently.
We shared all of our food. Everything was wonderful. If you go with two people, ordering one of the plates and a sandwich is a great way to try many different things.
For dinner one night, we were looking for something near the house and saw Guilin Chinese Restaurant on Happy Cow. The reviews were a little mixed, but they always are. The restaurant did have a vegetarian and a vegan section. So we thought we’d try it out.
We should talk about the menu for a second. It’s a little weird because there’s a vegetarian section and then one marked vegetarian/vegan. The server said only the one labeled vegan was vegan. That seemed strange because there were a bunch of tofu dishes on the vegetarian side. They wouldn’t be using dairy and egg didn’t make sense in those meals so we have no idea what was up with that. So we didn’t question it and stuck with the vegan menu. Also, the menu online is presented differently than the one in the restaurant.
We started with the drumsticks. They’re similar to ones we’ve had elsewhere. The vegan chicken shreds off the stick and the outsides are covered with yuba maybe. We had no complaints.
We each ordered our default Chinese dishes. I got the vegan Kung Pao Chicken. It was okay, but the sauce didn’t have the depth it does typically. It tasted like a standard brown sauce with a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes.
Kevin got the vegan General Tso’s Chicken. Again, it lacked the flavor you might generally expect. The sauce was more like a straight-up sweet and sour sauce missing some of the sour.
All that said, we ate our leftovers for lunch the next day. So we didn’t hate it.
Did you say vegan ice cream? Not sorbet, but creamy flavors? Oh, we’ve gotta go there, of course! You don’t find a vegan ice cream parlor in every city. So we worked Cashew Cow into our schedule.
As the name gives away, this ice cream is cashew based. When we walked in, there were a few flavors available from standards like chocolate and vanilla to fancier flavor mixes. You could get a taste, but I just jumped right in and got chocolate and the Kahlua swirl. The chocolate was rich; both were creamy but not overly sweet. They complemented each other nicely.
Kevin got maple walnut and cookies and cream. By the way, this is the small cup. It isn’t that small! We had no trouble making it disappear though.
Cashew Cow wasn’t the only frozen dessert option in town. There’s also a frozen yogurt shop called Twirls. It used to be called U-swirl and is still listed that way in Happy Cow.
Twirls is a self-serve place. You grab a cup and start filling with your frozen yogurt choice and then head over to the toppings bar.
When we visited, there were four vegan flavors. All were sorbets, but one was chocolate so I was willing to try it. Now the smallest cup they have is still pretty huge. If you fill it, you’ll end up with a $10 frozen yogurt because it’s charged by the pound.
I like the serve yourself concept because you can get exactly the amount you want. We both showed remarkable restraint. I got all chocolate with Oreos and almonds. Kevin got chocolate and pomegranate with Oreos. I wish they’d had the almond milk based frozen yogurt, but it was still good.
Keep in mind; we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Tucson has to offer. While there aren’t that many entirely vegan restaurants, there are loads of places that have unique vegan options. You will have no trouble eating vegan in Tucson.
About the Author
vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.