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Tucson - Flagstaff - Las Vegas Road Trip

Hello! I will be in town next month for a wedding. After spending a couple of days in Tucson, we will be driving up to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, spending a couple of nights in Flagstaff, and then heading over to Las Vegas. One member of the group is on a serious budget and is a vegetarian so I would like to find some places to stop along the road or in any of these cities that fits these requirements. My boyfriend and I can probably sneak out for a more expensive and meat based meals if there are any really great places you all recommend. I REALLY don't know the area and feel a little overwhelmed so any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

I definately would like to focus on South West specialities - I can get all types of cuisines where I live but we have trouble finding great Mexican here. Great gourmet shops where we can pick up food for the cooler would also be appreciated.

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  1. A good place to pick up in Tucson for the road is Feast, on Speedway; really excellent selection of salads, sandwiches, etc., and very nice folks work there. There are many recs for LV on the Board, so it would help to know what generally you like; if your vegetarian friend is up for a slight splurge, you might think about Origin India in LV,.
    For Mexican food, Tucson has an embarrasment of riches, and enjoy it there, b/c the pickings are much slimmer in Vegas for that although Vegas is generally a much more diverse food city than Tucson. But for high quality Mexican food, Tucson is the best....a few places we liked were Cafe Poca Cosa, Teresa's Mosaic (especially for b/f), Guerro Canalo, El Charro....and there are many more.

    6 Replies
    1. re: lvnvflyer

      What is b/f? I am drawing a blank!

      1. re: Keramel

        b/f = breakfast. BTW: the beef sampler at El Charro is terrific, as is their dessert sampler.

        1. re: Claudette

          OMG how embarrassing... I should have known that! Thanks for clarifying.

          1. re: Keramel

            I assumed it was 'boyfriend,' don't feel bad.

      2. re: lvnvflyer

        I second Feast. Wonderful restaurant, reasonably priced and Doug the owner is terrific too. He answers the restaurant email himself! This is a must stop for anyone visiting Tucson...nothing fancy, just good food at a good value. The only down side is they can't accommodate special events because we tried to reserve for a group event and they couldn't do it unfortunately.

        I really haven't been that impressed with Tucson's Mexican food. For being so close to the border and having such a high Mexican American population, I would think we had better choices. El Charro I don't like at all and while most people love Cafe Poca Cosa, I would rate it only as average. Most restaurants that claim to be "authentic" are greasy, tasteless, border type selections and the restaurants tend to be dirty and show up and the health inspector lists more often than other types of restaurants. I love Mexican food so maybe I am pickier than most, but I still find I have to make my own rather than go out or have dinner at one of my friends' homes to get really good Mexican food. I am still looking for a restaurant that makes a really good mole.

        The same goes for good Greek or Lebanese food. Most places do not know how to make hummus to save their lives! It is either too thin and runny, or too much tahini, garlic or olive oil. Rarely do they get the right consistency and balance of flavors. There used to be a small cafe that did it right but then they got new owners and haven't been able to make the hummus right since.

        1. re: cherylaz

          Easy to negate others' suggestion. How about adding some of your own?

      3. OK. I said this on another thread, and I'll say it again. If you are going through Flagstaff, you cannot miss the Canyon de Chelly. It is a remarkably beautiful place about 1.5 hours away from the Grand Canyon. Each canyon has a very different feel. You can hit both in the same day, and then drive to Flagstaff and stay the night. Or spend the night and hit the canyons the next day. It is worth the trip and will be the most interesting thing you see along the way. http://www.nps.gov/cach/

        In Flagstaff, there's a local brewery called Beaver Street Brewery that has good pizzas and sandwiches (and beer fondue) and good to great beers. Not pricey at all. http://www.beaverstreetbrewery.com/me...

        2 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater

          I second the rec for Beaver Street, and I will add that Macy's European Coffee House across the street is a wonderful place for vegetarians/vegans.

          1. re: dustchick

            Thanks all for the recommendations! I will definitely try to check them out!

        2. Pardon the interruption, folks, but we want to ask that you keep your responses to Keramel focused on the food and where to find it in all its deliciousness.

          While we understand there are many beautiful things to see on the trip, posting tips on them is not what Chowhound.com is about and such responses are considered off-topic.

          Thanks for your assistance.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Chowhound Team

            The extra recommendations were very appreciated actually. I hope that this tread can get a few more hits with food-related info despite the interruption!

          2. In Las Vegas, try Viva Mercados for Mexican. In addition, they have a vegitarian section on the menu.

            1. Inexpensive, vegetarian food in Tucson... Hmmm. Let me lead with a warning:

              There is a great deal of apparently vegeterian, inexpensive Mexican food in town. Be sure to ask if they use lard in the tortillas and / or beans. If they don't, some great meals can be had for a very few dollars at any of the dozens of little Mexican places, taco-trucks, and taqueirias in town. If you know which part of town you'll be in, I'd be glad to try make a few calls and see if there's a good local place with vegetarian tortillas and beans nearby.

              Other good reccy's to meet those requirements:

              Laverna's: A breakfast and lunch place in the south-central part of town. Delicious, big breakfasts including knock-your-socks-off pancakes. 220 S Plumer Ave 85719 (520) 623-1389

              Govindas ( http://www.govindasoftucson.com/ ) may be THE vegetarian restaurant in Tucson.

              Shish Kebab House offers traditional middle eastern and Lebanese food, quite good. 5855 E. Broadway Blvd., No. 118. (520) 745-5308

              Garland Bistro offers an eclectic combination of foods, including a number of tasty vegetarian options. 119 E Speedway Blvd 85705 (520) 882-3999

              1. Cafe Poca Cosa in Tucson, Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, definitely. Flagstaff is a hippie town, rife with vegetarian options. There's good Thai food in town. Also near Macy's and the brewery is Biff's Bagels, a friendly internet cafe. Flagstaff also has some nice wine bars -- stroll around downtown, you'll see them.

                In Las Vegas any of the Michoacan family are wonderful -- Lindo Michoacan or Viva Michoacan, with normal, non-Strip meal prices. Also you'll find a lot of recommendations for Lotus of Siam here.

                1. We just spent a couple nights in Flag last month and had a great time. Based on Chowhound recommendations, we went to Karma for sushi the first night. It was outstanding. Both creative and classic - well prepared sashimi and very good rolls and dishes. I was impressed. It's right on 66 across from the train depot.

                  We also stopped and had a glass of wine and desert at Cuvee, right on the square. What a fun place - not a cafe trying to be a wine bar or a wine bar trying to be a restaurant ... it's a real wine bar. With retail, too, I might add . . . . walked out with a fun bottle and leftover chocolate cake!

                  The second night we ate at Brix and it was outstanding. A beautiful interior with great service - the name is an apparent pun between the wine term (brix) and the building materials (bricks). The menu was classic with creative touches and very solid, locally-focused ingredients with well described pedigree. Interesting wine list, too. Another real winner.

                  Flagstaffites (ians, ies, what is it?) you are blessed with some good food!

                  1. Wow! What a great experience. My wife and I visited Brix in Flagstaff, Arizona on 9 & 10 Nov, 2008 and we very impressed with our meals, service and experience. Night One: On our first night we started our meal with the cheese plate with three cheeses (Le Delice (the best), Ibores and Point Reyes Blue). The cheese servings were huge and were served on Lavash with an apricot and fig reduction on the side. The delicious cheese flavors and the sweet fruit were a great combo. From there we split a Caesar salad made with Spanish anchovies (Bocherons) and found the salad a nice departure from the traditional salty anchovies. From there we shared the Tuxedo Tuna (seared Ahi with black and white sesame seeds) and the grass fed Steak Frites. The Ahi was done perfectly and the New York Strip steak was absolutely amazing with the wine-rosemary demi, frites and delicious truffled aioli. We were too full to even think about desert. Night Two: We enjoyed our meal on night one so much we decided to return again. The Chef and staff remembered us from the previous night and gave us a warm greeting. The Chef even presented us with a surprise crab cake appetizer that was simply over the top. Nice touch for repeat customers. We repeated the cheese plate (Roaring 40’s Blue (too strong), Le Delice and Piave Vecchio (great flavor)), Caesar salad, Washington State Bouchet Mussels with Pancetta, garlic, tomato, white wine and cream – absolutely amazing flavor, and the Churro Navajo sheep plate. The locally grown Churro sheep plate came three ways – medallions, Pot-au-feu and ribs. Each was prepared to perfection. Our favorite was the Pot-au-feu with the buttery crust. We were not a fan of the cured vegetables. Night two ended with another great meal with great staff in a fun town. Both nights we ordered the Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay and found the wine went especially well with the cheeses. I wish we could eat this way once a week – forever.

                    We have been to a 1 Star Michelin in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brix was just as good, if not better because the staff made our stay very enjoyable. Chef David Smith took the time to tell us how he prepared our meals and let us peak into the tiny kitchen – how does he cook such great food in such a small kitchen I don’t know? Chef David’s food is simply great. We guarantee will be back soon.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefPtomaine

                      Teresa's Mosaic is one of our favorites. Note that most of her food is Oaxacan and isn't as spicy as you may be used to.

                      We advise our visiting friends to skip El Charro, well past its prime.

                      Teresa's Mosaic Cafe
                      2456 N Silver Mosaic Dr, Tucson, AZ 85745