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5 Vegetarian-Friendly Ethnic Restaurants in Metro Phoenix

Vegetarians don’t have to worry about asking whether there is lard in the beans at
America’s Taco Shop. There isn’t. Choose from tostadas, a bean bowl or our favorite, the burrito filled with veggies, rice, cheese and lard-free beans. America Corrales, owner of the restaurant with her husband, Terry Bortin, decided to make a conscious choice in not including lard in the beans.

“We wanted people to have the option to eat healthier,” she says. For vegetarians, these beans are a welcome since most restaurants opt to cook with lard. No pig fat doesn’t mean the taste is compromised. The beans taste unprocessed and natural – with the salsas and guacamole, the flavors work together to satisfy.

The restaurant’s Scottsdale location is quaint and full of history, with pictures of America and her family. You can feel the nostalgia as Terry points to the portraits on the wall of his daughters and the outtakes of America’s upbringing in Mexico. Colorful walls give the place a quirky, but fun casual atmosphere.

All locations serve meat-free beans, so no need to ask if they are vegetarian-safe. Sit back and enjoy your healthy Mexican feast.

Dip your Ethiopian bread in the fasolia, gomen, misr wat and tikil gomen.

Judy Nichols

Cafe Lalibela

Vegetarians are sometimes intimidated by ethnic cuisines, assuming it’s best to stick to sides. Put this thought out of your mind when experimenting with the menu at Cafe Lalibela since the combo plate is made for vegetarians. We counted at least eight vegetarian options. Among our favorites: azifah – lentils with onion, jalapeños, lemon, tikil gomen – lightly spiced carrots, cabbage, potatoes and turmeric and yekika alicha, yellow split peas spiced with onion, turmeric and herbs.

Lalibela creates a cozy and communal vibe, with seating similar to what you find in its native land. Although dining here is fun for two, the atmosphere is optimal for family enjoyment. You can sit on low-to-the-ground soft chairs in a circle, while passing around your communal plate. The best part of the Lalibela experience is the soft Injera bread (a sourdough bread made from teff flour, available gluten free) as a dipping tool for all the lentils and vegetables. You can check off your food groups while dining at Lalibela — carbs, veggies and protein. With this meal, you won’t be reaching for a midnight snack.

Malee’s Thai Bistro

Thai food is traditionally cooked with fish sauce, oyster paste and meat broths. Most vegetarians immediately know when an item is served with fish sauce and even though the main ingredients may only be vegetables, the broth also needs to be meat-free too. Malee’s Thai Bistro will custom make the dishes you want with full vegetarian ingredients. The coconut curry with fried rice is a favorite. The spice of the curry and rice go well together and the heat level can be adjusted to mild, medium or hot. What’s convenient about Malee’s menu is the ease in which substitutions can happen for the vegetarian…

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