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Downtown Glendale becoming a vegan food hotspot

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — It’s cooked and it looks just like a regular burger with a meat-like texture and flavor. But the “Impossible Burger” is actually a vegan burger.

It’s made out of plant-based ingredients, such as wheat and potatoes. The key ingredient is heme, which is what gives it a beef-like smell and taste.

“The Impossible Burger is our biggest seller,” said Zach Willekens, bar manager and event coordinator at the Cuff Downtown Bistro. “That brings in a lot of people because everyone wants to try it.”

The Cuff is one of many restaurants in downtown Glendale adding vegan options to their menus. A few blocks down, Pizza Old Roma is offering a vegan pizza. If tacos are more your taste, Mi Vagana Madre offers vegan tacos.

There are also several vegan dessert options, such as a vegan latte and pastries at A Shot of Java and vegan ice cream at Nomadic Ice Cream.

Willekens, a vegetarian and on-and-off vegan, said he used to have to drive to Phoenix or Scottsdale for vegan food. That’s no longer the case now with all the vegan options available in downtown Glendale.

“It’s a hole in the market that was never filled until now,” he said.

Katy Engles, director of downtown development for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, said more vegan options means more people are visiting the downtown area.

“We’re seeing that influx, and we’re happy they’re coming to us because we want people to experience different things downtown,” she said.

Engles said it all started in February with the opening of the Veggie Rebellion, the state’s first vegan grocery store, in downtown Glendale. She said the owner of the grocery store, Sandra McKee, worked with restaurant managers and owners to give them ideas on vegan options they could add to their menus.

For people who haven’t tried vegan food, Willekens said there are plenty of vegan food options to choose from.

“A good introductory point would be to try something like the Impossible Burger that is very similar in texture and taste, and it’s not that different from a normal beef hamburger,” he said “Then, from there venture out to more of the different quality vegan foods you can get.”

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