24 Carrots is a lovely little restaurant that I just happened to stumble across in my meeting of Amy and Rose of The Green Asylum, and boy am I glad I did. I never knew how tasty vegan, gluten free could be! I am not a vegan but as you know, I am open to all eating lifestyles and think it is wise to explore the many culinary options available to us. 24 Carrots was recently recognizes as the WINNER of the Arizona pancake challenge in Scottsdale, AZ a few weeks ago with a vegan, gluten free pancake! Is that amazing or what?! We think it is so great and just goes to show you how yummy their stuff is that they could win with a vegan, gluten free pancake when competing against well-known chefs using wheat ingredients. I love it!
In addition to that great title, 24 Carrots is the home to one of the freshest kitchens in Arizona. All ingredients used are local and of the best quality. The owner Sasha, says she love to “Enjoy Arizona’s Bounty!” The base or core of all meals are vegan and gluten free. While some meals do contain gluten, they can easily be adjusted to those avoiding gluten. The kitchen staff is very aware of issues that can arise with cross-contamination and therefore thoroughly clean any surface being used for gluten free preparations. They are diligent in their efforts to keep gluten free food just that, gluten free. Their tedious efforts do require more time for the final dish, but when you taste their delicious food and have the assurance that it is gluten free. The extra 10 minutes are well worth it. Owner Sasha tells us about the trust given to a chef when one comes in to dine and how she feels it their duty to provide her diners with the safest dining experience possible. For that reason gluten free baked goods are baked at a separate time entirely. One of the things I loved most about 24 Carrots approach to cooking is their passion and love. The entire staff ate gluten free for nearly 2 months just so they could understand what is meant in more depth as well as see what foods they craved that would make great additions to the menu. Now that is passion!
All meals pictured here are mini versions of the real dish as to allow us enough room to try them all. We began our meal with the 24 Carrots Hummus Plate. The fresh squeezed lemon juice was the highlight of this hand made, delicious hummus. The high quality extra virgin olive oil added a perfect fat that was smooth and flavorful as well. Crisp veggies rounded this dish out nicely. I loved the textural contrast of crunchy, raw vegetable dipped in creamy and cool hummus.
Our next dish was the Crispy Artichoke Burger. This hearty burger was not missing meat at all! I could hardly believe it was vegetarian. The burger was topped with fresh greens, capers, feta (you could choose a dairy free cheese as well) mayo and mahammara or walnut, red pepper pesto. The feta was a nice and creamy element to this dish while the mahammara was a spicy kick that elevated its glorious taste even more, if that’s possible. I loved the served alongside the sandwich was a mixed greens salad topped with freshly made dolmas. Dolmas are truly one of my favorite foods ever! I love the fresh, earthy taste they provide was also making you feel as if you were sitting right in Greece. These dolmas were wonderful with their use of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a creamy rice filling. The light, tart dressing on the salad greens was the perfect accompaniment to this hearty sandwich.
24 Carrots version of chicken salad was up next. It arrived looking gorgeous on top of fresh greens. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a vegetarian restaurant and that somehow, this was not really chicken. With it’s perfect, shredded chicken presentation and it’s excellent taste, I don’t think even my picky husband could have told you it was soy and not chicken. The vegan mayo based dressing was complimented well with fresh cracked pepper and sweet purple grapes. Fresh celery pieces added a great textural difference with a perfect crunch.
Gluten free, as well as yeast and dairy free bread soaked for hours in a house made custard is the best of our next lovely meal. French toast with raw pumpkin seeds, plump blueberries and strawberries served with a pure maple syrup drizzle and orange blossom syrup on the side was presented to us. It was absolutely beautiful and smelled amazing. The pumpkin seeds were a great crunch to the dish while also being a healthy fat. The fresh fruit added the tartness that complimented this hearty bread so well. Many wonderful seasonings like star anise and cinnamon just made this dish dance in my mouth. The absolute best part for me was the in-house made orange blossom syrup. It was such a unique and beautiful ingredient that I couldn’t help but feeling pampered. I am such a savory loving girl so it was much to my surprise that this ended up being my second favorite dish. I just loved the exotic flavors mixed with the gorgeous presentation.
Tofu egg scramble with house-made vegan bacon was our second insight to the great breakfasts that can be made at 24 Carrots. The bacon was great and made my friend Tami’s favorite dish of the day with it’s twice marinated, smoky flavor. It was so fun to see how great a vegan version of bacon can be when done right. The “eggs” were soft and fluffy as you would hope and were flavored nicely with fresh chopped vegetables and herbs.
Because this next dish was my absolute favorite of the night, I am going to let Sasha herself explain exactly what it is in her own words.
24Carrots twist on a treat my aunt would make for my sister & I as kids- Topopo (Volcano) nachos! Organic tortilla chips topped w/black beans, house salsa fresca, organic greens, beets, carrot, avocado, vegan cheese, fresh lime and a trio of sauces- Jalapeno cillantro, vegan garlic aoli & dollop of dragon sauce “lava”! think taco salad meets nachos on steroids ;o)
Does that not sound amazing?! It absolutely was! It was so funny to me that this was a childhood favorite for Sasha because it also was nostalgic for me reminding me of my mom’s mexican goulosh we had at least twice a month as a kid. Fresh vegetable topped with this amazing vegan chili made from scratch was just perfect. Add the jalepeno cilantro and the aoli and it was too much to not rave about. I LOVED this dish and I am not the only one. It just so happens to be one of the top requested dishes on the menu. Since 24 Carrots doesn’t have dishes like this on the menu all the time, but instead features it on different daily specials, be sure to call and let Sasha know you want to see this dish up again soon!
Chocolate banana cheesecake was our final dish and sweet element for the evening. This raw, vegan “cheese” cake was wonderful both in flavor and presentation. The nutty crust reminded us of a great oatmeal cookie while the filling was cool and smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. Caramel strawberry drizzle on top finished this dish perfectly. It added just a touch more sweet as well as some beautiful color. What a lovely time we had at 24 Carrots. We were so impressed with all the flavors, presentation and of course, the sweet owner Sasha. Thank you for an absolutely amazing tasting!
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