Vegan/Vegetarian Options on the Grand Circle Route?
May 1, 2016 6:54 AM   Subscribe

In late spring, I will be taking a road trip with some friends through the southwest. We'll stop at grocery stores to get a cooler and provisions, and we'd prefer not to eat entirely in restaurants, but that will have to happen sometimes. One of my friends is mostly vegan, definitely vegetarian, and I am somewhat skeptical of dining options in small rural towns. Where can we find decent food on our route?

To give you an idea of where we'll need to find food, our route is Las Vegas --> Bryce Canyon --> Zion Canyon --> Grand Canyon North Rim --> Grand Canyon South Rim --> Las Vegas. We're not rich and we'll be doing a lot of hiking, so recommendations for places we can eat in Bryce, Springdale, and around the Grand Canyon that won't require dressing up or busting the budget would be great! Any incredible holes in the wall in St. George, along AZ-89, or I-40/Route 66? Lay them on me! (Please, please give me a reason to stop the car periodically. So much driving.)

As a fun bonus, if you have any good recipes/recommendations for road trip or day hiking snacks/meals, lay them on me! I'm pretty sure we'll be sick to death of peanut butter and jelly by day four. We're not camping, but I can't guarantee our hotel rooms will always have minifridges.
posted by bowtiesarecool to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For snacks, I can highly recommend these homemade granola bars, which could pretty easily be made vegan.
posted by dizziest at 7:45 AM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of this cookbook for all sorts of varieties of granola/power bars - everything I have made from it has been delicious. There is a large selection of "copy cat" recipes mimicking popular bars on the market, plus original recipes. I don't have it in front of me, but my recollection is that everything is vegetarian and most of the recipes are either vegan or list substitutions to make them vegan.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2016

Vegas has a few Trader Joe stores, Wal Mart in Hurricane Utah has amazing showcase produce deli section .
posted by hortense at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2016

The website HappyCow exists for the purpose of helping people find vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants all over.
posted by FencingGal at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Re: Bonus: In my very recent AskMe about how to use maca powder, someone recommended these protein balls and they are really good.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 9:24 AM on May 1, 2016

The website HappyCow exists for the purpose of helping people find vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants all over.
posted by FencingGal at 11:49 AM on May 1

I came in here to post this! Also there's a HappyCow app too :)
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:23 AM on May 1, 2016

So, I haven't been back in a couple years, but I am a vegetarian/former vegan who used to spend a lot of time in southern Utah/St. George. Vegetarian is much easier than 15 years ago but vegan is...pretty damn hard, and dining options around there are in general pretty unspectacular, but here is where vegetarian charmedimsure found some at least okay stuff:

St George:
Cafe Rio: Utah Mexican chain, on the main drag. Actually totally delicious for real, vegan option available; right next door to Neilsen's Frozen Custard, which is pretty fantastic (get a "concrete"). Here is their veg*n info page.

Benja's Thai and Sushi- okay southern Utah Thai, when I went they were amenable to at least alleging they were leaving fish sauce out

The Egg and I- decent but not outstanding breakfast/brunch, better and less heavy than all the diners in town, though (which are all very very diner-y). No vegan options.

Mad Pita Express- out River Road, totally decent, it is probably fair to assume the falafel are vegan but I'd call if you were really concerned.

Xetava Gardens- a 15 minute? drive out of St. George but has a LOT of vegetarian options, not sure about the vegan options but they'd at least know what you were talking about. It's in the artsy town of Kayenta kind of by Snow Canyon (which is pretty! and worth a stop), lots of galleries etc. around. If you go by way of Ivins there's a nice farm stand somewhere on the way for local veggies.

For real, there is always the Olive Garden.

Bryce is really, really hard. The nearby town of Tropic has basically nothing, Ruby's at the park entrance likely has nothing. The (fancyish- don't show up super-sweaty, but casually dressed is fine) lodge in the park will make you a vegetarian/vegan pasta dinner that wasn't bad if you ask ahead of time, and it was decent.

The Spotted Dog- as fancy as it gets in Springdale, but really that just means wear clean and tidy clothes. They always whipped up something tasty and vegetarian for me even when it wasn't on the menu, but call ahead and ask. They're into local stuff, sustainable fish etc.

Zion Pizza and Noodle- pretty good pizza, not sure about its vegan properties
posted by charmedimsure at 12:38 PM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just adding to: Bryce is rough. There is a Walmart (I know) in Springdale on the way to Bryce where you can provision to get through Bryce. Zion will be okay for restaurants. If you get all the way to Arches, there are many great restaurant options there as well as a cute grocery that will set you up.
posted by RoadScholar at 2:55 PM on May 1, 2016

When I went through rural Arizona, New Mexico, and parts nearby, I had the best luck with the most unlikely places. The small-town diner that has been around for decades will have, on its lengthy folded-up heavy menu, things like a little paragraph of "sides." I can quite easily compose a meal out of these, and as they are all already ready to go for individual sale and pre-priced, it is no hassle to say you would like a bun, tomato slices, sauteed mushrooms, cheddar, et cetera, and then sit there and assemble yourself a first-rate sandwich. Newer restaurants will want you to spend $15 on a god-awful stir-fry, but the old-school family restaurants with their "tomato slices, 75c, extra egg, $2, baked potato $3 -- with baked beans $4" menu oddities are a godsend.

Guides to veg*n restaurants never grok this, though, just as they never grok that a steakhouse is a wonderful place for a vegetarian because you can go in and have a lovely tomato salad and then pig right out on platter after platter of asparagus, mushrooms, onion rings, etc, with giant boats of hollandaise...

I just tried using "HappyCow" for my area. It fetched up only one restaurant I go to, some places that got in solely by virtue of having a veggie burger, a lot of coffee shops that happen to have hummus, several places that are closed, a number of juice bars, a chain roadhouse without a single veg main dish (oh, but it does have a gross-sounding veggie burger). I would be very hungry and very cross if I tried to navigate unknown areas with HappyCow.
posted by kmennie at 4:44 PM on May 1, 2016

(...huh! HappyCow only lets you give a five-cow rating if the restaurant is strictly vegetarian; the place I went to review, a superlative Ethiopian place that does an excellent job of understanding and separating omnivore food, vegetarian food, and vegan food, can not rise to a five-star restaurant on HappyCow because of the meat offerings. Really not a useful resource, or at least up there with PETA for reliable objectivity. Pro-veg propaganda rather than a genuine effort to help veg*ns get a good meal in -- I've never eaten meat in my life and I'd never use it. Sorry, HappyCow.)
posted by kmennie at 5:17 PM on May 1, 2016

As a vegetarian, I'm a huge fan of Oscar's Cafe in Springdale. It was awesome after hiking for eight miles every day.

If you're hitting up the South Rim, consider stopping in Flagstaff- we have quite a few vegetarian restaurants here and even the ones that serve meat will have multiple meat free options. One of the reasons why I live here rather than in Phoenix!
posted by mollywas at 9:23 PM on May 1, 2016

If you find yourself near Hildale Utah it is worth the time to drive up Maxwell Canyon to the county park to picnic or hike, the faucet taps in the park have the best drinking water in Utah .
Springdale has the labyrinth, on the way to zion NP.
Cedar City has a Wal-Mart, if you are going to Bryce Canyon that way.
posted by hortense at 8:09 PM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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