Flagstaff, Arizona draws outdoorsy folks and is known as one of Arizona’s more progressive and laidback towns — which bodes well for vegans. I spent a few days in Flagstaff and didn’t run out of delicious, plant-based places to eat. It’s an attractive town to visit in its own right, though many people find themselves here on their way to the Grand Canyon, which is an hour and a half away. Here are some of the top places for vegans to get a good meal.
Plantasia Eatery is the newest, grandest vegan restaurant on the Flagstaff scene. Long-time restaurateur Cecily Maniaci opened Plantasia early in 2023. You can eat in the spacious patio, or enter through a foyer and pass beneath a gorgeous fake-flower archway into the dining room. There you’ll find an over-the-top green theme, from astroturf carpeting to bright, plant-themed upholstered booths and walls covered with fake ferns and other greenery. I visited just after Pride week, so rainbow flags studded the fern walls.
Maniaci became interested in the vegan lifestyle when she went to a plant-based camping event in Sedona a few years ago.
“They drilled it in our heads, you are what you eat. You’re overweight and you’re going to die,” she said. A type II diabetic, she managed to get off insulin by changing her diet. “We are not a preventative society. We are a reaction society.”
The building Plantasia is in was a French restaurant for 35 years. Maniaci had a good time converting the space into her green theme. She told me that Flagstaff has a surprising traffic in astroturf. Every year the local baseball field sells its old turf and replaces it with new.
The food is sensational. I stuffed myself with a vegan cheese plate, grilled bread with balsamic, cauliflower wings and berry salad. Then there was dessert: chocolate cake and soft serve. The wings and the cake were my favorites. Specials change about every month and a half.
“We make 90% from scratch,” Maniaci said. In addition to their vegan chef, Plantasia has an in-house baker.
Maniaci also owns the multi-location Toasted Owl. We visited on a Monday morning, and the patio and the indoor dining area were quite busy. While Toasted Owl isn’t vegan, it has lots of veg choices. The vibe was welcoming and hippieish. It reminded me of going out for breakfast when I was attending University of California, Santa Cruz. Flagstaff has two Toasted Owls, and Maniaci is opening one in Phoenix this summer.
The patios at both the Toasted Owl and Plantasia are dog-friendly — to a point. Maniaci had to cut it down to four dogs per table because, “We were bombarded. There would be eight dogs, nine dogs. It’s Flagstaff. They bring their clan.”
Everything at the Toasted Owl is for sale — from the tables and chairs to the thousands of owl knickknacks. Maniaci says she loves to shop and she loves to eat. And she obviously has a particular fondness for owls. She has a storage place where she keeps her treasures, and replenishes them as they sell.
Vegan breakfast choices include hot cakes with apple and cinnamon, a breakfast burrito and vegan alternatives to eggs, bacon and burgers.
Tucked into a strip mall, Java Juice’s menu ranges from healthier acai fruit bowls to vegan junk food like chik’n nuggets and nachos. The café offers smoothies and coffee drinks and has an impressive array of both soft-serve and hard-packed vegan ice cream. Still well-nourished from a Toasted Owl breakfast, my husband and I opted for an ice cream lunch. He got a chocolate and cherry shake, I got horchata ice cream topped with some chocolate soft serve. If I lived in Flagstaff, I’d be hitting Java Juice a lot.
Morning Glory Cafe
Morning Glory is a local, organic vegan café that has been around since 1985. It’s a very pleasant breakfast spot with lots to choose from. We split the breakfast tacos — made with red pepper cashew cheese — and the banana pecan blue corn cakes. I make pretty good pancakes, but these delicious hotcakes made me reevaluate my recipe. What I’m missing is obviously the blue corn. So much better than your average pancakes! There’s also an intriguing dish called atole, which is an organic blue corn porridge with goji berries, chia and hemp seeds and other nutritious goodies. If you’re feeling daring, try the spiced mushroom cocoa made with raw cacao and adaptogenic mushrooms. I chose the more conventional mocha.
Cornish Pasty Co.
Pasties originate from Cornwall, England, and can trace their doughy history back to the 1200s. These handheld meals were popular with miners, who could hold onto the crimped side, or “handle,” while eating.
As the Cornish Pasty Co. website explained, “The miners hand would often be covered in arsenic from the mine, so the miners would discard the handle when they were done. The crusts were never wasted though, as many miners believed that ghosts, or ‘knockers,’ inhabited the mines, and the leftover crusts would keep these ghosts content.”
Flagstaff’s premier pasty restaurant features a rocker meets haunted house vibe, with darkly painted walls and sparkling chandeliers. A surprising number of pasties come stuffed with vegan fillings, including cauliflower vindaloo, Portobello mushrooms in Guinness gravy or a vegan Hatch chili burger, made with Impossible beef.
Cold Stone Creamery
Okay, it lacks the choices of the aforementioned Java Juice. But if Java Juice is closed, you can get a vegan ice cream fix at Cold Stone Creamery. I got their vegan special, Silk chocolate almond milk frozen dessert mixed with peanut butter, almonds and banana.
Photography by Teresa Bergen.