When you’re on a strict diet or adhering to an organic, vegetarian or gluten-free lifestyle, eating out can be more difficult than enjoyable—especially when in an unfamiliar city. Fortunately, restaurants are becoming more health conscious when creating new menus and some even focus on dietary-restrictive lineups.
In Tucson, eateries like Goodness Kitchen and First Watch focus on sustainable and local ingredients when creating healthful and flavorful dishes. Obvious by its name, Renee’s Organic Oven brings organic pizzas to the table, while gluten-free pizzas are standard menu options at both Renee’s and Humble Pie. And ample vegetarian fare is found at The Tasteful Kitchen and Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
You’re sure to find plenty of diet-pleasing and delicious dishes at these nine eateries.
The Tasteful Kitchen
This dinner-only restaurant on Stone Avenue just south of University Boulevard has a conscientious cooking commitment to its diners. Artificial flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and GMO ingredients are avoided here. Instead, the vegetarian fare is made up of seasonal, locally grown and organic produce. Menu items may include dishes like the Miso Eggplant with coconut black rice and green curry while the Sweet Potato and Chickpea Enchiladas and Roasted Cauliflower Steak use potatoes and red pepper. A homemade hibiscus iced tea and natural sodas make the beverage list, but the wine and beer policy is B.Y.O.B. with a $7 service fee.
Mediterranean influences reach menu items like the hummus and taboule or falafel pitas, Chicken Tikka Masala and Lentil Fetoosh Salad. A grilled Portobello mushroom, a chipotle black bean burger and broiled fish are the features in three healthy burger options and the Red Quinoa Salad with Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus is perfect as a meal or a sharable appetizer. There are plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options at Pita Jungle—even in the $4.99 kids meal..
Goodness Kitchen’s farm-to-table venture excludes granulated sugar from its ingredient lineup and uses organic grains and produce whenever available. Add all-natural chicken, steak or tofu to its flavor-packed salads, choose from four bruschettas or entrées like the Santa Monica Salmon with faro, mushrooms, sautéed greens, cucumber, leeks and sugar snap peas. Goodness Kitchen is a dinner-only concept, but its counterpart, Goodness Fresh Food & Juice Bar, is a quick-service healthy breakfast and lunch eatery serving bowls, salads, tacos, wraps and sandwiches.
Pasco Kitchen & Lounge
Pasco sits inside an adobe-style house along University Boulevard within the lively Main Gate Square entertainment district. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are notated on creative menu of farm-to-table, Southwestern-inspired dishes. Try the Quinoa Super Food Bowl with steamed veggies and grilled tofu, topped with cucumber and mint tzatziki and house-made chile oil. Or opt for the Roasted Beets and Fresh Tzatziki appetizer, Roasted Veggie Panini or Quinoa Farmers’ Market Salad. Even the craft cocktails have a healthful spin to them—fresh-squeezed juices, fruit slices, muddled cucumber and mint leaves are among ingredients incorporated.
This healthy and hearty eatery has quickly permeated the city’s daytime culinary scene. Its five locations in Tucson and Oro Valley serve up fresh-baked bread, thickly sliced bacon, and never-deep-fried entrées. Breakfast choices from “The Healthier Side” menu range from the Avocado Toast with cage-free eggs and EVOO, to the Energy Bowl filled with house-made granola or Muesli, nuts, Craisins, fresh fruit and organic low-fat yogurt. A veggie burger, turkey burger and several salads join the menu during lunchtime hours.
The colorful arrays of vegetables, fruits and grains that compose the dishes at this downtown café are nothing short of artistic. The family-owned business serves a plant-based, vegan menu. Consider both the Rainbow Wrap with sunflower seed pâté, avocado, bell peppers, beets, carrots, sunflower shoots and jicama with a lemon-cashew dressing and wrapped in collard greens or the South of the Border Wrap, a chipotle tortilla filled with corn, salsa, guacamole, bean mix, spinach and green chiles. Salads, snacks, juices, smoothies and breakfast options are also available.
Stop by this quick-service vegetarian restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Build your own burger with a soy, bean or falafel patty and a wide selection of sauces and toppings; opt for an organic rice bowl; or choose from more than a dozen sandwiches, like the Grilled Eggplant Hoagie or Tempeh Reuben. The signature dinner dish is the Piccadilly Nut Loaf—a gluten-free cashew nut loaf served with mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. More than half of the dishes can be made gluten-free and are listed on the menu.
Renee’s Organic Oven
Organic ingredients, free-range chicken and grass-fed beef are used in the kitchen at Renee’s Organic Oven. Pizzas are the specialty here—with organic wheat or gluten-free crusts—and include topping combinations like feta, black olives and cashews on Jeff’s Pizza and coconut red curry, vegan cheese, zucchini, red pepper, cashews, pineapple, onion and cilantro on the Vegan Cashew Thai Curry pie. Weekend breakfast even includes a few morning pizzas, among them a gluten-free Morning Casserole and a Sweet Potato Porridge.
A popular Arizona-born pizza-and-wine chain, Humble Pie’s crispy gluten-free crust may have diners double checking that it really is gluten free. We promise it is. Red tomato sauce specialties include the Organic Local Veggie with seasonal toppings, or the S.O.P. with sausage, caramelized onions, red peppers, mozzarella and ricotta. Fig jam, caramelized onion, goat cheese and mozzarella are on the Fig & Prosciutto white pizza while mushroom, pancetta, green onion and mozzarella top the Roasted Mushroom sauceless pie. For a particularly healthy option, try the Veggie Salad—a perfect pizza pairing and also an excellent stand-alone entrée.
Everything that comes out of the kitchen at this breakfast and lunch bistro and bakery is gluten free. Seasonal menu offerings may include the chicken salad sandwich, tuna melt, Reuben, and fish and chips. The bakery’s pastry case tempts with a selection of muffins and bagels, sweet breads, scones, cookies, cakes, pies, brownies and more and—you guessed it—all gluten free! This one may not be the stop for calorie counting, but it’s an indulgent destination for those with gluten intolerance.