Healthy and local food options in Downtown and Tempe

Sometimes, the dining hall on campus can’t provide a busy, overworked student with the food he or she wants. For those times, students are tempted to venture outside campus grounds to find the nourishment they desire.

There are several eateries in downtown Phoenix and Tempe that offer healthy alternatives to the common processed foods either served in the dining hall or the nearest fast food restaurant to campus.

Students who attend the Arizona State University Downtown campus have the opportunity to shop for locally grown organic produce and bread at the Phoenix Public Market located on Central Avenue and Pierce Street. When the market is not open, students are not out of luck in finding local, organic food.

The "Café" sign on Phoenix Public Market Cafeé in downtown Phoenix

The “Café” sign on Phoenix Public Market Cafeé in downtown Phoenix (photo by forkyum).

The Phoenix Public Market Café is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week and is located in the building adjacent to the lot where the market is held.

Chef Aaron Chamberlin, owner of the café, is committed to selling local, fresh and organic food to his costumers.

Drew Decker, assistant general manager of the Phoenix Public Market Café, said the local certified restaurant always offers fresh, local and as much organic foods as possible.

He said anything at the café can be a healthy alternative to what students normally eat.

“A healthy alternative would be like having a salad,” Decker said. He added that the side dishes on the menu are broccoli, sweet potatoes and black beans which are all healthier than the potato chips or fries that may be offered at other restaurants or the dining hall, he said.

About 70 percent of the meals listed on the café’s lunch and dinner menu are either vegetarian or vegan.

The Phoenix Public Market Café even offers vegan choices for sandwiches and pastries.

Not too far from the Phoenix Public Market Café, on Roosevelt and Second streets, is Carly’s Bistro.

Carly’s offers hearty sandwiches that are made fresh and with local produce. There are vegetarian and vegan options such as the Vegan Wrap, the Beet, Fig and Pear salads, Tomato Bisque and the Caprese Sandwich.

With each meal, Carly’s offers a choice of orzo pasta salad or organic greens as alternative side dishes to french fries.

One thing students can benefit from is the restaurant’s hours. Students can visit Carly’s Bistro from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Carly’s is also open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.

While the Phoenix Public Market Café and Carly’s Bistro may have vegetarian and vegan options, Bragg’s Factory Diner’s whole menu is filled with vegetarian and vegan meals for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Bragg’s, located on Grand Avenue and Roosevelt Street, serve “soyrizo” and “eggplant ‘bacon’” in their breakfast dishes, while lunch features quinoa and a chickpea patty.

The diner was built in 1947 by the Bragg family. Since then, the dinner has been well-known for their 100% vegan pies that are baked fresh daily in flavors such as Apple Rosemary and Cappuccino Mousse.

ASU’s Tempe campus offers students a wide variety of local options as well. Scottsdale restaurant ChopShop opened a location on Forest Avenue and University Drive late last summer. The restaurant, which prides itself on providing quick, healthy dining, has received a considerable amount of business within the past few months, said Shift Supervisor Alicia Bladek.

ChopShop in Tempe

ChopShop in Tempe (photo by forkyum).

“We’re decently priced and we’re so close to campus. Students like something other than fast food,” she said. “We offer vegan options and we offer gluten-free options. We also try to offer substitute bottle products, such as kombucha, which a lot of places do not offer.”

Bladek said that though ChopShop is not organic, it does provide fresh, seasonal ingredients for all dishes. Food is never frozen and is prepped every morning at the Scottsdale location. She said the pressed juices at the shop proved to be most popular with students.

“We make them in house with fresh veggies and fruits,” she said. “We also have a local girl that does all of our granola and pastries.”

ChopShop is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Another local option for students on Tempe’s campus is Blue House Coffee Goods. The mobile coffee cart sits on the northwest corner of College Avenue and University Drive, near the Newman Center. ASU alumnus Sam Beger and economics junior Nick DiPastena created the business last semester and have been selling coffee since August.

Blue House Coffee Goods cart in Tempe

Blue House Coffee Goods cart in Tempe (photo by forkyum).

“I was studying for my MCATs and Nick said he was transferring back to ASU and he had a coffee roaster,” Beger said. “Some gears started clicking and we agreed we should start up a coffee cart, roast our own beans and have it be a cool thing.”

He said the business provides a local alternative to many corporate coffee shops on campus. Beans roasted by Beger and DiPastena are purchased from a local wholesaler in Tempe.

“Most coffee shops around here don’t roast their own coffee so we like to make sure that the coffee that you’re drinking has been roasted within the last 24 hours,” Beger said. “It’s extremely fresh.”

He said Blue House, being a mobile, bicycle-driven coffee cart, works to their advantage. Blue House makes deliveries to offices on campus. Beans are delivered free of charge. The cart is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

A shop directly on campus is Charlie’s Café, which has locations near Hayden Library, the College of Law and College of Design. The café is one of the only non-corporate businesses on campus and provides students with beverages and lunch specials daily. Manager Kat Keenan said the café’s Hayden location has been open for nearly nine years and offers a variety of cultural options.

Charlie's Café on the Tempe campus

Charlie’s Café on the Tempe campus (photo by forkyum).

“We have things like italianos and gyros and baklava. We make some of it here, but also go to different restaurants near campus,” she said. “A lot of our menu items are local.”

Keenan said the café tries to support other small businesses in the valley. A family-owned tea company provides tea to the café. She said the café’s Hayden location may be hidden or obscured a bit, but this works in student’s favor.

“I think it’s a really good idea to have something that is a little bit out of the way, so one area isn’t just packed with food and students in line,” she said.

Charlie’s Café is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

Students who are willing to bike a few blocks north of campus may enjoy Green New American Vegetarian, located near Scottsdale Road and Fillmore Street. Green offers local, vegan-vegetarian options as well as vegan, soft-serve ice cream. Menu items range in price from $4-$9. Green’s Tempe location is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Decker at the Phoenix Public Market Café said it is important for students to eat healthy because of the benefits from they receive from doing so.

Brain food: the organic chicken salad sandwich at Phoenix Public Market Café (photo by forkyum).

Brain food: the organic chicken salad sandwich at Phoenix Public Market Café (photo by forkyum).

“I had a parent email me today asking if there was some sort of meal plan here because all her child is eating is dorm food,” he said. “It’s important to have a healthy alternative when all you eat is pizzas or whatever so then you gain ‘the freshman 20.’”

Decker said that eating fresh and organic foods, such as the foods offered at the café, Carly’s, Bragg’s, ChopShop, Charlie’s Café and Green, not only is healthy, but gives students energy and brian food.

“It allows them to actually go through the day energized and not dragging their feet because their eating greasy food,” Decker said. “It doesn’t even have to be greasy- a lot of the food that you’re out there eating is processed and so you’re not getting the enzymes and all the nutrients that comes with local and fresh foods.”