For most travelers it’s easy to stick to “known commodities” where road trips are concerned. Fast food and chain restaurants can quickly become the order of the day. The food at chains, while not generally spectacular, is familiar. Even vegans, many of whom eschew fast food, could eat their way across the country via P.F. Chang’s, Chipotle, and Subway’s Veggie Delight. However, the thing that I like most about veering away from chain restaurants and towards local establishments, is that when going town to town, I get a feel for the city’s spirit. I get a sense of the character, and even a portrait of the locals. It’s fun to capture a bit of the town’s charm by way of its coffee shops and restaurants, and it’s exciting to see how vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are popping up in the most unlikely of places and how long-time vegetarian restaurants continue to thrive.
Just an hour and a half from the Grand Canyon in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, Macy’s European Coffeehouse and Bakery has been roasting its own beans and serving up vegetarian fare for the past 30 years. When we pulled up on a drizzly summer day, people were sitting outside on the patio, sipping cups of joe and chatting with friends. Macy’s serves to an eclectic crowd – a variety of ages from local college students taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi to older folks meeting to chat and play the board games that they have on offer. The feeling of the café is crunchy and down to earth. It’s the kind of place that makes me want to relax and hang out for a while. I enjoyed a full-flavored soy latte in a big round mug while we waited for our orders.
Macy’s has a pretty dairy-heavy menu, but they also have several vegan offerings. I ordered the mushroom and Swiss burger (sans Swiss, of course), and it came with chips and their own bold salsa with a kick. The burger was a very generous size with plenty of sauteed mushrooms and onions, and the flavor was good, although a bit meaty for my preferences.
My husband ordered the Avocado BLT made with tempeh bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. The crisp tempeh bacon played nicely against the creamy avocado on toasted, whole grain bread. Since we still had several more hours ahead of us, we also ordered tofu salad to go to eat in the hotel that evening and strawberry crisp. The tangy strawberry crisp was perfectly gooey and crumbly, and the salad was still fresh and delicious hours later. Marinated and baked tofu, walnuts, and cranberries laid over a mix of spring greens.
Macy’s is the sort of casual and easygoing place that I would frequent if I lived in Flagstaff, and it’s certainly a cafe I’ll want to catch when I head that way to see the Grand Canyon. They’re located ½ block from the railroad tracks at 14 South Beaver Street.