Nami: An Arizona Vegan Restaurant, Reviewed

Nami: An Arizona Vegan Restaurant, Reviewed

A review of one of Phoenix's top vegan restaurant.

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As another birthday has come and gone, bringing with it the pressures of the real world, I've been forced to determine the things which bring value and happiness into my life. For the sheer hell of it, the central art piece in my very first adult apartment was a grocery cart which my roommate and I found in the hallways of our complex on the day we moved in. I spent the first moments of my twentieth year sitting in that cart, being pushed down my hallways by my friends singing happy birthday while I selfishly enjoyed my favorite yearly gift to myself: a box of half a dozen donuts from Nami. It truly is the little things in life.

If I were an animal in a shelter, my About Me information would include the words "food-motivated." Every warmly loved tradition I've formed since I've moved to the city has surrounded food and for the Phoenix vegan, vegetarian, or curious eater, Green and Nami are the local heroes we don't deserve but desperately need. Two years ago, I wandered into their teal oasis searching for ice cream in the dead dry summer with the same severity which Harry Potter searched for the Horcruxes. Upon first entering, I knew I had found my home away from home.

The menu at Green has something for everyone, from the hypothetical, mystical vegan who survives off nothing but salads to the big-bites-out-of-a-big-wac vegan to the "I-was-dragged-here-by-a-vegan"s. The menu is sectioned off into bites, rice bowls, greens + garden burritos, handhelds, sides, and kid's stuff. We order our meals at the counter and take our number to the patio.

I couldn't help the allure of the hold-in-your-hands and stuff-in-your-face toasted ciabatta bread full of buffalo mock chicken, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and homemade vegan mayo: the original "g" spicy po' boy sandwich. I'm as white as it gets when it comes to handling spicy food, but, po' boy, does the original "g" balance their sauces right. Even though it's more food than I can handle, my stomach also urges me in the direction of the animal fries, vegan spin on the In-N-Out favorite, smothered in melted cheese, grilled onions, and 1k island sauce. After a few bites I had to tap out but when I went back up to the counter to grab a compostable take-out box, I highly debated asking for several sides of the 1k island sauce to go.

My companion, a vegan by allergic design and severely celiac to boot, opts for the less messy, healthy option of an organic Thai peanut brown rice bowl with broccoli, carrots, bok choy, peanuts and a simple yet spicy peanut sauce. It comes with an option of mock chicken, mock beef, house tofu, or fresh, organic sprouted tofu. While I strongly hold the belief that Green's mock chicken could be the answer to world peace (or at least chickens' peace) she has a strong disposition against mock meats and opts for extra veggies instead. The bowl it comes in is huge, making it initially look as if they're skimping out on the food itself. In reality, it was never-ending. the spicy peanut sauce wasn't as harsh as my buffalo sauce, but it was enough to give the simple meal a kick in the right direction.

The one thing we can positively agree on is that the made-in-house Vimto tea made of raspberries, grapes, and black currants is sweetened with the promise of addiction. And the ice machine is covered in a polka dotted pattern of Ice-T's face which earns the place style points. Those who question what vegans eat or how we manage to keep to our diets would eat their words if they ever ate this food.

A lunch date is never quite complete without a ten-step journey to the treats over at Nami. Staying true to our ordering styles at Green, my lack of self-control ordered me a peanut butter and chocolate tsoynami with a vanilla base, a Nami cupcake, and a Snickers donut. My companion put her sweet-tooth under the pillow for collection years ago. She was there for the company and the atmosphere of the sweet sweets shop while I took scoops from my better-than-a-blizzard ice cream drenched in chocolate sauce and mixed with natural peanut butter. The Nami cupcake, a hostess cupcake all grown up, and the donuts of my dreams, all the fluff with none of the grease, were to-go orders to save my poor jeans.

The vegan treats are obviously a treat and while we come for the food, the place itself invites customers to get cozy while enjoying their cold-brew. The tables are close enough to eavesdrop on the conversations of the other patrons, but that only aids to the feeling of community created there. There's an artistic vibe that's difficult to put a cap on, from the ever-changing local artist's work being featured on the walls for sale to the little libraries residing in the windowsills. The unfunctional fireplace is filled with t-shirts capturing it all in one simple saying: "fuking go nuts for vegan donuts." The teal exterior could rival Roosevelt Row and you'll never be hard-pressed to find local indie and alternative events in the area plastered to the drinks and cookie dough fridge from art shows to concerts.

Green and Nami are your one stop shop for everything happy, hippie, indie, vegan, cliché- and it's astounding.

Hours for Green Hours for Nami

Monday-Saturday: 11:00am-9:00pm 7:00am-9:30pm daily

Breakfast/Brunch served

Monday-Saturday: 7:00am-9:30am

Sunday: 9:00am-2:00pm

Rating: 5/5 stars

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Mixology Is The Alcoholic Art Form We All Need

What if, instead of viewing your cocktail as a drink to get your buzz going, you viewed it as a purposefully orchestrated creation?

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You walk into the new bar that everyone is raving about, but nothing seems to strike you as impressive until you take a seat at the garnish speckled countertop. Before you get a chance to scan the happy hour menu, the well-dressed man on the other side of the bar asks you what flavor profile you're looking for. You stutter out an answer, and the man retrieves what seems like 15 different ingredients and begins to measure, shake, stir and pour at an impressive speed.

He produced the best drink you've ever had. You're hooked.

Adding fire to cocktails helps improve the flavor and presentation of the drink. Photo by Amanda Marvin

The skill of crafting alcoholic drinks that was formerly known as bartending is taking on a new form known as mixology among the contemporary bar scene. Mixology is known as "the study of the chemistry of drinks," and the tastes of the new creations are noticeably different from typical drink recipes.

Self-taught Mixologist Tyler Zhorne began his crafting career as a brewer which enabled him to find greater success in the art of experimenting with different flavor profiles. Zhorne says that making drinks is more than just a job that he loves.

"It's kind of another way for you to put your own personality out there. I'm more of an introvert, but my cocktails will help someone understand who I am," Zhorne explains.

Similar to an artist carefully painting their next piece, mixologists use techniques of imagination and innovation to craft a concoction that wows their customers almost every time.

A cocktail smoking box is being used to create another touch of flavor. Photo by Amanda Marvin

In Arizona, bars like Bitter & Twisted located in Downtown Phoenix, The White Rabbit in Gilbert, and The Ostrich in Chandler are changing the original method of bartending by encouraging crafters to create their own reimagined variations of commonly known cocktails.

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