5 out of 5
Located between Opa! and Sauce, on Campbell, Lovin’ Spoonfuls is strategically placed among several other places to eat, innocently attracting your curiosity, until you just have to try it. We did and you should, too.
About eight years ago, as a chef for the Colorado Mountain Ranch I was asked by a bride if I could cook a vegan meal for her wedding reception. At the time, I was a card carrying member of the Cocky Chef’s club, so I immediately responded with, “Of course, we can do that for you.” Later I slipped down to the camp office and googled the word “vegan”. I knew it was vegetarian, but was stunned to learn I had just agreed to give up butter, eggs, cheese, certain kinds of flour, and pretty much my entire repertoire of French-based techniques and ingredients. Flash forward to the end. I made the bride cry, in the good way. I share this because I learned back then, and had Loving Spoonfuls confirm for me, that the outcome of vegetarian cooking is the same as it is with “regular” cooking. If you combine great ingredients with a little skill and passion fromm a decent cook, you are almost always going to end up with good food. And so it goes at Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
When we first walked in, I got kind of confused. I expected different takes on tofu and salad. After all, Lovin’ Spoonfuls is a vegetarian place and the word vegan was right there on a chalk board as we walked in. But a “fried fish sandwich” was the special of the day? Waaaa? I picked up the menu, where even more evidence challenged my predisposed thinking when I found a “Route 66 Bacon Cheeseburger” and a Deluxe BLT. In the small print we are told that “Lovin’ Spoonfuls does not use any animal products in the careful preparation of your meal. For your health, the planet and the animals, all ingredients are cholesterol free, cruelty-free, and vegan.” Oh great, I thought, they serve all kinds of “food” here.
We ordered the fish sandwich and the Homemade Adzuki Burger. Here is what I learned about vegetarian food from Loving Spoonfuls. They are executing at such a high level making “fast food and diner style” dishes that it borders on gastro pub fare. You think you are getting a fish sandwich when in fact it is created from tofu. The bacon, though not bacon, but made from soy, and the burger, made from beans and veggies, land as a playful trick on your palette, and then rise to the level of incredibly delicious.
What I want to tell Loving Spoonfuls is that I nor you have ever had an actual fish sandwich come even close to the level of deliciousness of the battered tofu fish sandwich they served me. As a current food reviewer and a passionate cook, it was a pleasantly humbling experience for me to be fed food that is so well prepared. I want to also be clear that I am not saying “hey this was pretty good… for vegetarian.” I’m saying, wow. What they are creating is excellent and surprising and truly feel-good food.
The atmosphere is typical Tucson – relaxed. You place your order at the counter, they bring it to you when it is done. They have a varied and well evolved selection of menu items, and the focus is on fresh vegetarian fare. Reasonably priced with booths and tables and a small outdoor section for over flow, we highly recommend Lovin’ Spoonfuls, even for you card-carrying carnivores. Locally owned, beautiful prepared and great-looking food. Learn more about the restaurant and its owner, Peg Raisglid, a chemist turned restaurateur, at http://www.lovinspoonfuls.com
Go and eat at Lovin Spoonfuls!
Side bar: Relevant to eating healthy and locally sourced, we’ve joined our Community Sourced Agriculture here in Tucson, so natural and organic veggies and meats are an integral part of our cooking now. Learn more about them at http://tucsoneatsdinner.com/featured/csa-community-sourced-agriculture-tucson/.