Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review of Chaka Chaka Urban Cuisine and First Friday 12.3.10

My friend, Chef Charlie Blonkenfeld, recently opened a restaurant just south of downtown Phoenix called Chaka Chaka Urban Cuisine.

1009 S. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(7th street and Buckeye on the east side of the street - south of Chase Field)

text 602.561.3110

I haven't been a very good friend, as I just went there for the first time last night. I looked at his menu when he opened and thought it all looked delicious, but none of the sandwiches were vegan or easily veganized. The other day on the Chaka Chaka Facebook page, they posted that they would have vegan tomato soup and vegetarian Chimichakas (get it? ha) AND that they would be open for dinner til 12:00am for the First Friday crowd. I wrote to ask if the Chimichaka could be veganized and they wrote yes. I knew that was my cue to get my tired husband out of the house on a First Friday date and finally eat at Chaka Chaka!
We drove just south of the Chase baseball field and we arrived at Chaka Chaka, which was decorated outside with christmas lights and a chalkboard to let people know they were open for dinner. Normally, Chaka Chaka is only open for breakfast and lunch. But, hopefully, they'll consider being open for dinner on the weekends.

This is Charlie, the chef/owner
We had the most delightful vegetarian (actually vegan) spicy tomato soup with fried cabbage and croutons. The kick comes from red chili paste...and maybe some curry. I think this should we a regular winter special! I think vegans and non-vegans would love it. The croutons are vegetarian, not vegan, so I didn't eat them...Matt tried them and said they were delicious.

The next course was the vegan chimichakas. The chimichakas are made to order with curried potatoes and peas, yogurt sauce, tomatoes and cilantro. I brought down some Diaya mozzarella cheese for Charlie to try and he threw some in our chimis.

Our pretty chimichakas

We couldn't leave without trying the garlic fries. Chaka Chaka only uses the fryer for fries, so vegans can feel good about that! They were really good with just the right amount of subtle seasoning.

Matt wanted coffee, so they made some with a cute little french press. I had coffee, too. Mine was made with a Bodum kettle and a cool little coffee filter thing that sits on top of the glass.  I had mine on ice and they had raw sugar, which is awesome.

They also have desserts, which are made daily. Last night they had brownies, cookies and coffee cake. 

I can't wait to go back and see what Charlie has for us next! There are set menu items, but check in to their @eatchakachaka Twitter or Chaka Chaka Facebook for special hours (like when they are open for dinner or open late) and meal specials (I'll be watching for vegan options).

For the meat-loving folk, check out their mouth-watering regular menu items (click to enlarge photo)
We drove from Chaka Chaka to park and walk down Roosevelt for First Friday. I really wanted to try Conspire, as I heard they had vegan treats. I was hoping to find a vegan donut, but instead we found vegan cookies and brownies. I got a hot iced pomegranate mojito green tea and a vegan brownie. There were lots of people out last night on 5th St/Roosevelt. Very good people watching.
Rad McRib billboard. ha.

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