Probably the hardest two places I've visited as a vegan have been my hometown Medicine Hat Alberta which is in the heart of a very conservative meat-centric part of Canada and Dublin Ireland. Visiting Alberta was ultimately OK as we stayed with my parents, were able to grocery shop and have a proper kitchen but other than one cafe we were pretty much out of luck when it came to eating out. In fact while searching around for our Tofurky Roast for the family holiday meal (we indulge in one on holidays) we couldn't find one for sale anywhere and were told in a health food store that "vegetarian just isn't a thing here." Dublin was actually better but not by much. While I absolutely fell in love with that city it's only saving culinary grace was the fantastic Cornucopia which we visited often. I've never eaten so many potatoes in my entire life and I was sad the Guiness wasn't vegan.
Hawaii was a really great place to visit as a vegan, though quite expensive, and my frequent trips to Vancouver are always made more exciting as that city is absolutely full of great vegetarian restaurants. Hands down though I have to say my biggest surprise was Phoenix Arizona where not only did my family find a plethora of choices but so many that we didn't have time to try them all.
Nami is the Dairy Queen for plant people except way better. If you don't like soft serve (really??!?!) then never fear because the dessert selection is outstanding. We ended up taking desserts to go for our travels around town but stayed twice for soft serve made from soy ice cream. I should warn you they are huge and hard to finish for a single person. The first time we went we had one each and were bursting so when we returned somewhat wiser we shared two between the three of us.
The first place we went as it was close to our hotel was the Mellow Mushroom Pizza place. This was our most expensive option on the trip coming in around $60 for two pizzas and some tea. The vegan pizza's they serve come on a gluten free crust. The crust was a little unnerving to look at, sort of a graham cracker look to it, but the taste was actually really good. It only comes in one size option. We ordered a veggie with no cheese and also one with tofu and Daiya cheese on it. The Daiya cheese one tasted better as they didn't seem to know how to jazz up the veggie one with spices to make it amazing. It also came with a hair on it which they compensated for with a $5 off coupon that we never went back to use. Honestly our first night there we were tired from travelling and this place worked out just fine, but it didn't inspire us to rush back. The close by Chipotle was a better option.
Another find was Loving Hut which has sort of a chain restaurant vibe to it. It's very asian inspired and while we missed the buffet which I really wanted to try the food was simple and good. My wife wasn't a fan but to be fair she isn't a huge fan of some food flavours or mock meat which is plentiful on this menu. The kid and I liked it more than her. The staff were friendly and helpful. 24 Carrots was much more to my wife's liking and much less to mine. I found it kind of boring but she felt it was reassuringly familiar. The kid was kind of like a neutral party and seemed to enjoy them all. I thought the service at 24 Carrots was the worst we experienced and the food felt like every other vegan cafe I've visited anywhere which is fine, but just didn't excite me. I craved different.
Different came in the form of Iss' Magic Mixes Oatmeal Cafe with was honestly both amazing and bewildering. Even after the incredibly friendly staff came to our rescue we couldn't decipher the menu, it is so convoluted, mind bogglingly complex and at the same time enticing. I'm a huge oatmeal fan, but of course they also have this amazing selection of pancakes. I pretty much wanted to order one of everything but I was struggling with a sensation of being full to bursting all the time as it seemed all we did on this trip was eat. If I lived in Phoenix the Oatmeal Cafe would be my go to place for breakfast. I'm sure over time I'd know exactly what to order.
Lastly was our little family favourite. As much as we adored Green, the Desert Roots Kitchen just really captured our hearts. We only ate there once as it was a little out of the way and even when we drove down there we found it hard to find on foot once we parked. It's hidden away in a little courtyard but don't give up, it's worth it and it's busy so that says a lot. Your first impression is the greeting you get from the staff. I wanted to hug them and make them part of our family as it felt like I'd come home to my grandmas kitchen. They encourage sampling and questions all while giving you the vibe that they really care that you enjoy eating there. The lentil salad was so good my wife when home devised a similar copy of it (and she really nailed it, it was fantastic). No matter how far away or hard to find this place might seem I highly encourage you visit it.
The last tip I will give is that if you are driving up to the Grand Canyon like we did there are several Whole Foods markets on the drive up there and not really much to eat once in the park so definitely stop for food on your way. Whole Foods has a pretty decent selection of takeaway food which made the trip much more enjoyable. The next time we go back we actually want to stay a couple days in Grand Canyon (and run the Bright Angel Trail) as we felt really rushed on our single day visit so I'm sure we'll explore the restaurant options more fully.