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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Govinda's & Ganesh. Vegan Eats in Tuscon, Arizona. Krishna Das, Sting, & Hare Krishna.

  Govinda's Natural Foods Buffet
711 E. Blacklidge Dr, Tucson, AZ 85719
(call first to make sure hours are still correct!)

Dinner: Tuesday thru Saturday 5:00pm - 9:00pm
Lunch: Wednesday thru Saturday 11:30am - 2:30pmSunday Brunch: 11:00am - 2:30pm
  • Tuesday night is India Night with authentic Indian cuisine
  • Thursday night is Vegan Night with the entire buffet "non-dairy"
  • There are always plenty of non-dairy (vegan) items every lunch and dinner the other days of the week

Talk about outdoor seating!  Govinda's has got their  "Vegan Food" Chakra throbbing here in Arizona.   I recently met up with my family which included Ms. Bliss, Mantra Mama, Artina, And Ms. Gail in Tuscon, Arizona.  Artina, an artist, refuses to stay in one location much more than a singular decade, but seems like she & never ending graduate student (okay, he is a practicing doctor but his brain hurts if it sits still for too long so he has been working full time and basically also is always in classes getting more letters & degrees!) are going to hang out in Tuscon for some to come.  You know people who have to be continuously learning 24/7??  That's her man.  Well, Ms. Artina and Mr. Silver (just because I remembered hearing "Song of My Father" coming from the room-could have just as easily been Ornette Coleman-a very eclectic ear) seem to be enjoying the west.  And I can see why.

They have "Govinda's" all over the place.  Don't freak, but they are veggie places that are run by the Hare Krishna's.  It isn't like you would know that by walking into this place perse, but you might gather there is some connection by the time you leave and pass by the gift shop, idols, and pamphlets extolling different religions and plant based diets.  But there are no plastic flowers or airports here so just drop the stereotype if you have it.  The Tuscon Govinda's is seriously awesome.  And apparently they have been told many times over that their "Govinda's" is the best in the country.  I would eat here several times a week if it were in my hometown!

Who can resist a place with a name like "Ganesh Gardens"?

Such a nice space!

Okay, maybe not suitable for a super celiac but that they actually had wheat free things labelled was pretty impressive to me!! And anything dairy free was vegan.

Bragg's and Agave Nectar.  Nutritional Yeast.  Vegan's Dream!

The salad bar was a bit like Whole Foods, only better.  The dressings rocked.
They had some seriously rockin' sprouts.  No mildewy mung beans here!

See.....Check out the ingredients to these sauces!!  (Although I just realized that our Whole Foods has at least five vegan salad dressing, and one is a Caesar's)

Samosas were a little extra.  Hemp seed dressing!! Oil & Wheat Free dressings!!

Lots of raw and non dairy dressings.  Fresh Fruit Chutney.  I ate a ton of the Fresh Coconut Chutney.

Organic Brown Rice and also Basmati Rice.  They even had FRESH CHUTNEYS!

Lentil Soup & Lentil Croquettes.

Stir Fry Pasta & Baked Veggies are in back. 

Chana Masala. 

Garden Veggies.

The dining area.  Was empty when we arrived, but filled up quickly.

The Cash Register and the door to the right goes to the "special" room where no shoes are allowed.  I think you even got to sit on the floor but we had no floor sitting that day.

They even had a dessert cooler!! 

This room looked so inviting to me!  I love to sit on the floor.  It was a little more subdued than the other room.  

This whole poster was about vegetarianism and also had many quotes from the world's religions.  Love this.  This place had no "weird vibes", just in case you were wondering.  They do, however, host some really amazing events.  The girls contemplated going back the next day for a kirtan (chanting the names of God-usually in Sanskrit), but we opted to do our own raw gourmet dinner at home.  Artina is getting quite flirtatious with raw foods and went all out on our trip.  I think all the girls (my aunts), really liked this place.  Ms. Bliss is a Yogini, Ms. Gail has been a veghead for many years & now is flirting with veganism a little bit, Mantra Mamma is mostly vegan but she never asks about ghee or anything and she never wants anyone to make a fuss over her (I won't ask anyone for anything either, but the vegan thing is something I personally can't compromise on because it is just part of my DNA), and Artina simply asked about raw food the last time we met (at Karyn's Cooked in Chicago) and now her house rocks pounds of raw nuts, multiple bowls of sprouting grains, raw bagels, salads, nut cheeze spreads, an Excalibur Dehydrator, a Vita-Mix (she already had the Vita-Mix) and lots of Mila (my cousin is a Frisbee God, lives in Boulder, really athletic & is really into Mila! (yes, he is super adorable and still single, so if you are nice and not like a Bridezilla girl they show on those chic channels, well, I think he needs a MilaMate!).  Mila is Chia Seed on steroids.  So the family is eating wheatsprouts and drinking chia seeds.  It's like I dropped a few hits of acid and went to someone else's house, because it's so crazy that Artina made raw bagels from scratch from Mimi Kirk's book!!!!  

Seriously.  LOVE that after lunch you can buy incense, malas, and little statues of Indian Gods.  Could have stayed in here for hours with the girls....but we had an eyeglass emergency so we had to run.

Who can resist a place with a name like "Ganesh Gardens"?

It would be super fun to do a kirtan here & feast on food again.  If you have never been to a kirtan, and aren't opposed to doing new things...then you might like it.  When I say "chanting the names of God" in Sanskrit, I mean the Gods from Indian Texts like the Mahabarata & Ramayana.  And don't get too tricked out by "the names" because when I was growing up, I know that somehow I thought that some other cultures believed in a "bunch of Gods".  Maybe it was Greek Mythology, or maybe it was just the word  "Polytheistic".  But if you want to see similiarities (instead of just pointing out differences) then think of how in Christiainity you have the Holy Trinity, Father, Son & the Holy Ghost.  It's all the "same thing" right??  Or is it 3 different Gods? interpretation is that it is a bit of the same idea with the "Indian Gods" as well.  There is the "One" and then everything else are representations of "that one".  I need to pick it up again, because I lent it to "a college boy" who actually ended up going into Ethnomusicology (of Indian Music!!), but I read "The Power Of Myth" book by Bill Moyers when I was in High School.  And I have never forgotten how beautiful it was that he was able to see how much similarity there is between many religions.  It's easy to forget when you have so much infighting within even one small sect of one religion.  But anyhow, it's totally cool that you can "Chant and Be Happy" here AND score totally awesome Vegan Eats!!


Govinda's Natural Foods Buffet on Urbanspoon

Go to Govinda's!!  Eat some HempSeed!  We had a blast.  And how cool that we had all chanted with Krishna Das??  Artina went when he was in Arizona.  Ms. Bliss is always chanting & sweating out her toxins all around the world.  And the rest of us caught him in St. Louis.  All but Artina were able to go to Chicago awhile back & chant with Bhagavan Das as well........that was really interesting.  Loved the music.

Below just a sample of what they offered 1/2012!

Hey!  Sting is on this track!

Darlin' Darren.  This is a little dog saw running around East St. Louis.  One minute long.....


  1. Holy yum! That is my kind of salad bar. I'm going to use those dressing signs as inspiration when making my own combos.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I'm in Australia and just started my own vegan blog too if you are interested.

  2. lucky you! we adore tucson and will most likely move there eventually. emma has been with us when we were there both times, so we didn't get a chance to eat at govindas yet. something to look forward to, for sure!

    i almost missed this post, too... bloggers been acting up on me with the blogs i follow. argh!

  3. Looks like an incredible meal! Reminds me a little of Kalachandji's in Dallas, TX.