Photos by Evie Carpenter
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Vitamin T, located on First Street on the east side of CityScape, challenges the assumption that local restaurants can’t be affordable and deserves to be a popular destination among college students.
Its location, six blocks south of Taylor Place and one block north of US Airways Center, should attract plenty of business from the ASU Downtown campus and from downtown sporting games. The prices, with several meals that cost $7 or less, makes it even more appealing.
In case the name Vitamin T confuses people and attracts a crowd of health enthusiasts — the “T” stands for tacos, tortas and tequila — the restaurant promises to draw in customers from all over downtown with its convenient, affordable Mexican food.
Much of the “Mexican” menu isn’t that Mexican at all. The ahogado torta is no exception. Served on French bread and sitting in a special ahogado broth, the slow-roasted pork sandwich features pickled red onions, sliced avocado and chili de arbol sauce. It’s spicy but doesn’t blind your taste buds, and although the broth makes it messy, it adds to the flavor.
The tamales (the secret fourth “T”) are prepared like a salad, served open face with sliced cabbage, carrot, cilantro, green onion and radish. The best part is the queso fresco, a crumbly cheese that tastes like flavorful, moist bread. This is an entirely different take on Mexican food, and although a friend referred to it as “foofy” Mexican food, it’s memorable and tasty, for only $5.
The tacos are one of the best bargains downtown. They’re small but $2.50 each, or $7 for three. One Vitamin T taco is a snack, two is a light meal and three is filling.
The veggie taco is the best option. Its potatoes, mushrooms and black beans mix with the Oaxaca cheese to create a warm, savory taste that complements the cool, juicy salsa.
Vitamin T’s food is not gourmet by any means, but it tastes good and is served in ways you probably won’t find anywhere else.
The outdoor seating is my favorite thing about Vitamin T. Its interior is small, so even with an unsightly Collier Center parking lot across the street, putting seats outside where customers can enjoy the sunny Phoenix weather was Vitamin T’s biggest success.
Sitting inside the restaurant is not as pleasant, but the interior does have something I’ve never seen before: framed portraits of Frida Kahlo and The Most Interesting Man in the World. This character from the Dos Equis commercials also graces the restaurant in the form of a life-size cardboard cut-out.
Vitamin T is a local business, easily within walking distance of downtown, that is far more affordable than the Taylor Place convenience store. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, it should be a favorite for many downtown students.
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