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Alternative Thanksgiving Meals with Arizona Flavor

By: Arizona Office of Tourism

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November 12, 2018

While it might be sacrilegious to say so at Thanksgiving, some of us simply don’t care for turkey. If your turkey-day cravings go beyond turkey—or if you just feel like bucking tradition—these three local eateries offer an alternative.

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Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by the staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, and occasionally local tourism organizations around the state.

The holidays begin with tamales

Ask most Mexicans, and they'll tell you the holidays don't officially begin until the tamales are served. Thankfully, Tucson Tamale Company—a favorite of Food Network star Alton Brown—comes to the rescue with their take on the classic turkey meal.

Starting in early November, the local restaurant prepares batches of their Thanksgiving-inspired tamales filled with savory turkey and cranberries. Pair them with their sweet pumpkin tamales and make your Thanksgiving a cornucopia of delicious masa goodness.

(Vegans: Swap the turkey tamale for their blue corn and vegetable version.)

Tucson Tamale Company's tamales can be delivered nationwide, but supplies are limited. Visit to order.

Farm Desert-to-table

Arizona desert dwellers have been making meals out of cactus for centuries—it's in our culture. It should come as no surprise, then, that we even eat it with our turkey and sides.

To get a taste of the desert and other local flavors this Thanksgiving, RSVP now for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's annual buffet, which features dishes such as a mixed salad with prickly pear vinaigrette and a seasonal fruit platter with prickly pear yogurt.

No one will fault you if you grab some turkey at the renowned Tucson museum's Thanksgiving feast, but save room for their vegetable tamales with pumpkin-seeded mole, chorizo cornbread stuffing, pomegranate-hazelnut-roasted Brussels sprouts, and chocolate flan.

Go vegan with Green

Thanksgiving can be rough for vegetarians and vegans, who usually resort to filling their plates with vegetable sides and bread. But, a person can take only so many carbs.

Plant-based foodies, rejoice! Green Restaurant in Phoenix and Tempe is once again celebrating "ThanksLIVING" with a completely vegan menu filled with dishes like seitan turkey breast with "giblet" gravy, organic cranberry stuffing with toasted walnuts, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a bevy of veggies and a selection of local artisan bread.

Of course, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pumpkin and pecan pies, both of which are available, along with a winter berry organic oat granola cobbler.

Meals can be purchased cold (to warm up). Keep an eye on Green's website for information on when and how to purchase tickets or order takeout options.

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