Tarnished Treasure: 24 Carrots in Tempe Misses the Mark
I believe that you should eat whatever makes you feel good and stay away from whatever doesn't. When I heard about 24 Carrots, a Tempe restaurant and juice bar specializing in vegan cuisine, I was excited, because meat-free food has come a long, long way since the advent of the Tofurkey. Unfortunately, for a restaurant that specializes in promoting vegan and raw food, 24 Carrots offers little in the way of innovation, and the food is just not great.
Jackie Mercadetti Tacos, a carrot overeasy drink with an Arizona bowl.
There seems to be a gaping void at 24 Carrots. The space feels incomplete, the source of the ingredients is shrouded in mystery, the food is generally missing flavor, and the service is spotty at best. There is no sign above the storefront. Handwritten notes and store hours are Scotch-taped to the doors. I would be willing to give the slow service and half-finished décor the benefit of the doubt if this were a brand-new restaurant. But 24 Carrots opened its Tempe location in December after a five-year stint in Chandler -- it seems the owner has had more than sufficient time to work out the kinks.
The service at 24 Carrots is kind and thoughtful -- when you can get it. On multiple occasions, I waited at the register for several minutes before being acknowledged -- a dealbreaker at counter-service establishments. I never saw more than 10 people in the space, but staff was consistently unavailable to pick up on the little things (a lack of appropriate utensils, a 20-minute wait for a cup of coffee).
On a side note: 24 Carrots employees have beautiful, glowing skin and posture that's a little too good. It's enough to make you want to eat nothing but unseasoned raw vegetables and fake cheese all the time.
Jackie Mercadetti Inside 24 Carrots in Tempe.
The cafe is simply not built for speed. Food consistently took too long to arrive at the table, and beverages (especially juices) often arrived after the rest of the meal. Though 24 Carrots' juices are the most redeeming menu offering, this is not a spot to stop in for a smoothie on your way to work. Allow yourself ample time to receive your drink. If you're in the mood for coffee, skip the non-dairy milk drinks and opt for regular brewed (Café Justo) coffee or tea.
The restaurant's website offers a non-specific platitude about where ingredients are sourced, with no substantiating information: "What you leave out of your menu . . . is as important as what you choose to include." Neither the menu nor the website provides details about farms or farmers that supply the restaurant's ingredients or whether these ingredients are conventionally or organically produced.