Sedona, Arizona is a magical place (literally and figuratively). It’s full of epic rock formations, gorgeous hiking trails, spiritual retreats, forest-bathing adventures, yoga therapy, card readers, and good food. Those who come to Sedona are generally in search of one (or more) of three things – spiritual awakening, nature excursions, and food. When planning my trip to Sedona, I was looking for all three of those things. I searched for days to find the best restaurants in Sedona. The one that came up in every search I performed was ChocolaTree, an all-natural, 100% organic, vegetarian oasis on the main drag of Sedona. Given the name, I was naturally intrigued and made it my mission to experience the wonder of such an aptly named place. Little did I know that ChocolaTree would end up being the restaurant equivalent of my spirit animal.
The ChocolaTree Story
The ChocolaTree story is one of love and family and is so adorable it makes my heart flutter. Father and daughter, David and Jen Marie, were living the life abroad. They swore they’d never return to the U.S. after finding themselves living a beautiful, organic, peaceful life on the other side of the world. However, Jen Marie threw things for a loop when she visited Sedona in 2006 and fell in love with chocolatier, Kelly Johnson.
While in Sedona, Jen Marie, “determined to create a sanctuary where the elemental beings could rejoice,” planted a beautiful, sustainable garden with the support of many Sedona locals. Through happenstance, the space where ChocolaTree is housed came available for rent and Jen convinced her father to return to the U.S. and open a sustainable, vegetarian restaurant with her. ChocolaTree opened in 2009 and has since offered delicious, sustainable dishes, chocolates, and products to the people of Sedona.
What Makes Them Awesome (and Why They’re the Restaurant Equivalent of my Spirit Animal)
The ChocolaTree vision is one to be admired. As I waited for my food, I entertained myself by reading through their handmade book that details their inception, their vision, and their practice.
The vision, as described in the book and by the owner, David, who took quite a bit of time from his busy schedule to chat with me, is simple: To create a culinary experience that delights the consumer while protecting the environment. Some of the ways they uphold this vision include:
- sourcing 100% organic produce
- supporting local suppliers for 95% of their ingredients in order to reduce the environmental impact of shipping from long-distances
- supporting sustainable farmers for the remaining 5% of their ingredients
- composting everything possible and using that compost at their animal sanctuary, which houses goats and chickens that provide all of the eggs and goat cheese they use
- using 100% pure water
- utilizing 100% recyclable packaging and shipping products
- cleaning with 100% natural cleaning products
- bottling nut and seed butters in glass instead of plastic
- sourcing locally made honey to support the bee population
- housing a marketplace full of sustainably and ecologically sourced jewelry, minerals, clothing, toiletries, etc.
- teaching others how to properly garden using their own on-site garden as inspiration
If you’ve been following our journey here at The Manini Experience or know anything about our trips, you know that these things are completely in line with how we live and how we travel. It was literally a match made in an eco-lover’s heaven!
My Experience at ChocolaTree
ChocolaTree isn’t considered one of the best restaurants in Sedona for nothing. My experience there was incredible in every way, and even warranted a second visit the next day because I was just dying to see this beautiful restaurant in the daylight.
When I first pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that each parking space was topped with an inspirational sign. One said, “Park here if you appreciate this beautiful earth” while another said, “Park here and remember that you are loved.” I chose to park in a spot that read, “Welcome to the life you love to live” because that’s my 2017 motto. And, I’m killing it, if I may say so myself.
I got out of the car and immediately noticed the front patio area, which was full of colorful twinkle lights and hammocks (two of my all-time favorite things). If I hadn’t been wearing a sleeveless dress and the sun hadn’t already set, I definitely would’ve enjoyed a good swing in one of the hammocks! Oh, and this part of the restaurant is dog friendly, which is always a plus in my book!
Entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the sound of large wind chimes, the Beatles #1 album (another of my favorites), and a friendly hello by the hostess. Soon after she sat me, she brought me 2 delicious chocolates and their signature warm drink, The Heart On. Full of a bunch of healthy, natural things I don’t remember the names of, this warm spicy chocolatey goodness was the perfect way to kick off my meal.
I then spent the next hour eating like a queen. I enjoyed the sampler platter and the sweet corn uttapamitas for my starters, both of which were so fresh and delicious that I literally couldn’t stop eating them. For my main meal, I devoured the veggie burger topped off with some macadamia nut butter and their infamous mashed potatoes. OMG it killed me (in a good way, of course).
My fantasy restaurant experience didn’t stop there. David, the owner, spent the next hour or so giving me a tour of the restaurant, describing their vision and their process, showing me their garden, and asking me about The Manini Experience. It was incredible that someone would take time out of their busy Saturday night to share their world with me, a stranger to them. Because I had just eaten basically the entire restaurant, I opted out of dessert (I know, I know, shame). However, when I returned the next day, David filled up a goodie bag with some of his favorite chocolates for me.
Speaking of the following day, when I arrived, the place was PACKED. The patio was full of people enjoying lunch while in the company of the beautiful singer-songwriter who was performing. Some were lounging in the hammocks. Others were contemplating attempting their luck on the aerial silks that are available for those skilled (or brave) enough to give it a try. The trees were in full bloom, covering the patio with the most beautiful floral scent. And, yes, David was there and once again took time away from his work to talk to me.
In the end, I walked away with a belly full of delicious vegetarian food and chocolates, a heart full of welcoming love, an appreciation for one of the best restaurants in Sedona, and an unforgettable experience.
Have you been to ChocolaTree? What did you love most about it? Do you think it’s one of the best restaurants in Sedona?
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- ChocolaTree – My Experience at One of the Best Restaurants in Sedona, Arizona - March 21, 2017