by Ed Baker © Copyright 2010 College Times

With today’s trends in eating, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get together a big group of diverse people – say a study group or a business group – and figure out a place everyone can agree on for lunch or dinner.

They’re vegetarian, or the even more restrictive vegan. Or they’re lactose intolerant; or need to eat gluten-free. Needless to say, the local fast food joint doesn’t work.

But Nourish at Optima Camelview Village takes the pain out of finding the perfect place for picky eaters. The new restaurant/bar, which opened earlier last month, offers numerous healthy options with an easy-to-decipher menu that informs diners instantly whether a meal is vegan, vegetarian, lactose-free or gluten-free, or a combination of some or all.

For those looking to imbibe, the beer list is impressively stacked with a combination of relatively popular mid-sized brewery beers, interspersed with some harder to find brews. Wine and a full bar aare available. A special happy hour menu, served 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. includes oil-free sweet potato fries for $3.50, $5 jalapeno hummus and chips and a couple of $7 cocktails, including an organic twisted tea. There are also two $3 beer options, Session lager and Tucson’s Nimbus Brewery’s Blonde. The bar is wi-fi enabled, allowing a tasteful mix of work and pleasure.

The food won’t disappoint either. On a recent visit we tried a multitude of dishes, including a sweet potato and avocado salad, quinoa with black beans, a vegan mac-and-cheese and hummus and chips. All were excellent, as were the entrees – an eggplant parmesan and a chickpea and sweet potato teriyaki burger served with waffle cut sweet potato fries.

At roughly $40 for two for lunch for appetizers, entrée and non-alcoholic drinks, this isn’t exactly the place for the budget conscious; but those looking for a healthy meal and a quality cocktail, Nourish is right on target.

Nourish at Optima Camelview Village, 7147 E. Rancho Vista Drive, Scottsdale, 480.684.2233, nourish123.com