Monday, November 8, 2010

Eating Vegan in Dallas

No need to worry, folks.  I got a lot more to eat in Texas than Taco Bell and champagne.  A pretty significant portion of my trips home are dedicated to seeking out the food I dream about while I'm in Minnesota.  Don't get me wrong- I LOVE tons of restaurants in the Twin Cities.  But there's nothing like the restaurants I grew up going to.  And the Spiral Diner.  

My friend Brandon and I headed to the Spiral Diner in Dallas before we even went to go visit our moms.  [Sorry, mom.]  I'm pretty in love with the fact that the Spiral Diner is placed conveniently on the way from the airport to Garland.  Smart planning.

We started our meal off with some Frito Pie, fully loaded with cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, onions, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, chili and probably several other things that I'm forgetting about right now.  Brandon sneakily ordered this while I was on the phone.  That's what good friends do.

I felt the need to stock up on some veggies before a week of chips and salsa, so I got the barbecue seitan salad.  OMG.  I'm definitely going to recreate this at home.  Yummy crunchy, fresh greens with carrot, corn, peas, tomato, onion, avocado, black olives, barbecue seitan and ranch dressing.  I could eat this every day.  It felt totally virtuous, yet totally indulgent at the same time.

Brandon opted for the Patty Melt- kind of a tradition for him at the diner.  It's awesome that they give you a choice of 3 different veggie burger types- love that!  Also love this giant container of Veganaise that they serve the sandwich with.  That's the way to do it.
I can't believe that I ordered a chocolate peanut butter shake after eating all of this, but I did.  Totally unnecessary, but totally delicious.  See how happy it makes me?

That night we went to Hattie's for a late dinner/bachelorette party.   Brandon and I were planning on sticking to the lone salad on the menu that looked vegan, but got a fantastic surprise!

The server came to our table and asked if we had the "special guests" who had talked to the chef earlier that day.  Nope.  We had no clue what he was talking about.  Apparently a group was supposed to come in earlier that night with a couple of vegans and they had chatted with the chef for 20 minutes explaining what they could and couldn't eat.  He prepared a special 3 course meal for them.  Then they didn't show up.  Lucky us!!!

We said we'd have what they were having.

The entrée was a citrus rice with (I think) hen of the woods mushrooms, broccolini, roasted potatoes and an heirloom tomato.   I loved the richness of the mushrooms and the roasted potatoes were cooked perfectly crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.  The bright flavor of the citrus rice is definitely something I'll copy, but some of the rice was dry like it had been held for a while (probably because the intended vegan diners were really late or no-shows).  I really wish there had been some protein in the meal- maybe a whole grain, some beans or tofu would have made it more hearty.  But overall, pretty darn good and nice to have something unique that the chef had designed that day.

A couple days later I enjoyed my favorite dish at Napoli's.  Now I know that it seems silly to go out to eat for spaghetti.  It's super easy and cheap to make at home.  But this spaghetti is different.  This is seriously the best spaghetti I've ever had.  

Order the spaghetti with mushrooms.  This is homemade sauce, people.  It's crazy good.

Later in the trip I visited my mecca of chips and salsa, El Fenix.  I remember getting to go to the original location in downtown Dallas as a little girl and feeling super fancy and very grown up.  We opted for a different location this time and ate our weight in chips and salsa before even ordering our meals.  

That's okay, though, since pretty much the only thing that's vegan on the menu is guacamole chalupas, otherwise known as bigger chips with guacamole and salsa.  The beans and the rice both have meat in them, so there aren't many options.  And our server didn't speak much English, so we had a tough time communicating that the tacos we ordered with only guacamole, lettuce and tomato should not have ground beef in them.  And then explaining that the replacement tacos that had bits of ground beef remaining on them were not a good solution to the problem.  But I still love this place.  I'll be back, but I'm sticking to my usual order of guacamole and corn tortillas.  Not the most nutritious meal, but I wouldn't mind having some more right now.  


erin said...

>Apparently a group was supposed to come in earlier that night with a couple of vegans and they had chatted with the chef for 20 minutes explaining what they could and couldn't eat. He prepared a special 3 course meal for them. Then they didn't show up. Lucky us!!!

That is SO awesome for you. But how frigging lame for the no-shows! No wonder some restaurants are so crabby about accommodating vegan requests... I can't blame them after a chef spent 20 minutes explaining what they could eat and then creating a THREE COURSE MEAL that they bailed on! So I think your eating that meal was 1) fantastic luck for you, and 2) community service preserving the good name for future vegans eating there. : )

Sarah C. said...

I love the BBQ salad at the Spiral - totally my current fave! (I used to always get the taco salad, which is also amazing). And not being a native Texan I had no idea what a frito pie was, but I had one there a few weeks ago (just to find out what it was) and wow - I could eat THAT every day! (not at all healthful, but yum!).

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

I can't believe I've never been there before! You look so happy with that shake! Ha ha.