Archives for category: vegetarian friendly

Thanks to a link Dallas Vegan Roundup shared on FaceBook, we recently found a new (to us) place to eat. BEE (Best Enchiladas Ever) Enchiladeria on Davis Street has been in Oak Cliff for about a year and a half and given the tasty food and large portions, we hope it’s here to stay.

Slightly confused on our first visit, we walked to the pick up area thinking we could order there. A very nice woman at the cash register saw we were clueless and pretty much led us by the hand through the ordering process. Similar to Which Which’s ordering style, you enter and go to a counter with pens and two-sided order forms, check off your boxes, put your name on the form, and head to the cash register. (As always, we were trying to do everything backward.)

Bee Order FormWhen we asked if the sauces were made from chicken broth, our guide asked if we were vegan or vegetarian and proceeded to put little red marks on each of the vegetarian options. Of course the vegan options, which are marked with a heart, were included, but she showed us a few additional items. A few of the sauces that we might intuitively think were safe, like sour cream sauce, actually contain chicken broth, so we appreciated this personal tour of the menu.

 

Bee vegetarian enchiladas We went with the two enchilada plates (6.99) for the first visit. Completely customizable, you might find it difficult to put together an enchilada you don’t like without trying. But we went outside our standards and ordered things we hadn’t previously tried elsewhere. For the vegetarian, this was heaven. The Quinoa and Tofu in a corn tortilla with avocado verde sauce and Vegan Special in a blue corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce were both great. The tofu is cut into squares and has a nice smokey flavor. A close preferential second, the Vegan Special comes filled with julienne zucchini, carrots, potatoes, red peppers and more. All those thin veggies make it a little awkward to get onto a fork, but we somehow managed to clear our plates.

The omnivore tried the Chicken Tinga with sour cream sauce and Brisket with queso blanco sauce. While the chicken combo is good – comparable to Primo’s chicken enchiladas – the Brisket is incredible.

Never having been to an enchiladeria, we were surprised when they called our names and asked us which fresh toppings we’d like to put on our enchiladas. Everything looked good so we went with our favorites. The uncooked vegetables add a crunch factor to the plate as well as mixing cool and warm in each bite. We love juxtaposing opposites in our food, so this was a welcome addition.

While drinks are pretty standard anyplace you go, we recommend getting a cup of water here. BEE offers chilled water with lemon and lime that actually tastes good. Sure, it’s only water, but that little something extra makes it better and memorable.

As we started eating, our guide came around to see how we liked our food. She noticed the vegetarian’s plate contained mexican rice, which is made with chicken broth, and immediately brought a bowl of vegan rice. Honestly, she was more broken up over if than we were and she made it right before we had started on the rice or even realized anything was wrong. The fact that she made an effort to correct the error and apologize goes so far beyond what our paper plates and plasticware lead us to expect from this restaurant that we are convinced she’s the best staff member in town. (Although, another visit to BEE brought us another, equally kind staff member, so maybe it’s the training.)

Bee vegan riceThe vegan rice (which is lighter in color) was actually better than the mexican rice, according to the omnivore who tried both, and has a buttery flavor we all liked but didn’t ask how they created the flavor without using actual butter.

On another visit, we thought we’d branch out and try some other options. From the back of the order form, we chose a spinach and mushroom bee burrito (5.99). The menu says that all of the vegan burritos include a spoonful of guacamole but we didn’t see that scoop in our burrito. We did instantly taste the rice, and the mushrooms reminded us of the wild mushroom soup from La Madeleine, so we may just not have noticed the avocado if it was there. Either way, we didn’t miss it. Once the standard ingredients go in, you have the option to add your choice of fresh ingredients before the burrito is sealed. The tortillas are big, but our burrito maker had to have used a little magic to get everything inside. Like Freebirds or Chipotle, BEE gives you more food than one person needs.

Given that most people can find something to love here no matter where they fit into the dietary spectrum, BEE is a great place for mixed groups. We left our visits full and happy and we agree that this place lives up to its name.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

With lines in the menu stating they will compromise their sauces to accommodate a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it’s no wonder Thai Soon displays “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” awards along the walls. While this restaurant does serve meat dishes, everything on the menu can be made vegetarian. Everything. This is perhaps the first place we’ve wandered into without knowing much about the menu ahead of time and experienced option overload. No limitations on what we can eat? Vegetarian soups? Really? We were just about to panic, then we remembered that most people have an entire menu from which to choose. How nice it is to feel “normal” for a change.

Thai Soon's Vegetarian Fried Rice with TofuA dedicated lunch menu keeps things rather simple with a list of specials for $6.95 or passion lunch specials for $7.95. All options come with soup or salad and a vegetarian egg roll. We tried the Vegetarian Fried Rice with tofu and Rad Na with tofu, both on the standard lunch menu. Crispy vegetables in the fried rice are fresh and flavorful. The rice is sticky enough to (mostly) stay on the fork and out of the lap on its way from this mountain of goodness to your mouth. When we ordered, our waitress asked if eggs were OK, so they can make this vegan, too, if that’s more to your liking.

Thai Soon's Rad Na with TofuWhile we liked the fried rice, we loved the Rad Na. We’re suckers for flat noodles around here, so that’s part of our preference, but this would have been good with any starch base. Loaded with crisp vegetables, tofu, and a brilliant sweet, dark sauce, this is a wonderful dish for lunch or dinner. And for such a generous portion, the lunch price is quite a deal. Definitely an instant favorite.

Thai Soon's Salad with Peanut SauceOn our lunch visits, we went with salads, which were simple and topped with a super thick and creamy peanut sauce that made them rather addictive.

Thai Soon's Royal Curry

From the dinner menu, we ejnoyed the Royal Curry (8.95), which is a spicy yellow curry. Perhaps because we asked for a vegetarian version, this was more of a green color. But the sweet coconut comes through well and the spice builds as you eat your way through the dish. Even when the heat caused a runny nose (come on, we can’t be the only wimps around), this was so good we couldn’t stop eating. Soft grilled tofu against fresh, firm mushrooms and a collection of white vegetables, carrots and red bell peppers comes together for a sweet and spicy delight.

Thai Soon's Vegetarian Egg RollsPossibly the nicest surprise, the Vegetarian Egg Rolls (4.95) are simple and good. Without too many competing flavors, these are perfectly crispy and well complimented by the sauce, atop which crushed peanuts and cucumber bits float. With crushed red pepper throughout, this is a flavorful, sweet and barely hot sauce we have since learned to crave.

After several visits, we understand why so many publications chose Thai Soon as their favorite vegetarian restaurant. We have added it to our must frequent list and hope anyone near the Richardson area has the chance to stop in and try it.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

You know that feeling when a coworker is running out to pick up lunch and offers to grab something for you, too? That hesitation while you wonder how high-maintenance you’ll come across when asking to hold this or add that? We know it all too well and receive varying food quality when we ask for “whatever they offer for vegetarians.” Take sub sandwiches for instance. These can range from a basic salad on bread to a beautiful combination of flavors, but it depends on whence they come.

As a standard option that comes immediately to mind, Subway offers a pretty wide selection of toppings to put together for a vegetarian sandwich. And some locations offer a veggie patty. Heated in a microwave, this patty gives the sandwich a little more weight when they don’t overcook it. Add spinach and your favorite toppings for a decent sandwich and filling lunch.

We heard great things about Charley’s Grilled Subs. They, too, offer warm warm sandwiches, but the vegetarian version does not live up to the hype. We had hope for this one, with cheese, onions, mushrooms and the standard salad toppings, but this basic onion sandwich was not created for vegetarians so much as thrown together with what was available on the line. If you like meat, two of our carnivores are mixed on this. One loves the prime rib, another isn’t clear about the turkey, so your meat-eating friends may be in luck. The vegetarian option, however, was not great.

Firehouse Subs also offers a warm sandwich similar to the one at Charley’s. Melted cheese, onions, mushrooms, and toppings sound like a good start, but the sauce mixed with the lettuce for a cole slaw experience before it got everywhere. Soggy bread, lackluster flavor and a general feeling that this sandwich was made of random sides definitely keep this off the favorites list.

On the other hand, Quiznos has a toasted veggie sandwich that starts with cheese, mushrooms and similar items, but actually works. Perhaps because this one includes avocado as a standard ingredient, or possibly because the onions aren’t half an inch thick, but this is a good lunch option just the way it comes. No need to substitute anything.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop has several options for vegetarians with a warm peanut butter and jelly, mushroom melt, and the new Mediterranean. Any lunch with hummus is amazing and Pobtelly’s newest edition is no exception. Hummus, peppers, cucumbers, artichoke hearts and red peppers make this spicy enough to let you know it’s there without overwhelming the general goodness that we love about a mediterranean flair. This has great flavor, makes a filling lunch, and was obviously created as a vegetarian sandwich.

Among our favorites, Jimmy John’s has an addictive cold sandwich that is good enough to make you fat. Plain and simple. A basic enough sandwich, we absolutely love it. White bread, provolone cheese, avocado and mayo don’t leave much room for anything else in the daily calorie count so if you’re on a diet, stay away from this beautifully simple sandwich. If, however, you aren’t afraid of a few extra ounces, definitely give this one a try. This comes in a gourmet club, as well, which is wonderful on extra thick wheat bread. It’s not a sub, but the bread’s nutty flavor makes the experience feel slightly less forbidden. Oh, and you can get this delivered, too!

The absolute best vegetarian sub, hands down, has to be the summer sub on wheat from The Great Outdoors. Being a favorite and a place we frequent, this might have influenced our opinions about a few of the others. Even without seeing a menu, ordering a number 19, hold the lettuce and add sprouts just rolls off the tongue. This is an amazing cold sandwich with cream cheese, mushrooms, cucumbers, muenster cheese and more. We add avocado because it’s worth it, but that’s not required for an extremely satisfying lunch. This is our far and away favorite sub and shop.

So there are a few of the “eat-at-your-desk” options when your office mates are going out for subs. We’re always on the lookout for something new, so if you have a favorite sub shop hidden away, let us know.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

Since omitting meat (to varying degrees) from our diets, we’ve heard, “well, I don’t know if there’s anything a vegetarian can eat there” nearly every time we go out for a meal. A standard response is, “Every place has at least one item we can eat.” Of course, we usually say this to keep from making waves, but recently we’ve tested this theory to find that it’s nearly accurate.

Mexican food, as we know, often carries hidden meat products. Chicken broth in the rice, lard in the beans, and sometimes lard in the tortillas make it difficult to put a meal together without substitutions. But Chuy’s offers vegetarian rice and beans, vegetarian enchiladas, other options. Some of their sauces have beef stock in them, but we’ve yet to encounter a member of the wait staff who can’t tell us which is which. (For the record, the company describes the Ranchero as vegetarian.)

Image of Fuzzy's Taco Shop's Grilled Veggie SandwichFuzzy’s Taco Shop sticks to traditional recipes for rice and beans, but this chain offers grilled grilled veggies for every option right on the menu. If you need a light meal or snack, a single taco is perfect. If you want a full meal, go for it. And if you’re looking for something larger than your head (not really, but darned close), grab the sandwich. (This sandwich was so big, we had to share.) The bread is amazing with the buttery richness of a croissant and the density of a bun. Add a generous serving of fried potatoes and you have a delicious meal for two people or two days.

The Blue Goose, where even the salads contain meat, put together an amazing vegetable quesadilla with spinach and mushrooms when asked. And, nod to the waitstaff, we were in a group of about a dozen when the waitress came up with that solution on the spot.

Image of Denny's Peanut Butter Cup pancakes.IHOP and Denny’s, featuring breakfast at all hours of the day and night, make it easy to stick to a vegetarian diet. But lately, their pancakes are getting exciting. And to be clear, these will not add to a nutritions breakfast. If anything, the specialty pancakes should be listed on the dessert menu. IHOP’s Red Velvet pancakes with a cream cheese drizzle are absolutely to die for. As a friend asked, “Is this real life?” Why yes, yes it is. And don’t get us started on the CINN-A-STACK (R) deliciousness. Denny’s has Peanut Butter Cup pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes drizzled with peanut butter sauce and chocolate, that two of us could barely finish. Just be aware that all of these are extremely rich and addictive.

Image of Artin's Vegetable PenneSomeone on a plane recommended Artin’s Grill to a friend, so we had to try it. Nothing listed on the menu, outside of two salads, was vegetarian. But when we asked the waiter if they had meat-free options, he let us know that while not listed on the dinner menu, Artin’s offers an amazing vegetable penne. Asparagus with capers, tomatoes and more in perfectly cooked pasta will call us back again. And we’ll probably try the Spinach Arugula Salad while we’re there.

We put in our hardest work on our recent search at a weekend conference. One extremely limited diner, a pescetarian, a vegetarian and one who just doesn’t eat beef went through the burger buffet together (and not all of us knew each other, so that was a fun point of conversation). With all of our restrictions, each of us was able to put something together that kept us fed and happy. From a cheese sandwich on a bun to a cheese and vegetable plate, we all found what we needed and nobody complained. And most of us added a little potato salad, of course. This is, after all, Texas.

Through all of this, we’ve discovered that we really do live in a hospitable state and we’ve become more confident in responding that, yes, we’ll go wherever the group decides because we can have faith that we’ll find something to eat wherever we land. Thanks to random chance for bringing us to such unrelated places that have shown us we’re not nearly as high maintenance as people seem to think.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

The Corner Pocket Sandwich Shop has changed corners, owners, and decorative style through the decades it has been on downtown Garland’s square, but through all the changes, this locally owned restaurant remains a regular lunch spot for city workers, locals and visitors.

For full disclosure, we’ll tell you up front that two of us have been eating here (under several owners and menu changes) since childhood and one of our writers worked here in high school. Of course that puts the lens of nostalgia into our opinions, but it also sets a pretty high standard for the current staff meet. For instance, the pocket sandwiches have been pretty much the same combination for decades: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and dressing in a pita. But how you put it together can make the difference between eating the sandwich with your hands and using a knife and fork. We know to cut pitas at the little hole in the seam (they all seem to have one) in order to keep the contents off the table, but that little tidbit got lost somewhere along the way. So, even though you order a pocket sandwich, grab extra napkins because more often than not your pita will develop a hole right at the bottom. Of course, if it really bothered us THAT much, we’d stop eating here. But we can’t. The food is good, eavesdropping on the locals as they holler their conversations across the room is entertaining, and the atmosphere is downright comfy. On top of that, there are several vegetarian options and nearly everything is somewhat customizable, so what more can we really demand here?

Corner Pocket Stuffed Avocado with Egg SaladThe menu has expanded quite a bit over the years. The original pocket sandwiches, baked potatoes, nachos and chili are still there, of course, but now you can get things like stuffed avocados, frozen custard and more. We recently tried the stuffed avocado with egg salad and were a little hesitant at first. On the plate is a whole avocado, split in half with each side containing about a scoop of egg-salad. Between these is a little lettuce, tomato and a hard boiled egg and everything on the plate is sprinkled with paprika. While it sounds like a dainty little bit of food, this is an extremely filling meal. The egg salad is amazing, actually, but pairing that creamy texture and mild flavor with something as mellow as an avocado was a new experience for us. You can ask for ham, chicken or tuna salads as well, but, as always, we went for the veggie-friendly option. The dish grew on us with each bite, and by the time we finished, we were full, happy, and convinced we’d get this again.

Other vegetarian options include the MAC (Mushroom, Avocado and Cheese), Veggie Deluxe, salad, nachos and a broccoli and cheese baked potato. The MAC contains the ingredients that make up its name: four cheeses (melted, but usually not at the center these days) with mashed avocado and sliced mushrooms. The standard fixins of lettuce, tomato and creamy italian dressing are fine, but we tend to omit the lettuce and add black olives. 

Similar to the MAC, the veggie melt sports all of the goodness without the avocado. Honestly, almost anything you get here is good. We have run into some stale chips in the nachos in the past, but on our most recent visit even those were extra crisp and tasty.

If you have room after your meal, head back up to the counter and get some frozen custard. No kidding, this is worth the trip downtown on its own. The flavors change, so check the sign and pick a favorite.

In a city of more than 200,000 people, it’s nice to see such small-town charm on the downtown square. Pictures of stars from Elvis to Marilyn Monroe, sports icons and garland’s history line the walls and hand written menu boards offer selections. You fill your own soda cups and pick up your order from a window halfway down a hall when you hear your number called. Patrons smile, wave and usually have something nice to say to each other.

Overall, this is a great place to visit, a major piece of Garland’s charm and history in its own right, and vegetarian friendly to boot. Of course we’ll be back, we’ve come here for more years than we admit to being alive, but we also recommend you give it a try. Corner Pocket Sandwich Shop is a one of a kind treat that everyone should have the chance to enjoy.

When we think of Tyler, we tend to think of Roses, consider it the halfway point between Dallas and the Bossier boats, and maybe recall a small town charm, but we never really associated Tyler with vegetarian food or art. Not until recently, anyway.

A couple of us went out to support an artist we know at her first show in a coffee house. Of course we loved her work, even without all of our bias, but we were pleasantly surprised by the location. Caffé Tazza in Tyler, TX is a fun little place that offers a light atmosphere and fresh-made food. None of the pre-packaged cake slices and industrial wrapped sandwiches here. We found salad, paninis and pastries made in house from scratch. Even the scones and cinnamon rolls were fresh. So fresh, in fact, that the icing was still soft and gooey.

The best part of this freshly made goodness is the abundance of vegetarian options. Sure, the sweets are good, but every section of the menu offers some sort of veggie-friendly item. With artichoke, spinach and feta, the vegetarian quiche has more to offer than the standard Lorraine version. Vegetarian Breakfast Panini or a Vegetarian Panino at lunchtime, European salad (with optional meat addition, for those who need it), and a brunch bar on the weekends make this a great find. And everything we tried was good, to boot!

Caffe Tazza's tea serviceIn addition to the Thursday night art shows and great food, Caffé Tazza serves tea and coffee in hand painted Italian ceramics. If you love the dishes, check the walls. All of the pieces on the shelves are for sale, so talk to the staff about the ones you like. A two- or three-cup teapot with a teacup nearly equal in size gave a Wonderland feel to the visit. Add to all of this fresh squeezed orange juice and lemonade and we may just have to declare a new favorite in town.

The next time you are out Tyler way, stop by Caffé Tazza and have a bite. And, if you are lucky enough to be there between 5 and 8 p.m. on a Thursday, take in some local art with a glass of wine.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

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