Dining in Dallas Vegan Style!
Every year since the late ’80s, I’ve headed to the Big D each summer to visit my immediate family. My parents live in the suburb of Plano which offers just about every shopping and dining experience known in the United States, and as good Americans, we hit as many retail outlets and dine at as many restaurants as possible during our visit. This time around, we were not only a bit more frugal, we tried a number of local chains for lunch. My parents still aren’t quite certain what vegan means – my Mom pronounces the “veg” in vegan as you would in the word “vegetable” – but they try very hard to provide culinary choices that fit the needs of the entire family.
This trip, we dined at 3 regional restaurant chains, all of which were very open to providing vegan options. My mother, daughter and I had lunch at La Madeleine, and I returned for another lunch with my mother after the kids headed back to New Jersey. We like to refer to this fare as “lady food” but it’s a great light lunch option for guys as well. On the first visit, I had the Vegetarian Hot Sandwich with a side of Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta Salade. The servers assured me that the only parmesan cheese in the pesto dish was sprinkled on top, so I asked that they omit that along with the provolone in the sandwich. They remembered not to add the parmesan but my sandwich arrived with provolone. However, they very quickly remedied their mistake, and my lunch was delicious. On our second visit, I asked for the Spinach Salade without bacon, and this arrived prepared as expected. A generous salad, it made for a filling yet light lunch. If you’re looking for a quick, bistro style lunch in the Dallas area, especially if you’re near one of the many many malls in that part of the world, you can go wrong as a vegan at La Madeleine.
Tuesday evening, I made arrangements to meet up with a fellow podcaster, Amanda from CraftLife, at The Wooley Ewe then head over to Souper Salad for a light dinner. (As tempted as I am to review The Wooley Ewe and share my adventures in real life with Amanda, any reader interested in our visit to that Dallas knitting hot spot should listen to my next podcast and tune into our next hangout.) What a great idea and a real bargain! All you can eat soup, salad, and dessert, and the online menu conveniently indicates vegan options. I had an exceptionally fresh salad with just about every vegetable option you can imagine along with a bowl of the vegetarian black bean soup (which is vegan). Souper Salad isn’t fancy, but the majority of the food on offer is healthy, the price is right especially if you’re feeding a large family or group, and they’re very kind to 3 women who want to sit and chat long after they’ve finished their meal.
On Sunday, we dined at Cafe Brazil, a restaurant and coffee shop with 10 locations in the Dallas area. Both my daughter and I got vegetarian entrees. I opted for the Grilled Veggie Sandwich without the Feta Cheese (making it vegan for me) which comes with a surprisingly large and varied cup of seasonal fruit. Sarah chose the Veggie Deluxe Sandwich with cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, avocados and a pesto cream cheese also with a side of fruit. I think if I dine there again I will get the Veggie Deluxe without the pesto cream cheese. The Grilled Veggie Sandwich was good but without the cheese, the grilled vegetables had a tendency to fall out of the sandwich. Still tasty, but I was quite jealous of the large avocado slices on Sarah’s sandwich. We also shared a generous side of sweet potato fries, something the 2 of us order whenever we see it on the menu.
Cafe Brazil was by far my favorite dining destination this trip. The only disappointment at Cafe Brazil for my East Coast daughter was the lack of iced coffee. While the server offered to bring her a glass of ice to make iced coffee with their bottomless hot coffee option, we’re used to iced coffee made extra strong to combat how diluted the beverage gets when ice is added. This surprised both of us because this restaurant chain chooses locales close to college campuses, and as a college student herself, Sarah knows just how important coffee can be to the demographic! When the heat hits 3 digits, Cafe Brazil might want to offer a true iced coffee to it’s younger clientele.
La Madeleine, Souper Salad, and my favorite, Cafe Brazil, are excellent choices for vegans dining out in Dallas looking for flavorful options from accommodating restaurant chains. If any of my readers in the Dallas area have suggestions for my next trip, please leave a comment!