Veggie Girl: Spiral Diner

To Dallas' experienced vegans, Spiral Diner will seem a painfully obvious choice. But I recently met a vegan who was relatively new to Dallas and had never been to--or even heard of--Spiral Diner.

This one's for her, and for those like her, if there are any.

The problem for vegans at Spiral Diner is opposite of the one we usually have. Instead of too few choices--which makes it pretty easy to decide--there are too many. Bottom line: Everything--everything--on Spiral Diner's menu is vegan-friendly. A whole page is devoted to their commitment to veganism and environmental stewardship, down to nontoxic cleaning spray and recycled paper towels; another page explains vegan terms like seitan, stevia, Fair Trade and TVP.

If you've managed to convince a non-vegan to come along--a hard sell the first time, maybe, but pretty easy thereafter--that person might come away with a little bit more understanding of vegan values.

There are two Spiral Diner locations, one in Oak Cliff and another (the original) in Fort Worth. Both offer an awesome Sunday brunch in addition to their normal lunch and dinner service, and they do holiday orders (think tofurkey), custom cakes and, like any good diner, blue plate specials to match the 1950s décor.

But on to the good stuff: I can't help but glorify the oh-so-fabulous biscuits and gravy. The best biscuits and gravy I've ever had came to me seven years ago at a tiny log cabin diner in Jackson, Wyoming, and I am quite sure they were stuffed with as much butter, sausage and cream as those cooks could muster. Even after going vegan, I recalled those fluffy biscuits, soaking in their pudding-thick, heart-stopping white gravy, with the bittersweet fondness reserved for old lovers and childhood summers at the beach. Until, that is, Spiral Diner helped me realize that I didn't have to live in the past. I could still eat biscuits with gravy--and I could do it with a clean conscience. Amazing!

Other notables on the brunch menu include "Viva Las Migas," an enormous plate of scrambled tofu with black beans and "bacun" bits, served with salsa, tortillas and veggies--a perfect pickup after a long night of bike-riding, bar-hopping, or both. The Fair Trade, shade-grown coffee is better than diner coffee should be, and the wait staff is chill; it's up to you to get your pancakes and coffee, which is great for those of us who don't prefer to speak to others in the morning hours.

The lunch and dinner menus have many of the usual vegan options: a couple of different veggie burgers (all homemade), huge salads, sides of black beans, broccoli, quinoa and hummus, and several variations on the wrap/burrito thing--plus some other gems, like the $2.25 pickle sandwich, a Jamaican jerk tempeh BBQ sandwich, and tropical spaghetti with fake-meat balls.

Top it off with some house-made ice cream or one of their totally addictive brownies, and you'll feel lucky to be a vegan.

Is there anything I don't like about this place, you ask? Um...yes. Now that I'm officially a (fair-weather) bike commuter, it's too far from the office for me to hop over there for lunch. It's not for nothing we named Spiral Diner the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in 2008.

Spiral Diner
1101 N. Beckley Ave.
11am - 10pm (til 5pm Sundays)
*Closed Mondays

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