Monday, August 3, 2009

Almost vegan in Dallas II

This will be fairly lengthy, so I’ll get right to it. On the way to Dallas, we stopped for lunch in Wichita. The GPS led us to a place that was supposed to be called Istanbul Café, but turned out to be the Wichita Kebab House. It was a cute little nook, and the one guy working was apparently the host, cook, waiter, and cashier.

Now, I’ve had some humongous hummus plates in my day, but the serving size of this one tops them all. The mountain of hummus sat atop a bed of roasted red peppers, and was covered with a few generous glugs of olive oil and a storm of paprika. It was served with lavash (which they called pita, but it wasn’t) and some deeply-fried and heavily-spiced crackers. Though the hummus was a little underseasoned, the texture was good, and the peppers made a nice addition. I didn’t even come close to finishing this.

A chalkboard by the door boasted "the best baklava in Kansas." How could we say no to that? We split one piece between the four of us, so my ingestion of butter and honey was minimal. I was really pleased to find it was soft enough to cut with a fork—so often the top of baklava is brittle and dry. And the taste? We were pretty blown away. It was super moist without being greasy, soft without sacrificing structure, and sweet without being cloying. It may very well deserve to be called The Best.

We encountered enough road construction in Oklahoma that I was able to read over half of Fast Food Nation. I finished it on the drive home. I borrowed the book from my friend Lindsey after seeing Food Inc. a couple weeks ago. I highly recommend both.

Luckily, we made it to Dallas in time to eat dinner before the show as planned. We hit up the illustrious Cosmic Café.

I have a treasure trove of stuff to show you from there! As you may recall, it’s an eclectic all-vegetarian joint with a hell of a personality. I’d been waiting all year to get to eat there again. We started with the hummus appetizer. (Yes, I know I had hummus for lunch. Trust me, I’d eat it at three meals a day if I could.) We actually liked it more than the hummus at the kebab house. It had a homemade texture and just the right amount of salt. We gobbled it up expeditiously with the toasted pita.

I had the Buddha’s Delight platter, containing a cup of dal (lentil soup), a samosa, a potato-pea-eggplant curry, basmati rice, whole wheat naan, and pappadum. Although it reaffirmed that I do not like eggplant (it was worth a shot), all the rest of it was outstanding, as expected.

Tyler got what I had last year, the Bombay Sage. There’s curried lentils inside those flour tortillas.

Brian ate the ever-popular veggie quesadilla, which both Tyler and Emily have chosen in the past.

Henry got the spinach enchiladas, made with red corn tortillas, topped with crema, and served with rice and black beans.

We splurged and got two desserts, one vegan and one not. The vegan selection was a Frangelico-scented chocolate hazelnut cake.

The non-vegan choice was a mango cheesecake. Both were excellent.

Stuffed to the gills, we headed to the Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie to watch Tori Amos for the second time in two days (she’d been at Starlight Theatre in KC the night before). What a goddess.

Late Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves snacking at a Mexican place in Carrollton called the Blue Agave. It was a restaurant and bar with over 150 types of tequila, all made from 100% agave. Henry and I shared a Mexican Breeze, which was tequila shaken with a blend of fruit juices. Whatever tequila they used was damn good—with each sip, you caught just a whisper of it behind the fruity flavors.

Their salsas were really unique—one was a thin tomatillo-cilantro salsa, and the other was a warm chipotle salsa.

Their sopapillas were irresistible—tender and extra-pillowy, and served not with honey, but with agave nectar!

That night we had some drinks at The Quarter, an awesome New Orleans-style bar we’ve visited before. I also ordered us the third hummus platter of the trip, and this one was EASILY the greatest of them all. It came with three flavors – roasted red pepper, black bean, and original – and some warm, perfect pita. All three varieties were flawlessly delicious. As if I needed another reason to love this town...

Sunday morning, we ate our last meal at Breadwinners Bakery and Café, known as the best brunch place in Dallas. It’s hugely popular, and was already packed at 9am.

Confession: I ate egg. For the first time since our trip to Breadwinners last year. Meh, once a year ain’t bad. I had the San Antonio tacos—egg whites and black beans in corn tortillas, served with salsa and...breakfast potatoes! I have a small obsession with breakfast potatoes. It seems like I almost never get to eat them, and I kind of inordinately adore them. (I once sleep-talked to a fellow breakfast-tater-loving ex of mine, asking him "Would you choose me over breakfast potatoes?" Apparently, I even dream about them.) Anyway, this massive breakfast was scrumptious, and I was full less than halfway through it.

Brian had a classic Belgian waffle with strawberries. On the left there is the plate of bread and muffins they give you at the table.

Henry ordered what I had last year, the San Antonio scramble. It’s basically the same as my tacos, just sans tortilla.

I saved the most impressive for last. Tyler ate a bananas foster Belgian waffle. Oh my GAWD, what a masterpiece. The topping was an unbelievable caramel-icious brown-sugar-and-banana compote of sorts. Yes, I got to try a bite. Yes, it was every bit as swoon-worthy as it looks.

On the way out, I stopped to ogle the bakery counter. Cakes, pies, tarts, cheesecakes...

...cupcakes, muffins, scones, cookies, bars, breads, rolls...

...caramel pecan sticky buns as big as your face...

It was hopeless to resist. Brian and I bought one of the sticky buns, and munched on it little by little on the ride home. It was a perfect ending to a gluttonous food- and fun-filled weekend in one of my favorite cities ever.

Remember! Catch up on past Dallas deliciousness in last year’s entry.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


  1. That's so cool that you were in Dallas! (I can't remember off the top of my head where you're from) but Dallas is about 30 min away from me. Man, your meals look amazing! And now I totally have to track down one of those ginormous sticky buns- OMG!!!

  2. You live near Dallas? You lucky lady! You have so much yumminess at your fingertips. Which city exactly are you in? (I live in KC, btw.)

    You REALLY have to try Cosmic Café and Breadwinners, as well as Monica's (from last year's entry). I'm jealous of your proximity! :]

  3. "Best baklava in Kansas" is very funny to me, for some reason! But I don't doubt that it was great.

    I think it's neat that you go to so many ethnic restaurants. This is something I've discovered only since I became vegetarian. Before that, I thought being vegetarian meant that when you went out to eat, you went to a normal place and got a crappy veggie wrap. But there's so much better food out there from cultures that don't eat nearly as much meat as we do in the U.S.

  4. It IS funny! But hey, it was tasty, so if that's their claim to fame, so be it :]

    I completely agree. The fact that I only eat a couple veggie burgers a year, and that (I'm a weirdo, I know) I don't like salad, says a lot about the enormous number of vegetarian/vegan offerings out there. I think people should venture outside their comfort zone more often!

  5. Glad you had a good time in Dallas. It's definitely becoming a great spot for vegans and (almost) vegans :)

    If you ever make the full "plunge" into vegan, you'll still have a great time here.

    Oh, and I was at that NIN concert last year too, that was probably one of the best concerts I've ever seen...

  6. Matter of fact, I'm kinda sorta enamored with Dallas. As soon as I leave, I can't wait to get back. And I've had wonderful luck eating vegan there!

    The Dallas NIN show was my favorite of that tour. Such a tragedy he won't be touring anymore!

  7. That bananas foster belgain waffle looks so good I think I'm drooling. But most of all, that hummus we had (at the very top) was so spectacular!!

  8. I'm craving Cosmic cafe and Breadwinners again... btw would you like some home made peanut butter for delicous pb and bananananana deserts, I think I made too much...