Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spiral Diner

No, I'm not posting this from a Prius while my wife crochets hemp clothing in the passenger seat on our way to live in a giant sequoia. I went to a vegan restaurant. I'll admit it. And even more, I enjoyed it.

In case you hadn't heard, Spiral Diner is our local vegan restaurant which has received tremendous praise from the Fort's vegan community. Its so popular, they opened another one in dallas. I think the article in the paper that discussed this made a big deal about Cowtown having a vegan place. Anyway, I'm here to provide a comprehensive review of my trip (to the Fort's location, of course).

First things first. Whenever somebody says they ate vegan food (in my experience) they always say something like "its good for what it is" or "its better than you'd think". To me that sounds like its not very good, but its better than the worst thing you can imagine ("so Mrs. Lincoln, other than that did you enjoy the show"). Before going, I made a big deal about how I wasn't going to order a hot dog made for vegans or some other meat dish, made for vegans. It seemed like the right idea to have - eat something that vegans can easily make at home - salad.

Wrong. I got the Jamaican Jerk BBQ San'ich. After looking at the menu, I just had to see how they took tempeh and made it into a meat type substance (wow, that sounds delicious). But before I get to that, let me start with our appetizer and drinks.

My wife and I started off with hummus (yuppie bean dip) which my cultured wife had eaten before. The chick pea spread came with a topping of paprika and a side of organic, free range, hemp corn chips. I was not suprised with how good it was, but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it. Good stuff. We also enjoyed free trade iced tea with unrefined sugar and cage less ice. It made me feel bad about the herd of ice cubes I keep penned in my freezer.

For the main meal, my wife ordered a Sweet Luv'Us Hummus Wrap with fresh veggies (sweet potato, broccoli, avocado, cucumber and other things), and wrapped in a politically correct flour tortilla. I had a bite, and it was delicious, but I out Whatabur....Tempeh'ed her.

The Jerk "chicken" is made of tempeh, which appears to be a soybean patty with the beans softened and left in their normal form. The patty was marinated and blackened, then put on a piece of post-apartheid hydroponic wheat bread, and served open face with a special message from the chef written in mayo on the other piece of bread. You'll just have to go to see what it says. Here's a hint, it says "Jerk" and the waitress spits on you (not really).

The san'ich also comes with a slice of grilled pineapple, pickles, and red onions. I loaded up my san'ich and took a bite of my tempeh loaf.... The first bite fools you. At first, the tempeh is nicely formed and stays together. Immediately after the first bite, the soybeans shriek in pain and begin to run. Sort of. After the bond of the blackening (from the griddle) breaks, the patty begins to fall apart. Don't worry though, you've got 100% recycled toilet paper napkins to clean up with. The flavors are delicious. The food tastes like real food and you don't have to hear the screams of millions of chickens as you eat the sandwich. And seriously, its good. Not just, "it tastes good for what it is". The flavors are nice and there are contrasts with the crunchy onion and pickle, the tender tempeh loaf and the sweetness of the pineapple. For the record, I have not stated that it tastes like chicken. It tastes like flavored soybeans, made into a patty.

Most carnivores can go one meal without a piece of meat. The normal result, however, is that you miss out on a protein because said carnivore orders a salad. With Spiral Diner you can get a protein without eating a piece of meat. Despite my initial worry, I didn't walk out craving a bite of cow, or a goat leg. I was full and not remotely saddened that some poor lonely chicken breast was left along in the fridge.

As a restaurant, a vegan place is a great trip. Especially Spiral Diner. Its eclectic, funky, local, serves great food, and has friendly servers. As a lifestyle, vegan wont be how I describe myself ("How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jack hammer. Merciless. Insatiable.") My vegan career (one meal) has been filled with deliciousness, however, after perusing my local grocery store, I decided its too expensive and time consuming. Plus I really like meat. No offense to tempeh, but there's a difference.

But that certainly doesn't mean this place should be skipped purely because a person deems him/herself a meat-eater. If you want good, affordable food, this place will fit the bill.

Prius drivers get one pesticide free, 100% ethanol, cageless, free labor, organic pair of birkenstocks. I drive a truck so they just stared at me with pity. Of course I was also wearing my full goat skin suit, alligator boots and a koala head hat. I also had a "W" sticker on my truck.

Just kidding. The people here are great, the food is delicious, though its lacking a "queso covered chicken fried bacon" quality, and the local nature makes this a must-eat place. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Check out their link to the left. Spiral Diner is located next to Lili's on Magnolia so if you need something meaty after eating here, head over and ask Lili to make you a gorgonzola burger - the gorgonzola was free range before being harvested.

P.S., if I offended you with my descriptions or terminology in the post, then I sincerely apologize...hippie.

Spiral Diner and Bakery on Urbanspoon


Kevin Buchanan said...

Spiral Diner is outstanding. Easily one of my top five favorite local establishments.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

I'm certainly glad they call the Fort home.

If anybody is interested, Kevin has some pretty cool pictures on Fortworthology from Sprial Diner. Just go to his site and search for Spiral Diner. The pictures are three or four posts down.

Pete Wann said...

Stereotypes are fun!

Spiral is a great restaurant, period. It doesn't need any qualifiers like "great for VEGAN food" or anything like that.

It's also gotten much more than just local acclaim - it is the 2007 Vegetarian Times Restaurant of the Year. That may not sound like much, but when you consider that it beat out places like the Moosewood Restaurant (you've seen their cookbooks, I'm sure), this is a GREAT honor.

That and Amy, James, and now Lindsey (the new owner) are amazing people who FW should be proud to have as natives.

Pete Wann said...

I wasn't offended by your post, BTW. I'm sure a LOT of people would assume all of those things about Spiral, I sort of did.

It's true that there's a VERY progressive vibe about the place, but they're NOT hippies.

I love the hippies. I love what they did, and their general willingness to say "fuck it" to the system, but they didn't REALLY DO anything to further their causes. They (in their words) "dropped out."

The folks at Spiral most definitely have NOT dropped out... They're activists in the best way.

Michael Bourgon said...

Wow, color me surprised and impressed. They must've gotten much better in the past 3 or so years. Or I was really misordering before. Can't recall.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Pete, I read your first post and thought, "is he really mad" then I read your second post. Thanks for clearing that up. Of course the stereotypes were merely meant for humorous purposes. Plus, how can you really know something or somebody until you apply commonly thought of i right?

And the "great for VEGAN food" thing was what I was trying to get across at the beginning of my ramblings. I don't think if you have to qualify a place, that it makes it good. I hopefully got across that I was giving an unqualified endorsement.

Michael, were you ordering the tofu plop with 100% baby seal free sauce? If so, that was probably a misorder. Next time try the Jerk Sandwich. See, stereotypes = funny.

MC said...

Great review - really fun to read. I'll have to see if I can get my carnivorous husband to go with me!

Zee said...

I am a vegetarian (mostly ... lol) and want to try Spiral Diner, but it's right next to Lili's which is my favorite restaurant right now. Lili's has so many non-meat offerings (Tzatziki Plate - my favorite), I never have made it to Spiral Diner.

Maybe someday ...

Kim said...

I had been to Spiral Diner a few times before I took my boyfriend, and I had never ordered the Jerk Sandwich. The first time I took him, he ordered it. Let me just say that never before in our 2-year relationship had I ever been "blocked" and had my hand hit away from his plate. I was allowed ONE bite - O-N-E - and it was followed by a "get your own." At that moment, I felt we hit a new place in our relationship and I owe it to Spiral Diner.
It's an amazing restaurant, and we consider it a treat to get to go there.
And for the record, I was able to do the same to him the first time we went to Chadra and I ordered the Heavenly Chicken. Ahh payback...

susan said...

This in response to your question a long time ago when you talked about Chicken N Dumplings, and I brought up Ricks on the Bricks.

Casino's. Fort Worth was a wild town. WILD. It had all kinds of seedy places during the first half of the 1900's. There were several illegal gambling places around town. Several that are well known in history were down Jacksboro Hwy and in the Stockyards. In fact, Doyle Brunson used to play poker when he was younger in these parts.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Kim - he definitely out vegan-ed you. Its common amongst us guys that don't normally veeg. We just flock to the jerk.

Susan, I've heard a lot about Hell's Half Acre and I think its a fascinating bit of our history. I wonder why there aren't any prominent bars downtown that play off of that?

MC, have you had the Bulghur and berries at Lili's? I had it for the first time recently (I skipped fries for that) and it was great. Anything with cilantro catches my eye though.

Anonymous said...

I ate at Spiral Diner once two (or three) years ago. I was actually pretty disappointed. I ordered the moussaka (sp?)and when the waitress came out with my order, she let me know that the kitchen had run out of several ingredients, so they'd substituted some other items for the missing ingredients. I was a bit upset that she didn't let me know earlier (I could have ordered another dish), especially when black olives were used in place of beans. I cannot stomach black olives. Needless to say, I haven't been back.

But I suppose it won't kill me to give it another try.


FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Angie, that is the exact kind of service that wlll cause me to forever ban a place. Unfortunately nobody follows my ban. If I had experienced that type of service I would complain and complain until everybody got tired of me and I was alone for the rest of my life. Seriously.

I wouldn't blame you for not going back after that but if you do, please let me konw how it is.

Kimberli Burns said...

I've been lax in reading my favorite blogs lately but I still had to comment even at this late date.

Hysterical. I laughed so hard when I read this I cried. I had to pass the laptop to husband so he could finish reading it to me. Then I emailed the post to my daughter and she called me hysterically crying. Once a smartass always a smartass.

Seriously though, I work near Spiral Diner and the food is good. No classification needed.

Heather Lynn said...

Yep, this place is YUMMY! Though I am only a vegetarian and not a vegan, so I found it... a bit.... intimidating. lol.

Was that on "Office" quote in there? LOL!

Mink Lady said...

good food when I was there a year ago, but I went last week and wasn't allowed to stay with my mink coat on. It was freezing outside. My choices were to leave it in the car (to get stolen) or just this once take it off and stay to eat. RIGHT! The waitress made a small scene before trying to seat us and we finally left. won't go back there. Beef industry is what makes money in my family so that I can pay for lunches out! They didn't seem to mind the leather purses, shoes or wallets on the other customers, either. Rude "Fur free restaurants" are for the birds. I'll make my own darn hummus.