One frustrating thing about dining out as a vegetarian is that many places have only one veggie option, and they tend to change it about once a decade. You get can burned out on restaurants really fast.
A single new dish is enough to get me frequenting a restaurant again. Here, a quick roundup of new veggie items around town.
▪ Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge may be best known as a temple to chicken and waffles and other meaty comfort foods. But chef Ben Merritt also does good earthy vegetarian dishes like beet fries, a cilantro pesto tofu salad and a hearty farro bowl — vegetarians eat well here.
The newest dish, a special that’s about to be added to the regular brunch menu, is my new favorite version of chilaquiles.
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The tortilla chips are coated with an excellent housemade salsa roja, made with guajillo and chipotle peppers and packing a good heat. Many kitchens would just add some egg and gloppy cheese and call it a dish — a good dish. But Fixture piles on fresh toppings, and that’s what makes this sing: avocado chunks, feta crumbles, cilantro and thin slices of crisp radish and red onions. I could eat this every day.
Starting April 2, Fixture’s Saturday and Sunday brunches will begin an hour earlier, at 10 a.m., to relieve the lines that tended to form outside before 11.
▪ In February, Houlihan’s launched a small menu of “Inspiralized” specials, dishes that use noodlelike spiralized vegetables instead of pasta. It’s a collaboration with blogger Ali Maffucci of inspiralized.com.
Of the three items, only the Thai noodle salad is always vegetarian. It’s a flavorful heap of cold zucchini “noodles” with Sriracha peanut sauce, mango, red peppers, snow peas, quinoa, basil, mint and almonds ($13.95).
But a second choice, the sweet potato and corn Mexicali flatbread ($10.50), can be veggie if you ask for no bacon. This is a loaded flatbread with spiralized sweet potatoes and zucchini, Greek yogurt white sauce, pickled jalapenos, a blend of cheeses, and a spicy avocado salsa. The crispy flatbread crust is available in a gluten-free version for $1 more.
The noodles, especially, might seem a bit expensive, but both these dishes are huge; each made for a full serving of leftovers.
Available through mid-June at Houlihan’s, 9365 Rain Lily Trail, Fort Worth, 817-750-2190; 401 E. Interstate 20, Arlington, 817-375-3863; and 5225 Belt Line Road, Suite 220, Dallas, 972-386-0689. houlihans.com
▪ Sometimes vegetarians are left out of raging food trends, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I thought I’d never know what Nashville hot chicken tastes like, though I like the sound of everything but the chicken.
But in January, Velvet Taco replaced one of its three vegetarian tacos with Nashville Hot Tofu (the fried paneer and falafel remain — nothing veggie here tastes like Tex-Mex, alas).
The Nashville Hot Tofu taco has crispy tofu (fried and coated with Nashville hot seasoning, I presume), plus “house shred” (a slaw type of thing), pickles and a buttermilk ranch crema. I found it disappointingly mild but still tasty. I was just tickled that it’s on the menu.
The queso is also vegetarian and also pure Velvet Taco hipster weirdness: It’s a red curry coconut version topped with Thai basil and pickled onion, and served with blue chips.
Have a suggestion, a veggie news tip or a question? Send it to Marilyn at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter, @LonesomeVeg. For more Lonesome Vegetarian columns, visit dfw.com/vegetarian.