Spiral Diner and Bakery
When we found out we’d be in Fort Worth, Texas to support a rodeo protest, we immediately wondered what we’d do for food. But if Fort Worth isn’t on your vegan radar screen, it should be. Not only does the Dallas – Fort Worth area have a burgeoning animal-advocacy community full of warm, welcoming activists; it’s also the home of the Spiral Diner and Bakery—a community-oriented and proud-to-be-100%-vegan diner that’s worthy of a big yee-haw.
We were in Texas for four days, and ate every meal at Spiral Diner, sampling a large portion of the Southern-inspired and eclectic menu.
The diner is located in a part of Fort Worth where eco-businesses are popping up and international restaurants dot the streets. The diner itself is large, airy and high-ceilinged. Industrial but warm , it’s metallic-painted converted garage meets art gallery. The light fixtures and ceiling fans are fashioned from car parts and local art.
The place is noted for winning local awards, and is highly popular. Often, patient customers chatted while waiting for tables, or perused the display of varied and hard-to-find vegan body-care products, numerous mock meats and cheeses and vegan pantry staples, as well as the Spiral’s homemade ranch dressing and attractive promotional t-shirts. The shop complements the supportive community philosophy, also well represented by flyers, leaflets and information about many local and progressive issues, events, and people.
Spiral Diner’s key contribution to vegan cuisine is joining Tex-Mex burritos, wraps, dressings and salads with vegan staples like seitan, tempeh and tofu. Many dishes feature salsa, guacamole, black beans or the house Mexican quinoa. The Ate Layer Burrito shames its Taco Bell namesake; it features vegan sour cream and a spiced ranch dressing so good it can be enjoyed with a simple plate of steamed broccoli. The weekly list of Blue Plate Specials includes a giant baked potato with rotating choices of accompaniments.
The Taco Salad has salad greens peeking out from under mounds of avocado, black olives, carrots, green peas, salsa, dressings and a choice of tortillas or white corn chips. The addition of grilled seitan easily makes this a meal for two. The Agave Mustard dressing perfectly balances mild sweetness and tangy bite.
We tried several sandwiches, including Grilled Tofu, Chopped Bar-Be-Que, the Philly Cheesesteak, the Tempeh Rueben, and the Parmigiana Wrap. We’d pass up the McNut Burger next time and go for the Southern-inspired dishes, like the sandwich made with grilled seitan, homemade barbeque sauce, dill pickles, red onion and mayo on grilled bread. The Premium Potato Salad is uniquely creamy and tangy, made with Yukon potatoes. Such accompaniments to our sandwiches were a welcome change from French fries. The side salads options were ample and ripe, with corn, olives and black beans or bright, tempting greens and a choice of delectable homemade dressings.
Ramsey’s Perfect Protein Platter is a plate of black beans, quinoa and fresh salsa topped off with avocado and tahini. We happened to meet Ramsey, who explained how his unwavering dedication to the dish led to it becoming his namesake.
An unusually rich fruit smoothie called The Biz consisted of blueberries, banana and almond milk. Spiral Diner makes soy ice cream, too, to top gooey brownies; and the giant peanut butter cups are splendid, as are the freshly baked pies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins and cakes. The Chocolate Mountain Mudslide sundae is not for the faint-of heart, and should only be taken on by the most die-hard chocolate lovers. If you happen to be in that category, this array of chocolate soy ice-cream, chocolate fudge, sprinkles and chocolate kisses atop a chocolate brownie will be perfect for you.
A pancake buffet is featured all day Sunday. The Nighthawk, with its heaping portion of seasoned scrambled tofu eggs, two slices of vegetarian sausage, and a fluffy and dense biscuit, would satisfy any Southerner.
Spiral Diner is earnest and good natured, and tries to keep prices as low as possible, pay workers a living wage, use environmentally friendly packaging and cleaning products, and integrate as many organic products as possible. The service staff is warm and helpful, and their advice plentiful. Spiral Diner and Bakery is special because of its people: the caring staff, the activists who frequent the restaurant, the buzz.
Yes, the food is varied and delicious, but the Southern hospitality — the smiles and charm that welcomed us for four consecutive days — make this place feel like a second home. We’re both looking forward to going back. A second Spiral Diner is set to open in nearby Dallas, so there will soon be double the goodness to go around.
1314 W. Magnolia Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76104
Phone & Fax: 817-3-EatVeg (817-332-8834)