The night before Matt and I ate at 105 Degrees, en route to Oklahoma City, we stopped in Wichita (about 3 hours southwest of Kansas City) for dinner. A web search beforehand had revealed that Wichita has ONE veg restaurant, which, to be honest, was more than I expected. I mean, serial killers aside, Wichita’s not all bad; I wrote previously about eating “the best baklava in Kansas!” there. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to have discovered Zen Vegetarian.
It was clean and quaint, and quiet for a Friday night. I’d scoped the menu ahead of time, so I knew I wanted the Macadamia Surprise (tell me you don’t love that name!). It was described as “Chunk soy protein sautéed with snow peas and macadamia nuts in a wonderful special brown sauce.” Wonderful and special? Say no more! The “chunk soy protein” actually turned out to be seitan (which isn’t soy-based at all, but whatever), and carrots and baby corn accompanied the snow peas. The seitan and the nutty brown rice were nice and chewy, and the sauce was thick and slightly sweet. Besides just a couple stale macnuts, this was very enjoyable.
As good as mine was, I actually liked Matt’s better. He got Zen’s [brown] Rice Bowl with “soy ocean fillet,” which was, again, seitan. Pan-fried to crisp perfection, it did indeed have a salty “sea”-taste to it, and with those snappy green beans and that killer teriyaki sauce, it was the winner of the night.
We carried on to OKC, crashed at a $40 hotel alongside I-35, and ate at 105 Degrees the next morning.
When we got to Dallas Saturday afternoon, we found that we’d scored a $220/night room at a Holiday Inn for just $59/night. (Internet, I heart you.) Jubilantly, we drove to our predetermined dinner destination—Kalachandji’s, a vegetarian Indian buffet that turned out to be inside a Hindu temple. It was a very unique setting, complete with muffled chanting audible from the worshipers down the hall. Sadly, I don’t have a pic of my plate, but I do recall eating rasam, veggie pakoras, saag tofu, vegetables korma, aloo gobi, brown basmati rice, and (believe it or not) veg lasagna, plus kheer, apple cobbler, and carob-walnut halvah for dessert. Matt actually enjoyed this place even more than I did.
On Saturday night, we went to a private house party of sorts, where we stayed very late. As such, we woke up on Sunday a little…bleary. Luckily, in my trip-planning clairvoyance, I’d prepared for such grogginess, and we hit the Oak Cliff location of the Spiral Diner & Bakery for brunch.
Remember when I ate at the Chicago Diner? This was similar, with a cute 50’s-retro feel, colorful décor, and punky, tattooed wait staff. I filled my coffee cup at their self-serve bar (which stocked soymilk, raw sugar, stevia, and several flavored agave nectars), while Matt had a berry smoothie made with apple juice and soymilk.
Matt ordered the Lumberjack platter; classic diner brunch food—biscuits and gravy, veg sausage, and tofu scramble.
Always in the mood for salty stuff after a night of drinking, I had Bryan’s Brutal Tacos—three soft corn tortillas stuffed with seasoned seitan, corn, peppers & onions, and spicy salsa, served with vegan sour cream, tomatoes, guacamole, black beans, and lime wedges for spritzing. This was SO much food, but let me tell you, it hit.the.spot.
We spent the afternoon driving around the Highland Park area, ogling the majestic homes there, before stopping back by the hotel and then refueling at New Start Veggie Garden, a vegetarian Asian buffet.
I ate all kinds of yumminess, including sushi, spring rolls, brown and fried rices, pumpkin soup, sesame “chicken,” baked tofu, egg rolls, vegetable tempura, spicy noodles, string beans, and rice vermicelli.
They also had a small shop inside the restaurant, which of course I had to browse. I came away with a pound of curry powder, a pound of raw cashews, a jar of raw honey, and – most exciting of all – a massive bag of Himalayan pink salt.
I’ve read so much about this stuff and other bloggers’ love for it, but was never willing to pony up $10 for a measly 4 oz. at Whole Foods. So when I saw that this 5-lb. bag cost only $25, I snatched it up. It’ll probably take me years to use this amount of salt, but at 5 bucks a pound, how could I pass it up?
That evening, we dressed to the nines and went to a goth club in downtown Dallas called The Church. The place was incredible; everything I hoped it would be, with multiple bars, DJs, and lounges (including an awesome two-floored, chandeliered main room), a rooftop patio with great views of the skyline, and possibly the best music selection I’ve ever heard in a bar or club. All in all, we had a fantastic day and night.
Come back Monday too see our last meal in Dallas. Hint: it was raw bliss!