Dining in Dallas

Two Restaurants Changing the View of Veganism

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Spiral Diner

Location: 608 E. Hickory St #100, Denton, TX 76205 (+2 other locations in Arlington and Fort-Worth)

Price: $$

Menu: Vegan comfort food with some twists

This small town diner opened up in 2002 and has been in the spotlight for Texas veganism ever since. Founder Amy McNutt decided on her 21st birthday she wanted to run a fully vegan restaurant out of her love for the environment and animals, but also realized that the general population might not change their diet if it wasn’t approachable. After researching and planning, she  opened a spot in downtown Fort Worth and her mother took out a second mortgage to help fund this dream. 

I spoke with CEO Samantha Ofeno about Spiral Diner to learn more of the story, and all of the details demonstrate the idea of community and family bonds within the restaurant. It’s communicated pretty clearly off the bat with their slogan, “Spiral is for Lovers”. 

Founder Amy fell in love with a long time customer and vegan, James M. Johnston, who was a self-taught chef, and this created an unstoppable pair. He quit his day job and together they expanded Spiral’s menu and managed to move to a larger location with their overwhelming success. 

They also demonstrated loyalty to employees as the couple also had shift crew workers Sara Tomerlin and Lindsey Akey be internally promoted to opening the second location in Oak Cliff where they eventually became co-owners. 

Wanting to fully support the other locations, Spiral created a central production kitchen located in Fort Worth, which has a nickname by the staff as “Larry,” which produces all of the bakery items delivered to the diners daily for fresh treats. Customers are also able to order custom desserts through the establishment, and it is easy to do this through their online site, as long as you make sure to give them two weeks’ notice as it’s quite a popular place! All bakery items are not only vegan, but also made with organic flour, organic sugar, and non-hydrogenated oils.

 

With the addition of Larry, Spiral opened up more company-wide management positions allowing others to take on the day-to-day operations. Since then, the owners have been able to step back from responsibilities and focus on other aspects of their lives while their established team takes the reins. 

Their claim to fame is the extensive menu of hometown meals including frito pie, philly cheesesteaks, and BBQ sandwiches for those savory meals. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, there’s no shortage of options. Customers have the option to choose between multiple ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, cookies, pie, and cupcakes, as well as a chocolate pecan brownie. They also have a breakfast menu that’s served all day and brings in those classic breakfast combos: tofu scrambles, sausage patties, bacon, breakfast tacos, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and more! 

For those who might enjoy a lighter meal, they do offer items such as a tofu club, various salads, and “hot plates” loaded with veggies… but I do recommend digging into the rare items. Firstly, when I say rare items, I am referring to the Blue Plate Special which features new limited time items on the menu. Currently, there is a Reuben sandwich, potato pancakes, and an apple crumble shake! Secondly, I am also referring to their creative menu items such as elote nachos, baked potato grilled cheese, and cri pickle san’ich. Looking for something filling? Try the Triple Double (AKA The Dugan Nash) which is two classic burgers with three grilled cheese sandwiches instead of the bun! Who said vegan can’t be fun?

I ordered the baked potato grilled cheese and it is now a go-to item for me with its buttery sandwich bread stuffed with home fries, bacun bits, sour cream, green onions, and cheese… and I smothered it in ranch. The Iced Chai tea hit the spot in the Dallas summer and beats any vegan chai I’ve had so far. 

If the main reason stopping you or a loved one from transitioning to vegan is the fear of missing your favorite foods, Spiral actively challenges the idea that veganism means giving up anything good, but rather means enjoying those favorites ethically.

Spiral diner is now expanding their fun-loving comfort food company with two new establishment concepts: a fine dining restaurant with 6-8 courses named the “Maiden: fine plants and spirits” and a dessert shop, “Dreamboat Donuts and Scoops”. I can’t wait to be able to dig in and watch veganism continue to grow throughout Dallas!

Project Pollo

Location: 4814 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75231

Price: $

Menu: Convenient vegan chicken sandwiches, burgers, wings, milkshakes, and fries/tots.

From the outside, Project Pollo appears to be another classic American restaurant offering savory bites and sweet treats. However, you learn walking inside that they are a restaurant with a mission. Project Pollo focuses on sustainability and accessibility, and aims to be a leading company in the transition to mainstream veganism. 

Project Pollo opened up in 2020 as a food truck and has quickly expanded to 12 locations across Texas to date, with five more locations projected by the end of the year. Feeling upset that it’s only found in Texas? Not to worry, the chain plans to expand into Boulder, Colorado, Las Vegas, and Tempe, Arizona by this fall.

This fast-growing company proudly lets customers know that they have already saved one million chickens so far and have no plans on stopping. Project Pollo is dedicated to giving back to the community and setting the standard for responsible consumerism: a dollar from every Original Project Pollo Chicken Sandwich is donated to an animal charity, all plates/drinks/silverware are 100% compostable, none of their food sources test on animals, and they also offer a “Pay What You Can” section. “Pay What You Can” is committed to making food accessible for all people. CEO and Founder Lucas Bradbury has made it clear that he would rather take away from profits and be doing the right thing than to turn the hungry away. Something unique to the chain is the option to donate $5.50 towards the “Pay What You Can” program, which would feed three people. 

I got a chance to sit down with Marketing Director Courtney McCullagh at the Dallas location and learn a little bit about the culture of Project Pollo. Courtney herself is a 10-year vegan and spoke passionately about the goals of the company. It became clear that there is charitability and sustainability in mind, but at the heart of it all is respect for the animals.

Adorning the restaurant are drawings of chickens on the walls and crossed off cooked chickens; they don’t fear drawing attention to the harsh realities of what the food industry currently is. Customers can rest easy knowing that they’re not contributing to animal farming, animal cruelty, hazardous working conditions, and environmental damage. 

I also learned something you won’t find on the menu yet; they are a 100% nut-free facility as of two months ago. Leadership recognized that many vegan alternatives utilize some sort of nut which alienated vegans (or people considering the change) who had allergies or intolerances. Many people know that Credo Cheese uses cashews in their queso which might leave you scratching your head as to why it is on the menu. Turns out, Project Pollo had a special nut-free queso created just for their establishment in order to accommodate their customers!

The “Gotta try that”s: 

If you miss vegan wings, theirs is about as close as you can get! Wrapped around a sugar cane stick, they offer three different flavors: raspberry chipotle bbq, spicy garlic buffalo, and creamy garlic parmesan. I personally love the raspberry chipotle bbq, but be warned: it’s spicier than you’d think! The Spicy Buffalo Chikn Sandwich is a hearty classic sandwich drenched in their spicy buffalo sauce. It’s the type of buffalo sauce that you could drink from the container – it’s seriously that good. 

Lastly, what would a meal be without a little treat? I ordered their Oreos cookies and cream milkshake and it was everything you could want following the spices of the prior items and on a hot summer day. I look forward to seeing them expand so others can give them a try. 

SHARE TO

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Leave a Reply

Donate

WE’VE BEEN PIONEERS OF THE VEGAN MOVEMENT FOR OVER 40 YEARS,
INSPIRING CHANGE THROUGH EDUCATION, ADVOCACY, AND INNOVATION.

© Gentle World 2023. Gentle World is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization, helping to build a more peaceful society by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition. EIN: 59-1999433