Time to go public with some fun news: I'm working on a Texas-inspired vegetarian cookbook called Meatless in Cowtown, forthcoming from Running Press. My friend and longtime colleague Anthony Head, also known as the Armchair Oenophile, is contributing some great wine and cocktail pairings. If you love to cook, eat and drink, please join our pages and be part of the process.
Where's the closest Indian restaurant? Back in the days the hubs was an aspiring professor and looking for a fulltime job, that was my litmus test for whether or not I could survive in any given town we considered. These days, in Fort Worth, I get my saag paneer fix at Bombay Grill. I'd been on a greens tear in my home kitchen leading up to our last visit, however, so I skipped the spinach in favor of Kofta Curry and Aloo Baigan with rice and garlic naan. Fragrant, spicy, quick and cheap.
Sure, we've been there for their ridiculously good fries, but dinner at Tillman's? I wasn't sure they had much in the vegetarian department. Luckily it only takes one really good dish: Sweet Corn Gnocchi. Prepared with zucchini, pepitas, and a spicy chile sauce, the tender corn gnocchi dish also has fresh corn kernels tossed into the mix. We split a wedge salad to start (hold the bacon), and I filched a couple truffle goat cheese tater tots from my partner's plate. We both appreciated that the requisite animal-heads-hanging-on-the-wall were a tongue in cheek faux version.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth's Cafe Modern stays open late enough for dinner only on Fridays, but it's well worth planning around for the elegant menu, space and service. The lineup changes frequently, but tends to have a meatless entree on offer as well as starters and salads that are safe. Last week it was Green Risotto, with lemon, spinach, peas and white asparagus, all prepared without the customary chicken stock and also gluten free upon request. And don't miss the chilled chocolate soufflé with salted coffee caramel sauce for dessert.
In spite of fact that my French- and Italian-schooled tongue cannot to save my life pronounce the word "rellenos," those cheese-stuffed, battered and fried chiles drowning in sauce and yet more cheese remains at the top of the list when it comes to Mexican specialties. But on a recent visit to Esperanza's, the hubs' order of veggie fajitas, with potatoes, fresh corn, chiles and onions with a side of guacamole was prettier, fresher and really just plain better. Lucky for me he loves to split plates and share.
Torchy's Tacos is an Austin thing. And the message has gotten out, because on a recent visit to the newish outpost at Rosedale and Forest Park here in Fort Worth, I spotted a higher concentration of hipsters than one usually finds in Cowtown, along with some bleary-eyed travelers from a nearby hotel. Vegetarians who get bored with beans-and-rice taco joints will appreciate the chain's inventive offerings, like a corn tortilla stuffed with breaded and fried avocado, beans, and poblano-ranch sauce, or The Independent, a saucy concoction with fried portobello, roasted corn, queso fresco, and ancho aioli. The breakfast tacos and green chile queso look tempting, too.
Will all vegetarians frequent a joint that has fried "pork" ears (can't we just say pig ears?) on the menu? Of course not. But for those of us who live in Cowtown, literally or figuratively, sometimes you overlook such transgressions so you can have the trio of fries (Parmesan, chili-dusted purple, and smoked-salt sweet potato) with sweet housemade ketchup and spicy pickled jalapeno mayo. With a house salad and a glass of Malbec, Tillman's Roadhouse made a great pit-stop before a movie date. There are no meatless entrees at the Fort Worth location, but the sides look promising as do the tableside s'mores, for which they've gotten plenty of attention.
Stir Crazy Baked Goods, a newish bakery here in Fort Worth, has a soft spot for vegans, offering an array of baked goods without butter or eggs. But it was their double chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, with no shortage of butter or eggs, that I recently enjoyed with friends at a joint birthday party. The hostess sent us home with leftovers, which were later split four ways as equally as possible, the kids eyeing the angle of the knife, trying to detect any unfair slip, before enjoying their portion. All-natural and decadent, when I don't do my own baking, I'll go back.
Hobnob Restaurant is our favorite date night destination in Brevard, North Carolina, a charming town in the mountains on the west end of the state. We have family in the area, so it's a regular haunt for us, and we have never had anything other than a glowing good time there. Tucked into several rooms in an old bungalow on Main Street, Hobnob is warmly eclectic, and always has something veg to offer. This winter, it was roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, marinated portobello, squash slaw. Preceded by a mixed green salad topped with a disk of warm goat cheese, followed by a slice of vanilla brûlée cheesecake. And enjoyed along champagne splits. Stop in if you're in the area.