The Southern platter at V-Eats offers a vegan version of rich regional dishes.
Feb. 13, 2017
No self-respecting Texan would believe that a Southern barbecue sandwich, tortilla-encrusted fried chicken or chili-Frito pie could be made without meat; but boy howdy, they sure can be - and right here in Dallas. V-Eats incorporates an entirely vegan and eco-friendly lifestyle into its Oak Cliff-chic persona, from the paint on the walls to the meticulously hand-picked wine list, while creating a fine-dining experience like no other plant-based restaurant in Dallas.
Many people are opting for a vegan lifestyle for health benefits, while others choose it over concerns about animal welfare – over 9 billion animals are killed each year for meat consumption and most are raised in what many would consider inhumane conditions on factory farms. In addition, many environmentalists are turning to a vegan diet in the name of sustainability. A 2010 United Nations report said a global shift towards a vegan diet is critical to mitigating the global issues of hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
But that doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite comfort foods.
The V-Eats, which launched in the Trinity Groves development in October, boasts on its website that its "plant-based meats will amaze your taste buds,” promising to satisfy even diehard meat lovers. However, even as a vegan, I'll admit I was skeptical that the new venue would be able to pull it off.
V-Eats offers a vegan version of Frito Pie.
I was pleasantly surprised. From my first bite of the crunchy Tofu Crisps with Citrus Chili Sauce, it was obvious that I was at vegan Mecca. Next came the Ultimate Texas Frito Pie that was even better than my mom’s (shhh, don’t tell her). My friend relished her Strawberry Fields Spinach Salad slathered with toasted almonds and citrus-pickled red onions followed by the Beggar’s Purse, a sassy smoked potato and mushroom-stuffed phyllo pastry served with roasted red pepper sauce and grilled vegetables.
But my entree, Salisbury Steak, was the most incredible faux meat that I have ever encountered. It was served atop a mountain of broccoli and mashed potatoes that were smothered in rich, brown gravy. The onion ring garnish was a charming finishing touch to this savory meal. For dessert, my friend and I shared the Banana Fosters Bread pudding and delighted in every bite.
So how do they do it? Using ingredients such as seitan, tofu and breadfruit, V-Eats combines modern-day culinary techniques and a little bit of magic to create its vegan fare that is so authentic that even carnivores often can’t tell the difference. Another quote from their website quips "Their clever use of cruelty-free ingredients creates the texture and flavors of meat with compassion." Delicious compassion, I would say. It’s also healthier, with no lactose, very little gluten and no artery-clogging animal by-products.
Head chef and owner Troy Gardner, developed many of his exclusive vegan recipes while running Samson’s, a gourmet hot dog eatery he owned on Oak Lawn that offered several veggie options. His veggie-loving customers were so passionate that he realized that there was a gap in the market. With a little bit of encouragement from local restaurant guru Phil Romano, Gardener opted for his Trinity River location, just west of downtown.
Salisbury steak with plant-based meat.
V-Eats is part of the Trinity Groves restaurant incubator program. This means that both Trinity Groves and Gardner each own 50 percent of the establishment.
The quaint V-Eats atmosphere is upscale enough to impress a first date but still relaxed to please a family gathering. Pricing is reasonable with most appetizers between $7-10, entrees under $15 and desserts from $6-8. Their bar is fully stocked with vegan wines and beer, plus cocktails made from locally-sourced herbs, kombucha and cold-pressed juices.
Guilt-free, healthy and priced right; just what we need more of here in Big D. Boy howdy!