Belenty’s Love offers oodles of Mexican goodness — and it’s all vegan Courtesy Facebook

Nothing says summer like light, fresh fruit and veggies from local producers. If you can find those goodies in a local restaurant, so much the better. A former Weekly food critic said her high cholesterol and bad case of sass mouth were why she wanted to eat more veggies, and the longer I dine for a living, the more I am forced to agree. Fort Worth will always be Cowtown, but thanks in part to a determined group of foodies, there are more dining options for vegetarians and vegans than ever, even at our trendiest, fanciest restaurants.

Vegan cheese? Oh, yes. Maiden Fine Plants & Spirits does a vegan take on a cheese board with seasonal accompaniments.
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First, let’s give it up for the O.G. Spiral Diner & Bakery (1314 W Magnolia Av, 817-332-8834) has served vegan takes on comfort classics like burgers, pancakes, wraps, chili mac, Frito pie, a tasty Philly cheesesteak, and baked goods since 2002. In 2023, store originators Amy McNutt and James M. Johnston opened two more spaces, creating a little vegan village off Magnolia. Chef Parker Howard envisions a scenario where you can enjoy breakfast at his Dreamboat Donuts & Scoops (1204 6th Av, 817-837-0689), then have lunch at Spiral and dinner at newcomer Maiden Fine Plants & Spirits (1216 6th Av, 817-953-8327), all three spots within walking distance of one another.

Spiral Diner’s baked potato grilled cheese, complete with “bacun” bites, is vegan comfort food at its finest.
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The majority of chefs at Fort Worth’s white tablecloth restaurants barely acknowledge that the eater with the most food needs or preferences is going to direct where her party dines. Fair enough –– for a fine-dining experience, perhaps it is true that most of us want our veggies on the side rather than as the main course. There are exceptions. Reata Restaurant (310 Houston St, 817-336-1009) has kicked up its Martha’s Vegetable Plate –– corn “confetti” with shards of red pepper, spinach, and asparagus spears along with rice, ranch beans, and cornbread — and Ellerbe Fine Foods (1501 W Magnolia Av, 817-926-3663) takes the (vegan) cake for the most plant-forward menu, plus the vegetarian options can be made vegan with a few modifications. Chef Molly McCook gets extra credit for sourcing veggies locally.

Martha’s Vegetable Plate at Reata has never been tastier.
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While not really in the fine-dining category, HG Sply Co. (1621 River Run, Ste 176, 682-730-6070) can prepare almost anything for brunch, lunch, or dinner gluten-free or vegan. Some of the choices include a spicy cashew queso, carrot hummus, deviled avocado stuffed with chickpea “tuna” salad, and a quinoa burger or quinoa meatballs.

Love your Mexican food? Much of the cuisine is heavily plant-based, but making it vegan requires some special touches. Thanks to soy products, vegan cheese, and actual vegetables, it’s possible to bring your vegan buddy along. Belenty’s Love Mexican Vegan Restaurant (3516 Bluebonnet Circle, 817-862-9008) pulls nopales, mushrooms, and soy hot dogs into the mix, along with a “crabless” crab cake bowl. The menu at Mariachi’s Dine-In (5724 Locke Av, 817-420-6267) features jackfruit birria, grilled veggies, and a cashew queso, along with the regular meat substitutes.

In the past, the joints specializing in cold-pressed juice didn’t offer a lot of actual food. Not anymore. Boulevard of Greens (2700 Horne St Ste 110, 817-782-9070) serves up a lot more than just celery-and-spinach smoothies, including sandwiches on rustic sourdough or gluten-free bread with lemony hummus, avocado and peppers, or the chickpea-based “Deep Sea Dip.” And the menu at Juice Junkies (925 Foch St, 817-885-7775) is chock full of real food, like a “meetloaf” wrap, a curry “chick-n” sandwich, and a breakfast sammy that looks a lot like an Egg McMuffin.

While it’s no surprise that almost every pizza shop can make a veggie pie, Pizza Verde (5716 Locke Av, 817-349-9852) cooks up a wood-fired version with completely plant-based ingredients. The house-made almond mozzarella pairs nicely with mushrooms, arugula, and a potato-leek combo. The Camp Bowie-adjacent parlor also busts out vegan takes on build-your-own calzones and a lovely fried oyster mushroom sandwich with lemon aioli on a hoagie roll.

Pizza Verde’s all-vegan pies are delights for vegetarians and omnivores alike.
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Local Foods Kitchen (4548 Hartwood Dr, 817-238-3464) is a favorite of mine for gourmet light bites and sides, especially around the holidays. Superfruit salads, cauliflower lime rice, and the Hippie Crunch on walnut scallion bread can be grabbed to go or for dine-in.

And there are a few new spots I haven’t had time to visit but about which I’ve heard good things. In Arlington, Loving Hut (4515 Matlock Rd, Ste 123, Arlington, 817-472-0550) does a little bit of everything, including vegan takes on pho, fried spring rolls, Mexican wraps, burgers, and more. In Arlington Heights, the Vegan Sweet Spot (3004 Cullen St, Ste 112, 817-200-4522) whips up sweet treats, milkshakes, and vegan tacos and wraps as well. While Planted Bakery (5400 Woodway Dr, Ste 120, 682-681-4071) isn’t gluten- or nut-free, it’s all about the vegan cakes, cookies, kolaches, and more.

Most of us are putting more plants in our lives for health and longevity, but we won’t complain if they taste like milkshakes or burgers.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in July, a summer birthday for an animal lover, or hosting a Puppy Shower, you’ll need to pick up some gifts. Find ideas in Big Ticket in Creature Comforts 2023.