In normal times, January is a month when people atone for their holiday excess and start a new leaf. In normal times, that would mean joining a health club or starting a new diet.
We're not in normal times right now but traditions persevere, including Veganuary, the annual challenge that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January. Participation doubles every year, a process facilitated by the fact that so many restaurants and food purveyors now offer vegan items.
The pace has really picked up in 2022, with new products, dishes, and even new restaurants.
For the January edition of our monthly Where to Eat column, here are 10 hot new vegan things you need to try:
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Sushi chain with three locations in DFW is a pioneer with a separate menu of notably good vegan sushi, and for January, they've debuted three radical new items. One is a vegan version of the prototypical Tuna Tower. Two rolls star a new vegan shrimp tempura: Vegan Black Dragon has BBQ eggplant eel tempura, vegan cream cheese, vegan shrimp tempura, and black tiboko "caviart." Vegan Hot Night has vegan shrimp tempura, avocado, plant-based tuna, sesame seeds, and sriracha. The shrimp is by New Wave Foods — who is backed by Tyson — and is made from beans and seaweed, and can be grilled, baked, or fried like regular shrimp.
Denver-based chain has been ahead of the curve, first introducing spicy tofu sofritos in 2014. Now they're adding veggie chorizo, available nationwide, following a test run in Denver and Indianapolis in 2021. It has chipotle peppers, tomato paste, garlic, smoked paprika, olive oil, and pea protein, promising a deep, rich flavor with a slight kick. The chorizo is featured in three new bowls: a whole30 salad bowl with supergreens, tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and guacamole; vegetarian bowl, identical but cheese instead of guacamole; and vegan bowl with white rice, black beans, plant-based chorizo, corn salsa, tomato salsa, and Romaine.
Casa del Vegano
Vegan taqueria in Oak Cliff is a spinoff of Vegan Food House that opened at 333 Jefferson Blvd. in 2021. They're part of a wave of Mexican vegan restaurants across DFW that also includes El Palote, Nuno's Tacos & VegMex Grill, Pepitas in Denton, and Belentys Love Mexican Vegan Restaurant in Fort Worth. Casa del Vegano is doing a vegan spin on birria tacos, the crispy cheesy twist on a taco, but filled with Impossible beef.
High-end restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton has had a dedicated vegetarian/vegan menu for a number of years, which they update seasonally. One new item is their "scallops" made from pan-roasted Daikon radishes, served with marinated baby artichokes and a field pea-basil puree. They also have street tacos with jackfruit, avocado, and red onion-mango salad.
Austin-based chain has tried out a number of vegan items, beginning in 2015 with a tempeh/squash blend, before switching in 2018 to Beyond crumbled beef. Now they're rolling out a new one: Abbot's Butcher Plant-Based Chorizo, with Spanish smoked paprika and chipotle peppers for a flavor that's zesty, bright, and subtly smoky. Employees say it will be introduced over the next few weeks, as they sell out of the Beyond and replace it with the chorizo.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
KFC will debut Beyond Fried Chicken at nearly 4,000 U.S. locations on January 10. It's being hailed as the first and biggest rollout of a plant-based chicken item by a major chicken chain. It'll be available in a combo meal, or in six- or 12-piece orders, for a limited time only — but if it performs well, it's likely to stay. One reviewer who's had it says that the breading resembles what KFC uses for its regular fried chicken, and the texture is firmer and more similar to real chicken than regular tenders.
Atlanta-based pizza chain with locations in Arlington, McKinney, Denton, and Fort Worth already boasts a highly vegan-friendly menu with toppings such as vegan cheese, tempeh, and tofu. For Veganuary, they've partnered with Follow Your Heart on two new vegan pizzas, both featuring Follow Your Heart dairy-free mozzarella and feta crumbles: The Miss Mushroom has portobello mushrooms veggies, while the Greek Goddess has roasted tomatoes and kalamata olives.
Grand steakhouse chain with three DFW locations has two vegan surprises on its menu, introduced in 2021. There's a stick-to-your-ribs Vegan Skillet Chopped Steak, made from an Impossible burger blend that's been seasoned, then seared and smothered in crimini mushroom gravy. It's served with a chargrilled vegetable trio. There's also their spaghetti squash primavera, which is vegan if you skip the Parmesan cheese. It's a really pretty presentation with the squash forming a kind of platform stage for the vegetables.
Taqueria chain has introduced a plant-based taco with Beyond beef. Called the Mofaux, it features Beyond beef done "cowboy-style" plus green chiles, grilled corn, peppadew peppers, avocado, cilantro, and diablo sauce on a corn tortilla. It was originally introduced in Austin only in mid-2021, but in '22, it's been added to the menu at other locations; though not available at every Torchy's, it is at Denton, Allen, and Las Colinas.
Based at the Revolving Kitchen in Garland, this new family-owned concept is available on a takeout or delivery basis. Vegan Kebab touts itself as the first vegan Mediterranean grill in DFW and was founded by the Noori family, who have nearly three decades of experience in the food and catering industry. The menu features gyros, falafel, Mediterranean-style kebabs, and shawarma. They use Gardein meat marinated in onion, saffron, and spices, wrapped in pita or tortilla, with tomato, sumac, and parsley French fries.