I remember when we first thought about moving from Mesquite to Richardson. When was that? Seven years ago? I had found this little worn-lookng neighborhood while walking the Owens and Duck Creek trails down from the YMCA at Collins and Plano roads while Nick was in a swimming club there. It wasn’t long before we were looking at specific houses. I didn’t know much of anything about this area – so I drove and walked around the place a bit.
One question I had was if it was possible/easy to walk/ride a bike from the nearest DART station at Arapaho and Central to the neighborhood. By odometer, it was what? Two point six miles? That’s a bit long for a walk, but an easy bike ride. In measuring the route, I found a little restaurant that looked intriguing along the way. A big sign proclaimed Suma Veggie Cafe. It was nestled into a little cheap strip along Arapaho road. Next door was a Subway, then a nail salon, a few mysterious doors, and then the other end held a big, brassy Texas Bar-B-Que.
Veggie Cafe on one end… Bar-B-Que on the other. Well, this strip had the bases covered. I figured I could walk or ride my bike home from the DART station and stop off and get something to eat halfway, take a break. Some days the Bar-B-Que would be in order, or sometimes I could get a sandwich….
But it was the Veggie Cafe that caught my eye. From the sunsetting street it seemed a bright expansive friendly place. I made a note to eat there as soon as I could.
It took seven years.
Today I puttered around the house and once my chores were at a good stopping point (they are never finished) I decided to go get something to eat at the Veggie Cafe. I have no idea why I decided to go there today, except that I’m tired of the same old stuff and am trying my best to think of something, anything new or a tiny bit different.
I checked a website and found they have a Vegan Buffet from eleven to three on Saturdays – that’s the ticket.
The place is smaller that I thought it was when viewed from the street. It is exactly half the size – the back wall is mirrored. Its décor is pretty much standard for family owned Asian restaurants in strip centers that are getting a bit long in the tooth.
One unique feature is a prime table near the front that has been given over to newspapers, a steel water-bottle, books, ledgers, cups of pens and scissors, notebooks, mail in several languages and the other usual flotsam and jetsam that a small business generates. I guess a place this small doesn’t sport an office for the paperwork – it’s odd to see it all piled up front. From reading reviews it appears there is often a grumpy owner at this spot – but he didn’t show today.
There is a huge portrait of the supreme master on the wall behind the register and a big gold smiling Buddha beside.
The buffet was fairly small, which I see as a good thing. A huge buffet, groaning under the weight of a hundred steam tables may look good, but you know that stuff has been out there a long time. I like a small selection of dishes, brought out fresh and continuously.
I can’t really say the place was really good but… I really enjoyed it.
What did I eat? I have no idea. There was something with tofu, something with those little corns, some cabbage in some sort of a curry sauce, a stir fry with something very tasty and completely unidentifiable, oh, and some tempura vegetables – broccoli and something else.
Would you like it? I don’t know. Probably not. The other customers were very eclectic – a young skinny pierced couple, she had bright purple hair – when I arrived they were talking to another illustrated woman who was expounding upon the evil of foie gras. There were some families, a few small groups of various cultural background, and a strange quiet frumpy older man by himself with an odd look on his face (I guess that made two of us).
I thought of the difference between an odd neighborhood place like this and a focus grouped cookie cutter chain casual dining chain. The biggest difference is in the customers – though it’s hard to put your finger on the disparity. Like the restaurant itself, the customers were all a little quiet, a little ragged, more familiar than fashionable.
I want to go back. I won’t wait seven years.
Sounds like an interesting place for people watching and/or a setting for a story…
I need to go back and watch the grumpy owner at work. He would be a good character, from what I’ve read. One negative example:
“I have finally decided I cannot eat here anymore. I’m a vegan in great part because my philosophy is one of harmony with my environment. The gruff old bigot that runs the joint has finally worn me down. I smile and say hi when I come in. I say excuse me when I have to edge my way around his paper (he reads it by backing his chair into the aisle and blocking the aisle further with his paper), and I’ve tried to ignore it when he is chatty with some people (mostly other asians) and extremely rude to myself and most other customers. I hold my hand out for my change and he SLAPS it down on the counter.”
Here’s a flickr photo of the guy – he looks nice in the picture:
Awww….I love that place, but it’s probably been about 7 years since I’ve gone! lol. I used to be a vegetarian, so I would eat there a lot in high school/college and on the way back from the library. I’ve taken a lot of unassuming people there over the years and most did not share my enthusiasm. You might also try the vegetarian Indian restaurant a couple doors down from Party City at 75 and Beltline.
Cool! I ate at the other veggie place on Arapaho – Veggie Garden – and will write about it soon. I was thinking I wanted some Indian Food and now you’ve come through.
Thanks for the comment, I’m sure the folks that you took there that didn’t like it are having fun at Panera.
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