There are two things you should know about the dining scene in my hometown of Arlington, Texas. The first, is that it’s overwhelmingly dominated by chain restaurants. You have to search hard to find independent joints. The second is that you can’t expect to find a real bagel.
Growing up, when my family wasn’t eating migas for Sunday brunch, we were eating bagels from wherever we could find them. Most often it was Bubba’s bagels. My dad would walk there (crossing a few highways), and bring us back a bag of bagels. Bubba’s is long gone now, but Iris Coffee and Bagel Shop is in the same spot. And I think it’s a big step up. For one thing, they serve coffee, and Arlington could really use more independent coffee shops. (
This makes three that I know of in a city of 350,000+. Scratch that. Health and Harmony House closed between the time I wrote this and the time I published it. So we’re back to two independent coffee houses)
That’s actually how I ended up there on my most recent visit to Arlington. We were on our way back to Austin and decided to stop at the first place serving vegan lattes that wasn’t a Starbucks. Iris Coffee and Bagel Shop, it was.
We were just planning to get coffee. I remember from the Bubba days that there wasn’t much vegan besides the bagels at this coffee shop. Which is why I was delighted to see the special written on their board. Monkey Bagels!
Who wouldn’t love something called a Monkey Bagel? It’s a bagel with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, toasted until the bagel is crispy and the peanut butter is melty. There’s supposed to be a drizzle of honey, too, but do you really need honey on top of peanut butter, bananas, and cinnamon sugar? That’s overkill (and not vegan).
My coffee was good, and the Monkey Bagel was even better. This wasn’t gourmet food, but it sure was a pleasant surprise for Arlington.