On the weekends at the Dallas Farmers Market, the longest lines aren’t made up of folks in search of super-fresh produce. Instead, they’re queued up outside Vegan Vibrationz, the market’s beloved meat-free food purveyor that recently upgraded to a brand new food truck.
A full-on phenomenon in Dallas, Vegan Vibrationz attracts droves of diners each week, in search of its quesadillas stuffed with smoky jackfruit and mac-and-cheez, chicken-fried oyster mushrooms, and mac and cheese tossed with “lobster” made from konjac, a plant that’s often used in vegan seafood substitutes. As fans line up on weekends, 30-plus minute waits for those quesadillas and mac and cheese bowls are to be expected.
Chef and Florida native Jovan Cole is the founder of the vegan restaurant and describes his culinary style as driven by both comfort and nostalgia. “I go off of what I like, and what I grew up eating,” he says. “It’s flavorful, and you can feel the vibes, the good energy that I put into it. I call it high vibrational food.” The truck’s most popular dish is a take on Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap. Made with perfectly spiced Beyond meat, dairy-free chipotle sour cream, vegan cheddar, and mango pico de gallo, it’s not uncommon for Cole to sell more than 100 of the dish each day. Now that he’s working in the truck’s expanded kitchen, he can double his output.
Cole’s Vegan Vibrationz has been a staple at the market since it debuted as a food stand in 2018. Before launching his popular pop-up, Cole worked as a chef at a vegan restaurant in Pensacola, where the idea for Vegan Vibrationz was first born. He moved to Dallas about five years ago, and started the pop-up while working at lauded vegan restaurant Spiral Diner.
Within the last few weeks, Cole and his team have been making the transition from a temporary stall at the Farmers Market to a full-scale food truck. From there, Cole envisions a whole fleet of Vegan Vibrationz trucks that will eventually bring his wildly popular eats to an even broader range of Dallas diners.
From the beginning, Vegan Vibrationz has been a family business. Cole’s twin brother Josh can frequently be seen helping prepare food and take orders, and his uncle Gary stepped in to help after the COVID-19 pandemic began last March. That was an especially challenging time for Vegan Vibrationz, as the Farmers Market prohibited vendors from selling food on-site in the height of the pandemic. Following that decision, Cole and his family ran pop-ups out of Oak Cliff vegan restaurant Recipe to keep the business afloat.
And despite Dallas’s reputation as a meat-obsessed city, vegan dishes are trending in the city’s restaurants. In addition to casual eateries like Vegan Vibrations, they’re also popping up on the menu at upscale eateries like Elm & Good, where chef Graham Dodds is making summery tomato tartare and transforming lion’s mane mushrooms into tender pucks that are strikingly reminiscent of crab cakes.
Now that the Farmers Market is back in full swing and the trio is working out of the new food truck, the future is looking seriously bright for Vegan Vibrationz. The restaurant is expanding its reach, hosting pop-ups at venues across the metroplex, like bustling Deep Ellum bars and Klyde Warren Park. Recently, the truck held a Taco Tuesday event at an Irving apartment complex that spurred its most devoted followers to drive to the ‘burbs for a Crunchwrap or “lobster” mac and cheese. “It was almost like a weekend at the market,” Cole says. “We had less than a day of promotion, and we were busy. Not only did we serve that apartment complex, but we had our regulars come through, too.”
Cole is also working on expanding the menu at Vegan Vibrationz, especially vegan baked goods and other sweets. “A lot of people don’t know that I’m also a baker, so we’re about to start making a lot of baked goods,” he says. “I’ve made wedding cakes and all kinds of stuff like that. We’re trying to make a healthier alternative to what we grew up eating, things we love like vegan Reese’s peanut butter cups.” He’s also working on developing a more streamlined production method for his famed vegan Snickers bar, which he says is “tedious” to prepare, but is always a crowd-pleaser.
Looking to the future, Cole doesn’t have his sights set on the traditional restaurant — at least not right now. “We wanted to do a brick-and-mortar place, but now that we have this food truck, I could see myself running three or four trucks around the city,” Cole says of his plans to make his vegan eats more accessible across the metroplex. “We see the same faces every week, we know people by name and everything now. We’re responsible for feeding the same people every week.”