A river runs through Austin; it marks the south border of downtown. I guess it used to be that anything south of the river was considered isolated and less “sophisticated” then the north, well, by the people that lived north anyway. I recently learned that there used to be a giant tug-o-war between the yuppies on the north and the hippies and bikers in the south. That was like 30 years ago and there still seems to be some animosity between south and north Austin. People in South Austin stay in South Austin and vice-versa, especially if they are really lazy and hate driving and don’t have any mirrors on their car. For one thing, south Austin is better and North Austin always seems SO FAR and I avoid going up there at all costs which is probably why the north section of my Austin guide is somewhat lacking (but recently I have been adding more!!!).
Lately I am starting to change my to tune,I keep finding so many reasons to go way up there including the recently reopened Sunflower Restaurant. Sunflower is almost a mythical place for me that I have heard of for years because they have a very vegan friendly menu and they have Vietnamese Crêpes (aka bánh xèo) on the menu but somehow the stars never aligned until last week.Suffice to say I finally tried it and was thoroughly satisfied. I couldn’t believe how much the Vietnamese crêpes looked like egg crêpes since they are made out of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk. The inside was almost eggy in its texture. The French influence of Vietnam at least had very positive impacts on their cuisine between this and the Bánh mì sandwich it is the perfect fusion. The crêpe was stuffed with everything you could hope for at a Vietnamese restaurant, mung bean sprouts, tofu, mushrooms, and other vegetables. The sauce it was served with, by the way, was not vegan but there were other friendly options. The menu is rounded out with delectable spring rolls, Bánh mì, tofu salad, veggie fried rice with tofu and mushrooms and they also have a few soups that are definitely vegetarian but I didn’t ask on my one trip there if they were vegan. There was also several different noodle dishes but I wasn’t a fan in my dining partners tofu in her noodle dish. They didn’t press it or do anything special so I probably wouldn’t go that I route. Actually I will most likely never try anything else here because the crêpe was just so good and extremely filling. Overall I found the vegetables crisp and fresh which is always a huge plus since many places in town overcook their vegetables or don’t use fresh ones and there were lots of mushrooms in my crêpe that were well seasoned and delightful.
The restaurant itself was looking pretty good considering that it recently burned down but still it is not the kind of place you would go if you were looking for candlelight ambiance and fine dining service, it is in a strip mall with a smattering of other Vietnames places right off research boulevard. Or is it 183. I don’t know what’s what in North Austin, we avoided the highway entirely and went on a very circular route using a map because that is how I roll. And I will do it all again.
I’ll still feel a little more comfortable when I safely cross the river back to South Austin.