Monthly Archives: April 2012

Papi Tino’s a vegan friendly open air cafe on East 6th

It seems like east sixth street has tons of new places every time I go down there, which is like once a week! I had head that Papi Tino’s was vegan friendly but I then read a discouraging yelp review and wasn’t so sure I wanted to even attempt it. Until, that is, I saw their cocktail menu and realized I would be happy with whatever they came up with. I started with a Pink Bowtie because, um, cute? It had St. Germaine and berry infused deliciousness. I just loved it. 

It was at that point that I looked across the patio and noticed that everyone I could see, including the servers, all appeared female. 

I want to come back another day and wear my pink dress because this is totally the place. Also the menu had multiple vegan options that I’m excited to try. 

I had a hard time deciding between the Champiñion Rellano, a large portabello stuffed with vegetables, the Rollos de Berenjena, eggplant rolls stuffed with vegetables, or the Roja Enchilidas…wait for it…stuffed with vegetables which is what I went for in the end at the server’s recommendation. 

They were tasty, I was really pleased with the finely diced well seasoned vegetables inside which were mostly very fresh tasting zucchini and broccoli. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t rice and beans or even an option for more because I was hungry before the evening was over; something a little protein heavy would have been nice. I am glad I didn’t get the guacamole because even though I desperatly wanted some, Papi Tino’s is clearly one of those places that is going to charge 9 bucks for 1/4 of a cup of guac with maybe 10 homeade chips. And that, folks, is not how I roll. I think this would be the perfect place to get multiple plates and I hope they add some other interesting vegan sides in the future.


Get down to Monkeywrench Books for the Bakesale!

Did you know that today (Sunday 4/29) is Austin’s worldwide vegan bakesale AND that I made ice cream sandwiches? IT’S NOT A DREAM! You are not in the Matrix. This shit is really about to go down.
Ice cream Sammie

These ice cream sandwiches are amazing and perfect for breakfast if you are the kind of person that sleeps until noon. But you better get down there before they melt. The bakesale is going on from 12-6 and the new vegan taco cart, the Vegan Nom, is having their grand opening party at the same time! So if you fill up on taco’s and you want a lighter more chocolatey Star Wars based cookie I also made Chocolate TIEs

They are so good and chocolatey that I already sold one to my boyfriend. That’s how hardcore I am about this bakesale folks; no cookies for him.

I know Kristen from Capital City is cooking up a storm of whoopie pies and cupcakes. Wes already made some Macadamia & Trail mix cookies and the Lonestar Plate baked Zucchini Cornbread and Cranberry, Currant, and Fennel Cornbread. So there is even options for you sugar haters and gluten free folks. So please come down and support this wonderful cause!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Natural Goes Serbian! Plus, adds brunch and new menu items!

It seems like lately Mr. Natural, one of our most time-honored vegetarian restaurants, has been going through some really positive changes. First, they added new vegan items to the menu. I wish I could express to you how happy I am that someone in town is making a vegan chile rellano! Now if restaurants would just start making their own cashew or nutritional yeast based sauces I’d be in heaven*. I’m telling you, it’s the answer to outstanding vegan food! Of course, that is my preference and I know tons of vegans are just wild about daiya cheese which is what Mr. Natural is using for their rellano AND the new quesadilla.

Mr. Natural is one of my favorite places for when I am really really hungry and don’t want to wait for some table and talk to some waiter and figure out what’s vegan. For the incredibly impatient they have a buffet with convenient signs pointing out exactly what is and isn’t vegan and you also get to pick out a salad, an entree and two sides. It’s the best thing ever if you have been working really hard one something all day and need to eat now. But maybe you have been working hard on doing absolutely nothing so here’s a little trick; if you can wait, oh, maybe five minutes before you eat you can chose items off the menu and get whatever you like made to order. It’s really the better way because food on the buffet can be a little uneven, especially if you get there closer to close. Which speaking of closing, they are now open until 9pm most days! They also started opening on Sunday 10am-3pm for a brunch buffet at the south lamar location.

I was pretty excited that your choice of fruit or green salad came with the buffet and that waffles were an option! My dream is that in the future they will do a savory fried tofu and waffles!

I also had the spicy tofu scramble and the brown rice. Brunch overall was good and very filling, I’m sure it’s just going to get better and better.  As always I was disappointed that so many of the agua fesca’s contained honey but I was stoked that cantaloupe was ok because if there is one thing I love, it’s fresh cantaloupe. It was so bright and delicious.

What I’m the most excited about is that for reasons I can only guess at, Mr. Natural has decided to have a Serbian night tomorrow April 24th and I just can’t believe it! I didn’t even know there were other Serbs in the area and I hope to meet them as they are sure to swarm the restaurant with me tomorrow night!  

Please join me! We’ll drink slivo in the parking lot to celebrate.

*Actually,  homemade cashew cheese and nutritional yeast sauces will probably happen later this week when Counter Culture has their soft opening!!!!

Austin’s Mega Potluck, the Gathering of the Tribes, is this Saturday 4/21

Have you ever wanted to have dinner with hundreds of people that love vegan food? Or maybe you want to win millions of fabulous prizes while supporting Sunny Day Farms? Well let me tell you, The Gathering of the Tribes is the event for you. Vegans will completely take over Pease park in our the completely nonviolent style of giant potluck. While you are there you can recruit people to come to the bake sale next weekend! Remember to bring a large dish with a serving utensil along with your own plate, utensils, and beverage. Or eat with your hands like a Paleo person! The organizers would also like you to list ingredients for those with food sensitivities and of course make sure everything is vegan. Get there early by 4 if you want to snag a cap city cupcake! Earth Day Every Day!

Austin’s Vegan Bakesale is COMING Sunday April 29, 2012!!

I love everything about charity bakesales. I think my favorite part is when folks are first dropping off their treats and you get to see all the enthusiasm; everyone from professional bakers to little kids who frosted their first cupcake are all smiley and excited. I love during the sale when the families with little children come and a parent tells the kid they can just get one thing and they look like they are going to cry having to make the decision. I love it when the joggers slow down, try and look away, but can’t resist all the sweet treats in front of them.

Capital City Bakery will be donating whoopie pies and cupcakes!

Austin’s vegan community has been putting on bakesales for years now and every time they get a little bit bigger, the offerings become more elaborate, and the amount of money we get to donate to organizations that help animals or people in need gets a little bit heftier. I’m hoping this year will keep on trend because we have more sponsors than ever before AND a new vegan trailer is having their grand opening party on North Loop in Counter Culture’s old spot at the same time!!! On April 29th MonkeyWrench Books is going to be hosting our World Wide Vegan bakesale and donating all the money to Sunday Day Farms Animal Sanctuary. Even Brooke from Sunny Day will be at the sale so if you want to find out more information about their wonderful animal sanctuary she’ll be there for the asking. They are such a wonderful organization and I am so happy that we are donating money to animals that have been abused or neglected.

Wes made these pistachio rosewater cupcakes once and I can't wait to see what he bring this time.

We still need your help! The more people that bake the better so please sign up if you haven’t had a chance yet. If you are a little intimidated by vegan baking let me assure you that many pioneers have already done a ton of work figuring out how to do it and it is easy to get great results! There are lots of fantastic recipes out there on the ppk, the worldwide vegan bakesale site, oh she glows, and tons of other blogs. Here are some guidelines for substitutions. The trickiest part for those new to vegan baking is usually honey (it’s made by bees so it isn’t vegan), non-dairy creamer (which contains dairy!) and weird ingredients with long scienc-y names. Usually at the bottom of an ingredients list it will say “contains Milk” but if you aren’t sure ask the friendly folks and Wheatsville, Whole Foods, or even Central Market and they should be able to help you out if you can’t google it. Most vegans don’t worry about “May contain trace elements” because that just means that the same machines were used to create the product.

I love when people change things up and make savory items! These tiny pies were a huge hit at Austin Bakes for Japan

If you still aren’t sure about your baking prowess please consider helping staff the table at the event and most importantly spreading the news about the bakesale by inviting all of your friends on facebook, posting about it on twitter (use #atxvegan if you want to be a badass), pinning recipes in pinterest, taking photos on instagram, adding bakesale volunteer to your Linked in resume, + 1 on google plus and whatever other cockamamie networks you can think of. 

And don’t forget to come out Sunday April 29th for some decadent treats. There is going to be gluten free and sugar free options so no excuses! In addition to cookies, cupcakes, and cinnamon buns there is also going to be Donut Holes from Red Rabbit Bakery! And Zico is donating boxes of coconut water!

mmm doughnuts

And oh yeah, I am going to make ICE CREAM SANDWICHES because I love you all and I love Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary. Sometimes it is hard to believe that I get to make ice cream and cookies to help poor animals that have been abused or neglected. Then they get to live in a world where they don’t have to worry and they are taken care of and loved. It’s bakesale magic!

Austin Vegan Breakfast Taco Guide

I often repeat that old bit of wisdom that the breakfast taco is the most important taco of the day but it is also a philosophy that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. It’s the taco that I long for, almost tragically, when my digestive fires start burning. I realized this week that although they show up in a lot of my guides, I haven’t done a wrap up since 2008 and there are a lot of new players since then. I don’t think we even had the Whole Foods taco back then. Isn’t it weird to think of a time when the Whole Foods was just a regular old health food store instead of a ridiculously packed megastore with mile long lines and even Japanese tourists? I wait in those long lines quite a bit for their monster of a breakfast taco. I like mine packed with tofu scramble, seasoned potatoes, and pico de gallo but others prefer the vegan chorizo, refried pintos, black beans, and now even steamed kale and Daiya. The key to their whole success, I think, is in their Margarita’s Tortillas. The spelt is one of my all time favorites but I also adore their pico de gallo. I don’t know how they manage to find good tomatoes all year long but they do it! If you like spicy food the new mango habenero salsa is delicious too.

Even though Margarita has fantastic tortillas they can’t compare to my number one favorite homemade tortilla from a little Mexican trailer in my neighborhood off south first called La Flor. I read about this spot on Taco Journalism and ventured out there with the desperate hope that they didn’t use lard in their refried beans and I was granted with wonderfully cooked beans and the most sublime corn tortilla I have ever had in my life. It must be made by angels in the middle of the night. It’s filled with their delicious refried beans, seasoned potatoes, and nopales and then topped with their own green salsa. It’s the kind of taco that would make baby Jesus weep.

*/UPDATE 5/30/2010*/ My boyfriend was at La Flor today and heard that the beans weren’t vegan. I have questioned them extensively about lard and cooking with meat and they told me in the past that they used vegetable oil so as of right now I’m not sure who to believe so ask before you order.

If you live in North Austin, I recently became totally hooked on a Mexican/ El Salvadoran restaurant introduced to me by the Lonestar Plate called Elsi’s. This little restaurant is the perfect place to avoid brunch chaos and hang out for awhile and enjoy the best veggie chorizo in town. The first time I went I followed Molly’s rec and got a bunch of sides to make my own taco and I still do that, but now I add fried plantains and guacamole and the last time I ate it I swore it was the best vegan taco in town. If you have any idea how much I hate driving across town, know that I will drive all the way to Burnett to eat this glorious taco.

*/UPDATE 5/7/2010*/ Soon after I wrote this post Elsi’s sadly closed down but there is hope that they might reopen in another location. In the meantime a new all vegan Taco trailer, the Vegan Nom opened on North Loop. I wrote about it here. 

If you live on the East Side, I still think your best bet is still Mr. Natural, and they are even open on Sunday now! I didn’t like their tacos at first because they have sprouts and lettuce on them. It took me several trips before I realized I could order whatever I want! They have a newly expanded menu and I am so stoked about the upcoming Serbian night!

The Cherrywood Coffeehouse, also on the East Side supposedly has great tacos topped with shoestring potatoes but I have never tried it because they are always really really busy on the weekend, and by the time I get all the way over there I am hungry like a wolf so I can’t wait around all day.

Wheatsville is a nice central option but I have never been too impressed by their tacos, even thoughI LOVE everything else there and think they are a really good deal. They have delicious salsa’s of the month and are the only place I can think of that even tries a tempeh taco but they can’t help but leave behind that “healthy” taste in my mouth so I usually opt for something else when I go there.

The best taco I’ve had on the west side is definitely the Freakin’ Vegan at Taco Deli. Even though it’s just beans and avocado their salsas are really outstanding and the one off mopac is a fun place to go before hitting trails on the Greenbelt. 

And now I realize that I would be remiss to not mention Bouldin Creek. Many consider it the holy grail of a vegan breakfast taco and their tofu scramble is one of my most favorite foods in the world. But I’ve got to admit that their tacos have never been a favorite of mine. Their salsa is a little flat and the tortillas aren’t the best so while I love the scramble and the vegan chorizo, I’m probably just going to have it in it’s non taco form. Blasphemy, I know.

If you don’t live in Austin, or you just don’t like leaving the house in the morning (I hear you) check out my post on how to make a breakfast taco.

And Please let me know if you have any other favorites in the comments. We should have a vegan taco tour!

Lick – Vegan Ice Cream in South Austin

The other day I had the always fun pleasure of showing someone around Austin who had never been here before. After a couple days he uttered one of my all time favorite summations of his stay “What’s up with Austin anyway, there is, like, a vegan ice cream parlor on every corner?” and so it seems my friends! Lick is a relative newcomer to the Austin ice cream scene. Since they pride themselves on being super local which for some reason means having ice cream with bacon and goat cheese I didn’t even look at the menu even though all of my foodie friends were raving about it on twitter. The truth is, I can hardly keep up with all the new places these days! My cool vegan treats map from last summer is already out of date (but still helpful). Luckily my friend Marie mentioned it to me and as soon as that bug was in my ear (don’t worry vegan police it’s a figurative bug) I was on my way.

Lick has an adorable little storefront right next to the Horseshoe Lounge on a rapidly developing stretch of South Lamar.

The inside is teeny tiny but there are plenty of room to look over all of the myriad of selections. They partner with many of Austin’s local oranic farms and base a lot of flavors on what is available. It’s not really the place to go for chocolate vanilla swirl so much as to try roasted carrot with tarragon. The also make a huge point to not offer ingredients universally known to be evil like high fructose corn syrup. When I went there were only two non-dairy selctions to chose from and only one was vegan (damn I wanted you avocado curd!) so I was pretty much stuck with Spicy Peanut Coconut.

I was pleased that everything was well labeled and spicy coconut sounded like it would make perfect ice cream cone but alas, the cones are not vegan! As a hardcore cone lover I was disappointed….until I tried the ice cream. It was creamy, and spicy and salty all at once. I just wanted to eat more and more for the rest of the day.  I read that they often have another vegan coconut based flavor,  “Coconut, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl” and I can’t wait to try that the next time. Sitting on the front bench eating my scoops by the succulents was a pretty good way to follow up a trip to Barton Springs and I’m sure I will be back soon. 

It is really amazing how far vegan ice cream has come. I remember the first time I tried a store bought pint. I was just so saddened by my chocolate flavored ice, it reminded me of the weight watchers desserts we always had around in my youth. I wish I could go back in time to that sad young lady and tell her that a vegan ice cream renaissance would be around the corner. I’d also tell her to look where she was going and to not leaver her camera on the beach but that’s neither here nor there.

So the next time you are cruising down lamar and would like to have an exotic scoop of coconut ice cream to chill you out I highly recommend you try it. And hey, if you are in need of a cone or a banana split or something more traditional, Mr. Natural is only a couple blocks away.