Earlier this year on a hot (ha!) day in Portland OR I was eating ice cream with my friend Jason on Alberta and he mentioned that people are always comparing Portland to Austin. This comes up for me all the time, maybe just because I spend time in both places. Of course there are the obvious similarities; lots of food trucks, the keep ____ weird slogan, and the bearded young gentlemen milling about. In a lot of ways, though, I really don’t see it. Austin is really liberal…for Texas but Portland is one of the most liberal places I have ever been to. They have a citywide composting program and they pay people to recycle. I swear you won’t find a styrofoam cup in the city. We have the whole live music thing and our awesome movie theaters and the world’s best spring-filled swimming pools. But really I feel like the biggest difference is that Austin is swarming with people who are trying to live the healthy lifestyle. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so hot that you have to take your clothes off a lot or it it’s Lance Armstrong or the fact that Whole Foods comes from here but people are really, really in to wearing the tiniest, tightest, most florescently garish outfits and riding their bike around. I told this to Jason and he proposed that it was just my friends that were lazy. I don’t buy a word of it because although my friends are indeed lazy (that’s how we became so close) that whole time we were sitting on the curb having our little convo I didn’t see one jogger sweat on by. I didn’t see one stroller that looked like it was made for babies to be pushed in a marathon. I did see people loitering about and slowly riding bikes in regular earth-toned clothes.
I think that has really made a difference for the vegan food cultures in both cities. In Portland it seems like wherever you go you can always easily find buffalo tofu, chicken fried tempeh, corndogs, chocolate covered doughnuts, or waffles with vegan breakfast sausage. In Austin you are often stumbling past lots of oil-free organic local kale, raw food, juice stands, and freaking sprouts on your vegan tacos. Not that there isn’t tons of crossover, of course there is, we all love kombucha, but Austinites are obsessed with being healthy even though we are all going to die soon enough.
A long intro to get to a little food cart on Barton Springs called Mister Fruit Cup. While fruit stands are common in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you don’t see them very much in the US, especially ones with vegan whipped cream and waffle cone crumbles. Mister Fruit cup even has a separate vegan menu even though it’s a fruit cup stand. It’s right by the hike and bike trail on Jesse with a few other vegan friendly food trucks. I tried some of my friend’s “traditional” cup and it was fantastic.pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, orange, cucumber, chili lime seasoning, lime juice, and coconut flakes. All the fruit was perfectly fresh and made me feel healthier just looking at it.
Even though it was really good, really perfect fruit, I still got the ice cream next door. Maybe I don’t belong here at all.
ha ha. What a great post. I have to say, I love portland, but I am always a bit freaked out by the junk-foody emphasis of so many vegan offerings. Maybe I’m more of a Mister Fruit Cup gal!
You would love Austin!
maybe a scoop of ice cream on top of mr. fruit cup would’ve done it for you? i actually wish we had a bit more of the healthy healthy here besides bowls. but i have zero complaints.
This town’s obsession with health food is really annoying, especially since most of it tastes terrible, but I love Mister FruitCup. Next time try the rainbow cup – it has whipped cream and sprinkles. I swear you won’t be thinking “health food”. The owners are also total sweethearts, and are really happy to be a vegan friendly business, so I love stopping by to support them.
Well Austin does spend more on dining than any other city. I love that we have a healthy option like a legit fruit cup place. That ice cream does look really amazing though. What would I do without your local research?! It was so good to see you, by the way.
I hadn’t heard we spend more on dining! That is kind of surprising, I would think it would be New York or another big city. And it was good seeing you too! Totally made up for the parking garage drama I had to suffer through 🙂
Wait, but isn’t bike culture a huge thing in Portland too? With bike lanes and bike activism and bike boxes at traffic lights? I mean, it’s obviously a little more difficult to bike in the rain, but still. I think I need to spend some more time in Austin so I can compare the two for real. 🙂
Biking is maybe even bigger in Portland, but most people wear normal clothes. In Austin most people wear fluorescent racing outfits.
Love this post. It’s interesting what makes a city the way it is and how it influence everything, even the food carts! And I agree with Kittee, some ice cream on the fruit cup and I’m in!
That fruit cup looks fantastic. I can’t picture myself in one of those Tour de Whatever outfits, but I guess I am more of an Austin vegan. The vegan junk food trend is so severe that I’ve had just as much trouble finding something to eat at some vegan restaurants as I have at meatful places. I went to a vegan restaurant in Albuquerque where the only thing I could eat was salad. For reals. I had to stop by Whole Foods afterwards for some falafel so I didn’t pass out from hunger.
Abby that is so sad…and kind of hilarious.
I will wear my fluorescent racing outfit to Mr. Fruit Cup.
Awww, spandex! I have to admit, stripping down to my bike gear (jersey & shorts) is the way to go when it’s hot. Moisture wicking & with fabric that breathes, it beats riding around in my normal clothes. If only I had the healthy, vegan food trucks to go with it! Love that you have a fruit truck now–and with waffle cone bits?! Super awesome.
Well they both sound like places I want to go to and I’m glad they’re both so vegan friendly 😀
I think I managed to totally avoid anything overly healthy whilst I was in Austin, go me!
Yes! Down with sprouts on tacos! I have my protest sign all ready.
i’m going to have to try that place! one of my very first stops when i get into dallas (where i am from originally) is a spot simply called “La Fruteria” where I pick up my bowl of fruit with chile and lime and coconut sprinkled on top. damn. makes my mouth pucker just thinking about it.