Category Archives: Austin Restaurant Reviews

Holla Mode Thai Style Ice Cream

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Holla Mode opened quite awhile back but every time I went to try it the line seemed a mile long. Now I finally know why! I figured it was because of the food truck’s location, on restaurant row on Barton Springs and the last stop before Zilker park, but now I realize they custom make the actual ice cream for every single customer!

First, you pick your base, the organic coconut is totally vegan, then you can pick your flavors like green tea or almond butter or vanilla etc. Then you pick your mixins (pictured above I chose almond butter ice cream with strawberries and blueberries because they were out of a ton of stuff). Then the ice cream maker pours the base on freezing cold plate along with whatever you chose and stirs it up until it becomes ice cream. When they make it the process kind of looks like stir-fry and so in Thailand and South Asia where the technique was invented they call it Stir Fried Ice Cream, but it’s the opposite of frying, really. Once it becomes ice cream they scrape it up into rolls and plunk them in a cup and at that point, you can get other toppings like fruit or nuts or Oreos.

When I tasted it at first it reminded me of dippin’ dots (aka ice cream of the future aka freeze-dried ice cream) because it was so cold and had a delicate texture but as it melted it tasted like regular old delicious ice cream. I didn’t think I’d be able to eat the whole thing when I saw the giant portions but by the time I finished….I kinda wanted more! They also have a trailer on Burnet but it’s only open March through September. There is a second business called Ice Scrappers that is the same concept as Holla Mode and it also has vegan options up by the Drag. Let me know if you’ve tried it because I want to go there too! And what kind of flavor combinations to get! I have to try the Thai Tea next I think.

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Doggie Style: American vegan street food at it’s best

30633016763_08018ea773_cI can’t believe Doggie Style has been open for a year now and I haven’t blogged about it yet! It has certainly become one of my favorite spots when I want to indulge in childhood favorites. This wonderful trailer over by Bananarchy at the Live Oak trailer park on South First got a lot of support from the get go with their kickstarter campaign getting vegans in town super excited for some homemade hot dogs. Even though I grew up in Chicagoland standard hot dog toppings have never been my favorite so when I read about the Jon Stewart Dog (Russian Dressing and Sauerkraut) or the Chicago Dog (mustard, pickle, relish, peppers, tomato, celery salt) I filed it away as a place to check out the next time I’m with a hot dog lover. Lucky for me, as a good blogger, I also started following them on instagram and saw their weekly specials pop up that were like calls directly to the weakest most self-indulgent part of my soul. Yes my primal cravings involve french fries and free beer (every Sunday). And tater tots.

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One Hot Dog I couldn’t resist was the Totchos Dog which was topped with fried tater tots, white sausage gravy, golden cheddar, and jalapeños. You could also get it just as an old-fashioned pie of totchos. This is a hot dog that dreams are made of.

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Another day I went nuts over the similar Poutine Dog (mushroom gravy, cheese curds, and french fries). With a side of fries.

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On a different trip I planned to share these chili fries with friends. But then my friends were late and I Homer Simpsoned the whole bowl. I have no self-control at Doggie Style. They are the closest thing to Chicago Diner-style food we have here in Austin.

If you want to try them out but don’t want to go alone Vegan Drinks is having a meet-up there July 7 at 8 PM – 11 PM

And if you want to eat an excessive amount of hot dogs, or watch people try, the Hot Dog Eating contest on the 4th of July!19149318_1795477720766654_2788951882748127234_n

So follow them on instagram or facebook and see what you can’t resist, here are a few other recent posts from them:

The Buffalo Cauliflower Dog

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The Flyin’ Hawaiian dog

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The Donald

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The Cherry Bomb

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And just last week they had a cheeseburger dog. Who knows what’s next?

Vicecreme – Lake Travis’ Vegan Ice Cream Shop

In Austin we have five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and TEXAS SUMMER. The latter is always in caps. It’s the extra season that people who live elsewhere don’t really understand. In some ways it’s more akin to the blizzards of the north because during TEXAS SUMMER you don’t want to go outside unless you are completely prepared for the elements (sunscreen, hats, deodorant) and it can be hard to motivate to get out of the sweet feel of air conditioning. If you are going to go brave the out-of-doors there are only certain places that are worthwhile; patios with misters and margaritas, Barton Springs, and Lake Travis. In the past, the latter was not very vegan friendly but times they are changing and now after a dip in the lake or a boat ride you can head over to the ever-expanding Oasis complex and find an all vegan ice cream shop: Vicecreme.

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I hadn’t been to the Oasis in a few years, and even back then it was an epic restaurant. Now it’s grown to be a Disneyland-style shopping experience with all sorts of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. We parked in the Oasis lot and took a golf cart over to the ice cream shop, because really why not? Then wandered around just a little bit until we found the storefront. 34305780643_55ed191476_b

The inside is very minimalist and modern with tasteful vegan art and lots of natural light and succulents. The menu includes sundaes with toppings like doughnuts and marshmallows, open-faced ice cream sandwiches (so you don’t squeeze out melty ice cream all over your hand), shakes, scoops, oreo cones, brownie sundaes, and banana splits. They make their own soft-serve, chocolate and “banilla” banana-based vanilla. 34729185990_5f0b2af2b1_zThe

Additionally, the case has six flavors of hard packed Nadamoo which will rotate by the season. I had my favorite Snickerdoodle but I also saw Chocolate Peanut Butter, Birthday Cake, Cherry Fudge Brownie, Java Chip, and Mint Chip. 34984894811_6a10aa3b85_z

They also have some eco-friendly items for sale that donate profits to animal shelters and marine life including Sand Cloud towels and bottles, Pura Vida bracelets, and Sydney Hale candles.

I topped my scoop with a doughnut and peanut butter sauce but Wes and Jessica went for a little bit of everything with their banana split.34951100942_f63919bfa8_z

So next time your out at the lake check it out and support these awesome vegans! 34271595574_f5898f8a23_z

Revolution Vegan Kitchen at the Midway

Update 6/20/2017 Revolution Vegan Kitchen relocated to 7800 S. 1st Street after this post was published34427123851_fca028daae_c

When Revolution Vegan Kitchen opened a few months ago there was a lot of confusion since this new trailer is named very similarly to long time Austin vegan business community members Unity Vegan Kitchen and Barbecue Revolution. At first we wondered if it was some sort of trailer offspring of the two super popular spots but it turns out that Revolution Vegan Kitchen is completely unaffiliated. I had heard it was out in Westlake but then I happened to see it driving out to the Hill of Life and learned that it is just west of Barton Creek Square Mall, off 360 in an awesome trailer park called the Midway. This is one of the most ideal spots for vegan kids in Austin. They have tons of covered tables and chairs, and a good-sized playground, and plenty of room to run around.33750286623_141216412a_c

And while you are waiting for your food you can chase after your little ones since RVK gives out vibrating pagers instead of giving you numbers to hang on too. 34086355250_8e02f855b1_z

Their menu is super kid friendly too, they have Mac ‘n’ Cheez, Corn Dawgs, Hot Dawgs, Chick’n Nuggets, juice boxes and 4 oz containers of Nadamoo ice cream! [It just occurred to me that this vegan generation might grow up really confused about how to spell common food words!] They also have curly fries and burgers (we guessed they were boca burgers but I forgot to ask) on the sandwiches and bites side of the menu.33747023693_bcb4190ffb_c

More exciting for adult vegans is that they have fried pickles and Mozzarella sticks but both were out the day I went. I bet they sell out of a lot of items on nice days, the Midway was packed, so if it’s across town for you, check their social media or give them a call before driving all the way out there.

The best part about RVK was the tacos, and I’m not just saying that because tacos are my favorite food ever. These vegan tacos were straight up legit – and I have an advanced degree in taco-ology. Looking at the menu, originally, I was disappointed because almost every offering was jackfruit based. 34430103896_681c86701f_b

But it turned to be some of the best jackfruit I’ve ever had. I loved the Al Pastor and it made me happy that the bright orange grease was running off of it, so authentic! I also tried the Chorizo con papas + way fauxs  and I loved that too, it was a very traditional breakfast taco. 34171484000_b1619a7696_z

I want to go back and check out the rest of the taco selection FOR SURE. I’ll just probably wait until the next time I’m hanging out with kiddos.  There is so much fun stuff to play with and I’m pretty sure it’s dog friendly too. 34471164465_951d3dfeef_c

UPDATE – PhoNatic – Vegan Friendly Vietnamese in Central Texas

2-14-2017 Update

Since writing this review I got several questions from folks that went to try out the vegan options at PhoNatic and were told that the egg rolls and salt and pepper tofu aren’t vegan. I reached out to and the company they assured me that all of the items that I blogged about below are indeed vegan and that they will do a better job training their staff to answer these questions in the future. They think what might have happened was confusion due to the shared fryer situation (they do not have a separate fryer for vegan items which is typical and I personally consider shared equipment vegan enough for this blog) Here is Chef Pat’s apology:

“Please express my sincere apologies for any confusion or misunderstanding as a result of our conversation. It is really important to me that we don’t mislead anyone. My family are Buddhist and we eat vegan on certain days of the year, so I understand the severity of misleading someone.”

I also asked them to send me an ingredient list for the eggrolls and they are indeed vegan.

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SO I rate PhoNatic as both being on the up and up for transparency and for vegan friendliness! I so pleased to repost my earlier review in it’s entirety below.

Review 2-10-2017

I’ve been a fan of the pho at PhoNatic for some time. The first one opened in North Austin on Anderson a few years back and then Southpark Meadows opened soon after. Now this local Austin chain has it’s fast-casual locations in Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Mueller as well. The restaurant by the same family who opened the first Asian grocery store in Austin and then later the sprawling Chinatown center and Pho Saigon the latter of which is one of the most highly rated Vietnamese spots in town. They contacted me to try all their different vegan options which they are very proud of showcasing which is always a good sign. I learned that the head chef grew up with Buddhist fasting which is great because that means he really knows what we mean by vegan (no fish sauce!).

While I regularly eat the pho at PhoNatic this was my first time trying their other options and I don’t know why I waited so long but I can tell you that it will be hard to resist their other apps and other dishes in the future. It’s a small brightly lit restaurant where you order at the counter, grab a number, and seat yourself. There are also a ton of condiments by the soda machine to gussy up your pho and they had a fun variety of beverages. The vegan eggrolls that we started with were on point with a tender flaky crust that wasn’t at all greasy and packed with vegetables.

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Next we tried the Spring Rolls which tasted fresh, sometimes you can tell that they have been sitting around all day but that didn’t seem to be the case at PhoNatic. Even though I don’t like lettuce I really like spring rolls, isn’t that weird? Maybe it’s because it’s mixed with mint and other herbs. 32763636076_58b733061a_c

My favorite part of the meal, which I will never be able to pass up on again, was the crispy salt and pepper tofu. I immediately had to ask where they get their tofu from because it’s clearly a much higher quality than what I get at the grocery store. Of course, their family members own the Chinatown Grocery store so they get freshly made tofu from there. Dan and I were fighting over every last crispy bit and it might even make my top ten list!

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After all this they brought out the small sizes of Pho Chay, which was still a lot of food for me! I have no control! It was so delicious. I’ve been going to Pho Please more often because it’s closer to my house but I do think PhoNatic is better upon reflection. I learned they make their broth in a two part process. It’s a traditional Buddhist vegetarian broth slowly simmered with daikons, shitakes, lemongrass, garlic, leeks, and spices then topped with crispy tofu, fresh bok choy, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and fried shallots.31990233713_2611c33433_c

Finally, just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite they brought out the Crispy Veggies and Tofu bowl with rice, though you can also order as a salad bowl or a vermicelli bowl. The chef just whipped up a veggie sauce for me and I begged him to put it on the menu because it was delicious and a good sauce is what’s missing from so many vermicelli bowls in town. That’s why I loved Lulu B’s, everyone else just uses fish sauce. The tofu was crispy and succulent and hard caramelized bits on the edges. Why can’t everyone make tofu this good? The world would be a different place!31990250263_226a74d377_c

So next time you are in the mood for Vietnamese check PhoNatic out and let us know what you think. To me, it seems like the perfect vegan friendly place since they totally get veganism, have fresh vegetables, delicious tofu, and locations in areas that are under-served.

Citizen Eatery opens on Burnet

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Vegetarian restaurants are popping up left and right these days. Okay, there have been two – with one more on the way- but it still seems like a lot! The much-anticipated Beer Plant soft opened to mostly rave reviews a few weeks ago and now Citizen Eatery has opened their doors as well. Embracing all the current trends of the day this modern light-filled restaurant will please not just the meat-free but also vegans, paleo, Celiacs, and other gluten-free folks. The kitchen is actually completely gluten free although they have wheat buns and bread shipped in (sealed) for those of us that want to keep our lives gluten-full. Peruse the menu before you go in because it is one of those spots where you order at the counter and get a number rather than being waited on. And, if you are anything like me, you are going to have a hard time deciding.

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We started with the breakfast menu. Pictured above is the vegan waffle with sunbutter, maple syrup, and a smoked sausage made out of lentils and mushrooms. The waffle was gluten-free so I probably wouldn’t order it again, it didn’t have that crisp and fluffy bite that I love in a waffle. The tofu scramble we tried, The Citizen Scramble, was excellent. Packed with vegan cheese and kale it was different from most restaurant scrambles and hit the perfect breakfast notes. We also liked mixing in a bit of the lentil sausage for some smokiness.

In addition to breakfast, the menu has a list of salads, seasonal dinner specials like Vegan Bolognese with “veggie noodles” (or “zoodles” if you prefer) and family style passed sides Butternut & Sweet Potato or Brussels with Grapefruit. We tried the cheesy Cauliflower dish which I loved, it was very comforting and almost seemed like something you could get a cracker barrel… if cracker barrel was a gluten-free vegan wonderland. 30538569590_900662c191

We also tried the Citizen Burger which was described as “house wood-smoked patty with white beans, citizen grain mix, kale and spices.” Served on a wheat bun with seasonal greens, tomato and avocado ranch dressing. I thought the burger was amazing and I’ve had a lot of really good burgers recently! We spoke with one of the owners and she said that each patty is made differently and that many techniques go into each one including smoking the mushrooms and onions in the citizen burger. It all leads to a much more nuanced taste than most patties I’ve had. And the avocado ranch dressing was delicious too! I can’t wait to try the hatch pepper version next because I could see it becoming my favorite burger ever.

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We also had a side of fried things, the Mixed Basket has french fries, sweet potato fries, a vegan aioli, and deep-fried vegetable noodles. We were all completely hooked on the latter. The vegetables change depending on what is in season and I can’t even remember what ours had (maybe butternut squash and zucchini?) but either way they were awesome! I love that all the sides and dressings are vegan. It makes ordering really easy. Also the staff was really nice, the building has plenty of parking, and the cocktails look intriguing as well. I think North Austin is going to be super pleased.

I would like Pho Please

My favorite part of civilization is the food.

I am lucky I get to live in a growing city that has everything from Australian Thai to Nigerian. I get to start my day with a breakfast taco and end it with Indian Dosas if I want.

One of my most favorite cuisines is Vietnamese and in Austin we have plenty of options. I love the tofu bun from LuLu B’s and the Bahn xeo from Sunflower but good pho is hard to find. I bet I’ve tried every vegan version in town (and a couple I thought were vegan until I tasted a spoonful YUK!) and none of them have been remarkable. My go-to has been the pho chay from Phonatic and not because the broth was great but because there are enough delicious fresh fixin’s to have a good enough experience. When I read that one of the chefs from Phonatic was opening his own modern pho spot with a vegetarian section I was thrilled! Pho Please is on east Riverside which is a lot easier for me to get to than north Austin or Southpark meadows. The inside is super-modern fast-casual style.25868616332_46b33a57ee_z

You order at the counter and they give you a number. I didn’t try the vermicelli or the banh mi but we loaded up on apps. We loved the Bao but will know to order it with no mayo next time! The dumpling was fluffy and light, the tofu was well seasoned and the vegetables were crisp and flavorful.

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The spring rolls weren’t as good although they weren’t rubbery and old like so many places in town and they had a good amount of tofu. The sad part was the lack of herbs! No basil, mint or cilantro. We liked the unique dipping sauce though.25868650252_3fabb0926c_n

The most exciting part, of course, was the pho chay. I tried the broth before adding any condiments and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor. It wasn’t the most intensely flavored broth I’ve had but it was more delicate and tasty. Definitely the best I’ve had in town. I loved that there was a variety of vegetables and that the tofu was fried instead of just thrown in there raw like some places. 25868568922_5ced6527f4_o

Will for sure be back on the next rainy day.

Pho Please
1920 East Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78741.
Phone: (512) 354-9779
Hours:
Sunday – Thursday, 11AM – 10PM
Friday – Saturday, 11AM – 11PM