Category Archives: Austin

Women owned vegan businesses in Austin

For International Women’s Day I thought I’d do a quick wrap up of the small businesses in Austin that are owned by women. There is a nationwide women’s strike today and although folks wanting to take part in the strike are encouraged to buy nothing and do no paid or unpaid labor, most of our small businesses need every penny so feel good about filling up your belly with delicious vegan food.32481086824_6102003b38_c

Unity Vegan Food  just moved over to the other side of Lamar but still on Barton Springs, right by Biscuits and Groovy across the street from Peter Pan’s mini golf. The food is as great as it ever was. Recent specials have included fried mozzarella sticks, chimichangas, and quesadillas but the muffaletta on house made bread (above) is always on the menu and so are those awesome avocado chocolate chip cookies.

Counter Culture Restaurant on East Cesar Chavez is always open and run by the indomitable and ever-present Sue. They just completely overhauled the menu with new sandwiches like the Pastrami Melt and Jerk Seitan and she always has daily specials like Artichoke Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza.

The Vegan Yacht is family owned and always delicious, they recently had a break in so if you’ve been waiting to check them out today is a great day! Their Freeto Burrito is infamous but the Buffalo Tempeh Burrito with blue cheese dressing is a good bet too.

Sweet Ritual ice cream shop is owned by not one, but two women and it would be difficult to find better vegan ice cream in the whole world. Their specials change every day, chocolate fans be on the lookout for Death Metal by Chocolate, and they always have  flavors like Peanut Butter Cup, Salted Caramel, Vanilla soft serve and lots of toppings like Magic Shell and edible glitter.

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Cool Beans has some of the best Latin American food in town, I long for their tamales (above)! I haven’t tried their tortas yet but they look amazing! They have moved a few times and are now on the lovely patio at the Spiderhouse off Guadalupe. And on the weekends they have brunch now!

Curcuma on South First takes it’s inspiration from Ayurveda and has popular drinks like the turmeric enhanced Golden Mylk or the Sexy Jo which has cacao, maca, cashew mylk, coldbrewed coffee, and cinnamon. They also have Sweet Potato Toasts and Bowls featuring whole foods ingredients.

The Great Y’all on the East side is owned and operated by two women who cook up Asian inspired bar food like cauliflower gobi wings, Samosa wontons, rotating flavors of bao, and cashew rangoons. Sometimes they have soup specials too, like hot and sour and won ton.33238152656_b3fcb64d30_c

The Beer Plant gastropub on the westside is another owned by a wife and husband team and has been getting better and better as time goes on. The sandwich pictured above is the Purple Pig which has beet bacon, sliced avocado, sunflower sprouts, green leaf, tomato, mayo on 9-grain bread. They also have their super popular “Hops and Chips”, a house made cheese plate, salads, desserts, and all sorts of delicious brunch options on the weekend.

The Blue Cat Cafe 95 Navasota Street, right off Ceasar Chavez. Inside you can hang out with cats that are up for adoption and watch them play on elevated walkways, lounge in unique cat beds, or play with toys. Outside is a vegan food truck with hot dogs, frito pie, nachos, and espresso drinks.

Capital City Bakery–  2211 east Ceasar Chavez. The best vegan baked goods in town. For real. Apple Pie ala mode Peanut Butter Crunch cupcakes this is where it’s at. I also love the Ham and Cheese Kolaches, the brownies, and their super espresso drinks.

Rabbit Food Grocery South First and Live Oak- An all vegan convenience store packed with so many vegan goodies that are hard to find anywhere else. Right now they have a ton of Easter treats. I love the Chocolate Hollow Hazelnut bar like nothing else. They also have vitamins, local handmade knitted items, cookbooks, and dog food. And they always have cookies by another women owned business in town, Celeste’s Best.

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Doggie Style has become my favorite “fast food” style place in Austin, I mean, they sometimes have a poutine dog on special! That’s what’s pictured above! The regular menu has a Chili Cheese Dog and a Chicago Dog. And they have this killer french fry plate with all the toppings. And Nachos! And free beer on Sundays! I don’t even like hot dogs and I just love this trailer.

Skull and Cakebones 3991 E Hwy 290 a, Dripping Springs. Newly opened all vegan, locally sourced bakery Skull and Cakebones is super popular! They have really fun items you can’t easily find in Austin like Babka, scones, and house made hot pockets. They also have soup and sandwich specials and, a variety of toasts, and espresso.

Cheer Up Charlies 900 Red River St You may know Cheer Ups for their awesome shows, queer friendly atmosphere, or just that Arlo’s has awesome burgers outside but they are also completely vegan! The two women owners make sure that all the drinks at the bar, from beer to kombucha is always vegan friendly! AND they have fresh squeezed local juice for their cocktails!

It’s also a great day to get out and do some activism which is… always happening in Austin these days. Today March 8 they are having a hearing in the Texas Senate about the fetal remains bill and you can testify at or just register your opposition to for the record. There is also an emergency rally outside of US Congressman Roger William’s district office in support of Planned Parenthood which the new healthcare bill defunds. And there will be a Planned Parenthood action forum afterwards.

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.

Voodoo Doughnuts Austin

Yesterday I saw someone walking down 6th street with Voodoo Doughnuts distinctive pink box and it threw me off balance for a second. It’s just so unexpected to me, still, that we have a Voodoo in Austin. Back in my early vegan days the Voodoo in Portland was super special because it was one of the few places in the country you could get vegan doughnuts. It was a Portland institution like Franklin’s BBQ here, always a long line trailing down the street. Now you can get vegan doughnuts in most major cities & somehow a Voodoo opened here. It’s weird wild stuff.

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So if you’ve never been to Voodoo there are a few things you need to know:

It’s cash only. There is an ATM inside but don’t wait until you get all the way to the front to get cash out or everyone will hate you.

Voodoo is open 24/7

It’s right on Dirty 6th so if it’s a time when the bars are busy Voodoo will have an epic line but during the daytime on a weekday you can just saunter in.

The top shelf of the doughnut carousal shows off the vegan doughnuts BUT they will actually get the doughnuts off the racks behind them so make sure you specify that you want the vegan versions.26595938701_beb14d4675

They make fresh doughnuts three times a day. When they first opened they had trouble keeping the vegan doughnuts in stock because of high demand but it’s better now. The cake doughnut flavors change every day depending on what they feel inspired to make but the yeast doughnuts are a bit more consistent.

The Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, Oreos, peanut butter drizzle)
The Dirt (vanilla with Oreos)
Glazed Ring Chocolate Ring Grape Ape (vanilla grape)
Portland Cream (Bavarian with chocolate)
Longhorn Cream (same but with maple)
PB&J (raspberry filling topped with peanut butter and peanuts)
Raspberry Romeo (glazed with raspberry filling)
Gay Bar (Bavarian cream dipped in vanilla with a rainbow of fruit loops)
Maple bar Voodoo Doll (chocolate dipped raspberry)
Blunts (cinnamon sugar dipped in maple and sprinkles)
Apple fritters Cock ‘n Balls (dick shaped doughnut filled with Bavarian cream, dipped in chocolate–for an extra dollar they’ll write anything you want on it)

If you are feeling indecisive just ask for a dozen vegan that they pick. You can also do a pre-order 24 hours in advance if you want to, say, have 12 Portland Creams waiting for you.

The decor inside is open and airy complete with a doughnut tree and huge windows.26388190400_d73532fab5

The doughnuts are really sweet so ordering coffee is kind of a must unless you are a little kid. Or my partner who could probably put down a whole dozen. I was not able to eat both of these.

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You might want to buy extra because for some reason, everyone who sees you with a Voodoo doughnut box will ask you for a doughnut. Honestly, it’s almost comical how many people will ask for one. But then it starts to make me feel nervous knowing I have something that everyone wants.

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And don’t forget there are also local businesses making vegan doughnuts in other parts of town including Wheatsville and Fat Cat Organic.

 

 

 

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

Counter Culture Junior Opens on South First


The Austin vegan world seems to have come full circle. Years ago Counter Culture opened as a trailer on North Loop. Then it became so popular the owner Sue was able to open up a brick and mortar Counter Culture restaurant on Ceaser Chavez. That restaurant has been so success that Sue bought back her old trailer to open up a South Austin Trailer. Best part is that it’s right next to Rabbit Food Grocery so you can pop in and pick up some groceries while you wait for your food.

So far it’s a soft opening and the menu is going to rotate but I tried -and loved- the samosa quesadillas with 5-spice seitan! The tacos are getting rave reviews too. I can’t wait to try it all.

Buy a copy of the Taco Cleanse before they are all gone!

Everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Playboy magazine is talking about the Taco Cleanse and while it’s on back order on Amazon you can still purchase it everywhere else! There are a few remaining copies at Rabbit Food Grocery that are signed on South First and Live Oak. You can also still pick up a copy locally at Book People.10296697_1548187045506086_555316242_n

Online it’s still available Powells, Indiebound, Books a Million, direct from our publishers Workman, Urban Outfitters, and online and in stores and Barnes and Nobels.23711812335_f7abef79b4_z

Here’s a great article to get you started

10 Things You Need to Know About the Taco Cleanse Before You Try It

And some great blog posts that go into depth about the recipes

The Taco Cleanse: Proselytizing, Review, and Giveaway

It Happened to Me: Tacos Turned Me into a Party Magnet.

I Did A Three Day Taco Cleanse and Survived!

IS THE TACO CLEANSE THE RIGHT CLEANSE FOR YOU?

Taco Cleanse Release Party at Book People Dec 7th at 7

Facebook Event

The best selling “cleanse” book of 2015, THE TACO CLEANSE, is having release party this Monday, December 7th at Book People on 6th and Lamar. Come and get your book signed while playing Taco Trivia, taking pictures with a DOG in taco costume, and get your book signed by REAL TACO SCIENTISTS! We will be answering all of your questions and giving away tons of prizes. You can buy a case of books and BOOM just like that your Christmas shopping is done. The Taco Cleanse is approved for all stages of life and an acceptable part of any diet plan!DSC_0759

Austin Vegan Thanksgiving Roundup

When I first went vegan I had originally planned to do it for the month of March…then I really liked it so I decided I’d keep it up… until Thanksgiving which has always been my most sacred holiday. I couldn’t imagine not celebrating the holiday with turkey and all the fixings. But, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around I had so many ideas I wanted to try out that I didn’t even consider making a bird and now I adopt turkeys from farm sanctuary every year. I love the holiday even more than in my pregan days! Lucky for me, so does most of vegan Austin and there are all sorts of ways to get your Thanksgiving fix in even if you don’t cook. (If you do cook, check out my pinterest board of favorite recipes)

First off, Wheatsville has been putting stuffed tofurkey, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, stuffing, mac and cheese and more on the hot bar every Wednesday for a few weeks now and will continue through the holiday. They are also the best place to buy a manufactured roast since they have Gardien, Tofurkey, Field Roast, and more in stock along with everything else you need from Brussels Sprouts to their awesome cranberry sauce made in the deli. You can order a whole feast, including vegan cheeseballs and pie!

Over at Counter Culture you can pick up the ridiculously delicious Thanksgiving sandwich which is on special through the 26th. If you are going somewhere that isn’t vegan friendly and you want to just pick up a meal to take with you Counter Culture has a great deal for 16 bucks, they will pack up a vegan feast including Seitan Roast & Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, for you and you just have to warm it up. They also have a Gluten free option so make sure you order it ahead of time.

photo from Counter Culture

If you want to pick up an entire feast for your whole family to enjoy there are a couple of options. Inge, the Happy Vegan Baker has a full catering feast menu that includes a roasted root vegetable pot pie or a GF Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice and cranberries along with Sage and Apricot Cornbread Stuffing and all the other accouterments. You can order for just one person or several.

A newcomer to the atxvegan scene Seed Catering, has a beautiful looking spread that you can order for as many people as you like. It includes a cranberry glazed lentil loaf and butternut squash mac and cheese. I want to try it all!

photo from Seed Catering

Every year on Thanksgiving Eve Mr. Natural puts together a full spread with their homemade roast, which you can also buy from them. If you know that you are going to struggle on the holiday playing defensive ominvore bingo it make sense to meet up with some like minded vegans the night before so the Austin Vegan & Vegetarian Association and Vegans Rock Austin traditionally throw a meet-up at Mr. Natural and this year is no different. They will be meeting up at both locations so you can go to either one!

This year BBQ Revolution is celebrating their two year anniversary with a Thanksgiving Party on November 21st. They will be serving vegan “turkey” with Cranberry sauce , Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Mac N Cheese, Greens and some relish options. They are also preparing Thanksgiving meals. You can put in an order at the trailer or at Rabbit Food Grocery.

Bistro Vonish will also be preparing thanksgiving meals for pick up. The order form is online and you can choose from Seitan Cutlets, GF Garbanzo cutlets, Pumpkin Pie Kolaches and more. Check it out here.

Finally, it would be Thanksgiving without pie and though almost everyone I mentioned serves pie I’m partial to Capital City Bakery because it’s my tradition now to always pick up a pie from there. I’ll be having a hard time, again, choosing between Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and whatever else she has going on.

Let me know if I missed anything and I’ll add it here!