Category Archives: Austin

Vegan Fine Dining in Austin Texas

Austin Vegan Fine Dining GuideA few years ago my sister was visiting from Chicago. After a few days she said something like, “can we go somewhere nice to eat? Like, not the nicest place in town…but somewhere nice?”. It’s become a running joke among my friend group because I do tend to patronize trailers, shacks, grocery stores, bars, food counters, and other, shall we say, casual establishments. For anniversaries, date nights, and special occasions it can be fun to put on something nicer than a torn up hoodie. As a vegan especially, I do love having a waiter that can explain every aspect of a dish to me. Some people (hi mom!) just really want a good wine list when they go out. And so, on that note, here are my favorite fancy restaurants in town. Sadly, none of them are entirely vegan but I know that we will get there someday. In the meantime, I think these are the best spots to take your parents, clients, dates, or other people that you want to impress by not sitting at a picnic table with toddlers and dirt waiting for your number to be called.

Claypit Contemporary Indian Cuisine

clay pit pp_7908

image from Clay Pit

I had been to the lunch buffet many times before I went to dinner at the Claypit and was seated in their beautiful candlelit cellar. I think it might be one of the most romantic atmospheres in town. All their vegan items are marked and include the vegetable samosas, the roti (but not the naan),  Aloo Gobi, Veggie Ayam, Kadhu Curry, and more. It’s a great place to share entrees and fall in love…with Indian food.

TRIO Restaurant

I recently did a full on review of TRIO, suffice to say their vegan menu was top-notch and the service was the best I’ve had in Austin. Definitely the place to go if you want to spend some money and drink fine wines.

Prelog’s 

360 Nueces & W. 3rd Ask for the 5 course vegan meal with pairings at this trendy hotspot.

Sagra Trattoria and Bar CLOSED 

I reviewed Sagra over here, they have an extensive vegan menu including risotto, mac and cashew cheese with truffle oil, and several different pizzas and vegetable appetizers. When we went everything was fantastic but I’ve heard that they aren’t the most consistent and often run out of vegan cheese so make sure you ask questions when ordering. Almost everything on the menu can be gluten-free too. Their happy hour looks like a great deal!

Elizabeth Street Cafe

I don’t know if Elizabeth Street really qualifies as fine dining since it’s more of a French Vietnamese cafe but they do have knowledgeable waiters, a beautiful atmosphere, and a nice cocktail and wine menu so I think it counts. I love the style of this restaurant and the multiple vegan options like tofu spring rolls, two different vegan pho varieties, bún, and bánh xèo (pictured). Elizabeth Street would be the perfect place to go for a fancy brunch since most of the nicer American places are so egg heavy. Here is my review.

Sway Thai

image from Austin Chronicle

I love the food and cocktails at Sway. It’s meant to be shared but I’d only bother with sharing if you are going with all vegans because they do have to make everything special (then it’s super fun!). Australian Thai is thoughtfully presented and deliciously prepared, definitely on the spicy side. Dishes like the green curry eggplant, spring rolls, papaya salad, pad thai, squash curry, and salt and pepper tofu can all be made vegan. The big caveat to Sway, and why it’s not on the top of my list, is that you have to sit at big shared tables which I find very awkward. Not a good place to go on a date at all but perfect if you have a large group.

Uchi and Uchiko

image from Culturemap Uchi on the left Uchiko on the right

For many years these two sister sushi restaurants were at the very top of every single “best of” list because their food is delicious, the presentation is exquisite, the service is exceptional, and the restaurant is very stylish but comfortable. They don’t have a ton of vegan options but what they do have is really good and enough to make a meal. The occasionally do a vegetarian night too! Happy hour is a great time to check it out.

Lenoir 

pic from Austin Chronicle

A while back a few friends and I went to Lenoir and had an amazing experience. We called ahead and the chef prepared a special menu for us. If you are ever looking for a wonderful restaurant in a beautiful setting, like a setting you could propose at, Lenoir might be as good as it gets. The presentation of our meal was fabulous and the chef came out and explained every dish. The food was wonderful and I would love to go back. Highly recommended. Read all about it (and see terrible pictures!) here.

Wink Restaurant

image from Austin 360

Wink is a farm to table slow food restaurant that has been around since 2001 and their vegetarian tasting menu is very popular. I’ve heard good things about ordering vegan as well. The chefs will, apparently, make you something quite lovely even if you don’t call ahead. But, calling ahead is always best in a situation like this in my opinion. For whatever reason I still haven’t been there but I would like to try it.

La Condesa Modern Mexican

La Condesa used to be my favorite place to recommend, they had this amazing vegan board that would have four or five different super-exciting and ever-changing “top chef” style entrees. We all went nuts over it. Then they won a James Beard award and didn’t have time for us vegans anymore. Urgh! It is still a somewhat worthwhile option because they have a fun hip atmosphere, amazing margaritas, both salsa and guacamole flights, and a few different options entrees like mushroom tacos and cauliflower steaks. I love their cocktails! I wouldn’t go there for a mind-blowing vegan birthday meal though anymore.

Roots to Leaves Supper Club10409188_782598831830398_4262306173375379241_n

Finally, not a restaurant but a monthly supper club, Roots to Leaves is another great option for those seeking out an all vegan menu and they have plans to open a high-end restaurant in the future. With seasonal menus that have four courses with items like “Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sage Sauce, Smoked Tofu, Brussels Sprouts, Almond Ricotta” you are definitely going to be filled up with exciting foods. You have to bring your own wine and make reservations well ahead of time but it’s worth it! Here’s a review of their earlier incarnation as Hyden Park.

Do you have any favorites that aren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments!

REJOICE! Red Rabbit Doughnuts have become Wheatsville Doughnuts & they are better than ever!

For a moment, we thought we had entered the darkest timeline. Red Rabbit, our beloved vegan anarchist doughnut making collective that had taken the town by storm, announced they were ceasing production.

I didn’t cry.

I just kept buying their doughnuts from Wheatsville until they were all gone filling my belly with delicious sadness. We were all shocked. The doughnuts are universally beloved and they seemed to be growing and adding gluten free options. The atxvegan community was freaking out. Everyone was upset. There were rumblings that the 12th Street Bakery and Fat Cats Organic Coffee And Dessert occasionally had doughnut on the menu and we learned that Portland’s infamous Voodoo Doughnuts was opening on dirty sixth…but none of that was what I wanted. The Red Rabbit Doughnuts are perfect and since they sell them at Wheatsville (and I got to Wheatsville at least once a day) they are incredibly convenient. We started to hear rumors that it might not be the end.

An inside source let me know that Red Rabbit was turning over their recipes to our beloved Food Co-op and training the bakery staff on how to make them perfectly. Today Wheatsville sent me a box and I want to assure you that the doughnuts are as good as they always were, maybe even better? Maybe I just missed them? But biting into it was like tasting piece of heaven on earth. My co-worker tried the apple fritter and her day went from dreary to dreamy.

Starting tomorrow, October 10th, glazed, chocolate iced, maple pecan, apple fritter, and bite sized donut holes will be available at both Wheatsville locations. They have also assured me that gluten free doughnuts are on the way in the future and that our luscious cream filled varieties will eventually be back too. What a wonderful turn of events. I love Austin Texas.

Congratulations to the Vegan Yacht for winning “Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest” and a $10,000 prize!

I remember when I first went to the Vegan Yacht five years ago when it was parked behind Cheer Up Charlie’s when they was still on east 6th street and it looked like this.

I was so happy to have another vegan food cart in town and I’ve watched them grow and relocate as the years have gone by. I’m always thrilled when I go to a festival in Austin and see the Yacht there because I know I won’t have to worry about getting ridiculously tasty vegan food and ask a million questions to other vendors. After dancing for hours at Fun Fun Fun Fest or Levitation Fest the Freeto Burrito is the perfect way to recharge. It was so sad to see their generator get ripped off a few months ago when they were doing what they do best, bringing vegan food to the masses. I thought, what is the world coming too when people steal a generator, a huge part of someone’s livelihood, at Zilker Park of all places?

But then I was reminded that sometimes the good outweighs the bad.

The community came to support the Vegan Yacht through a GoFundMe fundraiser and they decided they wanted to expand operations and applied for Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest through Progressive. They won the Grand Prize by a LANDSLIDE and I’m so happy that this family business is going to get 10,000 dollars to further their dreams!!!!! 

Their plan is turn the Vegan Yacht into a mobile food truck and use the existing airstream for a new second vegan food trailer totally different from the vegan yacht! Another all vegan food trailer! Huzzah!

This Thursday, September 17 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Progressive is going to award them the big check at a party, come out and support the team!!!!

To celebrate they are going to offer free homemade sweet and spicy jalapenos with any order. They look so damn tasty. Pickled Jalapenos make everything better!!! So be there and show your support for vegan businesses taking over the world!

Trio at the Four Seasons – a vegan menu for date nights and special occasions

The question that I get asked the most in Austin is where to go for fine dining. In the old days my best answer was the Clay Pit for Indian food and I stand by that recommendation. If you can get seated in the candlelit stone brick-walled basement you will have the great atmosphere plus excellent vegan friendly food. But, not everyone likes Indian. Sagra, which I wrote about last week, gets recommended quite a bit but it’s really a bit more casual and calls itself a Trattoria. Other spots like Lenoir and Second will make you an awesome vegan meal but you don’t know what you are going to get since there isn’t an actual vegan menu. It’s up to the chef which means you might have something you don’t like and that if you are dining with another vegan (or several) you will all get the same thing which isn’t as fun. The other day someone posted on the Austin Vegan Facebook group that TRIO, a highly reviewed restaurant here in Austin inside the Four Seasons, had a vegan menu and I kind of couldn’t believe it. I mean, their tagline is steak.seafood.wine. Usually seeing steak and seafood featured at a restaurant means you better enjoy wine because that’s all you will be eating with your bread but look at this menu! Two entrees! Appetizers! OMG!

I made reservations minutes after seeing the post and one week later I was sitting at a table holding the menu in my hand enjoying a fantastic cocktail, The Buffalo Solider, Orange Zest, House Infused Buffalo Trace, Cherry Heering, Earl Grey Syrup, and Mineral Water. It was maybe the perfect summer drink.

The restaurant itself is very lush although the clientele definitely seemed more of my parents generation than mine. That could very well be because of the weekend I went, I’m sure that it changes around depending on who is in town for what event since it’s at a hotel. They had a huge patio as well that overlooks the lake but we chose to sit inside in the dark yet sunshine toned dining room.

Our waitress was maybe the best most helpful waitress that I’ve ever had. As soon as she found out I was vegan she started excitedly telling me about the menu options and told me she preferred the vegan gnocchi to the one on the regular menu. She just glowed with warmth and seemed more than happy to let me interrogate her. After the meal she was dying for me to sample to prickly pear sorbet for dessert, she even said she’d comp it, but I was just too full!

Another server came and brought complimentary bread and olive oil for me since they usually give everyone cheese popovers. It was such a nice touch to be brought the bread and then assured that it was ok to eat without having to ask.

Next they brought the quinoa fritters served with garlic confit, pea tendrils, radish, and tofu ranch. They reminded me of fancy hush puppies. They were light and delicious. 

But of course the star of the show was the entree. Our waitress recommended the Trumpet Mushroom dish if we were really hungry. It is served with ramps, romanesco cauliflower, quinoa granola, and mojo de ajo. It sounded really interesting but there was no way I could avoid trying the gnocchi.

Described as potato gnocchi with tempura scallions, rainbow carrots, asparagus, and garlic gastrique I didn’t quite expect the beautiful dish that came to my table.

I loved this dish and I could have eaten it all day. The gnocchi was a bit dense and not the light pillows of perfection that I hoped for but the vegetables were all exactly how I like them and the combination worked really well. I finished with a huge best-meal-ever buzz and I’m so glad that I have somewhere else to recommend for when folks want to dress a little fancy and valet the car. I do wonder if they change the menu from time to time it seemed seasonal but I was eating in late August and between the ramps, asparagus, cauliflower, and radishes the menu screamed spring. I’ll find out the next time I go….the next time someone wants to buy me dinner (thanks mom!).

UPDATE 9/3/2015 Trio let me know that they will be changing the menu for Winter so be there or be square.

Sagra – An Italian Dream come true for vegans and the gluten free in East Austin

Italian food seems to be universally loved. I did an informal poll in my office asking “do you like Italian food” and everyone said yes, and then looked at me with questioning eyes as if I was about to give them a piece of lasagna or something. Sorry y’all! Somehow getting vegan Italian food in Austin isn’t always that easy. If you go to a fancy place they often use eggs in the fresh pasta. Rarely do they have vegan specials or delicious vegan cheese. You’re lucky to get Daiya at a pizza place here. If you go to a shitty place – I’m looking at you Olive Garden- you can’t even order a salad. I guess it comes shipped in pre-made from god knows where.

There is one place, however, in Austin that does it right, not only does Sagra have a multiple course vegan menu but they also offer homemade cashew cheese and special meaty substitutes. When I went the other day I was also impressed that they were able to assure me, without asking, that the table bread was vegan and they could easily leave items on the side so my dining companions could have their precious cheese. And yes GFers, they can make any dish gluten free. We started with the polenta fries with fried brussels and chickpeas in a salsa roja. I was a bit worried with all the fried items that this dish would be a bit greasy or heavy but it wasn’t at all, the large portion was enormous for the three of us too. 

We also tried the Barbietolla which was roasted beets, fruit mostardo, truffle salt. This dish was very sweet but a really nice complement to the polenta dish and we all enjoyed it as well. 

My favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly my pizza. When I originally looked at the menu I thought I might try the Macaroni al Forno, (baked macaroni and cheese, cashew cheese, spinach, bread crumbs, truffle oil, spinach macaroni), but once I saw the pizza I knew I had to try it. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love olives and Star Trek and the only thing that could have made this pizza better would have been if I was sharing it with Captain Picard. Or actually, if they hadn’t run out of cashew cheese. No matter! I didn’t miss the cheese in the least and they added pine nuts to compensate. The pizza is called the Maialina and comes with pesto sauce, walnuts, black olives. Interestingly, they chopped up the walnuts and olives together which gave the pizza a salty delicious meaty texture. From now on it’s going to be my go to home topping. I loved it! And the large was so big that I got to eat it for the next few days although obviously it was much better in the restaurant.

So Sagra is a big win for me, their cocktails were fantastic too and they have a nice happy hour special so when it cools down I think it might become my after work meet up spot. Let me know what you thought or think if you try it out! I’m curious about the rest of the menu.

Fork and Taco – Vegan Tacos in North Austin

After folks like the Vegan Nom and Taco Deli close up shop it isn’t as easy to find awesome vegan tacos on the north side as it is south of the river (or east of 35). When I’m on a taco cleanse and find myself in that area I start panicking about where to get my night tacos! The new-ish Fork and Taco on Burnet is the perfect fit for a vegan looking for margaritas and tacos to fit a taco-based lifestyle. They have several vegetarian menu selections that can be easily veganized, margaritas, and black beans and chips with guacamole to round out the vegan meal.

The restaurant is actually a bit hard to see sandwiched in a strip mall between the Noble Sandwich Co. and Pinthouse Pizza on Burnett at 48th street by where the Omelettry used to be. When you walk in you order at the front and then sit while with your number waiting for someone to bring tacos too you. The inside is colorful in a modern fast casual kind of way and they also have a back patio which seemed a little better for lounging.

It tried two tacos, the Crispy Cauliflower that comes with Mexican Street Corn (they can leave the cheese out if you ask), avocado, cilantro and lime. I liked this one quite a bit though my dining companion and I both agreed that there was way too much lemon in the cauliflower. Hopefully that was a one time thing. I also ordered the Beet taco which had grapefruit, avocado, pepitas, and cilantro (ask for no sauce) and I really liked it even though I typically do not care for grapefruit. It worked really well balancing the earthiness of the beets. Both tacos were strengthened by being served on thick homemade corn tortillas. In fact, I’d say these were some of the best tortillas at a yuppie kind of place in Austin. They also have a portabello taco with zucchini, crookneck squash, bell pepper, and tomatillo sauce but two tacos seemed like it would be enough for me. Plus portobellos are always risky at non-vegan places. Anyway I should have tried one for the team or at least gotten the side of beans because after only eating these two vegetable tacos I was as hungry as all get out by the time I got back to my south Austin abode hours later. Next time I will definitely get the beans and guacamole because a woman like myself can not survive on vegetables alone.

Sweet Ritual: Vegan Ice Cream So Good You Wonder What It’s Made Of

People say a lot of wacky things about vegans but when they call us picky eaters…there is actually some truth to that. Not that it’s picky to refuse to eat animals, that only makes sense! But, as a group, we have more issues with food than the average person. My theory on this is that we’ve given a lot more thought to food than the random eater but that doesn’t explain my own personal aversion to lettuce, or my friends’ allergies to tree-nuts, groundnuts, peppers, and even *gasp* wine. Even my dog Dinger has all sort of allergies. People go on all sorts of cleanses. I, and a group of taco scientists, once ate nothing but tacos for a whole month, for example. And I would imagine that a large share of vegans are trying to cut back on soy. Of course there is the fear of gmos, the fear of growing boobs, and the general fear or big ag and I would imagine that Sweet Ritual wanted everyone to be able to eat their ice cream and so they switched out soy with many different bases.

The good news is that whatever the reason that they made the switch the ice cream is even better than it used to be, and it used to be great! I tried the Death Metal By Chocolate the other day and, I have to say, it was better than any other vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. I often crave something that’s chocolate mixed with chocolate, topped with chocolate, and maybe a little chocolate added in that’s exactly what this ice cream was. I’ve also been picking up the pints at Wheatsville. I think I’ve tried them all now and I can’t tell you if Sweetsville or PB & Chocolate is my favorite.

Amelia, who makes most of the ice cream explained “We went through a giant overhaul and most of our bases changed. We now have cashew bases, almond, peanut, and coconut on offer. Sometimes we have more exotic bases, like tahini, cashew and sunflower. The chocolate chips we use have soy lecithin, but the only thing in our shop that has soymilk is the soft serve. The Cubano, vanilla, & strawberry are cashew based and are soy free.” I asked her specifically about the bases in the pints and she wrote me,

“Cashew: strawberry, vanilla, Cubano coffee
Coconut: mint chip, Sweetsville, salted caramel, toasted coconut
Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter Chocolate

Also, Wheatsville carries a gluten-free cookie ice cream sandwich made with cookies from Better Bites Bakery”

It only makes sense to have the peanut butter ice cream to have a peanut base and yet it’s brilliant and probably why it’s soooo good. And those ice cream sandwiches, by the way, totally worth it.

Now if only they could bring back the waffle cones.

My favorite local vegan products at Wheatsville co-op

I’m so excited for Vida Vegan Conference this weekend! I stopped at Wheatsville food co-op to show you all some of my favorite local vegan products.

Of course we have tons of local produce from central Texas and if you are in town right now peaches from Fredricksburg are available! We wait for these babies all year.

Next to all the tofu, seitan, and plant meats from far and wide you will find locally made tempeh from the Hearty Vegan in the refrigerator section.

Celeste’s Best Cookie dough is in the fridge too. You can bake it in the oven or even eat it with a spoon since its vegan!

The best hummus I’ve ever had is in the fridge too. Grandma’s hummus should not be missed!

Over in the freezer section they have both of our local vegan ice cream options. Nadamoo is coconut based & it’s creamy and delicious. The mint chocolate chip is my favorite.

Sweet Ritual has different bases depending on the flavors they carry 8 different ones. Cashew is the base for strawberry, vanilla, & Cubano coffee.

Coconut is in the mint chip, Sweetsville, salted caramel, toasted coconut

And the Peanut Butter Chocolate has a peanut butter base. And it’s freaking delicious.

The “Sweetsville” flavor is my favorite though. It’s a vanilla malt with chunks of cookie dough from Celeste’s best!

Both ice cream companies recently started selling ice cream sandwiches too. And both teamed up with local vegan bakeries to do it!!! Sweet Ritual has a bunch of flavors & a cookie made from Capital City Bakery. Wheatsville also carries a gluten free cookie ice cream sandwich made with cookies from Better Bites Bakery. 

Nadamoo has cookies from Skull & Cakebones which also has a bunch of baked goods on sale at Wheatsville too.

These days we have tons of local beers and most of them are vegan. Wheatsville carries a good variety including Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap.

If beer isn’t your brew try Kosmic Kombucha! It is the best kombucha I’ve ever had!

Most days the hot bar has vegan Mac & cheese. I like to pretend it’s healthy since it has broccoli in it.

But wheatsville’s deli is most famous for its popcorn tofu.

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll go nuts over it. I think it’s the nooch batter. You can also get the popcorn tofu at the deli in a po’boy or you can by large quantities in the deli case. Oh and try the buffalo popcorn tofu too, it’s just as good, you might even like it better. There is even a vegan blue cheese sauce to go with it.

Have fun!

AUSTIN- Make plans to come to the first ever Vegan Bazaar Friday May 29

The last time I went to the Marchesa Hall it was to see performing cats.

I even saw a cat play the piano.

The Vegan Bazaar next weekend is going to be EVEN BETTER THAN THAT.

First of all, there are going to be tons of vegan vendors from all over the country. If you’ve been vegan for a long time and you haven’t tried any of the new products out this shit is going to blow your mind. And OH YEAH if you are a vegan hater or one of those people who say “I could never go vegan because the cheese is so gross” you are going to try some of the new fermented cashew or macadamia cheeses and you’ll probably just go vegan on the spot. The world has changed! All of our favorite local companies will be there too with the usual vegan doughnuts, cupcakes, and ice cream that Austin is so famous for. They are also going to have some of our most delicious food trucks representing including Cool Beans, Vegan Nom, Sadie B Foods, and Arlo’s which will all have vegan tacos if you are, like me, on a taco cleanse (it’s a way of life) but they’ll have other stuff too for all the non taco loving weirdos out there. And there is even going to be an Earth Balance Photobooth! Have you tried their freaking puffs? You will get too.

You can make a whole day of the event because they are going to have speakers and demos too. I am really excited that Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary is coming to give the opening talk, if you haven’t seen him on the Daily Show watch it now!  And Terry Hope Romero who wrote two of my all time favorite cookbooks the Veganomicon and Viva Vegan (the best vegan Latin cookbook out there) is going to be here too!

And there will be cooking demos! Chocolate Expert Fran Costigan is going to demo vegan desserts! I went one of her workshops at the last Vida Vegan con and I learned so much. Bianca Phillips aka Vegan Crunk is going to demo DIY Kombucha + Homebrewing!

And there will be panels! My friend Joanna Vaught will be moderating the vegan family and parenting panel with Monique Koch, Sayward Rebhal, Brian “Sexy Vegan” Patton.

And your’s truly will be moderating the How We Made Austin Awesome vegan community panel. We are going to have Kristen Davenport owner of Capital City Bakery, Jessica Morris co-owner of Rabbit Food Grocery, and Chris Rios owner of  The Vegan Nom. Molly Frisinger is also going to be there to talk about  how Texas VegFest came to be. We are going to discuss how our community got together and how you can participate here in Austin or how you can make your own town’s vegan activism just as fun as ours! Of course this will include the importance of cupcakes, tacos, and all the other parts of untraditional vegan activism that don’t leave people feeling hopeless about the world we live in. FAIR WARNING: Kristen and I sometime can get into arguments so this panel could turn into a Jerry Springer style melee with chairs flying and secret baby daddies showing up. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

It’s the first ever VVC sponsored even that’s open to the public and I’ve even got a discount code ” weheartaustin ” so go to Evenbrite. Buy some tickets. Have the best day ever. There may even be a pig there. It’s going to be so fun.

Lazy Smurf’s favorite vegan dishes in Austin for 2015

Usually I do this post in January but I didn’t cause I can be kind of….lazy. But here we are in April and I figured with Vida Vegan Con right around the corner some folks might want to know what dishes in Austin I crave the most. Maybe these aren’t the very best dishes in town and I’m sure they aren’t the healthiest, but this is what I get fixated on & nothing else will do. For what to do in Austin check out A Vegan Tour of Austin, and for every vegan option I know if see the Austin Vegan Guide. I also have a Vegan Taco Guide because tacos are the best. But you asked for it so here is my

2015 Top Ten

Bouldin Creek Breakfast Tacos

In years past I’ve said the rennedict or the tofu scramble/omelet are my favorite thing at Bouldin and while that’s often true it’s more true that I love the breakfast tacos. I never go long without eating the “Ren”, Tofu scrambler sautéed with jalapenos, garlic and onion and the “Neil”, Tofu scrambler, sautéed mushrooms, and spinach on corn. It’s my first meal when I come home after a long trip and what I get when I am so hungry I can’t think. On a craveability scale of 1 to 10 I’d give them a thousand.

Capital City Bakery Cupcakes, Brownies, Kolaches, and everything else

The truth is, I never really cared about cupcakes until I tried the ones from Capital City Bakery. Theirs are so light and airy and missing any cloying sweetness you get from other bakeries. These cupcakes are the best form of vegan activism there is because once a person realizes that vegan cupcakes are better, well, it can open their mind. I get the brownies all the time too and they are the perfect sweet treat for me, chocolate mixed with chocolate chips. Here’s a protip, that sucker will feed you for a week if you divide it up. And the ham and cheese kolaches are the kind of food that I never would have imagined I’d still get to eat vegan. Have it warmed up, though. It’s so good.

Migas Taco at the Vegan Nom Rockin’ Vegan Tacos

Since you can’t always get the Vegan Nom’s barbequed brisket with jalapeno mac and cheese taco I will happily put the Migas Taco on this list. It’s perfect for mornings when you’ve had too much fun the night before or if you are having a bad day and want to change that. I love their simple tofu scramble and mixed with roasted peppers, tortilla chips, cheddar, and a chipotle sauce it is even better. On the right is the maple miso sweet potato taco which is a close second in favorites. Everything they serve up is awesome.

Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Cone Sundae

On any given day Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Parlor has 17 different artisanal flavors. The specials like “Death Metal By Chocolate”, the “Peach Brown Betty” or the “Lady Pleaser (chocolate covered potato ships with smoked sea salt” will slay you with deliciousness but if you put that ice cream inside their homemade, chocolate dipped cone and then cover it with toppings like toasted marshmallows and peanut butter magic shell you will understand the meaning of life. It’s to eat ice cream. And they have different varieties from hemp to coconut and GF cones so I promise there is something for everyone.

The Tofu Vermicelli Bowl with Vegetarian Sauce at Lulu B’s

I’ve probably had Vietnamese Bun over a hundred times and the one from Lulu B’s is my favorite, I don’t know if it’s their chewy lemongrass tofu, the always super fresh vegetables, the mint and basil, the wonderfully excessive amount of peanuts, the sweet spicy sauce that everything is drenched in or just the perfect combination of all of the above but it’s the best version there is. They moved to a little restaurant on South Congress but it’s still cash only so beware!

Pizza from Via 313

If there was ever going to be a pizza that I would refer to as “The Love of My Life” this would be the one. VIA 313’s Detroit style pizza is truly something to get obsessed about. Their pizzas are baked in individual oiled steel pans that make the crusts taste almost deep fried on the bottom. The Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese is cooked right on top of the crust which works much better on a vegan pie. You pick your toppings and the sauce goes on top and tastes fresh and herby. I love that they don’t skimp on my olives. They have a couple of locations, one at Craft Pride on Rainy Street which is fun because the only serve Texas craft beer and one on East 6th outside of The Violet Crown Social Club but soon, like really soon, they are opening a full on restaurant in Oak Hill. I can’t wait.

Smoothies and Salads at Juiceland

I honestly don’t think I’ve had a better smoothie in my life than the ones at Juiceland. Pictured above is “The Love Below” which has Cherries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cacao, Coconut Oil, and Rice Milk. But I love the Originator just as much. Maybe it’s the Fresh Apple Juice but it also has Bananas, Blueberries, Cherries, Peanut Butter, Brown Rice Protein, Spirulina, and Flax Oil. I’ve tried to make these suckers at home but it’s just not the same. And their salads are off the hook too! It’s my summer ritual to go swimming at Barton Springs and then get a smoothie and a Double Rainbow Salad or the Quinoa Ranchero Bowl. The perfect meal when it’s 5,000 degrees out. And here’s a protip, they sell some of their juices by the gallon to make cocktails out of! The Kale Cucumber Margarita is the best thing ever to take with you on a river trip with a bottle of vodka, so healthy!

Bac’n Cheeze Burger with Tots at Arlo’s 

I often say that the one thing I’ve ever seen all Austin vegans agree on it’s the love of the Arlo’s Bac’n Cheeze Burger. Now that I’ve written it down someone is sure to disagree but most of us adore their handmade lentil based patties topped with cheddar daiya and vegan bacon. For me it’s always a late night downtown meal but now that they are open for lunch and have opened a second location on South Lamar I will get even more Arlo’s in my life.

The Specials at Unity Vegan Kitchen

Lately Unity Vegan Kitchen, a trailer off Barton Springs Road, has been killing it with their weekly specials. It’s always exactly the food I didn’t even know I wanted and then suddenly couldn’t live without. Last week it was breakfast mac and cheese, which was mac topped with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, avocado, and all kinds of other good stuff. A few weeks ago it was chicken chimmichangas. And then she brings back the chicken and waffle special with white gravy. It’s all irresistable. I also love the muffaletta sandwich which is always on the menu, her homemade bread makes all the difference,  and the quinoa spring rolls are light and yet filling enough for a while meal. Don’t miss it!

The Buddha Bowl at the Steeping Room

I remember when I used to travel all the way up to the domain shopping center in the northiest section of North Austin to get a delicious bowl from The Steeping Room, so glad they opened one a bit more central on north lamar. I love that the beans, grains, and greens change all the time for variety at the Steeping Room. But, you can always get tofu, cashew sauce, peanut sauce, or even tamari which I’ve never tried because they have cashew sauce and peanut sauce. I also love their B.A.T. sandwich, tempeh bacon, tomato, and arugula with their hot soup like cream of mushroom. Of course the most fun part is picking out a tea from their 7,000 varieties and they always have dessert too!

So that’s what are my personal favorites but their are a ton of other things that could have been on this list like the barbecued soy curls at BBQ Revolution, the corn tamales at Cool Beans, the AMAZING homemade Cheeze plates at Counter Culture, the Vegan Platter at Wasota African Cuisine, the Veggie Meshi and Beet Fries at the East Side King Brunch at Bistro Vonish or “elevated stoner cuisine” at the Golden Spike Rail Cart. The Green Curry at Sway or the pastries at Thai Fresh. The sausage empanadas at the Fair Bean or the frozen bananas with toppings at Bananarchy the Freeto Burrito at The Vegan Yacht or the Tofu Po’Boy at Wheatsville or the Seitan Reuben at Schmaltz. The Mexican Pancake at Mr. Natural. Vegan Jambalaya on a stick at Baton Creole or the breakfast tacos with shoestring potatoes at Cherrywood Coffeehouse or the Sunday night vegan ramen special at Ramen Tatsu-ya.

Let us know what your favorites are!