In Zipolite we found the sweetest airbnb and it was tough to venutre away from that pool and that view. A breakfast was included of fruit, tea, and toast.
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.
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
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!
Last week, after I filled up on Venezuelan food at Four Brothers and did some shopping at Rabbit Food Vegan Grocery, I enjoyed the special at Bananarchy, “The Peanut Butter Pie Banana is hand-dipped in vegan chocolate, half topped in graham crackers, then drizzled with organic peanut butter and more chocolate” and thinking how lucky I was to live so close to a vegan friendly banana stand. If you are sad ’cause you live in Austin and can’t say the same thing help may be on the way. Bananarchy has a kickstarter going on to open a second banana stand in Austin. So go support it and add some banana love to your life.
Still reeling from the closure of Veggie Heaven I searched the internet looking for another place where I could find cheap noodles with tofu and vegetables for lunch. I don’t know why this is so hard to find in central Austin, really. I had heard a rumor that a new vegetarian place opened up in Veggie Heaven’s spot but instead it looks like it’s going to become a vintage t-shirt store. Because that’s what we need more of…T-shirts. Then I tried to go to the Eastside King at the Hole in the Wall but there was no way I was going to find parking around there in the middle of a Thursday, although the Arby’s next door had a billion spots open.
I did not consider making it an Arby’s night.
Instead I drove aimlessly until I remembered Zen Japanese, it had been long enough since I’d been there that I had forgotten how boring and overpriced their food is. For over twice as much as Veggie Heaven you get a bowl with tons of noodles, mushy tofu, a minuscule amount of vegetables, and a sauce so bland you have to make your own out of the condiments. I think this time I chose the spicy Szechuan. Maybe it would have been spicy to a five year old and perhaps that is who this plate was intended for. And why don’t people research how to cook tofu before putting it on a menu? You it’s just a google search away to learn that you have to freaking press it.
After I finished I immediately started craving what I really had wanted from Zen. A multitude of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, roasty toasty tofu with some actual flavor, some crunch, and a well balanced, comfortingly spicy peanut sauce and so I looked up some recipes. I was still in search of the perfect peanut sauce, I have tried many over the years and learned that I don’t like coconut in my peanut sauce or an excess of sriracha or sugar. There has to be fresh garlic and ginger or else it’s going to taste like something that you find at the airport and I was pleased to find a recipe that looked good from Oh My Veggies. I also learned that if you store natural peanut butter upside down you won’t end up with an oily mess. I felt a little dumb that that trick had never occurred to me because when I tried it I was thrilled by how easily I was able to stir the peanut butter after opening it. Score.
While perusing recipes I came across another tip, this one from With Food + Love for baking crispy tofu in the oven. The trick is to sprinkle on cornstarch after you marinate it before baking it in the oven and then spraying with a bit of oil. It makes so much sense to use cornstarch in baking because that’s how you get the great coating when you fry it. This is how I will bake my tofu from now on, I want to try the recipe that she posted with it Roasted Broccoli + Crispy Tofu Bowls with a Blood Orange Soy Glaze because I’ve been on the hunt for a good orange tofu recipe for forever.
So, while this isn’t a recipe here is how you can recreate this perfect little Roasted Tofu Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce for yourself. Make the tofu and then the peanut sauce following the directions. Cook some Udon noodles (or rice noodles or linguine or whatever) in boiling water and in the last few minutes of cooking add a bag of your favorite frozen mixed vegetables and cover with a lid. Cook until the vegetables are just done, don’t let them overcook! You can always steam them over the pasta water if you want to be sure. Then drain, mix in the sauce and tofu until everything is beautiful and then top with chopped peanuts and green onions. A perfect simple meal.
I got to attend another marvelous Texas Vegfest and I tried to take some pictures, I was so distracted by all the food and people it was hard to stay focused!
The line for BBQ revolution was so long I would have needed a wider lens to capture it. Or at least, you know, stood farther away.
I really wanted to try Red Rabbit’s Yellowbird Sauce Donuts, but alas they were sold out before I got there. Red Rabbit is only for people that get their act together early and that means I never get to have it.
Follow Your Heart was sampling grilled cheese with their pesto mayo, and man oh man, I’m glad I waited for a batch to come up because it was one of my favorite things I tried.
I was excited to see Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant there, and so was Dan, he couldn’t resist their combo plate.
Counter Culture had a bunch of salads for sale, and they looked super fresh and tasty.
I learned that Vegan Toonah is going to be available nationwide soon, in a little can just like fishy tuna. I tried it and thought it was very interesting. It didn’t really remind me of tuna but it wasn’t bad, just like seitan in a can.
I waited in line FOREVER for Capital City’s Ham & Cheese Kolaches and then they sold out when I was just about to the front. It was torture. I love those kolaches so much.
I was stoked to try Hearty Vegan‘s fajitas and tuna salad. Dang, it was the best vegan tuna salad I’ve ever had! I loved it. The fajitas were good too! They were so popular that it looks like Hearty Vegan might start selling meal kits.
I was excited to see all my friends in booths, like the VRA gang!
I think I should have a booth next year called “Kiss the Puppy” and for a donation to charity you can kiss a puppy. I wonder if they would let me since it’s no dogs allowed. That’s even more reason there needs to be puppy love, though. Mostly during veg fest I missed our foster puppy.
I waited in another long line for Good Karma Kitchen, they are a food truck from Dallas and I loved their tacos last year so I knew it would be worth it. At the last minute I decided to get a deconstructed tamale with black-eyed pea relish and bloody mary salsa instead. It’s really a great idea for a home-cooked meal, maybe I’ll make my own version since god knows, I’m not going to Dallas.
I saw Teese selling vegan nachos and had to wonder why this isn’t a thing everywhere. Especially at the movie theater.
After that I saw the Happy Vegan Baker and I wanted to try her mac & cheese which everyone raves about and then decided to try the lentil shepherd’s pie too.
I loved the mac & cheese but that was when I definitely hit the upper limit of my stomach’s capacity, no Sweet Ritual for me! There were a million other food vendors, activist groups, charities, and businesses that I’m not even mentioning. If you haven’t been, you should definitive make it out next year. The music was really good too! Texas VegFest is just incredible, hats off to the organizers for pulling together another amazing fest.