Tag Archives: restaurant

Papi Tino’s a vegan friendly open air cafe on East 6th

It seems like east sixth street has tons of new places every time I go down there, which is like once a week! I had head that Papi Tino’s was vegan friendly but I then read a discouraging yelp review and wasn’t so sure I wanted to even attempt it. Until, that is, I saw their cocktail menu and realized I would be happy with whatever they came up with. I started with a Pink Bowtie because, um, cute? It had St. Germaine and berry infused deliciousness. I just loved it. 

It was at that point that I looked across the patio and noticed that everyone I could see, including the servers, all appeared female. 

I want to come back another day and wear my pink dress because this is totally the place. Also the menu had multiple vegan options that I’m excited to try. 

I had a hard time deciding between the Champiñion Rellano, a large portabello stuffed with vegetables, the Rollos de Berenjena, eggplant rolls stuffed with vegetables, or the Roja Enchilidas…wait for it…stuffed with vegetables which is what I went for in the end at the server’s recommendation. 

They were tasty, I was really pleased with the finely diced well seasoned vegetables inside which were mostly very fresh tasting zucchini and broccoli. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t rice and beans or even an option for more because I was hungry before the evening was over; something a little protein heavy would have been nice. I am glad I didn’t get the guacamole because even though I desperatly wanted some, Papi Tino’s is clearly one of those places that is going to charge 9 bucks for 1/4 of a cup of guac with maybe 10 homeade chips. And that, folks, is not how I roll. I think this would be the perfect place to get multiple plates and I hope they add some other interesting vegan sides in the future.


Maoz Vegetarian – Falafel in the Triangle

Remember when the triangle was just a patch of grass? Ever since that huge multi-use development went up I have been really confused about how to enter it with a vehicle. I had to try it again to get to Maoz Vegetarian. Everyone else seems to find it quite navigable but if you haven’t been there, it is easier to pull in from Lamar and you can even park in the garage. Then, even though there are signs for the restaurant on the south side of the strip that it’s in, you enter from the north side where there is even more parking. 

Inside there is a pretty small dining area with tables and chairs which you pass by to order at the counter. Like my favorite falafel place ever you can order a bowl with falfels in a salad form or a pita and then you can dress it up yourself in their well labeled salad bar.

I love any place that lets you add an excessive amount of olives almost as much as I love places where you can eat as soon as you walk in the door. I don’t have time to sit around staring at other people eating! I have places to be and dogs to cuddle with so I was stoked that I could start out with some roasted vegetables and marinated beets.

My dining companions were also more than a little excited by the unlimited nature of the salad bar. In fact, they were so excited that I worry that Maoz won’t be able to keep up such a great deal. Even with all the free vegetables I had to try the Belgian fries.

Though they didn’t disappoint my friend’s sweet potato fries were even better and I would get them the next time. My falafel was chockful of all of my favorite things and it was pretty good though I think next time I would get the bowl so I could more evenly distribute the toppings. I have also heard the vegan rice pudding is fantastic but I haven’t tried it yet and they also have rotating vegan soups. They even have meatless Monday deals where you can get 10% off the salad bowl just by mentioning it! So, I highly recommend you check it out if you have been craving some falafel, it is definitely one of the better places in town.

Elizabeth St. Cafe, a Vietnamese French cafe in South Austin

Traditionally, if you want quality Vietnamese food in Austin you have to be in the part of town where it’s hard to tell if you are in Pflugerville, Round Rock, or Austin. In South Austin we mostly have the standard Chinese-takeout-style Vietnamese places where you can get a ton of edible food for five dollars. When LuLu B’s trailer opened I loved that I could get a vegetarian bánh mì for 4 and I have long been obsessed with their 6 dollar bún. When the prices on each went up a while back, I stopped going so much. So at first I wasn’t so sure about how often I would go to the even more expensive Elizabeth St. Cafe which is even getting flack from foodies about the 22 dollar pho. But, unlike Lulu B’s it is open at night, has excellent service and has a super cute ambiance so I can see myself returning. It is kind of mind boggling that they could have made the old Bouldin Creek, certainly the cafe I have spent the most time in probably in my life, into such a elegant little place. Someone should make a “Where Have all the Hippies Gone” parody video. Or not.

The menu is definitely happy meat focused but I was gladdened to see that vegan options abound as well. We started with the Ginger Marinated Tofu Spring rolls. Since the peanut sauce wasn’t vegan we stuck with just the sweet chile vinegar and ginger jalapeno for dipping. Even with those sauces, I thought the spring rolls were a little dry, too heavy on the noodles and without enough herbs and vegetables. 

I think that the reason I was most excited to try the Elizabeth St. Cafe was in anticipation of their pho. I kind of became obsessed with pho when I lived in Washington and for years I was disappointed by every version in Austin that I tried. Recently I tried a recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s upcoming internationally themed cookbook and I it reawakened all the pho desire inside me. Elizabeth St has two different pho varieties and we went with the miso cauliflower version. It was delicious and I think would be perfect for someone that like the idea of pho but maybe not the Vietnamese version. We’ll call them fusion pho lovers. Next time I will try the tofu, mushroom, radish traditional version for sure. One thing I loved about this version was that it was completely packed with tofu and vegetables. A lot of times it seems like places skimp on all that stuff and just give you a ton of sprouts and herbs.

We skipped the bánh mì since they didn’t have vegan mayo and went onwards to the bún. The grilled tofu was a highlight for sure and there was plenty of vegetables in the bowl, in fact I think there were more vegetables than vermicelli. Everything was fresh and delicious and the vegan fish sauce was good enough, maybe a little tame. 

My favorite part of the meal was undoubtedly the bánh xèo (aka the Vietnamese crêpe) even thought it wasn’t on the menu and we had to special order it. Don’t you just love when restaurants are accommodating? The service, overall was great, our waitress was easily able to tell us what was vegan and what we could do special and when she wasn’t sure about the crêpe she checked with the kitchen staff. When the waitress returned to tell us they would make a special vegan version I was, in a word, stoked. This is the best bánh xèo I have ever had, although truthfully it was also only the second. It was coconutty, light and delicious and definitely what I will return for. 

We rounded out the meal with a delicious Lemongrass tea, although they do have a wide assortment of wine, saki, Vietnamese coffee, and drinks. 

It is a fantastic little spot, more expensive, no doubt then, a standard Vietnamese restaurant but with a charming atmosphere and excellent service.

The Daily Juice and The Soup Peddler together at last

Did you ever have a dream that two of your favorite places would combine forces into one super place? Like when the “After Dark” opened up into the same building as the “Peach Pit”. Or what if a place you already love and go to all the time started selling something else you loved, like if the Double R Diner started selling vegan donuts. Essentially that is what is happening with the Soup Peddler and the Daily Juice.

The Daily Juice is a place you don’t want to miss in Austin, and it is pretty easy to find since now they have multiple locations.

Barton Springs

The have about a million kinds of delicious organic super healthy juices. Everything from simple juices like The Sugar Magnolia (peaches and watermelon) to the more complicated offerings like the Thai Curious (carrot, coconut, ginger, beet, cilantro, cayenne, lime, and Himalayan sea salt)

and they also offer really great house made raw foods and kale chips, and bars.

The problem with all that raw food is that sometimes you want something hot and comforting. That is why I am so excited that the Juice is teaming up with the number one soup expert in the state of Texas.

The Soup Peddler is a guy in Austin who, after being disillusioned with his boring job, decided to start making big pots of vegetarian soup, taking orders to see how many people in the neighborhood wanted the soup, and then delivering them by bike. We used to get the soup every week. On Wednesdays we would set out our cooler and reusable soup bucket and when I got home from work I would have a beautiful soup waiting for me. The business constantly evolves and now he has teamed up with the creator of the Daily Juice and together they are going to open a soup/juice restaurant a stone’s throw from my old house! I can’t believe how many new places are opening in my old neighborhood but the Juicebox is the most heartbreaking. Well heartbreaking is a pretty a pretty strong word since I can still go there all the time. If you want to read about how all this happened check out David’s blog because he chronicles the whole process, a really interesting 5 parts story if you have ever thought about opening a restaurant or food service.

Anyway the Daily Juice, along with some other places like the Whip in, are now carrying the Soup so you can pick it up any time instead of ordering ahead! And that’s right folks, all the soups are VEGAN! I went to the location on the west side the other day.

location on Lake Austin Blvd.

and I was so excited to see they were carrying my most favorite soup in the whole rotation, the Mulligatawny! 

It was delicious and served in a coffee cup which was perfect for my on the go soup eating needs. Of course I got juice too.

and I felt like I was having the healthiest and tastiest food in Austin! The only way they could make it more convenient is if they started running after me carrying those cups of wonderfulness. But that would probably scare the hell out of so an actual establishment really makes more sense in this case. 



The Freakin Vegan at Taco Deli

I love Taco Deli. It is one of those places that I regretfully didn’t try for a long time. We take our dogs to the Spyglass greenbelt access point sometimes and I had seen Taco deli for years but I didn’t stop in until a couple years ago and then I was soon hooked. The whole place has kind of  a summer camp at a strip mall kind of feel to me. Maybe because we sometimes hike there but also because there are tons of trees around it and on summer days everyone is sitting outside looking active and happy with their dogs.

today was not a summer day

I noticed the breakfast tacos seemingly everywhere around town but they were always eggs, bacon, & cheese so I didn’t think that they would have a lot for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Taco Deli is one of the most veg friendly taco joints in Austin.  They have 5 vegetarian tacos on the menu and most can be easily veganized. The black beans are vegan so you can choose the Frontera Fundido Portabella (no cheese) it comes with roasted poblanos, sautéed peppers, and onion strips or the Florentino which comes with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and peppers or the Veggie Taco which is their veggie mix of shredded cabbage, carrots,  zuchini, mushrooms, peppers, celery, and onions sautéed in olive oil and sherry. They also use the veggie mix in the burrito and the tortas.

The most fun part is that they have a secret vegan taco. I heard from someone somewhere that  this off menu item is called “The Freakin Vegan” and now this is what I typically order. At first I was a little hesitant. What if I ordered the freakin vegan and they looked at me like I was just making shit up? So far, that has never happened so I happily get my black bean, avocado, verde sauce, and pico taco on a corn tortilla.

I also highly recommend the chips and guacamole. You get a ton of chips for only a few dollars with some of my favorite guac in town.  You can also get rice, beans, guac, or roasted peppers with any order. I wish that every place had the options of Taco Deli. They really only have two things that I wish I could change. One disappointment is that they don’t use tofu, tempeh, or seitan which, for me,  is kind of sad. The non-vegan menu is really creative and I think it would be so easy to sub fake chicken or pressed tofu in any of the chicken tacos with fantastic results. Also, they close at three every day and that can be pretty early for us to make it there on the weekend but that isn’t really a problem since most people aren’t that lazy. So the next time you sleep over at your favorite south Austinite’s house and you are cruising up mopac stop in for a taco. Studies have shown that it only takes 5 minutes and your happiness factor will enlarge by approximately 67 percent. And 67 percent isn’t the kind of number that you can laugh off.

Madam Mams’s

Wake up wake up wake up, It’s the 1st of the month

Get up get up get up, So cash your checks and come up

That’s right, it is truly the first of the month and I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this day. Wait, actually I can, it has been thirty days since I had a bunch of unexpected expenses that devastated my need for fresh vegetables. So last night, being too exhausted from work and school to go shopping we celebrated!Madam Mam’s on Westgate is always a treat. We never have to wait for a table and they always have plenty of good food to choose from in their relaxing and calm dining room.One problem with having such and extensive menu is that the person I go with can never make up his mind, even though he always orders the same thing. He adores their soup, NS14, but sadly imitation crab does not equal vegan so I can’t partake in his eye-watering soup madness. Last night I was craving vegetables so I tried the very simple sounding “Stir Fried Vegetables”. It had chinease broccoli, baby bok choy, mushrooms, and fried tofu with garlic broth so it was relativly healthy for eating out.  It was exactly what I wanted too, the vegables were perfectly cooked and the tofu sopped up all the flavors from the broth. Now I am so hungry!

The Daily Juice Cafe

Suddenly Austin is having an explosion of Raw Food. It used to be that the only all vegan places in town were Casa de Luz and the raw vegan bar at Whole Foods.  Now another place opened on 6th street called Borbloleta and a Cafe called Beets is still set to open as well on 5th street. I did a raw diet for a while back when the original Daily Juice was the only game in town. At their original location on Barton Springs they had a takeaway service with some raw sushi and a couple other items. It must have done really well for them because they opened a couple other locations including the Daily Juice Cafe in Hyde Park.  I went for the first time a couple weeks ago with my Mom and we really liked it so when I had the day off yesterday I took Mr. Smurf for a wild romp up to North Austin. I wish I would have taken some pictures of the interior, it is really nice and soothing with concrete floors, wooden tables, and natural light from big windows. It reminded me of Costa Rica it has a strong hippie vibe complete with a chill room and outdoor seating. There is a huge menu of mostly juice and smoothies and a little menu of entrees that has maybe seven items, including salads and they also have a couple of different specials. We got soup to start that was coconut curry, it was very Indian inspired a as you can see from the pictures turmeric was a key player.

Mr. Smurf got the BBQ coconut meat sandwich on Chia Seed bread. The cracker was a little too intense for me but I loved the coconut meat flavor and the sprouts were a nice contrast.

I was going to get the Thai Noodle bowl but it sold out right before I ordered which made me really sad so instead I got the enchilada plate which turned out to be the best thing we ordered. I had a very strange moment when they asked me if I wanted the mole filling or the cheese and I said “cheese”, but don’t worry it was sprouted sunflower seed cheese so it was vegan and completely delicious. I really want to try and make it at home. I have tried to make quite a few cooked cheeses but have stayed away from raw seed cheeses for a while and I can’t figure out why. They are so good and much better for you then soy products. There is a macadamia nut cheese in Raw Food Real World that I remember being really great. I would love to have the recipe for this one. The sauce on top was unrecognizable to me but it was very good and perfectly contrasted with the crunchy kale. The coconut cilantro tortillas were fantastic. I liked them a lot more than the sandwich bread. But it was altogether way too much food. I only ate half the plate and a couple bite of soup before I was ready for a nap.

All and all it was a great meal but next time I will go for the half portions so that I don’t spend the next two hours in a food coma.  I can’t believe two more raw places are opening! They are going to have a tough time if they want to be better than the Daily Juice.

Veggie Heaven – Austin Vegetarian Restaurant

One of the cookbooks I got for Christmas is Brian Yarvin’s A World of Dumplings. So far it seems like a great book although I have only made one recipe so I can’t say for sure. It is broken into sections by region and every area of the world is covered. Best of all, it is really vegan friendly for a non-veg cookbook. Although a lot of the wrappers have eggs in them Yarvin usually points out what vegan wrappers would work instead and offers many vegetable fillings.  The downside to the book is that I have been reading it a lot and I get so hungry for dumplings that it is hard to be pleased by non-stuffed-in-dough food. It is time consuming to make dumplings every day so sometimes you have to go to Veggie Heaven where they will make one for you. We had a steamed bun and pot stickers!

Veggie Heaven is a restaurant that has reached near mythical status with some of its devotees. It is a tiny place by UT campus with maybe 15 tables all scrunched together and a menu that has probably a hundred options on its numerous pages. Although the service isn’t their strong suit if you are looking for numerous options from Protein 2000 to Hawaii taro to the lucky seven Veggie Heaven is the way to go. You can even get a T-shirt. It could take years to try everything. They even have vegan Bubble Tea and Thai Iced Tea!

This time I tried the “Beef” bowl and it was really good. I have never had noodles from there before but I will seek them out from now on. The bowl included udon noodles in a brothy sauce with many different kinds of vegetables and a very unusual but really tasty beef substitute in addition to some fried tofu. It was so good and dare I say; somewhat healthy for restaurant food.