Tag Archives: vegetarian austin

CLOSED Austin Java Tarrytown, a vegan option on the west side

It’s about time that the west side of town got some more vegan options, right now it seems like the main spots are Beets Cafe and Juiceland which are both good healthy stops but not places to linger over a hot meal. From what I understand Tarrytown is almost completely lacking in local vegan food ever since the NuAge cafe and then the Cosmic Cafe closed years ago. The new Austin Java is in a strip mall next to Austin Pets Alive and a few other businesses. For years it has been a rather controversial strip mall (ha!) because the owner is pretty insistent on places catering to vegetarian values. When Austin Java finally leased the space they did it with the agreement that, unlike their other locations, they wouldn’t serve meat and they would have multiple vegan options.

I am a regular at the Austin Java on 12th and Lamar because it’s just a couple blocks from my office but I’m usually disappointed by their so-so breakfast tacos and their truly lackluster pasta dish. Still I somehow really like Austin Java. I want to love it. They are an Austin institution with locations all over the place and their coffee is pretty good and the service is always friendly. When I saw that the new location in Tarrytown was going to have vegan substitutions for everything from eggs Benedict to omelets I was jealous of those westsiders. We finally tried it over the weekend. The space is pretty cute, especially since it is in strip mall, but they do have two gigantic flat screen TVs. The service was super nice and the vegan options were plentiful, from a version of a Caesar Salad to Curried Tofu Wraps and Texas Pesto Pasta with roasted tofu. It’s the kind of stuff I would love to see at the 12th street location. I am a sucker for Benedict though so I tried the tree-hugger; vegan chorizo, tofu scramble, hollandaise  and avocado on English muffins with your choice of side. I got the potatoes. 

When it came to the table I was a little surprised. The hollandaise didn’t look very appetizing and both it and the tofu were bright almost neon yellow. I don’t know why it was a spread-like consistency rather than a sauce. Maybe it was made out of tofu as well and not blended? There was also too much tofu and sauce which kind of took away from the chorizo and avocado. It wasn’t very well balanced. But I was pleased to see the staff was asking everyone for critical feedback and I’m sure it’s going to get a lot better over time. So Austin vegans please check out the new location and let them know what you think. It will be great to have another place for brunch on the west side of town.

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Texas Veg Fest Countdown: An interview with Molly Frisinger Festival Outreach Director

I thought it would be fun to spotlight some of the different things going on at Texas VegFest, because I want you all to go! I want you to LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK and tell all your friends that this shit is happening. It is going to be so awesome and well worth a trip!

As you may know Molly is a friend of mine and the voice behind The Lonestar Plate, the vegan blog of Texas and Texas Chili cook-off champion. I want to call her a tireless advocate for veganism but I happen to know she is really quite tired from working around the clock on getting everything ready for Texas VegFest. She answered a few questions for us about the festival this weekend March 31

Why do you think Austin needs a Veg Fest?

People are constantly saying, “You can’t be vegan in Texas,” and yet here we are in Austin with a thriving vegetarian and vegan community and so much interest in plant-based cooking. We wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to get together and celebrate the great vegan food and resources that Texas has to offer. We especially wanted this to be an opportunity for people who, maybe they’ve heard about Meatless Monday or they have a cousin who’s vegan, and they’re interested in learning more but don’t know where to start. Texas VegFest is that place. Eat some tasty food, learn how to cook a few vegan meals, and just have fun with it.

What are you most excited about, personally, at festival?

I love to cook, so I’m really looking forward to seeing two of my favorite vegan chefs do their thing. Isa Chandra Moskowitz is making comfort food favorites like mac’n’cheese and BBQ seitan with her special twist, and Terry Hope Romero is making tamales, which have always intimidated me a bit. And really, if I’m honest, I’m looking forward to trying samples from all my favorite food companies like Upton’s Naturals, NadaMoo, Gardein, and Tofurky. Rumor is there will be some new products introduced at Texas VegFest!

I heard you are going to have some fun activities for children, which I have noticed many people seem to have. What kind of stuff are you going to have for them to do? (I want to tell my neighbors so maybe my street will be quiet for once)

Yes, surprisingly, a lot of people have kids! We’ll have a section of Fiesta Gardens set aside for kids’ activities. There will be a moonbounce, a gardening activity sponsored by Urban Patchwork, and games and activities to encourage healthy eating. There’s also lots of space to run around.

What do you think the foodies would be surprised about regarding TexVegFest or veganism generally?
A lot of people focus on what they’re giving up when they go vegan, but what I experienced, and what a lot of people experience, I think, is that it opens your cooking horizons. I’m not sure I’d be so comfortable cooking curries, making my own bread and pizza dough, or exploring grains like quinoa and millet if going vegan hadn’t nudged me out of my comfort zone.

I think Texas VegFest is a good example of this. If you look at the food our vendors will be serving, you’ll see samosas, chaat, empanadas, burgers, tamales, Ethiopian, Frito pie, Indian, hot dogs, TexMex, Mac’n’Cheese, and more ice cream and baked goods than you can imagine. It’s just a huge variety of foods.
It sure sounds like a lot of great food, what other adult entertainment is there going to be? I guess that kind of sounds like I’m expecting strippers….
That was a setup so I can talk about Purrfect Pineapples, wasn’t it? They’ll be there with their custom-made animal-friendly lingerie. In fact, bring your wallet, because Herbivore Clothing, Stay True Organics Tattoo Aftercare, Monkey Wrench Books, Back to the Roots, and Vitamix will all be there, too.

In between shopping and stuffing your face, we’ll have some great speakers and music as well. Dr. Michael Greger has an interactive presentation about health eating, and bodybuilder Robert Cheeke will be there to discuss fitness. If you haven’t ever seen Robert Cheeke talk, you’re in for a treat. I’ve never met anyone so extraverted and outgoing before. Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing has a really great speech about getting more veg options in restaurants, as well. And on the other stage, we’ll have music by Roxy Rocha, the Wheel Workers, and other great Texas bands.
Now everyone is going to think this whole damn interview is scripted so you have forced my to ask something totally off the wall. If you could wave a vegan wand on one Austin restaurant which would it be? And don’t give me some activisty answer and pick something just because it’s popular and more people would eat vegan just because of that. Where would YOU love to go if it was the same menu but all vegan versions.
Mandola’s Italian Grill, or really any pretty good neighborhood Italian restaurant. I can get a really nice Italian meal at Asti or Sagra, but I miss having a neighborhood pasta joint where I can get ravioli, eggplant parm, and a salad with that tomatoey house dressing that all Italian restaurants have.
Thanks Molly for your time and for all your hard work with the festival!

Top Ten favorite vegan dishes in Austin for 2011

Upon reflection my 2011 was a mixed bag. I wonder where that expression came from? The first half was super fantastic, I got to present with Laura Beck of Vegansaurus at SXSW . We had the most vegan events, I think ever, at South By. Even Moby hosted a day party, the whole fest was really fun!  This year we also had more bakesales then ever before that raised a ton of money for various charities. I helped organize some of the vegan sales and two city wide bakesales with my fellow Austin food bloggers that we had for disaster relief. Actually with the droughts and the central Texas fires it seemed like life was all about raising money for a while and we put together the Sunny Days in Texas cook zine which, by the way, is still available!

The best part of my year was definitely my extended trip to Hawaii and I also was really excited to go to Vida Vegan Con in Portland to meet all tons of vegan food bloggers, see a bunch of my friends and eat at so many great restaurants. The second half of the year I am still recovering from. It was filled with family tragedies and I majorly injured my foot so I haven’t been able to walk since June so no fun there.

The vegan scene in Austin soldiered on, check out the Lonestar Plate’s Year in Review. All sorts of places, like Sweet Ritual and Arolo’s, opened up and a few favorites, like Iggie’s Texitarian, closed down. At Vegans Rock Austin they did a poll of the communities’ favorite eats which was a lot of fun to read….and disagree with! That is what I love about having a blog; sharing my biased opinion! I realized that my personal top ten was starting to look the same from year to year, and though I could keep telling you how much I love Counter CultureWhole Foods Breakfast Tacos and Food For Lover’s Queso I decided this year the theme would be NO REPEATS! So the 2011 list is all new!

2011 TOP 10

1. Wasota Vegan Platter

The first time I went to Wasota it was all I could think about for days after. The vegan platter has one of my favorite foods in the world: deep fried plantains along with a new favorite akara which are black-eyed pea fritters. The beans, greens, and rice are all different from one another and combine into a wonderful plate. Then everything is topped with spicy Benin sauce which is totally the Sriracha for 2012. Plus it is all served up by the nicest guy ever so save your appetite for a couple days and get down to south first for a feast.

2. The Juicebox Green Monster Smoothie

I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed the juicebox yet! Probably, after the Fair Bean, the Juicebox is the place in Austin that I went the most in 2011. In many ways it is the opposite of Wasota because there isn’t anything deep fried and it is all super organic raw vegan. Green Smoothies have been all the rage for a few years now among the healthy vegan crowd but I had never had much success making them at home, probably because I don’t have a professional blender. I am not buying one any time soon, I would much rather make the juicebox maintain their machines and search out fresh produce so I can just pull up and grab one whenever I am feeling like I need something healthy. Plus you can compost their cups! The Green Monster has broccoli and all sorts of other things that don’t belong in a smoothie and yet it is so tasty and creamy that it blows my mind every time. Their other smoothies are good too, but that is the one that I get the most. Some of the Daily Juice’s split off this year too and became Juiceland and I highly recommend their new menus as well, I had a smoothie with Kale, Durian, and Pecan Butter!

3. Uchiko Fried Avocado Sushi

This year I discovered the Uchiko happy hour and it made me really really happy. Many of the vegan items are available at happy hour and they have the most amazing fried Brussels sprouts. And the staff is always quick to tell me what is vegan and modify anything on the menu for me. And their sorbets are usually vegan too and they have fun flavors like sweet corn or tobacco. The lightly fried and oh so amazing avocado sushi roll was definitely my favorite although everything you have there is guaranteed to be good. The pictures, however, are guaranteed to be terrible. Damn you restaurants and your mood lighting!

4. Brixton Vegan Brunch

Our brunch options in Austin are getting better and better all the time. When the Brixton, a bar in East Austin, announced that it was going to start hosting a monthly all vegan brunch I was pretty excited. When I tried the first spread that included tempeh bennedicts and real maple syrup I was hooked for life. Then this last weekend I had migas and a cinnamon roll, now that is an Austin combination I have been waiting for. And the bar is so accommodating to vegans. It warmed my heart to see so many vegans drinking bloody marys without fear.

5. Red Rabbit Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts

Speaking of Cinnamon Rolls, Red Rabbit, the anarchist vegan co-op behind the best donuts in town has just started selling Cinnamon Rolls at the Hope Farmers Market in East Austin. I haven’t tried them yet but I have tried the doughnuts and they are fabulous! It was so wonderful to see Red Rabbit grown from selling their doughnuts at bakesales to half the coffee shops in town. Now they are all over the place. God I love them. The spicy Mexican chocolate is definitely my favorite but I will eat them all! I hope they open a store soon.

6. Hyden Park Tomato Tartare

Another exciting development this year was the advent of the Hyden Park Supper Club. These four-course dinner parties have been increasingly popular in Austin but I think the second one I went to might have been my favorite and it was all because of this tomato tartare. I really don’t know how Chef Elizabeth made this tomato taste so delectable and meaty. Maybe it was just peak of ripeness perfection but I loved the texture too.

7. Sunflower Vegan Crepe

I have wanted to try Sunflower, a Vietnamese restaurant in North Austin since I moved here but I never got around to it. Then, I finally got my act together after 9 years and made it up to North Austin to find out that it burned down. Thank goodness for everyone that they were able to reopen and I have been back a few times since I got to try their Vietnamese Crepe. If you haven’t tried it don’t wait 9 years to go. Restaurants close down before you know it in Austin and this is something you don’t want to miss.

8. Asters Ethiopian Platter

Aster’s is another Austin institution, along with Wasota and Sunflower that closed down and then, after we all wished hard enough, seemed to magically reopen. I love this place but I always want to go for lunch because the only thing better then getting a platter of delicious Ethiopian food served on top of Injera is to make one yourself off their fabulous lunch buffet. I love trying a little bit of everything there although my eyes are always bigger than my belly.

9.  Bananarchy frozen bananas

I love that the idea for the cart of frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and covered in delicious toppings was formed inspired by Arrested Development almost as much as I love eating here. All right, that is a total lie. I could never know the Arrested Development connection and still eat these bananas every day. They are delicious! I like to get one coated in chocolate and then dipped in oreos when I am seriously craving chocolate or going to the Alamo. It is the perfect thing to eat when it is 120 outside.

10. Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse– The Rennedict

photo by @veganchai

Oh the elusive rennedict, how I love you. This year our most famous most delicious vegetarian restaurant moved across the street from it’s previous shack into a converted tire shop. Even though I have been to the new one probably 20 times I don’t think I will ever get used to the newer nicer Bouldin Creek. Lucky for us, the food is exactly the same. AND they added the rennedict to the menu. It is their world famous tofu scramble atop english muffins layered with spinach, the best tofu bacon you will ever have, and then covered in a noochy hollandaise sauce. If you finish it you won’t have to eat again that day and you won’t even want to because nothing will compare to the goodness that is the rennedict.

Best New Product- Celeste’s Best Cookie Dough

I adore Celeste’s chocolate chip cookies. I get them at the Fair Bean along with my morning coffee when I know I’ll need chocolate later. I was just thrilled when I learned Celeste was going to start packaging the dough and having it for sale at Wheatsville and other independent shops around town. The best part about vegan cookie dough is that since it doesn’t have any animal product you can eat it right out of the container. Probably the best thing to do is buy at least two so if you want to have cookies you will have plenty of dough for snacking.

Most Missed Dog Almighty

So many places I loved closed up this year, Iggie’s Texitarian, Emerald City, Somnio’s Cafe, and even the screaming goat but nothing hits closer to home than Dog Almighty. Their vegetarian chili cookoff winning chili is my most favorite frito pie in town along with the best tater tots in the world. It was the best place to get fast food style vegetarian food and I will miss it every time I drive down south Lamar. Or settle for a less perfect tot.

So that’s it for 2011. I didn’t even get to try Arlo’s or go to Sweet Ritual before the new year but I have heard they are both great. This year I also want to get to Moaz Falafel, A Taste of Ethiopia, The Elizabeth Street Cafe, and of course the new Counter Culture.