Where in the hell am I?

April 17, 2014

An Austinite’s Guide to #SAA2014: Vegetarian and Vegan eats

Filed under: archaeology — Tags: , , , , , — John @ 11:37 am

At this point, I feel like I should repost this link to my introduction to this series, written back in January, to remind y’all of my perspective (especially if you’re reading this post without any familiarity with me).

As I mentioned there, I’m an omnivore, and while I certainly eat vegetarian and sometimes vegan meals, I don’t generally seek out these places, nor do I pay much attention to the menus at my normal places to see just how veggie/vegan friendly they are. I should note that most places in Austin will have some sort of veggie (if not vegan) option, although you might want to ask about how things are cooked (like beans and tortillas, sometimes cooked with lard), and if there are separate grills, if these things are important to you.

Anyway, I decided to crowdsource on Facebook, and got a lot of helpful answers.

First, the overwhelming favorite place was Schmaltz(or Shhmaltz as their Facebook page says). This is a Austin’s only vegetarian/vegan Jewish sandwich trailer, and is just across the highway from the Convention Center, on Cesar Chavez, behind Farewell Books. They appear to only be open for lunch, 12-4 pm, so plan accordingly. This review from the Austin Chronicle seems to sum up the menu nicely.

A little ways further down Cesar Chavez, but open for dinner (and Saturday and Sunday brunch) as well, is vegan restaurant Counter Culture. This might be a bit of a walk (1.4 miles according to the map), but there is also a bus that runs that way (the #17, capmetro.org for schedule. I’ve only eaten here once, back when it was a trailer, but I enjoyed the Meltdown (“tuna” melt), and I’ve heard numerous rave reviews of the jackfruit BBQ. They also have gluten-free options, soy-free options, and some raw options.

Yet another place on Cesar Chavez, in between Schmaltz and Counter Culture, is Mr. Natural, which is 100% vegetarian. They are open 8-8, so a great option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They focus on Mexican food, but also have sandwiches, veggie burgers and hot dogs, salads, and smoothies. I’ve had their tofu enchiladas and they were delicious. There is also a bakery for muffins, empanadas, and other goodies to go!

One last spot on Cesar Chavez, although more of the “treat yo self” persuasion, is Capital City Bakery, a 100% vegan bakery. I say treats because this is a dessert bakery, with a selection of cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and cheesecakes. They’re open 10-7, but do sell-out early sometimes (much like a good BBQ place).

One friend recommended Cazamance, a place I’m totally unfamiliar with. Sounds like an interesting mix of African and other cuisines, and has meat options along with veggie and vegan. They’re not far from the Convention Center, but seem to only be open for dinner and late meals (6pm to midnight). To quote my friend: “they have weird hours. although totally worth it!”

A couple of people mentioned Baton Creole, which is just across the highway on east 6th Street, right before you get to all the bars. They have one vegan option and several vegetarian options, but it should be noted (as they did on their Facebook page) that they use a communal fryer for their tofu (as in same fryer as the meats). I haven’t tried this place yet, but Tofu Jambalaya sounds yummy.

Over on the west side of town is Beets Living Foods Cafe, open at 10am. As their name suggests, they are a raw “living” foods restaurant, with a selection of breakfasts, entrees, salads, and smoothies. I’m unfamiliar with this place as well.

As long as you’re over to the west, you can drop in at the flagship Whole Foods grocery for a quick meal. They have a wide variety of sandwiches and salads, a juice bar, a raw foods bar, and of course lots of produce and groceries.

As I mentioned above, many places downtown that aren’t veggie or vegan specific still have great options. These include Koriente, Chi’Lantro BBQ trailer, Yellow Jacket Social Club (the Frito Pie in particular), East Side King (which is at Liberty, the bar where my party is), and Hoboken Pie (although you would want to call an order a whole pie as they don’t usually have vegan slices). I’ll be talking more about most of these places in future posts.

Ranging further from downtown gives you many more options, including one of my favorite places: Bouldin Creek Cafe. I love going here for brunch (The Oven Cake Breakfast or El Tipico), and it’s generally pretty crowded then but open for all meals of the day. They do omelets (with Tofu Scrambler as a Vegan option), tacos, salads, sandwiches (a lot of people rave about the Wanna-BLT), and other hot foods (love the soul food plate). As far as a destination place to go to for veggie/vegan food, Bouldin Creek would be my recommendation, followed by a stop at End of an Ear to buy some music!

Another place south of the river, on South Lamar is Wasota African Cuisine. As they note, most of their dishes are vegan, with no dairy. They have an amazing homemade veggie burger, and the food overall is delicious and can be very spicy!

One friend mentions a food trailer park on North Loop with several vegetarian and vegan places. These include BBQ Revolution (vegan BBQ so you’re not left out!), Unity Vegan Kitchen,Taco Bout It (ha!), which does have some meat options, and Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery (which also has products at some other places around town, including Houndstooth Coffee on 4th and Congress, not too far from the Convention Center, which I also hear is amazing coffee).

Finally, some places near the University of Texas (Hook ’em!) campus. First is Veggie Heaven, a campus area standby. They specialize in Asian veggie and vegan cuisine, ranging from stir fry to curry, with lots of vegetables to go with the various veggie proteins. Madam Mam’s is one of the best Thai places in Austin, and offers tofu as an option with almost everything on the menu.

The Vegan Yacht has docked (sorry…) at several locations around town recently and is currently at Spider House Ballroom, on 29th and Guadalupe, and open from 6pm to midnight.

Lastly, another destination place up by campus (I can’t believe I forgot to mention this, and I’ve edited the post because it needed to be added): Wheatsville Co-op! An amazing grocery store and very very veggie and vegan friendly. The deli and prepared foods area has a great selection of sandwiches, tacos, veggie chili and Frito pie rice bowls, salads, and POPCORN TOFU, which is one of the most ridiculously delicious things you will ever eat (by itself or on a po-boy).

Well, that was a lot longer than I thought it would be! As you can see, there are many options for vegans and vegetarians in Austin, so that you can easily enjoy our city, cuisine, and nightlife without much trouble!

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