Vegan MoFo Post #16!
I’m going to be honest, I had mixed feelings about Austin. There is a lot or rad stuff there, but it is SO spread out. I constantly found myself wishing everything would be in some sort of more condensed downtown area, as I spent most of my time in the city driving, searching for parking and planning how to get places. It also meant I couldn’t really be spontaneous, as I had to know exactly where I was going so I could look up directions.
That said, there is a lot of awesome vegan stuff to eat in Austin and I only just scratched the surface! I am excited to see how it will be when I head back there for the Vida Vegan Con III Conference in May, as I won’t have a car then and will be relying on public transit. I imagine it will be more limiting, but perhaps less stressful to put the driving and parking in someone else’s hands!
As soon as I arrived in Austin, I decided to stock up on some real food after a long day or driving. I headed to the Wheatsville Food Co-Op on South Lamar Ave (there are two locations). It was so awesome, possibly the best co-op I’ve been to yet! Above you can see I grabbed both flavors of the Earth Balance mac and cheese (It was less than $3! cheapest I’ve seen yet per box!), kale, nutritional yeast, some wheat meat already made in the middle to use for cooking and some prepared hummus, salad with dressing, vegan coconut cream pie, peaches, tomato, lemon and a popcorn tofu po’ boy.
Their prepared food section was BANGIN’. My friend and I went back and stocked goods for the car entirely there for our 8 hours of driving a few days later.Here’s an up close of the popcorn tofu po’ boy. It’s what they’re famous for, they even had cute t-shirts about popcorn tofu. Mine was out of the fridge so I’m sure it’s even better fresh, but it was tasty. Nine PM dinner sorted!
Another smaller cute grocery store is in.gredients! They advertise themselves as having real food that’s local and from the community and they try extra hard to avoid waste! No pictures, but check it out if you’re in the area. They had lots of vegan stuff too.
The next evening I headed over to Veggie Heaven near the UT campus at Austin. I was craving some standard vegan Chinese food. Everyone on foursquare recommended the Protein 2000. I also decided to order a soy Thai iced tea last minute. Both were SO amazing and I am now addicted to Thai iced tea! I bought some of this brand at home, but I had just been drinking it black. Now I know exactly what to do with it!Here is the Protein 2000. It was super delicious and only $6.50 I believe! my entire meal was less than $10, not bad for how yummy it was!
I had to feed my aforementioned Thai Iced Tea addiction, so I went to a place called Thai Fresh to get another one. This one was also delicious and I really liked Thai Fresh in general. It’s a cafe and a restaurant on different sides. You order at the counter and they have the most friggin’ amazing selection of all vegan and gluten-free ice cream EVER and 95% of there bazillion baked goods on the counter were also vegan. The ice cream flavors were awesome, stuff like Thai basil flavor, etc. We’ll get to my favorite flavor below… I also got some food at Thai Fresh. This Massaman curry with rice was pretty awesome, except the potatoes weren’t cooked enough. So sad. I wasn’t feeling especially confrontational so I didn’t send it back, maybe I should have. Otherwise it was great, but the hard potatoes were a bummer.This is the money shot, my friends. Guess what it is!! It will blow your mind. Right here you have some warm coconut sticky rice, topped with vegan Thai Iced Tea flavored ice cream!!! WHAT. This shit ALONE will motivate me to buy an ice cream maker! It was fantastic.
I really loved Thai Fresh, the space, atmosphere and food, even with the potato incident! It is at the top of my list to revisit if I had had more time in Austin! Good thing I’ll be back in May!
I was going to skip Via 313, but then Jojo from Vegan in Brighton posted a picture of her vegan Detroit-style pizza from this food cart and I knew I had to go. So happy I did! I got the Herbivore with vegan cheese and extra arugula on top. They can substitute vegan cheese for any of the pizzas on the menu, I think they use Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. The crust is super thick, chewy and crispy and the toppings are put on in reverse order. It might have been the best pizza I’ve ever had. It’s also right next to a bar, so you can sit in the bar and have your pizza brought to you in the beer garden while you sip your beer!
Last on my short-list to visit was Mr Natural, a Mexican food restaurant that is all vegetarian. There are a couple locations in Austin, this one was on South Lamar, I believe. I got this salad with ranch dressing for some veggies. I can’t remember if it came with my meal or not. Dressing was good! My friend Lisa and I also shared these chips and vegan queso with black beans at the bottom, this was my favorite. For my main course I got the Vegan Relleno, a poblano pepper stuffed with piccadillo de soya and topped with Daiya cheese, pecaris, raisins and salsa ranchera. It was tasty, but I felt like the flavor wasn’t totally balanced. The Daiya was spread throughout everything and the taste and texture of it sort of got loss. For me personally I would have prefered less sauce so I could taste the other ingredients more, but it was yummy.
Everything on the menu looked great, so next time I’d try something else! I would for sure go back though! They also had tons of vegan desserts, including vegan tres leche cake. My favorite vegan Mexican food is still Los Gorditos in Portland though, I have to say. That place blows my mind.
I had also read a lot of good things about Bouldin Creek Cafe in south Austin, so decided to check it out. I got this coconut lime soda that someone mentioned was good on foursquare. It was a bit too sweet for me and not bubbly enough, but not bad overall. For brunch I got the Tamale Breakfast because they were out of the Renedict. I got some tofu scramble, two sweet potato pecan tamales, warm tortillas (whole wheat, flour or corn) and salsa. The tofu scramble was effing amazing. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tamales though, they tasted a bit too nutmeg-y Thanksgiving spiced for me, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had a tamale before, so maybe I don’t like tamales in general? Is that possible?!?
Biscuits and gravy are a thing I’ve seen all over the south and the pacific northwest that seem to have not made it over to the east yet, but damn, I am officially a fan. The next morning, it was off to meet a friend. I got these from a food cart called Biscuits and Groovy. All of their items can be made with vegan versions, so I got the Gloria Gaynor, which was three freshly baked buttermilk biscuits smothered in white pepper gravy topped with tofu scramble, vegan sausage, jalapenos, crumbled vegan bacon, vegan cheese and chives. My goodness…what a breakfast!
My friend and I went to official brunch at Counter Culture and it was freaking awesome. The are all vegan and White Rabbit Grocery was having a vegan pop-up market there that day. We got all specials for brunch, in the back is some peanut butter chocolate Texas-style (re: HUGE) and an English muffin topped with tomato spinach, seasoned tofu and smothered in hollandaise. Served with a side of seitan sausage. DE-LICIOUS. This was one of my top meals in Austin, I’d happily go back to Counter Culture!
Houndstooth Coffee is supposed to have the best coffee in Austin. It was definitely the best coffee I’d had in awhile! I asked about vegan things and it turned out they had vegan donuts as well. Pictured is my soy cortado and my vegan chocolate glazed donut, both delicious. Make sure if you have a car you go to the location on Lamar (there are two), as it’s impossible to park at the one downtown.After coffee we headed to the house of a friend of a friend and she treated us to this tea that she picked herself, apparently the leaves only grow in Texas?! It’s called Yaupon Holly and it was tasty! See if you can track some down when you’re there or get good at your plant identifyin’!We also took a talk that day and discovered this random giant plaster teddy bear head hanging from someone’s porch. I’d like to hear the back story on that one.
Back to coffee, if you’re looking for somewhere to get work done, Dominican Joe Coffee Shop at the corner of South Congress and Riverside was huge, had tons of tables, some board games and vegan baked goods as an option. They also had parking right outside in a lot!
Austin is also home to an all-vegan ice cream parlor called Sweet Ritual. I got the Peanut Butter Cup sundae with salted caramel ice cream. It had peanut butter shell, chocolate chips and loads of peanuts. SO good. I want to go back and eat everything. It’s also in the same room as a healthy smoothie and salads place, so you can cleanse right after if you want. 😉
Of course we also had to check out Capital City Bakery, an all-vegan bakery in Austin. I got this peanut butter cheesecake. It was super tasty, but I like my vegan cheesecake a bit more tangy-lemony and less sweet. Still good though! I also got this yummy vegan brownie. My favorite vegan brownie is still my recipe, but this was tasty! They also had tons of cupcakes, cakes and even some savory baked goods!
Violet Crown Social Club – nice bar right next to Via 313, so you can order your Detroit-style pizza and drink at the same time…win! They had lots of nice craft beers. My favorite beer through this trip was Firemen’s 4. Nice big outdoor area with tables if it’s nice out!
Sputnik – Down the road from Violet Crown Social Club, happy hour drink specials, good craft beer, fries and your standard pub food (not much vegan except fries). They were the ones that told me to try my new fav Firemen’s 4. Kinda dive bar-y with wooden panels and wooden booths.
Black Sheep Lodge – awesome cheap drink specials most days, craft beer, specials for drinking local beers and they had darts and shuffle board. Also a beer garden patio area outside and lots of benches inside. Parking around the corner in a lot at the back.
Whip In Convenience Store & Pub – We didn’t make it here ourselves, but it was recommended by a friend. It’s a convenience store with local and organic stuff that’s also a liquor store and an Indian restaurant and bar. They apparently have 60 beers on tap. I’m super regretting not going now!
BookPeople is pretty rad, independently-owned bookstore with a cafe in the back. Lots of book suggestions throughout the store, which I like and they have events.
Texas Thrift – Huge thrift store. They even had a Halloween section! Address is 5319 N I- 35 Service Rd.
And there you have it! See you again Austin in May for Vida Vegan Con III (who else?!)! Next stop…New Orleans, Louisiana!