First time at SXSW? Check out Mad Betty’s post How to Get Through SXSW
Interested in trailers in South Austin? The South Austin Foodie has a brand new guide
First time at SXSW? Check out Mad Betty’s post How to Get Through SXSW
Interested in trailers in South Austin? The South Austin Foodie has a brand new guide
I’ve long been a fan of the Eastside King, I mean anyone who has brussels sprouts in a Vietnamese stir-fry and beet fries is going to rank pretty high on my list. It’s been fun to watch the expansion as new trailers and a couple brick and mortars opened up around town as the word spread and Paul Qui became super famous. I love that a place that’s so trendy and popular has awesome vegan dishes because the number one reason people give up on veganism is that it’s inconvenient when eating out. So thank you Eastside King! Tonight the crew from Vida Vegan are going to have a meet-up at the original Liberty Location from 5-7. And if you aren’t feeling that trailer, there are tons of others nearby like Via 313.
I got to check out the new South Lamar Eastside King location a couple weeks ago and I was pretty stoked that they had the same offerings from the liberty location that I already love.
They also added tacos to the menu at the new location! I guess they had to since it’s smack dab in South Austin. The Mochi taco is “mochi in a steamed moo shu wrap topped with bico, , yuzu kosho salsa, avocado, basil, cilantro, mint and it’s delicious.
I was worried when I bit into it that they forgot and added cheese but we decided it was the mochi. I was with my friend and most amazing cookbook author Isa and I kicked her (not at all discreetly) when Paul Qui walked by so they could say hi. I’m the worst! It was fun though. The new location also has a giant Tanuki.
I was very happy with the experience overall (except parking can kind of be a bitch we parked at Chipotle which is probably a bad idea) they were super friendly about the vegan thing and everything was delicious.
So hopefully I’ll see some of y’all tonight! I wonder if we will get another snowday tomorrow!
UPDATE 2-10-2014 Austin Java Tarrytown suddenly shut it’s doors forever over the weekend. The word is that the veg options are going to move to the Barton Springs locations.
Almost exactly a year ago a new all vegetarian Austin Java opened up in Tarrytown. We went and, like the other Austin Javas I’ve been to, the food was pretty disappointing. There was a lot of confusion about what was vegan and what wasn’t and it seemed like no one really had any idea about how to make delicious vegan food. Folks from the neighborhood were really disappointed and the reviews were kind of depressing since everyone was blaming the bad food on the fact that it was vegetarian. I still held out hope that things would change and sure enough a new manager was brought in, Maddy, who seems to be doing everything right. First she consulted with local vegans, the ladies behind our local tempeh company the Hearty Vegans, to help her out. And help they did! The menu is definitely pared down and, if I’ve learned anything from watching Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that that is a good thing! There is a lot more focus on making things in house from whole foods rather than store bought substitutions. A group of us were invited to try out the new menu on the house and if they can recreate our meal for their paying customers I think that it is going to be very successful with both vegans and omnivores. In fact, Maddy said since developing the menu she learned to love vegan food so much that she’s now eating that way most of the time!
We started with some agave & lime marinated cucumber tapas that were topped with avocado and pico de gallo. This is something I would never normally order but I really enjoyed it. The marinade took the edge of the cucumber and I could see this being a great app in the summer when it’s 5,000 degrees. I enjoyed them with a glass of delicious chardonnay, I never would have thought of Austin Java as a place for wine and I’m glad I tried it since they often have happy hour specials.
Next we were brought a couple of samples of pasta. The pasta primevera is something that I get from time to time at the Austin Java on 12th because it’s one of the few vegan meals they have and I am always super disappointed with the mushy noodles, oily overcooked vegetables, and bitter taste. The pomodoro at the Tarrytown location was totally the opposite of that. I think the other locations would be blown away by the difference that an al dente noodle, a well cooked vegetables, and a light sauce makes. Also viva la vegan parmesan a fresh basil.
We also tried the jalapeno mac & cheese which has avocado and pureed peanuts as it’s base. I loved this dish, in fact, I’ve been trying to make my own version of avocado mac over the years and it never worked out nearly this well. Not everyone at the table was sold on the peanut butter but I didn’t really notice it, I thought it was delicious and creamy and I’d order it the next time I go back for lunch. I loved the basil and the corn. I’ll be curious to see what other people think.
Next we were brought some sandwiches. The curried tempeh wrap was my favorite. It was kind of sweet with pecans and maybe even dried fruit but on a thick salty pita. I thought it worked really well, and again, I hope this sandwich comes to 12th street because I could easily eat it a few times a week.
We also sampled the southwest veggie burgers that are made in house and also gluten free. We tried them on a GF bun that’s made locally by Misty Morning Bakery which I think is popular with the GF-vegan community. The burger stayed true to it’s veggie roots and wasn’t trying to be a meat replacement so I think it will be popular with the non-vegans too.
I think next came the black bean chili which was very similar to a chili I used to sell on the lot a million years ago. It was a little sweet and had pops of corn. I really liked it, a nice wholesome dish. They should enter the Lonestar Veggie Chili Cook-off next year.
Next came the tempeh “street taco”. Since we were just getting samples ours were on fried tortillas and I should have asked if that’s how they will always be. I liked it, it reminded me of homemade nachos. The tempeh ground beef was delicious and I think we all really enjoyed the filling. In fact, I do believe it was Nanette’s favorite dish.
Finally we were brought pancakes and I didn’t even take a picture since I was so full at this point that I could barely manage and also you all probably know what a pancake looks like. These were damn near perfect. The batter was agave and banana sweetened and topped with a cinnamon butter and maple syrup. We all loved them. Molly said they were the best in town and I already want to get them again.
She sent us home with cupcakes and cookies and, honestly, we thought the chocolate chip cookie was one of the best in town. I’d put it right up there with Celeste’s Best & The Big John from Whole Foods.
I’m so happy with the new menu and so glad that Maddy reached out the Hearty Vegan and that they were so helpful. It’s nice to have well prepared tempeh on a menu because tempeh is really unique and delicious and you can’t get it many places in town. They even have a tempeh scramble that you can sub in the migas. Nearly everything on the menu can be veganized and there were a lot of GF options. They haven’t printed out new versions of the menu yet so be sure to ask for vegan things when you go (like the pancake). And of course, let them know what you think. I think really one of the best things for veganism is to have great vegan food all over the place and I’m happy to add Austin Java Tarrytown to the list and I hope it all goes really well for them.
This contest has closed, due to unforeseen circumstances Austin Java won’t be able to honor the winner for a while.
TO WIN A FREE MEAL Generously, they have offered a free meal to two lucky readers! If you would like to win please comment below. Let me know what you are most excited about trying on the new menu. Make sure you comment with an email that you check so I can notify you if you are the winner.
Mr. Natural contacted me the other day to help get the word out about their new menu items. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Natural and I love Mexican Breakfast so I was happy to help, especially when they said they would throw in two free brunches for y’all! The menu for this Sunday at the Caesar Chavez location is all vegan and it looks super friendly for gluten free folks as well. I already love their tofu migas but they will also have tofu scramble, rice with their fantastic refried beans, a variety of salads and, oh yeah, vegan fried chicken and waffles!
They’ll also have a tamale casserole, toasted cauliflower curried quinoa with tofu , tofu and veggie quiche, spinach and daiya cheese filled puffs, and traditional biscuits and gravy!
You can finish it off with desserts like gluten free cheesecake bites,
marble chocolate bread, kombucha mimosas or even a vegan bloody mary.
They have also added a lot of American style food to the regular menu like cheeseburgers, deluxe hot dogs, and chili cheese fries.
Since it is a vegetarian place make sure that you specify vegan when ordering off the regular menu and they will take care of you. Since this weekend is their first vegan brunch buffet they’d also love your feedback, if you feel weird about it, you can let me know on this post what you liked and I’ll get back with them.
TO WIN A FREE BRUNCH just comment below, you can tell me what your favorite thing is to eat for brunch, or what you are most excited about at Mr. Natural. Make sure you leave your name and a real email in the form so I can let you know if you won!
The giveaway is now closed (Congrats Lorena & Cady!) but stay tuned, there will be another one soon!
I’ve been looking at this picture while listening to Explosions in the Sky and it seems rather apropos. Austin really makes magic happen sometimes.
Since the new Wheatsville south opened I’ve been going there, on average, once a day because not only do I love Wheatsville, but also it’s right on my path to just about anywhere in town. It is just damn convenient to pick up either groceries for dinner or bagels for breakfast or whatever else my heart desires.
And what my heart often desires is ice cream. I’ve gone through phases with almost every vegan brand but they almost always have the same standard flavors more or less: chocolate, mint, vanilla, whatever. As an ice cream lover it can get pretty boring. Meanwhile I follow Sweet Ritual on instagram and see their unique and ever changing flavors and then I think about driving all the way up to Hyde Park. I thought I was having a constant battle between my laziness, lack of superfluous income, and knowledge that ice cream is probably not something my body really needs at it’s current state.
And now I realize that, really, laziness was the only thing getting in the way of Sweet Ritual and me. As soon as I saw they started carrying the new pints at Wheatsville south yesterday I headed there as soon as I left my office. It’s true that I was especially excited to try the new flavor “Sweetsville Malt Cookie Dough” made with a new flavor of Celeste’s Best but when I saw the other flavors I had a hard time deciding (toasted coconut! ). I had to try the special flavor. I could hardly wait to get home and unite the container with my friend the spoon. The whole household was in love (well we didn’t let crazy Willow try it, she does not need sugar) but everyone else expressed happiness in their own unique ways, me closing my eyes, Dan going to the store to get more ice cream, Dinger grunting in appreciation for his bite for ten minutes.
It’s good stuff.
It will be available at the Guadalupe Wheatsville soon and you can also get pints at the Flag Store by Sweet Ritual and the Juiceland in Oak Hill.
Lately there has been a lot of chatter about the Whole Foods on 6th and Lamar as they have been going through renovations and lots of changes. Grain/Beans/Greens has been replaced by a much easier to understand “Eat Well” stand. The taco stand has been moved to where GBG used to be and you now have to go through a very complicated ordering process involving touch screens. Coffee has moved to where the juice stand used to be and the drip coffee is right in front of it. There is no longer coconut creamer on the drip bar but you can ask for it at the coffee bar. The baked goods case that’s usually filled with vegan doughnuts, big john cookies, and bagels has moved over by the drip bar too. An expanded juice bar is in the old taco spot. For some reason, they also chose to put a restaurant in the middle of all of this. I’m not sure why they restructured this whole area. Maybe people were moving too fast and efficiently? It used to take me 10 minutes to pop in for coffee and tacos and now it can turn into a half hour affair. It’s hard to say if these changes will all stick around but damn if Whole Foods doesn’t seem busier than ever.
As readers may recall a while back I was stunned upon finding out that their potatoes for breakfast tacos weren’t necessarily vegan. It turned out to be a shared deep fryer situation which vegans can go either way on (I personally don’t care I just didn’t want my potatoes cooked in bacon grease which is what I was led to believe from a conversation with an employee). I know for some vegans shared fryers are pretty gross and then others don’t consume oil at all and for you all I have exciting news thanks to a tip from Mark. Now, when you order the potatoes, you can order them without being cooked in oil at all as part of their “Health Starts Here” campaign. The other good news, for those that, despite everything, still go to Whole Foods for tacos, is that you can now get the breakfast taco menu all day.
Another question everyone seems to have is about the doughnuts. In the past all doughnuts were labeled vegan. But, during the renovations, the doughnuts seemed to change and now are not always labeled vegan.
I spoke with a couple of people at Whole Foods who seemed certain that all the doughnuts are still, in fact, vegan and that it’s a problem with the labeling. Right in front of the bakery case there is a little book that contains all ingredients in all of the food and no dairy products are listed in any doughnut, but then not every doughnut is listed.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on all of my favorite soups in Austin and was dismayed by a comment from Kim that said
“I hate to do this to you, but Ramen Tatsu-Ya is only VEGAN if you order it WITHOUT the tofu and the brussels sprouts. I found out that they cook the tofu in the same stove that they cook the meat and the brussels sprouts are cooked with animal grease or something. It’s totally fucked up. I only found out, because one of the cashiers told me! This was after eating it like 3 times and she was the only person who mentioned that it’s only vegan without those two items.”
I was super annoyed with this information because Ramen Tatsu-ya had specifically promoted their special as vegan and I contacted them on twitter. The reply a few days later was a little unclear, but it did seem that, they themselves, do not believe their special ramen is vegan.
So it looks like Ramen Tatsu-ya can at least still be a lunchtime destination and there are a number of other places doing vegan Ramen. Additionally, Counter Culture has pho on special all this week which I guarantee is vegan.
I also guarantee everything from this lady at the new Capital City Bakery storefront is vegan.
And now Cap City is also carrying Ham & Cheese and Sausage Kolaches on special which are so good I couldn’t even take a pic before I wolfed them down.
So now I’m adding investigative blogging to my Linked In skills.
Is it just me or is this the coldest winter we have ever had? The beagles and I are suffering through it with lots of blankets, heating pads, tv, warm sweaters, and hot soup. I can’t even blog because it’s so cold in my office. I picked the wrong year to not go on a tropical vacation. I wish I could hibernate.
I have been seeing lots of soup specials around town. Counter Culture and Unity Vegan Kitchen seem to be doing weekly or daily specials so you can go in and get soup and a sandwich. Of course Casa de Luz always has daily soup specials too. The Juicebox in South Austin always has vegan soup too, I love their green goddess and if you get a green smoothie to go with it you can will St. Patrick’s Day to get here already.
The Steeping Room is another good spot to go to in the winter so you can also have hot tea. They make a lot of their delicious soups from a coconut base. And you can get an adorable tea sandwich to go with it.
I love the Tom Kha at Little Thai food, which I’ve gone on about before, I’ve been trying to make my own Tom Kha at home but it’s not quite as good. Another soup I’ve been enjoying, way down south, is the Al Tofu Noodle soup from Tuk Tuk. Hao Hao has a hot & sour soup that’s similar but I don’t think it’s as good. If you live in the area both places deliver so that’s pretty huge. I also finally found a pho that I really like (it’s definitely not the one from whole foods) at PhoNatic they have a far south location and a far north location so for once central people are out of luck.
Then there are all the ramen spots, Daruma downtown, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Michi Ramen, and the Dojo all up north, I do believe Tatsu-ya still only does vegan ramen on Sundays still but the rest have it every day.
Mr. Natural has a really good tortilla soup that you can order off their menu, you could even add Daiya cheese if that’s how you roll. Down the street from there Wasota has Egusi Soup with Fu Fu and you can even call ahead and have it ready when you come by. That’s really all I can think of, I’m sure their are tons of other Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian soups out there, if you come across a special one please let us know in the comments.
In other news their are lots of parties on the horizon. BBQ Revolution and Red Rabbit Doughnuts are going to have a customer appreciation party this Friday the 13th at 7. Sweet Ritual is celebrating their 2nd birthday this Sunday the 15th with $1.50 cones all day! They also have a bunch of fun holiday themed ice creams you can take home. They are available all over town now. Counter Culture will also be throwing a holiday party with a white elephant gift exchange and cheese specials Tuesday Dec 17th. Just like at Thanksgiving, they will be doing holiday meals to go for Christmas in case you are going to a non-vegan event. Vegans Rock Austin is going to have a holiday potluck on 12/22. Capital City Bakery is moving into their building and they have a bunch of holiday specials and you can order pies, cookie dough, and other treats for Christmas.
Today is the last day to vote for your favorite vegan places in Austin so get to it! You can leave categories blank if you don’t have a strong preference or if your bitter that a favorite of yours got left off. You can even vote for just one category like ME for best blogger. I think this is the first year that there is serious competition in the “Best Sandwich” category thanks to newcomers Unity Vegan Kitchen‘s Muffaletta and the BBQ Sandwich from BBQ Revolution. Will they be enough to knock out the Popcorn tofu po’boy from Wheatsville? Only time will tell! I’m also interested to see who will win for best new place Baton Creole, BBQ Revolution, Habesha Restaurant and Bar, The Dojo, or Unity Vegan Kitchen? It’s been another banner year new places, that’s for sure. I’m still trying to get them all in before I do my best of 2013 at the end of the year.
I wish there was a category for best Chaco Taco cause I know who I would vote for in that category. And why isn’t their a best cleanse? Taco Cleanse VS Juice Cleanse!
Also I want to say thanks to everyone that came out for the Austin Bakes for Austin bakesale! We raised almost 5,000 dollars for people affected by the floods!
Our bake sales for Natural Disaster relief started with Austin Bakes for Japan where we couldn’t believe it when we raised $11,540. Next, after the wildfires in Bastrop we got together and raised $12,500. Then after the plant explosion in West Texas, and incredibly, we raised $18,251.92. The team behind the bake sales is really amazing at organizing and having simultaneous events all over town and having sponsors do donation matching and really just having an entire community come out to support humanitarian aid. It’s really sad that this time it’s for people in our own backyard who have been devastated by the October floods. I know I’ll never forget that picture of the horses being led through the water or the raging waters at Barton Springs. Overnight I got 12 inches in my backyard and all of the creeks around me were sweeping over the roads. Over four hundred of my neighbors lost their houses completely.
Is it weird that now whenever there is a disaster I start planning on what I can bake? Maybe it is, but I hope that you think this way too because we need lots of vegan bakers to participate. Actually, we always need vegans, sugar free people, gluten free, and nut free people to bring in their best treats because it is terrible turning people away. Think of the children! Plus, the next time someone tells you it’s wrong that you only care about animals you can say, “actually I recently donated to this huge effort for humanitarian aid right here in town”. The team always picks excellent charities and all the money for our Austin sale will go to Austin Disaster Relief Network a super local organization. This time I’ll be heading up the table at Sugar Circus with my bake sale buddy Nelly but there will be locations all over town where you can drop off baked goods or buy and donate.
If you’d like to lend a hand, please sign up here!
We would also love your help spreading the word, here are some ways to help from the Austin Bakes site
Visit our fundraising page on FirstGiving to make a donation to Austin Disaster Relief Network.
If you are thinking about what to bake check out some of my other posts here and here remember to list your ingredients and wrap things up. Here are some more tips on the Austin Bakes site. People love savory things! For the worldwide vegan bakesale I made these pretzel dogs and they were the first thing to sell out. And remember to come out and support the sale & tell all your friends and co-workers.
For years I have had my office rally around the cause of adopting turkeys and the adoption certificates are now hanging up all over the place. It leads to a lot of interesting discussion. Most of the time people crack a joke about how the turkeys deserve to be eaten or something but, as time has gone on, I’ve learned to always say “well these turkeys were abused” and it changes the conversation. When people first hear about food animals being saved they picture a healthy robust animal on it’s way to get processed for the super market getting stolen off the assembly line by some rouge vegans who want to rob people of their holiday bird.
I think this is the story folks really want to believe. They choose the Utopian farmer story so they don’t have to think about factory farms and monstrous slaughterhouses. When you tell them the reality of these turkey’s lives, well people don’t joke about it again after that. Maybe these turkeys were abused or fell off the truck. Maybe it was too sick to be taken into the slaughterhouse so it was abandoned in a dumpster outside to die slowly. I usually mention how all turkeys are confined to tiny spaces and their beaks are cut off. It really makes people think and sometimes they throw in a couple dollars to our adopt a turkey fund or at least they think it’s a pretty great thing to do. It can be tough to have these conversations though. It took me a long time to be able to realize that arguing the “meat is murder” point will never get you anywhere but nobody wants to see animals tortured and abused. It’s a much easier starting point.
I do love telling people, after that, about how Farm Sanctuary has a Thanksgiving party *for* the turkeys. Once people feel bad for a turkey’s tough life they love hearing about little kids feeding turkeys sweet potatoes and apples to celebrate the holiday. It’s a great program.
I encourage you to adopt a turkey too, and to tell all of your friends about it. It’s a great way to honor the holiday in my experience. If you live in Austin Capital City bakery is going to be having our own little party for the turkeys. Kristen is cooking up tons of stuff, both sweet and savory and she is going to be sampling all of her Thanksgiving pies. 10% of all sales are going to Farm Sanctuary and if you pledge TODAY to sponsor a turkey you will get a totally free 4″ turkey cake. You have to order today though at email@example.com or 512.666.7437.
You also have to get your orders in today for Thanksgiving pies from Capital City Bakery and also Thanksgiving Dinners from Happy Vegan Bakery or Counter Culture. Check out the Thanksgiving roundup for more info.