Tag Archives: Taco

Austin Vegan Taco Guide

During month of the taco cleanse I got to add quite a few tacos to my list so I thought it was time for a guide. I’m sure there are many, many more so please let me know about any important tacos in Austin I’m missing, some are intentional and some are not! Most of the places could fit in multiple categories but I stuck them where I think their tacos shine the most.

Breakfast Tacos


Bouldin Creek- This amazing vegetarian coffee shop in South Austin has a very unique tofu scramble that they use in their tacos. They also have homemade chorizo and a handful of other toppings. I like the tofu ren with tofu scramble sautéed with jalapenos, garlic and onion. They also have dayia cheese, and taco specials at night. They are open from 7am until midnight and the breakfast menu is available all day.

Mr. Natural- Delicious homemade corn tortillas, tofu, homemade chorizo, vegan cheese, beans, potatoes, and avocado all available. The only thing is to remember to say no lettuce, tomato, or sprouts because, in my opinion, those items should never be on a breakfast taco. If you are dining in I love making tacos out of the vegan migas. And the Mexican Pancake which isn’t a pancake or a taco but is delicious.

The Vegan Nom- More breakfast taco options than anywhere else at this all vegan taco stand (about to open a second location). Make whatever combo your heart desires or go for the set options like tempeh bacon and tofu scramble. I love their dinner tacos too like the del ray and if they are running the brisket special get there early because that deliciousness is going to sell out.

Whole Foods Lamar- I had a TOTAL panic a few weeks ago that the potatoes weren’t vegan but it is just a shared fryer scenario so Whole Foods is off my shit list. I love their spelt margaritas tortillas, the refried beans, and the vegan chorizo. Their pico is always perfect but they have a range of salsas. The also have kale, tofu scramble, a vegetable medley, black beans, daiya cheese and lots of other toppings. The word is that only Lamar has good tacos and the line is always long so beware.

Veracruz All Natural- Amazing homemade tortillas, fabulous salsa with chunks of avocado along with hot sauces all make Veracruz a fantastic choice. I get potato and bean. They are also known for their interesting smoothies and have tacos all day.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse- My favorite Austin style breakfast tacos. It’s the only place I know where a vegan can get chunks of deep fried tofu, shoestring potatoes, and guacamole with an almond milk latte and call it breakfast, delicious fantastic breakfast. They have tacos all day too.

Maria’s TacoXpress – I love this place for hippie church on Sunday. They have refried beans and potatoes that are vegan and if you add all the salsas, cilantro, guacamole, and onions it will be pretty awesome.

Wheatsville Co-op- organic white flour, wheat flour, or corn. Ingredient choices are: potatoes, vegan sausage, cheese, rice, and black beans plus either Casera, Pico de Gallo, or the featured salsa. I am hoping that they change tortillas and add a tofu scramble because what they’ve got is pretty lackluster but they do have great coffee so it evens out.

Pueblo Viejo- This trailer opens for breakfast at 7:30 and stays open until 3 am sometimes on the weekend. The refried beans are vegan and the salsa is spicy. They also have a veggie taco and really good guacamole.

Tamale House East- Potatoes, beans, guacamole and food for lover’s queso can all be yours at this restaurant. Enjoy mimosas on their patio and homemade chalupas and gorditas too.

El Flaco Cafe- This hopping little cafe on South Congress has vegetarian chorizo and a few vegetable options but they seem really weirded out by the whole vegan thing so make sure you say no eggs no cheese a few times, they do offer egg beaters and I think that’s where the confusion comes but it’s a pretty good greasy taco if that’s what you desire.

Mellizoz Tacos- This trailer just south of Elizabeth Street on South First has fantastic breakfast tacos. They do have portabella taco and can add spinach which is always a nice option. If you have friends that want to go to Torchy’s take them here instead and they’ll be so impressed.

Lunch and Dinner Tacos

Taco Deli- Since the potatoes at Taco Deli aren’t vegan I can’t really consider taco deli a good place for breakfast but I adore them for lunch. The Freakin’ Vegan which is just beans and avocado is wonderful because the have perfect beans, great tortillas, and a doña sauce that’ll kill you. Sadly for us all locations close at three and they are always packed.

Vivo- Beloved for it’s beautiful patio and delightful cocktail menu this restaurant on Manor is a great place to enjoy some puffy tacos for Happy Hour.

Guero’s Taco Bar- This restaurant on south Congress radiates south Austin charm and they do have a large vegan section on their menu that includes vegan al pastor tacos and food for lover’s queso. Sadly, the execution is off and I mostly go here if I am in the area late or want margaritas. I do like the chalupas and the taco salad better than the tacos but they do offer the full range of toppings so I thought I should mention them!

El Chile Cafe y Cantina - Vegetable and Guacamole packed Puffy Tacos and Mexican Margaritas make a perfect combo to relax for dinner on South First. I love the chilango margarita too.

Sweet Ritual- I don’t know if the chaco taco will stay on the menu at Sweet Ritual forever but if it’s there, you should get it. Ice creams like salted caramel in a homemade waffle cone covered in magic shell and toasted coconut is pretty much what I live for. I want to go there right now.

Beets- If you are into raw food check out Beets on West 6th street for their raw tacos. “three crispy corn taco shells filled with a veggie ground meat, topped with shredded lettuce, salsa and drizzled with cashew nacho cheeze (served with with “sunflower beanz” and a choice of side salad” are pretty good if you like your food kept below 118 degrees.

Papalote- This tiny authentic Mexican restaurant on South Lamar has a ton of vegetable options (cactus, zucchini, poblanos peppers, potato, onion, mushrooms, green beans, jalapeños, avocado tomato, tomatillos and chips) for their breakfast tacos but I really love the tlacoyos which is why I think of it as a midday place. The homemade tortillas and hot sauces are so tasty.

Takoba- This trendy restaurant on east 7th is nice to hit up with the nonvegans in your life because they have good cocktails. The vegetarian taco plate has zucchini, caramelized sweet potatoes, roasted corn, green chiles, queso fresco, chipotle mayonnaise, guacamole so see if you can leave off the mayo and add beans or nopales. Everything is marked with a V which is nice.

Curra’s - Really the reason to go to Curra’s is the avocado margaritas but the tacos are good enough, I do like the tamales better. The rice isn’t vegan but they will let you double bean on the taco plate which will be enough to fill up the vegan truck driver in your life, especially if you stuff yourself on chips and salsa too.

4th Meal (aka late night tacos)

Chi’lantro - Even though you can get Chi’lantro tacos for lunch and dinner I always think of them as a post-bar place. They have multiple trucks downtown on the weekend and the service is fast and the tacos are cheap. I love the fried tofu and the sweet sauce. It always hits the spot.

Taco Cabana - Seriously? Seriously, the black beans are vegan and they make them there and the corn tortillas too. They are open 24  hours and they even have margaritas. You can’t say that about Taco Bell.

Kerbey Lane- Their standard vegan black bean tacos are not very exciting but they are gigantic so if it’s 3am and you need to eat a lot of food and drink coffee it may be your best option since they are 24 hours.

The Buzz Mill- This hip coffee house on East Riverside is open 24 hours and they have pre-made vegan nom tacos until they run out.

The Vegan Nom – a new taco trailer for North Loop

The other day I went a book signing party for Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious at Icenhauer’s. I got into a conversation, about food of course, with a student from the Natural Epicurean who asked me what my favorite genre of food is. I couldn’t think of anything, we had just sampled some colorful and spicy Vietnamese food and that was very much on my mind. Michael had talked (briefly!) about mudardara and I was thinking about how I hadn’t had Lebanese food in forever. I panicked. I’m a spaz sometimes IRL.

I said “I like everything”.

It is a total lie, I definitely have a favorite food and without a doubt to anyone that has met me, read my blog, followed me on twitter, come to my house, seen me in the morning, or gone on a trip with me then you know I certainly have a favorite genre of food and that culinary tradition is the mighty taco. 

There is are quite a few places in town to get a fabulous breakfast taco (which I wrote about here) but now we have a new cart on North Loop, the Vegan Nom, dedicated solely to bringing us the wide range of vegan tacos!

I finally got to try it last week, and I was pretty excited just to read the menu, they have 2 dollar breakfast tacos and 4 dollar signature tacos. Breakfast is served all day so that’s one star for me right there. The breakfast tacos are all the vegan combinations you would expect including, tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, vegan chorizo, refried black beans, caramelized onions, mushrooms, spinach, potatoes, and avocado. You can also add on from a long list of extra topping for an extra .50 cents. With the recent closure of Elsi’s I was saddened, but not surprised, to see the Vegan Nom doesn’t carry fried plantain. What can I say, it’s my favorite topping and it goes so well on a breakfast taco mixed with guacamole! Where am I going to get fried plantains on breakfast tacos now? The “signature” tacos include mostly these same toppings with the addition of vegan cheese and more toppings.

I was pretty happy with my choices. The tofu scramble and tempeh bacon was the perfect protein packed breakfast and the flavors were right on. I asked the person at the counter for a tortilla recommendation, and she told me to go with the corn. It was pretty good but I don’t think they are homemade. Hopefully in the future when they get the kinks worked out they will start making their own because a fresh tortilla makes all the difference. I also tried the refried black bean and vegan chorizo taco and was so surprised by the spicy-ness. 

I love a spicy taco so for me it worked out great but if you fear spicy things I recommend sticking with the red sauce. Also note, that there aren’t any tables yet and the parking lot isn’t the best spot to enjoy your food right now with all the folks that like to hang out outside the convenience store and ask for change. But you can order your taco ahead of time by calling and they will have it ready to go when you get there.

And go there you should! I am sure it is just going to get better and better and for a trailer that just opened, they are clearly on the right track. Once the tables come they are going to be staying open for dinner too. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu.

*******EDITED 8/30 2012

I wanted to note that they have totally fixed the outdoor seating situation, now they have some umbrella tables right next to the trailer and they have completely fixed up the back tables and it’s very inviting and super cute.

Portland: The Flavor Sport

Someone told me this morning that they have never been to Portland but had heard it was like Austin 20 years ago. I said it is more like what I hope Austin will be… like….in 20 years! First of all the mass transit is fantastic if you can walk and you don’t have to worry about crazy people trying to murder you with their cars. It is also just so much easier to be vegan. It is super easy to be vegan in Austin, don’t get me wrong, but in Portland you go to place and say, yeah I’d like that vegan and there are no questions or eye rolls. People just say “would you prefer soy or rice milk?” I had so much food and such a great time that I am going to do multiple posts, which is something I rarely do on travel but it has to happen. A lot was crammed into those 5 days.

Perhaps my most exciting cramming was done as a recommendation from my friend Panda Cookie (who btw makes the cutest monsters and crafty things you have ever seen) who told me to check out the Flavor Spot where I could get waffle wraps. Even though I have a cast on my leg I decided to go for it, be brave and take the bus to the spot.

It was closed.

I should know better with trailers to always call ahead.

It became my number one quest of Vida Vegan con to get to that trailer when it was open, and get there I did. First, I feel like I should mention that the flavor spot only has one vegan option out of like 10 options all together and it didn’t phase me one bit because I knew, immediately, that even if I lived next door to this magnificent trailer I would never get anything else ever again.

I wonder what Dutch people or Mexican people would think of what they call a dutch taco? I can’t imagine an American that would think anything besides YES !!! Breakfast sausage and a non drippy maple spread ensconced in a waffle wrapping would have made me purr if I was a kitten. The portion was generous and though I immediately wanted to eat ten more in about five minutes I never wanted to eat again. That was it. Done eating forever. Waffle taco. Please open one in Austin.

The only thing I will do different next time (besides call ahead and check the hours!) is bring my own coffee because theirs was sub-par and they didn’t have any vegan creamer. But really, if you ever wanted to find something that you could share with the Homer Simpson in your life and still be vegan this is probably the place to go. Well, actually now I can name several, stay tuned!

 

How to Make a Vegan Breakfast Taco

If you have ever read this blog or had a conversation with me about food you have probably heard me ramble on about my love of breakfast tacos. In fact, one of my friends that came to visit started a count for every time my partner and I said the word “taco”. People are sick of hearing about it but I’m not going to stop until every city in the world has access to fresh vegan breakfast tacos. It is my mission in life!

Someone from California asked me the other day what makes a taco a breakfast taco. I couldn’t really answer her because all I could think of was how sad it was that she didn’t know. I think they eat breakfast burritos out there which BTW is totally different. Then I didn’t even get her a taco so I feel a lot of guilt about that. Usually I force my friends from out of town to eat nothing but tacos and then they ask, “Can we have something that isn’t Mexican” and I think about it and take them to a more Tex less Mex taco stand. The point is not that I am a terrible host, but that for some of you, the only way to enjoy breakfast tacos for now is to make them at home so here is, what I hope, will be a helpful guide.

Step 1. The Tortilla

I think this step can be all too easily overlooked but, for me, it is probably the most important difference between a taco from a gas station and a taco that you will long for. I have made tortillas in the past but I can get 50 fresh corn tortillas for like a dollar at the grocery store so I realized it wasn’t the best use of my time (my dogs need near constant love). If you aren’t so lucky to have fresh tortillas then you should try your hand it making them, it is really quite easy and totally worth it, check out Crystal’s tutorial. I found some that had anchos baked right into the tortilla at Central Market the other day and they really elevated my taco to a whole new level, I know in the pic it look like mold but it isn’t! I promise! In Viva Vegan Terry has a recipe that uses Chia seeds because basically you can add anything you want  to a tortilla. Just make sure the tortillas are warm when you make the taco, we usually wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven but you can also warm them up one at a time on the stove or stick them in a microwave. The steam has to keep them pliable, toasting is the opposite. 

Step 2. The Protein

In Austin the top protein options are either refried beans, whole black beans or vegan chorizo. All fine choices but, for me, tofu scramble is the best thing to stuff into a breakfast taco, it kind of whispers “breakfast” in your ear. Tofu scramble is actually the main way we use tofu at home. I like to keep it kind of simple for tacos with a little bit of nooch, seasonings, and not to heavy on the spices sort of like this one from Vegan Dad or the basic one from Vegan Brunch.

Vegan Brunch Tofu Scramble

Step 3: The Starch

At whole foods you can get a cilantro lime rice on your taco or if you want to add a little bit of health you could use brown rice and greens for Arroz Verde but what really makes a breakfast taco a breakfast taco is the potatoes, otherwise you really don’t know what the hell kind of taco you are eating. French fries, tater tots, and even mashed potatoes will all work. Usually I dice some potatoes, roll them around in some smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and stick them in an oven for 20 minutes or so flipping occasionally. But, over the weekend we were using Vegan Brunch for the cookbook challenge and I loved the diner style potatoes recipe with peppers & onions. 

Step 4: The Toppings

This is the part that you can really get carried away on. Roasted vegetables, vegan sausage, green onions, pico de gallo, tofutti sour cream, limes, verde salsa, hot sauce, grilled onions, toasted garlic, avocado, vegan cheese, nopalitos, chimmichurri, sprouts, greens, bacon bits, tomatoes, zucchini, guacamole, really whatever you have is an option. We recently had the seitan breakfast strips from American Vegan Kitchen

along with pickled red onions and both added a lot of flavor to our tacos. Keeping all this stuff around makes taco assembly super simple in the morning pre-coffee confusion. 

Step 5: Eat

So there you have it, a perfect meal.

Breakfast Tacos they're not just for breakfast anymore.

 

Do you guys make breakfast tacos?

TaKorea – Vegan Tacos, Hot Dogs, and Tostadas all with a Korean twist

Takorea closed down :( Check out Chi’lantro for your Korean Taco needs

TaKorea has been on my must try list for I don’t know how long. They just moved to the Longhorn Food Court, up the street from where I spend my weekdays in between downtown and UT, so on Thursday I braved the rain and went to try this Mexican Korean fusion trailer. Right now it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing spot but I think that is bound to change as the other trailers open in the coming weeks (including Dog Almighty!). I imagine they will add such luxuries as tables to eat at! For now it is a very bare bones concrete parking lot.

We met the owner Paul who was very nice and answered my one thousand questions about the menu graciously. He assured me that all the tofu items were completely vegan and free of egg or dairy. The vegan taco can either be healthy style in a cabbage wrap and topped with cucumbers or in a corn tortilla or on a fried tostada topped with a sweet chile sauce. I loved that they have multiple options here because sometimes I want something healthy and sometimes I want some deep fried goodness. At 2.50 each they seemed like a good deal but probably not a complete meal. Paul said the hot dogs were the most popular thing on the menu. He has smart dogs on a toasted sesame bun topped with tofu and Korean fixins for 4.50. I am not typically a big hot dog fan but it sounded so fabulous piled high with cabbage and chile sauce so I couldn’t resist.

I ordered one of each and we waited for the food.  When it came out my anticipation almost overwhelmed me because it looked fabulous. Both the hot dog and the tostada were piled high with topping. The tostada shell seemed freshly deep fried and the sesame bun was perfectly toasted which made me super happy. It makes such a difference to have a crusty vehicle for the toppings in both of these cases.

I ate the tostada first and I was completely blown away. It reminded me more of traditional street food than anything else I have I can remember eating in town, maybe because the deep fried action. The sweet chile sauce was amazing. I want to learn his secrets!After the tostada I had the hot dog but after the first couple bites we had to run off because it started pouring down rain. I felt like a true American running down the street while eating a hot dog. It was beautiful and had a lot of flavor but next time I think I would ask for the sweet sauce to be on it as well because I liked that one better than the spicy one. It was a wonderful filling meal and I got a beverage too and paid just 7 bucks. What a terrific addition to the neighborhood! They are open 11-8 Tuesday through Saturday.

Thai Taco

Sometimes I wish I could force people to make a recipe. This is one of those times. But then, who knows, everyone’s tastes are different and you might not even like this fabulous taco that I made the other day. I think you would, though,  if you are anything like me! I’ll never know unless you try it and tell me. I thought it was totally amazing. Unreal. I made sausage a couple days earlier and the beagles opened the refrigerator and got two of them out! Still, the remaining sausages with the fixins was enough for the both of us humans and we have pretty big appetites so if you make this for two, you will probably have extra sausages. I used lentils in the sausages because I thought they would go the best with Thai food and I am really glad I tried it, although cooking them was an extra step I think it was well worth it because the texture of these sausages was just perfect. One thing I would change in the future is to add some hot peppers to sausages to make them spicy. I had some dried chili peppers but they didn’t make enough of a difference, I think a tiny jalapeno would work well, just remember to put gloves on before you knead the dough! Also, I have been using this healthy boy mushroom soy sauce and it is really amazing and added a lot to the vegan fish sauce.

Thai Sausages
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1 cup broth
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup red onions, chopped fine
5 Thai lime leaves, chopped fine
1/4 cup cilantro, roots and stems work
2 Tablespoons lemongrass, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot peppers (i think fresh would work better)

Knead the ingredients together and roll up tootsie roll style and steam for 40 minutes. Follow these directions if you haven’t done it before. Chop the sausages into bite size pieces and fry them in peanut oil while you steam the tortillas.

Toppings

1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, sliced into thin strips
sprouts (mung bean or radish)
cilantro
Thai basil or mint
green onions
1 recipe vegan fish sauce
peanuts
lime

Enjoy!

In other news Spring has finally sprung here in Austin TX.

I spent the weekend getting organized for our move and doing some garage sale-ing.

I did not buy this troll

These people in South Austin take garage sailing to the next level.

Dinger found a place in the sunAnd we went to the dog parkIt was a good weekend.

The Polaco Taco

This recipe was an experiment that didn’t turn out perfect but I am going to try and develop a better Kielbasa. The texture was really great, lately I have been using lentils in the sausages and I think they work better than beans. I read about the Polaco taco right before super bowl Sunday and I became obsessed with the idea since I love non-traditional tacos.  I am not a big sauerkraut fan though so I thought I would go in a more traditional Polish route and make a surowka of shredded carrots, apples, and lemon. The salad was really delicious once I added some sugar but the fat sausage was a little overwhelming and had too much caraway, even though I used just a half a teaspoon. I will continue to work on it though so we can have polaco tacos in time for baseball season or basketball season or whatever else you Chicago sports fan are so into.

Sesame Tacos with Blood Orange Salsa

I am sure I have blogged at length about my love of blood oranges and now it is the season! Get some before they are all gone and you can make this delicious and beautiful salsa. To make enough for 4 tacos I used

2 blood oranges, chopped (chop them carefully and pour the extra juice in the bowl)

1/4 of an onion, chopped finely

1 serrano, chopped

2 Tablespoons of cilantro leaves and stems, chopped finely ( pour the extra juice in the bowl)

mix together and enjoy!

For the tacos I took the “Pork” cutlets I made for the Al Pastor tacos, chopped them, surrounded them in a mixture of black sesame seeds, cayenne,  salt and pepper and pressed them between pieces of parchment paper. I sauteed some onions and garlic and then added the seitan. It was great!

Vegan Al Pastor Tacos

Mexican Al Pastor is made kind of similarly to a Gyros, the meat is on a spit and sometimes there is a pineapple on top and bits of pork are shaved off as people order. Al Pastor literally means “in the style of shepherds” which is interesting when you think of these Mexican shepherds wandering around, pockets full of chili peppers, waiting to find a spot to start a fire, and picking cilantro and pineapple for the meal. Since they didn’t have vital wheat gluten they killed one of their flock and even today, with gluten being plentiful, they still would rather use pork.  Or at least, here in Texas they use pork. I guess that means Anthony Bourdain is happy.

This vegan version I came up with obviously wasn’t on a spit, although that would be a lot of fun! But it was still really yummy. Dan was eating leftover bits out of the pan and the dogs were staring at us grunting the whole time we were eating.  It was almost perfect but not quite, something was missing so I might come back to the recipe, especially since it may just need tweaking, more smoked paprika maybe and some adobo sauce would make them perfect. But really this meal was great. If you have only had American tacos your whole life (hard shell, ground “beef” with taco seasoning, lettuce, tomato, and “cheese”) I implore you to try some alternative tacos, this will be a real treat.

I started with my favorite recipe for boiled seitan which is from joanna vaught’s site. But I changed the spices from chicken to Pastor.


Al Pastor Seitan Cutlets

dry:
2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour or chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 T onion powder
1 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 T ancho chilies powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp fennel
1 chipotle, ground
1 Pasilla, ground

wet:

2 cups cold water
2 T grapeseed or light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

broth:
water
fake ham bouillon
ezpazote
bay leaf

First, bring the water to a boil and then get the temperature down to a mild simmer. Mix the dry ingredients together and then the wet ingredients together and then mix everything together in a bowl. It will be tough because the vital wheat glueten soaks up the liquid really fast. Knead it for a minute or two and then tear of a golf ball sized piece. Form a ball with your hands and then place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll it into a flat disc and then pull it off the paper. Stretch it out as much as you can and then put it in the water. Repeat until you have no more dough. Simmer the seitan for an hour making sure to not let it boil. I try and turn the pieces over throughout the cooking process to make sure they are simmered evenly.

For the Tacos Al Pastor
cilantro, minced
pineapple, chopped
corn tortillas
red onion, 25% minced 75% cut into half moons
2 yellow wax peppers (that is what I had any pepper, even bell peppers would work)
1 Serrano, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of Coca cola
4 Pastor-Style Seitan Cutlets, chopped
When the seitan is nearly done put a large skillet on hot and add cooking oil. Add the onion that was cut in half moons and cook a minute or two being careful not to burn. Add the peppers and the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Add the seitan, pressing the pieces against the bottom of the pan to crisp the outsides. When the seitan is starting to look crispy add the coke and deglaze the pan. Let it reduce for a minute or two and then serve immediately on warmed tortillas topped with cilantro, pineapple, and the minced onion. Enjoy!

UPDATE: the next day I realized what was missing before, what I had done wrong was that I served the pineapple raw. It is MUCH better if you cook the pineapple after the seitan is mostly done. So good.