2010 was a great year to be a vegan in Austin. We went from having one vegan restaurant a couple years ago to having at least 3 trailers and 4 restaurants not to mention new options all around town at non vegan restaurants and vegan cheese everywhere. Last year, for veganmofo, I made a top ten list for my favorite dishes to eat in Austin and almost my whole list has changed since then! So, in honor of the calendar rolling around to another year here is my favorites vegan dishes for this year.
1. Whatever is on special at Counter Culture
This all vegan trailer on North Loop is one of the most beloved spots in town for a reason. The regular menu is great but the specials like tempeh reubans, quesadillas made with cashew cheese, or meatloaf sandwiches that change every week are what keep us coming back day after day. My favorite is the holiday sandwich; Salisbury Seitan, Cranberry Sauce & Gravy all on a toasted loaf. Delicious.
It is hard to say which is my favorite, the spicy chickpea wrap is out of sight. The Bella has olives, daiya cheese, and Portobello mushrooms and I adore it even though I don’t even like daiya cheese. But, I almost always get the Chimichurri Seitan which has the most amazing sauce. All of the wraps are on an amazing toasted pita/tortilla and they are reasonably priced, even with a side of baked rosemary fries. You can try the cold sandwiches, salads, smoothies and specials, they are all great too, but for me, the hot wraps are one of my most favorite things to eat in town.
3. The Lemongrass Tofu Bowl at LuLu B’s
This little trailer on South Lamar isn’t known for their service. Sometimes you have to wait for an hour. Sometimes you try to call in your order for an hour before they pick up the phone. Sometimes they give you fish sauce even though you ordered the tofu and they have a delightful veggie sauce. Luckily the food is so good that none of this matters to me. Well I’m willing to put up with it anyway. I love the Bánh mì, the smoothies, and the spring rolls. But, the lemongrass tofu bowl is amazing. I don’t know how the make such fantasic tofu, it is pressed so thin and then marinated and grilled in a way that I have never replicated at home. The texture is lovely. Everything in the bowl is so fresh, the herbs and greens always taste like they were just picked and the sauce is really amazing, just make sure you say no fish!
4. Southern Comfort Food at Wheatsville Co-op
The number one thing that vegetarians recommend to people traveling to our fair city is the popcorn tofu at the Wheatsville Deli. It is battered with spices and nutritional yeast and deep fried and they always have a big pile that you can box up and take home or eat on the spot in a popcorn tofu po’boy.
the sandwich comes with all the regular toppings that you choose along with some cashew tamari dressing that you can also buy there, and then put it on everything. It makes white rice taste like a rainbow. All of their southern food on the hot bar is great. I love their vegan mac & cheese, spicy greens, and tempeh chili, the latter especially when it is in a frito pie with nutrtional yeast sprinkled on top.
5. The Tofu Scramble at Bouldin Creek
My most favorite spot in town, Bouldin Creek moved to a new location this year and though I will miss the old spot immensely I am happy to report that the tofu scramble is as good as it ever was. It is probably the greatest tofu scramble in the world. Although Bouldin isn’t a strictly vegan place, everything on the menu can (and should) be made vegan because their tofu scramble is better than any egg ever could be, trust me. You can get the scamble in place of egg in any of the omelets or the breakfast sandwich or the breakfast tacos. And they are open until late at night.
6. Breakfast Tacos from Whole Foods
The Whole Foods chain started in Austin and we have the flagship store just a couple of blocks away from my office which can be a good thing and a bad thing. If you are visiting Austin for the first time it is a great place to check out even if you go to Whole Foods all the time. My favorite part is the breakfast taco. I have blogged about it probably more than any other topic because, like I said, it is a couple blocks away from my office and my coworkers and I have a rule that if you are going to be really late you must bring tacos. Sometimes they are cold and sometimes they have too much turmeric. Sometimes you have to wait in line for twenty minutes (tip: get your coffee first) but when they are on the whole foods taco is the highlight of my day. If you don’t enjoy it the first time, try try again. They have vegan chorizo, tofu scramble, roasted vegetables, lime rice, refried beans, black beans, and all sorts of toppings like vegan cheese and pico de gallo.
7. Tater Tots at Dog Almighty
Dog Almighty is one of my favorite places when I am craving fast food. They have vegan hot dogs and burgers but I keep going back for their chili and especially their tater tots. There is just something special about these tots, they are so crispy and fried and perfect every single time. If you are sick of salads and raw restaurants this is the place to go. If you are looking for something healthy in the neighborhood the Juicebox (the soup peddler and daily juice combo) is right on the other side of the parking lot.
8. Veggie Meshi – at the Eastside King
the Eastside King is a tiny little trailer in the back of a bar called the Liberty on the east side of town. They have beet fries and all sorts of other Asian fusion type stuff at this fabulous late night spot. There are only a few vegan options but the veggie meshi is one of my favorites. It is a huge portion of brussels sprouts and cabbage stir fried in a delicious sauce on top of rice noodles and they are open pretty late. I love it.
9. The Freeto Burrito at the Vegan Yacht
they have taken frito pie to the next level by adding avocado and sticking it in a grilled burrito. The perfect late night food.
10 Vegan Empanadas at the Fair Bean
The Fair Bean is probably my favorite coffee shop in town they have a great selection of roasted beans to buy along with chocolate chip cookies and other vegan treats. The breakfast emapanadas are like a dream come true. The crust is so buttery and flakey and the vegan sausage and potatoes inside hit the spot when you dream of a toasty breakfast, if they don’t have any on hand they can always add more to the hot plate, you just have to wait a while.
Best Austin Product
Gone but not forgotten
We also lost quite a few places that I loved this year like TaKorea sailed off into the sunset and Fete Accompli went back to catering only. Hopefully someone will take their place soon for best vegetables in town
If you think I missed something I probably did. There are only ten slots! I couldn’t even add my favorite ice cream at Toy Joy or avocado margaritas at Curras or the hot wings at Iggi’s Texitarian this year! If you are traveling to Austin I have a complete list of vegan options over here.