Austin Vegan Thanksgiving Roundup

When I first went vegan I had originally planned to do it for the month of March…then I really liked it so I decided I’d keep it up… until Thanksgiving which has always been my most sacred holiday. I couldn’t imagine not celebrating the holiday with turkey and all the fixings. But, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around I had so many ideas I wanted to try out that I didn’t even consider making a bird and now I adopt turkeys from farm sanctuary every year. I love the holiday even more than in my pregan days! Lucky for me, so does most of vegan Austin and there are all sorts of ways to get your Thanksgiving fix in even if you don’t cook. (If you do cook, check out my pinterest board of favorite recipes)

First off, Wheatsville has been putting stuffed tofurkey, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, stuffing, mac and cheese and more on the hot bar every Wednesday for a few weeks now and will continue through the holiday. They are also the best place to buy a manufactured roast since they have Gardien, Tofurkey, Field Roast, and more in stock along with everything else you need from Brussels Sprouts to their awesome cranberry sauce made in the deli. You can order a whole feast, including vegan cheeseballs and pie!

Over at Counter Culture you can pick up the ridiculously delicious Thanksgiving sandwich which is on special through the 26th. If you are going somewhere that isn’t vegan friendly and you want to just pick up a meal to take with you Counter Culture has a great deal for 16 bucks, they will pack up a vegan feast including Seitan Roast & Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, for you and you just have to warm it up. They also have a Gluten free option so make sure you order it ahead of time.

photo from Counter Culture

If you want to pick up an entire feast for your whole family to enjoy there are a couple of options. Inge, the Happy Vegan Baker has a full catering feast menu that includes a roasted root vegetable pot pie or a GF Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice and cranberries along with Sage and Apricot Cornbread Stuffing and all the other accouterments. You can order for just one person or several.

A newcomer to the atxvegan scene Seed Catering, has a beautiful looking spread that you can order for as many people as you like. It includes a cranberry glazed lentil loaf and butternut squash mac and cheese. I want to try it all!

photo from Seed Catering

Every year on Thanksgiving Eve Mr. Natural puts together a full spread with their homemade roast, which you can also buy from them. If you know that you are going to struggle on the holiday playing defensive ominvore bingo it make sense to meet up with some like minded vegans the night before so the Austin Vegan & Vegetarian Association and Vegans Rock Austin traditionally throw a meet-up at Mr. Natural and this year is no different. They will be meeting up at both locations so you can go to either one!

This year BBQ Revolution is celebrating their two year anniversary with a Thanksgiving Party on November 21st. They will be serving vegan “turkey” with Cranberry sauce , Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Mac N Cheese, Greens and some relish options. They are also preparing Thanksgiving meals. You can put in an order at the trailer or at Rabbit Food Grocery.

Bistro Vonish will also be preparing thanksgiving meals for pick up. The order form is online and you can choose from Seitan Cutlets, GF Garbanzo cutlets, Pumpkin Pie Kolaches and more. Check it out here.

Finally, it would be Thanksgiving without pie and though almost everyone I mentioned serves pie I’m partial to Capital City Bakery because it’s my tradition now to always pick up a pie from there. I’ll be having a hard time, again, choosing between Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and whatever else she has going on.

Let me know if I missed anything and I’ll add it here!

Vegan Fine Dining in Austin Texas

Austin Vegan Fine Dining GuideA few years ago my sister was visiting from Chicago. After a few days she said something like, “can we go somewhere nice to eat? Like, not the nicest place in town…but somewhere nice?”. It’s become a running joke among my friend group because I do tend to patronize trailers, shacks, grocery stores, bars, food counters, and other, shall we say, casual establishments. For anniversaries, date nights, and special occasions it can be fun to put on something nicer than a torn up hoodie. As a vegan especially, I do love having a waiter that can explain every aspect of a dish to me. Some people (hi mom!) just really want a good wine list when they go out. And so, on that note, here are my favorite fancy restaurants in town. Sadly, none of them are entirely vegan but I know that we will get there someday. In the meantime, I think these are the best spots to take your parents, clients, dates, or other people that you want to impress by not sitting at a picnic table with toddlers and dirt waiting for your number to be called.

Claypit Contemporary Indian Cuisine

clay pit pp_7908

image from Clay Pit

I had been to the lunch buffet many times before I went to dinner at the Claypit and was seated in their beautiful candlelit cellar. I think it might be one of the most romantic atmospheres in town. All their vegan items are marked and include the vegetable samosas, the roti (but not the naan),  Aloo Gobi, Veggie Ayam, Kadhu Curry, and more. It’s a great place to share entrees and fall in love…with Indian food.

TRIO Restaurant

I recently did a full on review of TRIO, suffice to say their vegan menu was top-notch and the service was the best I’ve had in Austin. Definitely the place to go if you want to spend some money and drink fine wines.

Sagra Trattoria and Bar

I reviewed Sagra over here, they have an extensive vegan menu including risotto, mac and cashew cheese with truffle oil, and several different pizzas and vegetable appetizers. When we went everything was fantastic but I’ve heard that they aren’t the most consistent and often run out of vegan cheese so make sure you ask questions when ordering. Almost everything on the menu can be gluten-free too. Their happy hour looks like a great deal!

Elizabeth Street Cafe

I don’t know if Elizabeth Street really qualifies as fine dining since it’s more of a French Vietnamese cafe but they do have knowledgeable waiters, a beautiful atmosphere, and a nice cocktail and wine menu so I think it counts. I love the style of this restaurant and the multiple vegan options like tofu spring rolls, two different vegan pho varieties, bún, and bánh xèo (pictured). Elizabeth Street would be the perfect place to go for a fancy brunch since most of the nicer American places are so egg heavy. Here is my review.

Sway Thai

image from Austin Chronicle

I love the food and cocktails at Sway. It’s meant to be shared but I’d only bother with sharing if you are going with all vegans because they do have to make everything special (then it’s super fun!). Australian Thai is thoughtfully presented and deliciously prepared, definitely on the spicy side. Dishes like the green curry eggplant, spring rolls, papaya salad, pad thai, squash curry, and salt and pepper tofu can all be made vegan. The big caveat to Sway, and why it’s not on the top of my list, is that you have to sit at big shared tables which I find very awkward. Not a good place to go on a date at all but perfect if you have a large group.

Uchi and Uchiko

image from Culturemap Uchi on the left Uchiko on the right

For many years these two sister sushi restaurants were at the very top of every single “best of” list because their food is delicious, the presentation is exquisite, the service is exceptional, and the restaurant is very stylish but comfortable. They don’t have a ton of vegan options but what they do have is really good and enough to make a meal. The occasionally do a vegetarian night too! Happy hour is a great time to check it out.


photo from the Austin Chronicle celery root dusted with pink peppercorn and dotted with beads of black truffle.

I haven’t made it out to Gardner yet but they assured me that many of the offerings at this vegetable focused (but not vegetarian) restaurant can be vegan. “Our current menu features several dishes that are vegan or are designed to serve vegan guests with only slight modifications, including the Brussels sprouts, Broccoli and Brassicas dishes, as well as our Celery Root dish. We train staff on all of our off-menu vegan items as well, as these change often to reflect seasonal shifts.” The price point is a bit high and some vegans on yelp complained that they needed a veggie burger after dropping a hundred bucks at dinner but no one else in town is doing anything super high-end and beautiful with vegetables so it is a good choice if you want some adventure.


pic from Austin Chronicle

A while back a few friends and I went to Lenoir and had an amazing experience. We called ahead and the chef prepared a special menu for us. If you are ever looking for a wonderful restaurant in a beautiful setting, like a setting you could propose at, Lenoir might be as good as it gets. The presentation of our meal was fabulous and the chef came out and explained every dish. The food was wonderful and I would love to go back. Highly recommended. Read all about it (and see terrible pictures!) here.

Wink Restaurant

image from Austin 360

Wink is a farm to table slow food restaurant that has been around since 2001 and their vegetarian tasting menu is very popular. I’ve heard good things about ordering vegan as well. The chefs will, apparently, make you something quite lovely even if you don’t call ahead. But, calling ahead is always best in a situation like this in my opinion. For whatever reason I still haven’t been there but I would like to try it.

La Condesa Modern Mexican

La Condesa used to be my favorite place to recommend, they had this amazing vegan board that would have four or five different super-exciting and ever-changing “top chef” style entrees. We all went nuts over it. Then they won a James Beard award and didn’t have time for us vegans anymore. Urgh! It is still a somewhat worthwhile option because they have a fun hip atmosphere, amazing margaritas, both salsa and guacamole flights, and a few different options entrees like mushroom tacos and cauliflower steaks. I love their cocktails! I wouldn’t go there for a mind-blowing vegan birthday meal though anymore.

Roots to Leaves Supper Club

from Roots to Leaves facebook page

Finally, not a restaurant but a monthly supper club, Roots to Leaves is another great option for those seeking out an all vegan menu and they have plans to open a high-end restaurant in the future. With seasonal menus that have four courses with items like “Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Sage Sauce, Smoked Tofu, Brussels Sprouts, Almond Ricotta” you are definitely going to be filled up with exciting foods. You have to bring your own wine and make reservations well ahead of time but it’s worth it! Here’s a review of their earlier incarnation as Hyden Park.

Do you have any favorites that aren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments!

REJOICE! Red Rabbit Doughnuts have become Wheatsville Doughnuts & they are better than ever!

For a moment, we thought we had entered the darkest timeline. Red Rabbit, our beloved vegan anarchist doughnut making collective that had taken the town by storm, announced they were ceasing production.

I didn’t cry.

I just kept buying their doughnuts from Wheatsville until they were all gone filling my belly with delicious sadness. We were all shocked. The doughnuts are universally beloved and they seemed to be growing and adding gluten free options. The atxvegan community was freaking out. Everyone was upset. There were rumblings that the 12th Street Bakery and Fat Cats Organic Coffee And Dessert occasionally had doughnut on the menu and we learned that Portland’s infamous Voodoo Doughnuts was opening on dirty sixth…but none of that was what I wanted. The Red Rabbit Doughnuts are perfect and since they sell them at Wheatsville (and I got to Wheatsville at least once a day) they are incredibly convenient. We started to hear rumors that it might not be the end.

An inside source let me know that Red Rabbit was turning over their recipes to our beloved Food Co-op and training the bakery staff on how to make them perfectly. Today Wheatsville sent me a box and I want to assure you that the doughnuts are as good as they always were, maybe even better? Maybe I just missed them? But biting into it was like tasting piece of heaven on earth. My co-worker tried the apple fritter and her day went from dreary to dreamy.

Starting tomorrow, October 10th, glazed, chocolate iced, maple pecan, apple fritter, and bite sized donut holes will be available at both Wheatsville locations. They have also assured me that gluten free doughnuts are on the way in the future and that our luscious cream filled varieties will eventually be back too. What a wonderful turn of events. I love Austin Texas.

Congratulations to the Vegan Yacht for winning “Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest” and a $10,000 prize!

I remember when I first went to the Vegan Yacht five years ago when it was parked behind Cheer Up Charlie’s when they was still on east 6th street and it looked like this.

I was so happy to have another vegan food cart in town and I’ve watched them grow and relocate as the years have gone by. I’m always thrilled when I go to a festival in Austin and see the Yacht there because I know I won’t have to worry about getting ridiculously tasty vegan food and ask a million questions to other vendors. After dancing for hours at Fun Fun Fun Fest or Levitation Fest the Freeto Burrito is the perfect way to recharge. It was so sad to see their generator get ripped off a few months ago when they were doing what they do best, bringing vegan food to the masses. I thought, what is the world coming too when people steal a generator, a huge part of someone’s livelihood, at Zilker Park of all places?

But then I was reminded that sometimes the good outweighs the bad.

The community came to support the Vegan Yacht through a GoFundMe fundraiser and they decided they wanted to expand operations and applied for Flo’s Fabulous Food Truck Contest through Progressive. They won the Grand Prize by a LANDSLIDE and I’m so happy that this family business is going to get 10,000 dollars to further their dreams!!!!! 

Their plan is turn the Vegan Yacht into a mobile food truck and use the existing airstream for a new second vegan food trailer totally different from the vegan yacht! Another all vegan food trailer! Huzzah!

This Thursday, September 17 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Progressive is going to award them the big check at a party, come out and support the team!!!!

To celebrate they are going to offer free homemade sweet and spicy jalapenos with any order. They look so damn tasty. Pickled Jalapenos make everything better!!! So be there and show your support for vegan businesses taking over the world!

Trio at the Four Seasons – a vegan menu for date nights and special occasions

The question that I get asked the most in Austin is where to go for fine dining. In the old days my best answer was the Clay Pit for Indian food and I stand by that recommendation. If you can get seated in the candlelit stone brick-walled basement you will have the great atmosphere plus excellent vegan friendly food. But, not everyone likes Indian. Sagra, which I wrote about last week, gets recommended quite a bit but it’s really a bit more casual and calls itself a Trattoria. Other spots like Lenoir and Second will make you an awesome vegan meal but you don’t know what you are going to get since there isn’t an actual vegan menu. It’s up to the chef which means you might have something you don’t like and that if you are dining with another vegan (or several) you will all get the same thing which isn’t as fun. The other day someone posted on the Austin Vegan Facebook group that TRIO, a highly reviewed restaurant here in Austin inside the Four Seasons, had a vegan menu and I kind of couldn’t believe it. I mean, their tagline is Usually seeing steak and seafood featured at a restaurant means you better enjoy wine because that’s all you will be eating with your bread but look at this menu! Two entrees! Appetizers! OMG!

I made reservations minutes after seeing the post and one week later I was sitting at a table holding the menu in my hand enjoying a fantastic cocktail, The Buffalo Solider, Orange Zest, House Infused Buffalo Trace, Cherry Heering, Earl Grey Syrup, and Mineral Water. It was maybe the perfect summer drink.

The restaurant itself is very lush although the clientele definitely seemed more of my parents generation than mine. That could very well be because of the weekend I went, I’m sure that it changes around depending on who is in town for what event since it’s at a hotel. They had a huge patio as well that overlooks the lake but we chose to sit inside in the dark yet sunshine toned dining room.

Our waitress was maybe the best most helpful waitress that I’ve ever had. As soon as she found out I was vegan she started excitedly telling me about the menu options and told me she preferred the vegan gnocchi to the one on the regular menu. She just glowed with warmth and seemed more than happy to let me interrogate her. After the meal she was dying for me to sample to prickly pear sorbet for dessert, she even said she’d comp it, but I was just too full!

Another server came and brought complimentary bread and olive oil for me since they usually give everyone cheese popovers. It was such a nice touch to be brought the bread and then assured that it was ok to eat without having to ask.

Next they brought the quinoa fritters served with garlic confit, pea tendrils, radish, and tofu ranch. They reminded me of fancy hush puppies. They were light and delicious. 

But of course the star of the show was the entree. Our waitress recommended the Trumpet Mushroom dish if we were really hungry. It is served with ramps, romanesco cauliflower, quinoa granola, and mojo de ajo. It sounded really interesting but there was no way I could avoid trying the gnocchi.

Described as potato gnocchi with tempura scallions, rainbow carrots, asparagus, and garlic gastrique I didn’t quite expect the beautiful dish that came to my table.

I loved this dish and I could have eaten it all day. The gnocchi was a bit dense and not the light pillows of perfection that I hoped for but the vegetables were all exactly how I like them and the combination worked really well. I finished with a huge best-meal-ever buzz and I’m so glad that I have somewhere else to recommend for when folks want to dress a little fancy and valet the car. I do wonder if they change the menu from time to time it seemed seasonal but I was eating in late August and between the ramps, asparagus, cauliflower, and radishes the menu screamed spring. I’ll find out the next time I go….the next time someone wants to buy me dinner (thanks mom!).

UPDATE 9/3/2015 Trio let me know that they will be changing the menu for Winter so be there or be square.

Sagra – An Italian Dream come true for vegans and the gluten free in East Austin

Italian food seems to be universally loved. I did an informal poll in my office asking “do you like Italian food” and everyone said yes, and then looked at me with questioning eyes as if I was about to give them a piece of lasagna or something. Sorry y’all! Somehow getting vegan Italian food in Austin isn’t always that easy. If you go to a fancy place they often use eggs in the fresh pasta. Rarely do they have vegan specials or delicious vegan cheese. You’re lucky to get Daiya at a pizza place here. If you go to a shitty place – I’m looking at you Olive Garden- you can’t even order a salad. I guess it comes shipped in pre-made from god knows where.

There is one place, however, in Austin that does it right, not only does Sagra have a multiple course vegan menu but they also offer homemade cashew cheese and special meaty substitutes. When I went the other day I was also impressed that they were able to assure me, without asking, that the table bread was vegan and they could easily leave items on the side so my dining companions could have their precious cheese. And yes GFers, they can make any dish gluten free. We started with the polenta fries with fried brussels and chickpeas in a salsa roja. I was a bit worried with all the fried items that this dish would be a bit greasy or heavy but it wasn’t at all, the large portion was enormous for the three of us too. 

We also tried the Barbietolla which was roasted beets, fruit mostardo, truffle salt. This dish was very sweet but a really nice complement to the polenta dish and we all enjoyed it as well. 

My favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly my pizza. When I originally looked at the menu I thought I might try the Macaroni al Forno, (baked macaroni and cheese, cashew cheese, spinach, bread crumbs, truffle oil, spinach macaroni), but once I saw the pizza I knew I had to try it. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love olives and Star Trek and the only thing that could have made this pizza better would have been if I was sharing it with Captain Picard. Or actually, if they hadn’t run out of cashew cheese. No matter! I didn’t miss the cheese in the least and they added pine nuts to compensate. The pizza is called the Maialina and comes with pesto sauce, walnuts, black olives. Interestingly, they chopped up the walnuts and olives together which gave the pizza a salty delicious meaty texture. From now on it’s going to be my go to home topping. I loved it! And the large was so big that I got to eat it for the next few days although obviously it was much better in the restaurant.

So Sagra is a big win for me, their cocktails were fantastic too and they have a nice happy hour special so when it cools down I think it might become my after work meet up spot. Let me know what you thought or think if you try it out! I’m curious about the rest of the menu.