I’ve been so busy working on the Taco Cleanse lately that I’ve not blogged here as often. Don’t worry, I’m still keeping the Austin Vegan Guide as updated as I can! I’ve been busy testing recipes like this Tempeh Picadillo from the book and creating recipes for the Taco Cleanse blog like the Mexican Smashed potatoes underneath.
After folks like the Vegan Nom and Taco Deli close up shop it isn’t as easy to find awesome vegan tacos on the north side as it is south of the river (or east of 35). When I’m on a taco cleanse and find myself in that area I start panicking about where to get my night tacos! The new-ish Fork and Taco on Burnet is the perfect fit for a vegan looking for margaritas and tacos to fit a taco-based lifestyle. They have several vegetarian menu selections that can be easily veganized, margaritas, and black beans and chips with guacamole to round out the vegan meal.
The restaurant is actually a bit hard to see sandwiched in a strip mall between the Noble Sandwich Co. and Pinthouse Pizza on Burnett at 48th street by where the Omelettry used to be. When you walk in you order at the front and then sit while with your number waiting for someone to bring tacos too you. The inside is colorful in a modern fast casual kind of way and they also have a back patio which seemed a little better for lounging.
It tried two tacos, the Crispy Cauliflower that comes with Mexican Street Corn (they can leave the cheese out if you ask), avocado, cilantro and lime. I liked this one quite a bit though my dining companion and I both agreed that there was way too much lemon in the cauliflower. Hopefully that was a one time thing. I also ordered the Beet taco which had grapefruit, avocado, pepitas, and cilantro (ask for no sauce) and I really liked it even though I typically do not care for grapefruit. It worked really well balancing the earthiness of the beets. Both tacos were strengthened by being served on thick homemade corn tortillas. In fact, I’d say these were some of the best tortillas at a yuppie kind of place in Austin. They also have a portabello taco with zucchini, crookneck squash, bell pepper, and tomatillo sauce but two tacos seemed like it would be enough for me. Plus portobellos are always risky at non-vegan places. Anyway I should have tried one for the team or at least gotten the side of beans because after only eating these two vegetable tacos I was as hungry as all get out by the time I got back to my south Austin abode hours later. Next time I will definitely get the beans and guacamole because a woman like myself can not survive on vegetables alone.
People say a lot of wacky things about vegans but when they call us picky eaters…there is actually some truth to that. Not that it’s picky to refuse to eat animals, that only makes sense! But, as a group, we have more issues with food than the average person. My theory on this is that we’ve given a lot more thought to food than the random eater but that doesn’t explain my own personal aversion to lettuce, or my friends’ allergies to tree-nuts, groundnuts, peppers, and even *gasp* wine. Even my dog Dinger has all sort of allergies. People go on all sorts of cleanses. I, and a group of taco scientists, once ate nothing but tacos for a whole month, for example. And I would imagine that a large share of vegans are trying to cut back on soy. Of course there is the fear of gmos, the fear of growing boobs, and the general fear or big ag and I would imagine that Sweet Ritual wanted everyone to be able to eat their ice cream and so they switched out soy with many different bases.
The good news is that whatever the reason that they made the switch the ice cream is even better than it used to be, and it used to be great! I tried the Death Metal By Chocolate the other day and, I have to say, it was better than any other vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. I often crave something that’s chocolate mixed with chocolate, topped with chocolate, and maybe a little chocolate added in that’s exactly what this ice cream was. I’ve also been picking up the pints at Wheatsville. I think I’ve tried them all now and I can’t tell you if Sweetsville or PB & Chocolate is my favorite.
Amelia, who makes most of the ice cream explained “We went through a giant overhaul and most of our bases changed. We now have cashew bases, almond, peanut, and coconut on offer. Sometimes we have more exotic bases, like tahini, cashew and sunflower. The chocolate chips we use have soy lecithin, but the only thing in our shop that has soymilk is the soft serve. The Cubano, vanilla, & strawberry are cashew based and are soy free.” I asked her specifically about the bases in the pints and she wrote me,
“Cashew: strawberry, vanilla, Cubano coffee
Coconut: mint chip, Sweetsville, salted caramel, toasted coconut
Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter Chocolate
Also, Wheatsville carries a gluten-free cookie ice cream sandwich made with cookies from Better Bites Bakery”
It only makes sense to have the peanut butter ice cream to have a peanut base and yet it’s brilliant and probably why it’s soooo good. And those ice cream sandwiches, by the way, totally worth it.
Now if only they could bring back the waffle cones.
I’m so excited for Vida Vegan Conference this weekend! I stopped at Wheatsville food co-op to show you all some of my favorite local vegan products.
Of course we have tons of local produce from central Texas and if you are in town right now peaches from Fredricksburg are available! We wait for these babies all year.
Next to all the tofu, seitan, and plant meats from far and wide you will find locally made tempeh from the Hearty Vegan in the refrigerator section.
Celeste’s Best Cookie dough is in the fridge too. You can bake it in the oven or even eat it with a spoon since its vegan!
The best hummus I’ve ever had is in the fridge too. Grandma’s hummus should not be missed!
Over in the freezer section they have both of our local vegan ice cream options. Nadamoo is coconut based & it’s creamy and delicious. The mint chocolate chip is my favorite.
Sweet Ritual has different bases depending on the flavors they carry 8 different ones. Cashew is the base for strawberry, vanilla, & Cubano coffee.
Coconut is in the mint chip, Sweetsville, salted caramel, toasted coconut
And the Peanut Butter Chocolate has a peanut butter base. And it’s freaking delicious.
The “Sweetsville” flavor is my favorite though. It’s a vanilla malt with chunks of cookie dough from Celeste’s best!
Both ice cream companies recently started selling ice cream sandwiches too. And both teamed up with local vegan bakeries to do it!!! Sweet Ritual has a bunch of flavors & a cookie made from Capital City Bakery. Wheatsville also carries a gluten free cookie ice cream sandwich made with cookies from Better Bites Bakery.
Nadamoo has cookies from Skull & Cakebones which also has a bunch of baked goods on sale at Wheatsville too.
These days we have tons of local beers and most of them are vegan. Wheatsville carries a good variety including Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap.
If beer isn’t your brew try Kosmic Kombucha! It is the best kombucha I’ve ever had!
Most days the hot bar has vegan Mac & cheese. I like to pretend it’s healthy since it has broccoli in it.
But wheatsville’s deli is most famous for its popcorn tofu.
I can pretty much guarantee you’ll go nuts over it. I think it’s the nooch batter. You can also get the popcorn tofu at the deli in a po’boy or you can by large quantities in the deli case. Oh and try the buffalo popcorn tofu too, it’s just as good, you might even like it better. There is even a vegan blue cheese sauce to go with it.
The last time I went to the Marchesa Hall it was to see performing cats.
I even saw a cat play the piano.
The Vegan Bazaar next weekend is going to be EVEN BETTER THAN THAT.
First of all, there are going to be tons of vegan vendors from all over the country. If you’ve been vegan for a long time and you haven’t tried any of the new products out this shit is going to blow your mind. And OH YEAH if you are a vegan hater or one of those people who say “I could never go vegan because the cheese is so gross” you are going to try some of the new fermented cashew or macadamia cheeses and you’ll probably just go vegan on the spot. The world has changed! All of our favorite local companies will be there too with the usual vegan doughnuts, cupcakes, and ice cream that Austin is so famous for. They are also going to have some of our most delicious food trucks representing including Cool Beans, Vegan Nom, Sadie B Foods, and Arlo’s which will all have vegan tacos if you are, like me, on a taco cleanse (it’s a way of life) but they’ll have other stuff too for all the non taco loving weirdos out there. And there is even going to be an Earth Balance Photobooth! Have you tried their freaking puffs? You will get too.
You can make a whole day of the event because they are going to have speakers and demos too. I am really excited that Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary is coming to give the opening talk, if you haven’t seen him on the Daily Show watch it now! And Terry Hope Romero who wrote two of my all time favorite cookbooks the Veganomicon and Viva Vegan (the best vegan Latin cookbook out there) is going to be here too!
And there will be cooking demos! Chocolate Expert Fran Costigan is going to demo vegan desserts! I went one of her workshops at the last Vida Vegan con and I learned so much. Bianca Phillips aka Vegan Crunk is going to demo DIY Kombucha + Homebrewing!
And there will be panels! My friend Joanna Vaught will be moderating the vegan family and parenting panel with Monique Koch, Sayward Rebhal, Brian “Sexy Vegan” Patton.
And your’s truly will be moderating the How We Made Austin Awesome vegan community panel. We are going to have Kristen Davenport owner of Capital City Bakery, Jessica Morris co-owner of Rabbit Food Grocery, and Chris Rios owner of The Vegan Nom. Molly Frisinger is also going to be there to talk about how Texas VegFest came to be. We are going to discuss how our community got together and how you can participate here in Austin or how you can make your own town’s vegan activism just as fun as ours! Of course this will include the importance of cupcakes, tacos, and all the other parts of untraditional vegan activism that don’t leave people feeling hopeless about the world we live in. FAIR WARNING: Kristen and I sometime can get into arguments so this panel could turn into a Jerry Springer style melee with chairs flying and secret baby daddies showing up. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
It’s the first ever VVC sponsored even that’s open to the public and I’ve even got a discount code ” weheartaustin ” so go to Evenbrite. Buy some tickets. Have the best day ever. There may even be a pig there. It’s going to be so fun.
Usually I do this post in January but I didn’t cause I can be kind of….lazy. But here we are in April and I figured with Vida Vegan Con right around the corner some folks might want to know what dishes in Austin I crave the most. Maybe these aren’t the very best dishes in town and I’m sure they aren’t the healthiest, but this is what I get fixated on & nothing else will do. For what to do in Austin check out A Vegan Tour of Austin, and for every vegan option I know if see the Austin Vegan Guide. I also have a Vegan Taco Guide because tacos are the best. But you asked for it so here is my
2015 Top Ten
Bouldin Creek Breakfast Tacos
In years past I’ve said the rennedict or the tofu scramble/omelet are my favorite thing at Bouldin and while that’s often true it’s more true that I love the breakfast tacos. I never go long without eating the “Ren”, Tofu scrambler sautéed with jalapenos, garlic and onion and the “Neil”, Tofu scrambler, sautéed mushrooms, and spinach on corn. It’s my first meal when I come home after a long trip and what I get when I am so hungry I can’t think. On a craveability scale of 1 to 10 I’d give them a thousand.
Capital City Bakery Cupcakes, Brownies, Kolaches, and everything else
The truth is, I never really cared about cupcakes until I tried the ones from Capital City Bakery. Theirs are so light and airy and missing any cloying sweetness you get from other bakeries. These cupcakes are the best form of vegan activism there is because once a person realizes that vegan cupcakes are better, well, it can open their mind. I get the brownies all the time too and they are the perfect sweet treat for me, chocolate mixed with chocolate chips. Here’s a protip, that sucker will feed you for a week if you divide it up. And the ham and cheese kolaches are the kind of food that I never would have imagined I’d still get to eat vegan. Have it warmed up, though. It’s so good.
Migas Taco at the Vegan Nom Rockin’ Vegan Tacos
Since you can’t always get the Vegan Nom’s barbequed brisket with jalapeno mac and cheese taco I will happily put the Migas Taco on this list. It’s perfect for mornings when you’ve had too much fun the night before or if you are having a bad day and want to change that. I love their simple tofu scramble and mixed with roasted peppers, tortilla chips, cheddar, and a chipotle sauce it is even better. On the right is the maple miso sweet potato taco which is a close second in favorites. Everything they serve up is awesome.
Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Cone Sundae
On any given day Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Parlor has 17 different artisanal flavors. The specials like “Death Metal By Chocolate”, the “Peach Brown Betty” or the “Lady Pleaser (chocolate covered potato ships with smoked sea salt” will slay you with deliciousness but if you put that ice cream inside their homemade, chocolate dipped cone and then cover it with toppings like toasted marshmallows and peanut butter magic shell you will understand the meaning of life. It’s to eat ice cream. And they have different varieties from hemp to coconut and GF cones so I promise there is something for everyone.
The Tofu Vermicelli Bowl with Vegetarian Sauce at Lulu B’s
I’ve probably had Vietnamese Bun over a hundred times and the one from Lulu B’s is my favorite, I don’t know if it’s their chewy lemongrass tofu, the always super fresh vegetables, the mint and basil, the wonderfully excessive amount of peanuts, the sweet spicy sauce that everything is drenched in or just the perfect combination of all of the above but it’s the best version there is. They moved to a little restaurant on South Congress but it’s still cash only so beware!
Pizza from Via 313
If there was ever going to be a pizza that I would refer to as “The Love of My Life” this would be the one. VIA 313’s Detroit style pizza is truly something to get obsessed about. Their pizzas are baked in individual oiled steel pans that make the crusts taste almost deep fried on the bottom. The Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese is cooked right on top of the crust which works much better on a vegan pie. You pick your toppings and the sauce goes on top and tastes fresh and herby. I love that they don’t skimp on my olives. They have a couple of locations, one at Craft Pride on Rainy Street which is fun because the only serve Texas craft beer and one on East 6th outside of The Violet Crown Social Club but soon, like really soon, they are opening a full on restaurant in Oak Hill. I can’t wait.
Smoothies and Salads at Juiceland
I honestly don’t think I’ve had a better smoothie in my life than the ones at Juiceland. Pictured above is “The Love Below” which has Cherries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cacao, Coconut Oil, and Rice Milk. But I love the Originator just as much. Maybe it’s the Fresh Apple Juice but it also has Bananas, Blueberries, Cherries, Peanut Butter, Brown Rice Protein, Spirulina, and Flax Oil. I’ve tried to make these suckers at home but it’s just not the same. And their salads are off the hook too! It’s my summer ritual to go swimming at Barton Springs and then get a smoothie and a Double Rainbow Salad or the Quinoa Ranchero Bowl. The perfect meal when it’s 5,000 degrees out. And here’s a protip, they sell some of their juices by the gallon to make cocktails out of! The Kale Cucumber Margarita is the best thing ever to take with you on a river trip with a bottle of vodka, so healthy!
Bac’n Cheeze Burger with Tots at Arlo’s
I often say that the one thing I’ve ever seen all Austin vegans agree on it’s the love of the Arlo’s Bac’n Cheeze Burger. Now that I’ve written it down someone is sure to disagree but most of us adore their handmade lentil based patties topped with cheddar daiya and vegan bacon. For me it’s always a late night downtown meal but now that they are open for lunch and have opened a second location on South Lamar I will get even more Arlo’s in my life.
The Specials at Unity Vegan Kitchen
Lately Unity Vegan Kitchen, a trailer off Barton Springs Road, has been killing it with their weekly specials. It’s always exactly the food I didn’t even know I wanted and then suddenly couldn’t live without. Last week it was breakfast mac and cheese, which was mac topped with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, avocado, and all kinds of other good stuff. A few weeks ago it was chicken chimmichangas. And then she brings back the chicken and waffle special with white gravy. It’s all irresistable. I also love the muffaletta sandwich which is always on the menu, her homemade bread makes all the difference, and the quinoa spring rolls are light and yet filling enough for a while meal. Don’t miss it!
The Buddha Bowl at the Steeping Room
I remember when I used to travel all the way up to the domain shopping center in the northiest section of North Austin to get a delicious bowl from The Steeping Room, so glad they opened one a bit more central on north lamar. I love that the beans, grains, and greens change all the time for variety at the Steeping Room. But, you can always get tofu, cashew sauce, peanut sauce, or even tamari which I’ve never tried because they have cashew sauce and peanut sauce. I also love their B.A.T. sandwich, tempeh bacon, tomato, and arugula with their hot soup like cream of mushroom. Of course the most fun part is picking out a tea from their 7,000 varieties and they always have dessert too!
So that’s what are my personal favorites but their are a ton of other things that could have been on this list like the barbecued soy curls at BBQ Revolution, the corn tamales at Cool Beans, the AMAZING homemade Cheeze plates at Counter Culture, the Vegan Platter at Wasota African Cuisine, the Veggie Meshi and Beet Fries at the East Side King Brunch at Bistro Vonish or “elevated stoner cuisine” at the Golden Spike Rail Cart. The Green Curry at Sway or the pastries at Thai Fresh. The sausage empanadas at the Fair Bean or the frozen bananas with toppings at Bananarchy the Freeto Burrito at The Vegan Yacht or the Tofu Po’Boy at Wheatsville or the Seitan Reuben at Schmaltz. The Mexican Pancake at Mr. Natural. Vegan Jambalaya on a stick at Baton Creole or the breakfast tacos with shoestring potatoes at Cherrywood Coffeehouse or the Sunday night vegan ramen special at Ramen Tatsu-ya.
Let us know what your favorites are!