Vegan friendly Liguria: Mangio Pesto, Pasta, e Olive

A few months ago I was on the phone with my mom and she told me that her friends Narri and Peter invited her to stay at their house on the Italian Riviera. She lamented, “if only I had someone to travel with”

Um….how about me? 37969706981_eaf536a91d_b

I said I’d go for a week but then she passed on information from Narri that the olive harvest would be happening while I was there and I should really stay two weeks. And so it was decided. We flew out and saw the beautiful Côte d’Azur as we flew into Nice. We drove through the mountains along the Riviera di Ponente “the coast of the setting sun” to get to their home in Andora by Genoa. If you know nothing about Italy you may still recognize the word Genoa and associate it with food particularly, pesto. At my first meal I learned that, although the infamous pesto most often served at restaurants was usually premade with parmesan, the fresh pasta that it was ubiquitously served with, trofie, is usually vegan or egg free! Fresh pasta is one of my most favorite foods on earth and so I was immediately gratified to try it within hours of landing. 37259969954_8304630030_b

Pasta Primavera is a dish that I associate with suffering through at a nonvegan restaurant where it is my only option. Often in the US this insipid meal has some canned tomato, bland, verging on gross, zucchini, and a few shakes of dried basil. This Italian version was a revelation, the first of many I would have, of what Italian dishes should be. The squash that they have in this region, trombett was bursting with flavor, and the tomatoes were like the best tomatoes you ever had, at the peak of summer but maybe better somehow? I don’t know, I don’t understand how Italian produce is so much better but I was soon shopping at the local farmer’s co-op gathering seeds for next summer’s garden.

I had been warned that our small town wasn’t at all vegan-friendly, there were no listings on Happy Cow and all I could find was that most restaurants catered to seafood eaters. Usually, in my travels, that’s a very bad sign. but in the two Andora grocery stores, I found more vegan specialty items than I would in my entire hometown or the supermarket closest to me in Austin. I couldn’t stop buying things, vegan ricotta, ragu di soia, minestrone soup and Zuppa Toscana. I loved their yogurt! I didn’t even have time to try all the vegan meat products like chicken cordon bleu and endless variety of gelatos. (I did try some gelato prepackaged in a cone, like drumsticks here, it’s probably a good thing I don’t have easy access to them!).37259974724_d288bab536_c

The first day we went to the Fratelli Carli olive museum and, really, you could change the phrase “a kid in a candy store” to “Stephanie in an olive store” for a better metaphor if you know me at all. Olives are my lifeblood. I tried to grow olive trees (they did not turn out like this) and I would definitely have these olive stained glass windows in my home.37259974554_6a3e6dd36d_z

24118698188_13db59165e_bThe Fratelli Carli products were all insanely good. Maybe if I put in a bunch of links at tweet at them they will send me more? Please!  And oh, in the gift-shop they had a random Vegan Pie just sitting in the case. And yeah, olive foccacia is available everywhere, olives come with meals and drinks even when you don’t order them, sometimes olive bread or olive breadsticks come with your meal. In a restaurant in Apricale they had olive ice cream. Frankly, it was a bit overwhelming.  I get emotional thinking about it.

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At the grocery store I was able to buy Pesto con Tofu so I could make fresh trofie al pesto at home and though my Italian host was very suspicious, she had to admit it was delcious and so much better than the pesto you buy here. The way the flavor blooms in your mouth is indescribable. I bought seeds and I know it won’t be enough. 37969698721_b5bab87531

Speaking of my Italian host, it sure was nice having a native speaker to interrogate waiters for me! Especially since she quickly intuited that I don’t care for salad and I loved overhearing lei vegana….no lei non ama insalata and they would come up with some pasta Pomodoro, or pasta Aglio e Olio or one of my favorites (that I thought would be so boring didn’t even take a picture of) Pasta Porcini. Each one was instantly the best pasta I ever had. But, if a place couldn’t do pasta without eggs or cheese, pizza marinara was always an option. In the US you can go into some restaurants (like the Olive Garden) and they just can’t/won’t serve you. Sometimes you can’t even have the french fries. This never happened to me in Italy and one reason is that there was always pizza. And you can get it with those Ligurian olives, Taggiasca, and you don’t need any other food, well, maybe some artichokes and mushrooms.37259980114_da49813529_z

Still, my biggest food revelation was yet to come. In Albenga my hosts were very excited about a farinata restaurant, Da Puppo, that ended up with an hours-long wait every night. We had to be sure to get there well before opening so we wouldn’t have to wait. I’d never heard of farinata but it sounded like socca which I’d read was very popular in Nice so I was excited to try it. We shopped around the medieval part of the city while trusty Peter held our spot in line.

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When the doors opened nearly every single spot in the restaurant was instantly taken as we swarmed into the oven-warmed, intoxicating-smelling rooms. After I ordered I checked out the farinatas coming out of the ovens. Unlike the socca I had tried, these didn’t have any toppings, although toppings were available. Instead, the flavor mostly came from the cooking style in huge wide pans placed in wood-burning ovens. 37939259952_0c02df3bc9_z

It was definitely one of those experiences where after I tried it I had to ask, are you sure this is really vegan, and indeed it is! Basically, it’s just chickpea flour, water, and a smattering of rosemary. I had it with a side of squash dressed with olive oil and mint which was also delicious, and I am not usually a summer squash fan. I don’t understand any of this. If you have a good recipe please post it in the comments!26194343819_b057a426fe_z

On one of our last days we decided to try a Peruvian place in Laigueglia called Azotea. Generally, in Italy all restaurants are Italian so I was a bit hesitant but they were easily able to accommodate me. The decor of this restaurant was so hip and it was right on the beach. Although I’m not usually one to order quinoa, I figured a cook from Peru would know how to do it right and I enjoyed it! Especially the tofu mousse. 38066228732_af5501a217

And I was especially excited that they could make their sweet potato doughnuts vegan just by leaving off a honey element. All the food had beautiful presentation so if you are dining with omnis in Laigueglia I definitely recommend it. 37939265492_8b82dc408e

I am ready to go back and get my PhD Northern Italian food. I want to know all of their secrets! Hopefully I’ll get posts up about Monaco, Apricale, and Venice soon. Until then here are some pictures from touring through Liguria from Cervo, Imperia, Alassio, Albenga, Testico, and Ventimiglia which are full of ancient palaces and churches, medieval cities, beautiful beaches, and cute cars.Liguaria13

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You can help Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

after-nws_wide-7508dab4310993859998b5522272fd006739bcbaIt’s rained so much in Houston that the National Weather Service had to add new colors so it can map Harvey’s rains.

We are collecting donations at Counter Culture this weekend that will be driven down to Houston this Monday so stop by, have brunch, and drop off items, diapers for babies and adults, tampons, and toiletries are especially needed. So if you have a ton of travel size bottles of Dr. Bonner’s now is the time to donate them! Sue will also be collecting for the Austin Food Bank. If you aren’t in town here are some Amazon wish lists that charities have put up.

This week the Vegan Nom will also be donating a portion of their sales to hurricane relief and they are having their famous brisket and jalapeno mac and cheese taco on special so eat delicious food to help!

This Saturday you drop off donations the Wandering Vegan Market and pick up some super cool vegan items, eat at Cool Beans, and have a portion of your money go to relief efforts at certain spots. Vida Green Consulting is donating 20% of proceeds. Sender’s Receive Tarot is donating $5 per reading and there is more to come.

September 3rd ATX vegan drinks is hosting a Garage Sale Benefit for Harvey. Donate or go or both!

There are a ton of benefit concerts this weekend too including the Octopus Project playing a two stage fest at the Mohawk and it’s bright and sunny now so eat tacos and listen to live music to help out! Here is a list of restaurants and bars donating.

Austin Bakes is putting together another giant city wide bake sale to donate as well. Sign up to help and bake vegan treats to sell!

Fostering a pet here from Austin Pets Alive or even at shelters networked throughout the country will make a huge impact for an abandoned dog. (I’m not going to include a picture because I can’t look at them without getting emotional.) The Austin Animal Center is taking all kinds of donations and also needs fosters and volunteers. Austin Wildlife Rescue takes in injured wildlife. They’re asking for cash or in-kind donations from their wish list. Of course the Houston SPCA is doing a lot of work on the front lines and needs donations and volunteers.

We Are Blood said it has an ongoing and growing need for blood donors visit the We Are Blood website or call 512-206-1266 to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also accepted but appointments are greatly appreciated. There are two donation locations in Austin, one in Round Rock, as well as several mobile drives taking place across the area.  You can always donate blood to the American Red Cross and there are more local organizations accepting blood donations are Carter BloodCare and the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

Here is a great list of charities and organizations working to keep immigrant, Black, Latinx and other populations safe after Hurricane Harvey. I didn’t realize until this event that Trans folks are often shut out of shelters even during disasters! Also, if you have a spare wheelchair, other medical devices or extra school supplies this is probably a great time to donate it.

The City of Austin put out a great list of local organizations and Mayor Adler is asking people who can to offer a room which you can set up for free through Airbnb. The list also includes ways to volunteer.

Finally, if you just want to donate money in general and don’t want to read any lists or make hard decisions the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was created by the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, as a direct response to people asking how they could help the city. On Monday, Turner who is also a lawyer, announced in a press conference that he would personally represent any undocumented people who faced deportation as a result of seeking help because of the storm.

Austin Vegan Pizza Guide

I feel like maybe we have hit peak pizza in town so it’s time for a guide! Actually, there is plenty of room for more, get to it new Austinites from Italy, New York, New Haven, Chicago, and California! Check out Penny’s Portal if you need a list of vegan and gluten free.

Lil Nonna’s – This trailer on the eastside at the Buzzmill has incredible New York style Pizzas and square Sicilian style pieces by the slice. They have housemade vegan cheeses and meats (omg the beetaroni) and spectacular seasonal specials like fig and homemade goat cheese or a Caprese with vegan fresh mozzarella slices, locally grown golden tomatoes, and watermelon balsamic vinaigrette. GF crust available. Delivery available from Amazon Prime Now or Favor.

NY Style

Sicilian Style

Via 313 – What started as a trailer has now blossomed to an empire with restaurants and trailers all over town. This Detroit Style pizza is pretty much the love of my life. They use Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, and have a spicy tempeh on the menu along with the standard toppings. I love the trailer on Rainey street behind Craft Pride where you can sit on the patio and try out amazing Texas craft brews and the other one on the eastside at the Violet Crown, but the restaurants in Oak Hill and on the Drag have air conditioning and parking. And the no wait app! Via313

The Parlor – Also on Guadalupe “Home of the first Vegan pie in Austin. Gourmet toppings made in-house by Austin Vegan Meats. Full bar, great wine, local craft brews, daily happy hours. Pinball machines, jukebox with everything from The Clash & Billy Holiday to Slayer & Jimi Hendrix. Outside shaded patio, and lots of indoor seating. Order at the bar, and seat yourself.”

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Picture courtesy of @rabbitfoodgrocery

Rockin’ Tomato – I don’t understand why this spot of South Lamar isn’t more popular they have homemade vegan cheese and you can choose crusts from American, Detroit, NY Char, and St. Louis Cracker Crust or GF. It’s really good and they deliver. Below is a pic of the Detroit. Check it out!!!!Rockin Tomato

Bistro Vonish This trailer on north loop serves very popular seasonal pizzas with different local farm fresh produce and house-made cashew cheese.

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photo courtesy of @bistrovonish

True Food Kitchen – This California chain by Trader Joe’s downtown has some great vegan options but my favorite is the rotating seasonal pizza. There is only one choice at a time so check out the website, here is one from last fall with kale, cranberries, vegan goat cheese, sweet potatoes, & caramelized onions.True Food Kitchen

Counter Culture – If you are looking for creative vegan specials and a gluten free crust this vegan restaurant will not disappoint. They have a really tasty corn based crust and ever changing specials like Gumbo Pizza with local okra, zucchini, corn, blackened tempeh, setian sausage, and spicy aioli or brie and apple with spinach, fig sauce, and carmelized onions. Spaghetti squash and beet ball pizza below. Follow along on instagram to see what the weekly special is.

Counter Culture

Picture courtesy of @countercultureaustin

Promise Pizza – This spot in Round Rock was the first place I ever tried Daiya cheese way back in the day! They are still there serving up organic pizza to the north of Austin. Promise Pizza

Conans Pizza – with locations all over town this is the place for late night delivery & daiya cheese lovers. Conans

Brick Oven on 35th – This cute little Italian restaurant doesn’t have vegan meat or cheese but they have a nice little spicy vegan on the menu with chipotle pesto, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, and jalapeno.Brick Oven

More options with vegan cheese

Hoboken Pizza– open until 2:30am Red River & 7th. Vegan Pizza on Red River with Daiya

ZPizza– Several locations, the south is by the new Alamo at 5701 W. Slaughter Lane but there is one at 3300 Bee Caves Road, and one in Round Rock 200 University Blvd. This pizza place has Daiya cheese, vegan meat crumbles, and gluten free crusts available.

Mangieri’s Pizza Café 5900 W. Slaughter Ln, Suite 460 and in Lakeway 2133 Lohmans Crossing Rd. Daiya Cheese and tons of veggies are available at this pizza place.

Austin’s Pizza 2324 Guadalupe (Multiple locations in every part of town) Follow your heart vegan cheese can be added to any pizza.

The Pizza Press 404 W 26th St. This California chain has Dayia cheese available and both the regular and gluten free crusts are vegan.

North Door Pizza – 502 Brushy St. Teese cheese is available for your hand tossed pizza at this venue on the eastside. They also have a GF crust. Late night mini pizzas until 3am on the Friday and Saturday.

Spartan Pizza 1104 E 6th at Waller. Vegan Cheese plus delivery. Open until 3am Fri & Sat.

Flaming Pizza 3220 Feathergrass Ct #140 Vegan Cheese and lots of vegetable toppings. Unlimited Toppings.

Blaze Pizza Lakeline Commons  14009 N. Research Blvd. Vegan Cheese and toppings like spinach, zucchini, and artichokes. They also have all their nutritional information on their site so you can see all their crusts, including the GF one, is vegan.

Pie Five Pizza Co 2424 FM 685, Ste. 200 Pflugerville Vegan Cheese option and a spicy sriracha marinara sauce at this chain.

Mellow Mushroom  2600 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd This chain has daiya cheese you can put in their pizzas and calzones along with tempeh and tofu for toppings.

PizzaRev– Vegan dough at this custom pizza spot has daiya cheese for $1 more and unlimited toppings.

MOD Pizza – This chain has spots in Mueller, Westlake, and on east Riverside. Create your own pie with dairy free cheese & tons of veggies. You can top it off with some sriracha or a bbq swirl

Pour House – 6701 Burnet Rd. Follow Your Heart vegan cheese isn’t on the menu but you can ask for it.

Austin’s Pizza – This delivery chain has locations all over town and they have vegan cheese

Whole Foods – Multiple locations. Their pizza by the slice usually has a vegan option. You can also buy whatever you want at the store and they will use it for toppings if you like.

Eastside Pies – Multiple locations. 1401 Rosewood Ave, 5312 Airport, 1809 1 W Anderson, The crust, both regular and GF and garlic knots are completely vegan. The bases are as well you can get hummus, black bean, marinara, spinach curry, tomatillo, chimmuchurri, or pesto even the special pestos are vegan! The only base that isn’t is the ricotta cheese. The breaded eggplant is not vegan but there is a wide range of fun toppings like sweet potatoes, avocado, Habañeros and Spicy Slaw. As of 8/10/2017 they have Daiya cheese but are switching to Follow Your Heart soon.

DoubleDave’s Pizzaworks at Arbor Trails on William Cannon has Daiya cheese but only at that chain location and it isn’t on the menu.

Other options with no cheese

Backspace 507 San Jacinto. Most of the antipasti like ,chickpeas, tomato, onions, basil, oregano or spicy cauliflower, capers, calabrese, lemon are vegan and the pizza crust is vegan too at this classy brick oven pizza place and bar downtown. They have valet and are open until 11pm.

Home Slice– South Congress Pizza is vegan if you hold the cheese. Also the garlic knots.

Pieous– 12005 Hwy 290 W,  Brick oven pizza and salads at this pizza spot just outside of town. The marinara pizza is vegan & you can add veggies like Brussels Sprouts. South Austin Foodie has a review with pics of the menu.

Pinthouse Pizza 4729 Burnet Rd, 4236 S Lamar Blvd “The greenbelt pizza”, Red sauce,  mushrooms, Kalamata olives, garlic, green peppers, poblano peppers, red onions, spinach, and cherry tomatoes is vegan with “no cheese what-so-ever”

Tony C’s Coal Fired Pizza 10526 W Parmer Ln. and second location in Bee Caves 12800 Hill Country Blvd. Thin crust marinara pizza.

Doggie Style: American vegan street food at it’s best

30633016763_08018ea773_cI can’t believe Doggie Style has been open for a year now and I haven’t blogged about it yet! It has certainly become one of my favorite spots when I want to indulge in childhood favorites. This wonderful trailer over by Bananarchy at the Live Oak trailer park on South First got a lot of support from the get go with their kickstarter campaign getting vegans in town super excited for some homemade hot dogs. Even though I grew up in Chicagoland standard hot dog toppings have never been my favorite so when I read about the Jon Stewart Dog (Russian Dressing and Sauerkraut) or the Chicago Dog (mustard, pickle, relish, peppers, tomato, celery salt) I filed it away as a place to check out the next time I’m with a hot dog lover. Lucky for me, as a good blogger, I also started following them on instagram and saw their weekly specials pop up that were like calls directly to the weakest most self-indulgent part of my soul. Yes my primal cravings involve french fries and free beer (every Sunday). And tater tots.

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One Hot Dog I couldn’t resist was the Totchos Dog which was topped with fried tater tots, white sausage gravy, golden cheddar, and jalapeños. You could also get it just as an old-fashioned pie of totchos. This is a hot dog that dreams are made of.

 

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Another day I went nuts over the similar Poutine Dog (mushroom gravy, cheese curds, and french fries). With a side of fries.

 

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On a different trip I planned to share these chili fries with friends. But then my friends were late and I Homer Simpsoned the whole bowl. I have no self-control at Doggie Style. They are the closest thing to Chicago Diner-style food we have here in Austin.

If you want to try them out but don’t want to go alone Vegan Drinks is having a meet-up there July 7 at 8 PM – 11 PM

And if you want to eat an excessive amount of hot dogs, or watch people try, the Hot Dog Eating contest on the 4th of July!19149318_1795477720766654_2788951882748127234_n

So follow them on instagram or facebook and see what you can’t resist, here are a few other recent posts from them:

The Buffalo Cauliflower Dog

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The Flyin’ Hawaiian dog

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The Donald

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The Cherry Bomb

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And just last week they had a cheeseburger dog. Who knows what’s next?

Vicecreme – Lake Travis’ Vegan Ice Cream Shop

In Austin we have five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and TEXAS SUMMER. The latter is always in caps. It’s the extra season that people who live elsewhere don’t really understand. In some ways it’s more akin to the blizzards of the north because during TEXAS SUMMER you don’t want to go outside unless you are completely prepared for the elements (sunscreen, hats, deodorant) and it can be hard to motivate to get out of the sweet feel of air conditioning. If you are going to go brave the out-of-doors there are only certain places that are worthwhile; patios with misters and margaritas, Barton Springs, and Lake Travis. In the past, the latter was not very vegan friendly but times they are changing and now after a dip in the lake or a boat ride you can head over to the ever-expanding Oasis complex and find an all vegan ice cream shop: Vicecreme.

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I hadn’t been to the Oasis in a few years, and even back then it was an epic restaurant. Now it’s grown to be a Disneyland-style shopping experience with all sorts of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. We parked in the Oasis lot and took a golf cart over to the ice cream shop, because really why not? Then wandered around just a little bit until we found the storefront. 34305780643_55ed191476_b

The inside is very minimalist and modern with tasteful vegan art and lots of natural light and succulents. The menu includes sundaes with toppings like doughnuts and marshmallows, open-faced ice cream sandwiches (so you don’t squeeze out melty ice cream all over your hand), shakes, scoops, oreo cones, brownie sundaes, and banana splits. They make their own soft-serve, chocolate and “banilla” banana-based vanilla. 34729185990_5f0b2af2b1_zThe

Additionally, the case has six flavors of hard packed Nadamoo which will rotate by the season. I had my favorite Snickerdoodle but I also saw Chocolate Peanut Butter, Birthday Cake, Cherry Fudge Brownie, Java Chip, and Mint Chip. 34984894811_6a10aa3b85_z

They also have some eco-friendly items for sale that donate profits to animal shelters and marine life including Sand Cloud towels and bottles, Pura Vida bracelets, and Sydney Hale candles.

I topped my scoop with a doughnut and peanut butter sauce but Wes and Jessica went for a little bit of everything with their banana split.34951100942_f63919bfa8_z

So next time your out at the lake check it out and support these awesome vegans! 34271595574_f5898f8a23_z

Revolution Vegan Kitchen at the Midway

Update 6/20/2017 Revolution Vegan Kitchen relocated to 7800 S. 1st Street after this post was published34427123851_fca028daae_c

When Revolution Vegan Kitchen opened a few months ago there was a lot of confusion since this new trailer is named very similarly to long time Austin vegan business community members Unity Vegan Kitchen and Barbecue Revolution. At first we wondered if it was some sort of trailer offspring of the two super popular spots but it turns out that Revolution Vegan Kitchen is completely unaffiliated. I had heard it was out in Westlake but then I happened to see it driving out to the Hill of Life and learned that it is just west of Barton Creek Square Mall, off 360 in an awesome trailer park called the Midway. This is one of the most ideal spots for vegan kids in Austin. They have tons of covered tables and chairs, and a good-sized playground, and plenty of room to run around.33750286623_141216412a_c

And while you are waiting for your food you can chase after your little ones since RVK gives out vibrating pagers instead of giving you numbers to hang on too. 34086355250_8e02f855b1_z

Their menu is super kid friendly too, they have Mac ‘n’ Cheez, Corn Dawgs, Hot Dawgs, Chick’n Nuggets, juice boxes and 4 oz containers of Nadamoo ice cream! [It just occurred to me that this vegan generation might grow up really confused about how to spell common food words!] They also have curly fries and burgers (we guessed they were boca burgers but I forgot to ask) on the sandwiches and bites side of the menu.33747023693_bcb4190ffb_c

More exciting for adult vegans is that they have fried pickles and Mozzarella sticks but both were out the day I went. I bet they sell out of a lot of items on nice days, the Midway was packed, so if it’s across town for you, check their social media or give them a call before driving all the way out there.

The best part about RVK was the tacos, and I’m not just saying that because tacos are my favorite food ever. These vegan tacos were straight up legit – and I have an advanced degree in taco-ology. Looking at the menu, originally, I was disappointed because almost every offering was jackfruit based. 34430103896_681c86701f_b

But it turned to be some of the best jackfruit I’ve ever had. I loved the Al Pastor and it made me happy that the bright orange grease was running off of it, so authentic! I also tried the Chorizo con papas + way fauxs  and I loved that too, it was a very traditional breakfast taco. 34171484000_b1619a7696_z

I want to go back and check out the rest of the taco selection FOR SURE. I’ll just probably wait until the next time I’m hanging out with kiddos.  There is so much fun stuff to play with and I’m pretty sure it’s dog friendly too. 34471164465_951d3dfeef_c

Women owned vegan businesses in Austin

For International Women’s Day I thought I’d do a quick wrap up of the small businesses in Austin that are owned by women. There is a nationwide women’s strike today and although folks wanting to take part in the strike are encouraged to buy nothing and do no paid or unpaid labor, most of our small businesses need every penny so feel good about filling up your belly with delicious vegan food.32481086824_6102003b38_c

Unity Vegan Food  just moved over to the other side of Lamar but still on Barton Springs, right by Biscuits and Groovy across the street from Peter Pan’s mini golf. The food is as great as it ever was. Recent specials have included fried mozzarella sticks, chimichangas, and quesadillas but the muffaletta on house made bread (above) is always on the menu and so are those awesome avocado chocolate chip cookies.

Counter Culture Restaurant on East Cesar Chavez is always open and run by the indomitable and ever-present Sue. They just completely overhauled the menu with new sandwiches like the Pastrami Melt and Jerk Seitan and she always has daily specials like Artichoke Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza.

The Vegan Yacht is family owned and always delicious, they recently had a break in so if you’ve been waiting to check them out today is a great day! Their Freeto Burrito is infamous but the Buffalo Tempeh Burrito with blue cheese dressing is a good bet too.

Sweet Ritual ice cream shop is owned by not one, but two women and it would be difficult to find better vegan ice cream in the whole world. Their specials change every day, chocolate fans be on the lookout for Death Metal by Chocolate, and they always have  flavors like Peanut Butter Cup, Salted Caramel, Vanilla soft serve and lots of toppings like Magic Shell and edible glitter.

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Cool Beans has some of the best Latin American food in town, I long for their tamales (above)! I haven’t tried their tortas yet but they look amazing! They have moved a few times and are now on the lovely patio at the Spiderhouse off Guadalupe. And on the weekends they have brunch now!

Curcuma on South First takes it’s inspiration from Ayurveda and has popular drinks like the turmeric enhanced Golden Mylk or the Sexy Jo which has cacao, maca, cashew mylk, coldbrewed coffee, and cinnamon. They also have Sweet Potato Toasts and Bowls featuring whole foods ingredients.

The Great Y’all on the East side is owned and operated by two women who cook up Asian inspired bar food like cauliflower gobi wings, Samosa wontons, rotating flavors of bao, and cashew rangoons. Sometimes they have soup specials too, like hot and sour and won ton.33238152656_b3fcb64d30_c

The Beer Plant gastropub on the westside is another owned by a wife and husband team and has been getting better and better as time goes on. The sandwich pictured above is the Purple Pig which has beet bacon, sliced avocado, sunflower sprouts, green leaf, tomato, mayo on 9-grain bread. They also have their super popular “Hops and Chips”, a house made cheese plate, salads, desserts, and all sorts of delicious brunch options on the weekend.

The Blue Cat Cafe 95 Navasota Street, right off Ceasar Chavez. Inside you can hang out with cats that are up for adoption and watch them play on elevated walkways, lounge in unique cat beds, or play with toys. Outside is a vegan food truck with hot dogs, frito pie, nachos, and espresso drinks.

Capital City Bakery–  2211 east Ceasar Chavez. The best vegan baked goods in town. For real. Apple Pie ala mode Peanut Butter Crunch cupcakes this is where it’s at. I also love the Ham and Cheese Kolaches, the brownies, and their super espresso drinks.

Rabbit Food Grocery South First and Live Oak- An all vegan convenience store packed with so many vegan goodies that are hard to find anywhere else. Right now they have a ton of Easter treats. I love the Chocolate Hollow Hazelnut bar like nothing else. They also have vitamins, local handmade knitted items, cookbooks, and dog food. And they always have cookies by another women owned business in town, Celeste’s Best.

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Doggie Style has become my favorite “fast food” style place in Austin, I mean, they sometimes have a poutine dog on special! That’s what’s pictured above! The regular menu has a Chili Cheese Dog and a Chicago Dog. And they have this killer french fry plate with all the toppings. And Nachos! And free beer on Sundays! I don’t even like hot dogs and I just love this trailer.

Skull and Cakebones 3991 E Hwy 290 a, Dripping Springs. Newly opened all vegan, locally sourced bakery Skull and Cakebones is super popular! They have really fun items you can’t easily find in Austin like Babka, scones, and house made hot pockets. They also have soup and sandwich specials and, a variety of toasts, and espresso.

Cheer Up Charlies 900 Red River St You may know Cheer Ups for their awesome shows, queer friendly atmosphere, or just that Arlo’s has awesome burgers outside but they are also completely vegan! The two women owners make sure that all the drinks at the bar, from beer to kombucha is always vegan friendly! AND they have fresh squeezed local juice for their cocktails!

It’s also a great day to get out and do some activism which is… always happening in Austin these days. Today March 8 they are having a hearing in the Texas Senate about the fetal remains bill and you can testify at or just register your opposition to for the record. There is also an emergency rally outside of US Congressman Roger William’s district office in support of Planned Parenthood which the new healthcare bill defunds. And there will be a Planned Parenthood action forum afterwards.