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.

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.

UPDATE – PhoNatic – Vegan Friendly Vietnamese in Central Texas

2-14-2017 Update

Since writing this review I got several questions from folks that went to try out the vegan options at PhoNatic and were told that the egg rolls and salt and pepper tofu aren’t vegan. I reached out to and the company they assured me that all of the items that I blogged about below are indeed vegan and that they will do a better job training their staff to answer these questions in the future. They think what might have happened was confusion due to the shared fryer situation (they do not have a separate fryer for vegan items which is typical and I personally consider shared equipment vegan enough for this blog) Here is Chef Pat’s apology:

“Please express my sincere apologies for any confusion or misunderstanding as a result of our conversation. It is really important to me that we don’t mislead anyone. My family are Buddhist and we eat vegan on certain days of the year, so I understand the severity of misleading someone.”

I also asked them to send me an ingredient list for the eggrolls and they are indeed vegan.

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SO I rate PhoNatic as both being on the up and up for transparency and for vegan friendliness! I so pleased to repost my earlier review in it’s entirety below.

Review 2-10-2017

I’ve been a fan of the pho at PhoNatic for some time. The first one opened in North Austin on Anderson a few years back and then Southpark Meadows opened soon after. Now this local Austin chain has it’s fast-casual locations in Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Mueller as well. The restaurant by the same family who opened the first Asian grocery store in Austin and then later the sprawling Chinatown center and Pho Saigon the latter of which is one of the most highly rated Vietnamese spots in town. They contacted me to try all their different vegan options which they are very proud of showcasing which is always a good sign. I learned that the head chef grew up with Buddhist fasting which is great because that means he really knows what we mean by vegan (no fish sauce!).

While I regularly eat the pho at PhoNatic this was my first time trying their other options and I don’t know why I waited so long but I can tell you that it will be hard to resist their other apps and other dishes in the future. It’s a small brightly lit restaurant where you order at the counter, grab a number, and seat yourself. There are also a ton of condiments by the soda machine to gussy up your pho and they had a fun variety of beverages. The vegan eggrolls that we started with were on point with a tender flaky crust that wasn’t at all greasy and packed with vegetables.

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Next we tried the Spring Rolls which tasted fresh, sometimes you can tell that they have been sitting around all day but that didn’t seem to be the case at PhoNatic. Even though I don’t like lettuce I really like spring rolls, isn’t that weird? Maybe it’s because it’s mixed with mint and other herbs. 32763636076_58b733061a_c

My favorite part of the meal, which I will never be able to pass up on again, was the crispy salt and pepper tofu. I immediately had to ask where they get their tofu from because it’s clearly a much higher quality than what I get at the grocery store. Of course, their family members own the Chinatown Grocery store so they get freshly made tofu from there. Dan and I were fighting over every last crispy bit and it might even make my top ten list!

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After all this they brought out the small sizes of Pho Chay, which was still a lot of food for me! I have no control! It was so delicious. I’ve been going to Pho Please more often because it’s closer to my house but I do think PhoNatic is better upon reflection. I learned they make their broth in a two part process. It’s a traditional Buddhist vegetarian broth slowly simmered with daikons, shitakes, lemongrass, garlic, leeks, and spices then topped with crispy tofu, fresh bok choy, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and fried shallots.31990233713_2611c33433_c

Finally, just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite they brought out the Crispy Veggies and Tofu bowl with rice, though you can also order as a salad bowl or a vermicelli bowl. The chef just whipped up a veggie sauce for me and I begged him to put it on the menu because it was delicious and a good sauce is what’s missing from so many vermicelli bowls in town. That’s why I loved Lulu B’s, everyone else just uses fish sauce. The tofu was crispy and succulent and hard caramelized bits on the edges. Why can’t everyone make tofu this good? The world would be a different place!31990250263_226a74d377_c

So next time you are in the mood for Vietnamese check PhoNatic out and let us know what you think. To me, it seems like the perfect vegan friendly place since they totally get veganism, have fresh vegetables, delicious tofu, and locations in areas that are under-served.

Cookbook Giveaway: Vegan Mexico

vegan-mexicoVegan Heritage Press let me check out their newest cookbook by Jason Wyrick Vegan Mexico Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas. It’s chock-full of authentic Mexican recipes like Moles, Chilaquiles, Abodingas, Atoles, and even baked goods like Bolillos and Sugar Skulls. He also has some fun fusion recipes like Mushroom Crêpes in Poblano Chile Sauce. The book is divided into chapters starting with staples like rice, beans and salsas and then moving on to Street Food, Tacos, Tortas and other Sandwiches, Enchiladas, Tamales, Salads, Soups, Main Dishes, Grilled Fare, Small Bites, Bread, Drinks, and Sweets. You can see the whole table of contents on the Amazon Preview. I made the Frijoles de Olla and turned them into refried beans and I thought they were pretty delicious. I also made the Pumpkin Seed Tomato Salsa which was super easy, creamy and delicious and put it on top of the Northern Mexico Chimichangas (deep fried burritos) I was surprised my Texas friends had never had these before! veganmexicochimmichanga1

I think this would be a great cookbook for someone who cooks a lot and wants to try out Mexican techniques, or someone that knows how to do Mexican food but doesn’t know how to veganize recipes. The recipes always give options for removing oil or using vegetables instead of tempeh or seitan. It would also be great for anyone with a grill, Jason Wyrick clearly loves his. So if that sounds like you or someone you love I’m giving away a copy for my US readers.

12/9 update: Contest Closed thanks for playing!

All you need to do is tell me if you have ever had a chimichanga and if so, when and where? Make sure you put your email in the comment form so I can contact you.

My bff and I used to binge eat them on the last day of Girl Scout camp and then our parents would pick us up and want to take us out to dinner. So then we would eat Chinese food or whatever on top of the chimichangas and spend the rest of the night moaning about being too full. Then we would repeat the entire experience the next summer. It was the best of times.

Citizen Eatery opens on Burnet

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Vegetarian restaurants are popping up left and right these days. Okay, there have been two – with one more on the way- but it still seems like a lot! The much-anticipated Beer Plant soft opened to mostly rave reviews a few weeks ago and now Citizen Eatery has opened their doors as well. Embracing all the current trends of the day this modern light-filled restaurant will please not just the meat-free but also vegans, paleo, Celiacs, and other gluten-free folks. The kitchen is actually completely gluten free although they have wheat buns and bread shipped in (sealed) for those of us that want to keep our lives gluten-full. Peruse the menu before you go in because it is one of those spots where you order at the counter and get a number rather than being waited on. And, if you are anything like me, you are going to have a hard time deciding.

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We started with the breakfast menu. Pictured above is the vegan waffle with sunbutter, maple syrup, and a smoked sausage made out of lentils and mushrooms. The waffle was gluten-free so I probably wouldn’t order it again, it didn’t have that crisp and fluffy bite that I love in a waffle. The tofu scramble we tried, The Citizen Scramble, was excellent. Packed with vegan cheese and kale it was different from most restaurant scrambles and hit the perfect breakfast notes. We also liked mixing in a bit of the lentil sausage for some smokiness.

In addition to breakfast, the menu has a list of salads, seasonal dinner specials like Vegan Bolognese with “veggie noodles” (or “zoodles” if you prefer) and family style passed sides Butternut & Sweet Potato or Brussels with Grapefruit. We tried the cheesy Cauliflower dish which I loved, it was very comforting and almost seemed like something you could get a cracker barrel… if cracker barrel was a gluten-free vegan wonderland. 30538569590_900662c191

We also tried the Citizen Burger which was described as “house wood-smoked patty with white beans, citizen grain mix, kale and spices.” Served on a wheat bun with seasonal greens, tomato and avocado ranch dressing. I thought the burger was amazing and I’ve had a lot of really good burgers recently! We spoke with one of the owners and she said that each patty is made differently and that many techniques go into each one including smoking the mushrooms and onions in the citizen burger. It all leads to a much more nuanced taste than most patties I’ve had. And the avocado ranch dressing was delicious too! I can’t wait to try the hatch pepper version next because I could see it becoming my favorite burger ever.

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We also had a side of fried things, the Mixed Basket has french fries, sweet potato fries, a vegan aioli, and deep-fried vegetable noodles. We were all completely hooked on the latter. The vegetables change depending on what is in season and I can’t even remember what ours had (maybe butternut squash and zucchini?) but either way they were awesome! I love that all the sides and dressings are vegan. It makes ordering really easy. Also the staff was really nice, the building has plenty of parking, and the cocktails look intriguing as well. I think North Austin is going to be super pleased.

All the best of vegan NYC in 2016

Sometimes I think if I lived in New York instead of Austin I would have been following a bagel cleanse instead of a taco cleanse. Bagels have long been my favorite part about trips to the city because they are so amazingly good and so many places have a variety of tofu cream cheeses, including green olive. It’s the best thing in the world.30004804410_1d5acdf7fb

Other than bagels, the last few times I went to New York I felt like the popular vegan places were overrated. Candle 79, Champs, Beyond Sushi, Wild Ginger, and Dunwell Doughnuts are all infamous vegan spots that I was super excited to try and then a bit let down by. This trip was different because I went with traveling expert, and awesomest person ever, my pal Jojo who set me straight on all the best places to go. Wait, actually it was my Austin friend Jessica who told me we had to try the impossible burger at Momofuku Nishi which was our first stop.30124738716_b6ee6f9e27

I had read that you have to get in line before they open because they only make 50 burgers a day so we got to happy hour super early. Eventually a staff person came out and asked us if we were there for the burgers. When we told him we were, he said that they don’t do them for happy hour anymore, only lunch! GASP! But then they said they would make them for us. Whew. The impossible burger is supposed to be so meat-like that vegetarians are grossed out. Known as “the burger that bleeds” we couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, all five of us, all vegan, enjoyed it. Someone said it was on par if not better than Arlo’s here in Austin, which, I have to disagree with. The patty reminded me of the burgers I ate in the elementary school cafeteria. The fries were like McDonalds fries, which was awesome since the real McDonalds fries are made with meat so I can’t eat them. I would have liked it better with some cheese and I do think Arlo’s is better but I’d, for sure, recommend it.

Later we stopped for a slice at Vinnie’s in Brooklyn which reminded me of Dimo’s in Chicago, they have all sorts of crazy options like vegan mac and cheese or teriyaki chicken.30046760082_b7d126d9f5

The next morning we got bagels and did the most touristy thing one could ever do in New York: rowed boats through Central Park. I should have taken a video so that I could use it in a video montage set to New York City. It was so fun, we saw turtles and didn’t capsize once. We headed to Riverdel Cheese shop and deli in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for sandwiches and it was just the kind of sandwiches I love, roasty, toasty, and filled with cheese. I got the M Night Shamlani (or something) which was cheese and salami just like the sandwiches I made growing up. Yes, I went from a diet of almost exclusively meat, cheese, and bread (and olives) to a vegan. I wish a place like this would open around here, I love that vegan delis are getting so popular.

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After some wandering about we headed for Lagusta which now has a location in the East Village. I had been to the original in New Paltz a few years back and thought I’d died and gone to heaven, a very expensive vegan chocolate-based heaven. I saved my chocolates for an emergency because I knew at our next restaurant we were going to want to eat everything on the menu.

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Meeting up with friends at Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new Brooklyn location of Modern Love is something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as it’s been in existence…or before it even existed. When I found out my friend Laura was going to be in town the same weekend as Jojo I knew it was time to make the trip.

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Everything about Modern Love is perfect, from the dark wood walls, the cute bathrooms, to every single thing on the menu. I was overwhelmed. Even though I’d been studying the menu in anticipation for a while I could not decide what to get. Luckily, I had enough people with me that I got to try just about every appetizer. The poutine was what I was maybe most excited for (I did have a dream about it). Instead of french fries they were large potato wedges and covered in the most delicious porcini gravy, and truffled almond  riccotta. We also had chili cheese fries, the tempeh stuffed avocado, Brussels with bacon, and what turned out to be my favorite, the mushroom blintz with smashed beet relish and kasha arugula salad.

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For my entree I had a hard time deciding. I really wanted the Mac and Cheese with pecan-cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower and kale and I got to try it and it was truly fantastic. The tofu was just perfectly done and crispy on the outside. I ended up getting the Stuffed Poblanos with Street Corn (spicy lentil meat, yuba chicharrones, red rice, jicama slaw, smoked guacamole, pico de gallo, coconut sour cream, fresh herbs). The yuba was like nothing I’ve ever had before. A couple people thought it was potato-skin esque put when Laura said it tasted like pig skin, it was an aha moment. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten something like that!

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Finally came dessert and I went for the  Dulce De Leche Coconut Cream Pie.30010364610_9cdcd4e0d1

We tried to walk off the excessive eating by taking Isa’s advice and walking across the Williamsburg bridge which was super fun and beautiful.

Dim sum in New York has seemed like something important to do since I first heard of it in the movie Working Girl circa 1988 and I’ve seen many pictures of Vegetarian Dim Sum House. We met up for brunch even though Jojo thought dim sum for brunch was inauthentic and I think Nick might have just been full up still. Everything was crazy good and only 6 dollars apiece.30157812166_c446c3558b_z

The turnip cake (not pictured) reminded me of the most giant noodle ever. The monk dumplings, the coriander ham rolls, & the vegetarian pork rolls were all perfectly done and ridiculously tasty. It was just so much deliciousness in one meal. I could eat there every week. It would suck to live in New York and be super lazy, knowing that you could get on a train and have the best meals ever if only you could leave the house. I would be terrible at it. At least you can get so many things delivered.

We stopped in Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery to grab some knishes to-go and I followed the sign’s advice and brought one home for a friend! It was delicious. The perfect airplane treat.

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We also stopped at By Chloe a couple of times for various desserts. I had never had a black and white cookie so I was super stoked to try one. 30216253151_2784f399ac

We had heard that the yuba sandwiches from Superiority Burger were some of the best food in town so we tried those as well. The restaurant was so tiny we couldn’t all sit at once and I didn’t take a picture but I had to share Jojo’s. I now want to make all sandwiches with yuba.

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Seriously. This trip was 100% tastier and way more fun than my last few trips and it was all thanks to Jojo and her wonderful husband Nick. If you are ever on a trip check out her blog Vegan in Brighton cause girlfriend does her research and there is no dicking around eating shitty food with Jojo. It’s all good all the time. 30005346660_64e4545211_o

And grab a knish for the airplane. You won’t regret it. 29671630334_0ce036499d

Boozy Cherry Limeade Bombs

Whiskey Cherries

I believe Texas actually has five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and TEXAS SUMMER. The latter is always in all caps because it’s so hot that you actually start to feel like you’re living in one of those dystopian future hellscapes where everyone is fighting over water and wearing pointy jewelry. Luckily we aren’t quite at that point yet and water is plentiful and delicious cherries from the Hood River Valley in Oregon are able to be shipped to Wheatsville Food Co-op and bought by me during these, as of this writing, pre-apocolyptic days. In these times of heat and uncertainty it can be hard to cook or even eat which is how I came up with the idea for these refreshing and mildly intoxicating cherries. They are the perfect thing to eat poolside, bring on your next river trip, or just to munch on while sitting in the A/C watching women’s gymnastics. They are also super easy to make and don’t require turning on any heat making appliances, a big no-no during TEXAS SUMMER. And I bet they are healthier than getting a Cherry Limeade from the Sonic drive through because there is no added sugar. Just added alcohol.

Boozy Cherry Limeade Bombs
2 lbs cherries, pitted
1/2 cup whiskey
1 tablespoon mint leaves, torn
1 lime, juiced

First pit the cherries, a reusable stiff straw makes the job super easy. Just pluck out the stem and pop the straw in through the cherry. Put in a glass or other bowl with a locking top and add the whiskey, mint, and lime juice. Chill for an hour or two flipping the bowl so the cherries get saturated. Serve as is, in cocktails, or on ice cubes. Enjoy.

If you would like to win a 30 dollar giftcard to Wheatsville and make your own boozy cherries just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite summer fruit, I will pick a winner in a couple days. Make sure you put in an email that works! 

Giveaway closed, thanks for commenting!

Thanks to Wheatsville for sponsoring this recipe.