Tag Archives: austin

Cool Beans: A vegan Mexican food truck in East Austin

I’ve been buried working on a huge project which means I haven’t had the chance to stalk all the new trailers in town. It’s incredible the Austinites are pumping out so many different vegan food options and I can’t try them all! I was so excited to learn about Cool Beans, because if there is one thing I love in the world it’s vegan tacos. Cool Beans is run by a couple from Brownsville and everything we tried was legit. My friend Jessica (who is about to open the brick and mortar vegan grocery store Rabbit Food in a brick and mortar on South First and live oak) and I had a chance to try out some of the options. I went for the fresh corn tamales with cashew cream and Mexican rice. 

I loved that they were served on a recycled record, so cute! And the tamales might have been the best I’ve ever had! Co-owner Priscilla told me that she learned the technique on family trips to El Salvador. They are so soft and full of corn flavor. I could eat them every day.Then I also got to try the Native which is their version of an Al Pastor made out of local garbanzo tempeh and served with grilled pineapple, cilantro, and onion. I loved this taco, so much better than other vegan Al Pastors I’ve tried in town. Jessica also had the OutKast made of marinated baby bellas, caramelized onions, and cilantro. They make their homemade tortillas to order and they were very different from other tortillas I’ve tried. I think they were spelt and a bit crisp.

We had a bit of hard time finding the trucks, it’s wedged in a little park behind Takoba at 1403 E 7th St. You turn in on the ally on Navasota between 6th and 7th. But go out there and support them and tell them what you think! It’s supposed to be beautiful all week! TACOS!!!!!!!!!

Veggie Heaven to close Dec 22nd after 16 years serving Austinites

I’m crushed. And seeing the crazy scene at Veggie Heaven today, with only four days to go until the close down, it seemed like a lot of people were trying to get their last fix in. There was a line out the door when we got there and their T-shirts were selling like vegan corn dogs at a circus protest. Even the news was there.

My friend had to park 6 blocks away but I got lucky because someone was leaving. One thing so great about Veggie Heaven is that they have the only free parking on the drag.

Today I got the fried tangerine mushrooms which I adore, they remind me of the Chinese delivery I’d get as a kid in Chicago. 

I had to get a steamed bun too, because this could be the last time I ever eat one in Austin Texas.

Usually I get the tofu and noodle bowl while I read the new Chronicle on Thursdays. It’s $4.60 and, I believe, the cheapest vegan meal in town.

I can even walk there. Or I could. I know it’s not the plant-based-diet people’s favorite place what with their use of gluten, sugar, cornstarch, and questionable fake meat but I will yearn for the food, the incredibly fast service, the ridiculously long menu, the Falun Dafa instructional videos, and knowing that they feed homeless people for free all day long. 

Goodbye Veggie Heaven. I will miss you.

AUSTINITES: Call your local representatives *today* to help animals

The Cruelest Show on Earth

For years a group of animal lovers in Austin have been trying to stop some of the worst forms of cruelty to animals in our time. Yes, I am talking about the damn circus where they regularly control elephants and other animals through shackles and pain. Austin For Cruelty Free Entertainment is working to ban bull hooks and chains and they can win this campaign if you take five minutes to call your city council members today. I hear time and time again that the best way to actually make political change is to work at the local level. Just a handful of calls can completely sway a council member because not that many people are engaged so don’t put it off! I don’t want to call either but they even made a script for us so it will be super easy. Here are the details:

Hello Everyone. Thank you for supporting our campaign to protect animals in circuses all these years. We are now at the most important and critical phase of this years-long process to pass an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, as well as banning chains used on elephants in circuses.
We need your help right now to help us pass this ordinance. Here’s what you can do today to help us out:

1) Call our city council members and mayor today and ask them to support this campaign. It only takes about 60 seconds to make each call. You will be speaking to a council member’s aide who may ask for your name and phone number; please give that information to them. Here’s what you can say when you call:

“Hello. My name is (your first name, last name). I live in Austin. I’m calling to ask Council Member (name) to support Council Member Tovo’s proposal asking the city attorney to write an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, one that also includes a ban on chaining or tethering elephants.”

Our city council wants to hear from you about important issues so please call them now so they’ll know how important stopping animal cruelty in circuses is to our community. One last thing: Our city council is very busy so please make your call very brief.

Here are the city council names and phone numbers and email addresses:

• Mayor Lee Leffingwell – 512-974-2250
• Council Member Mike Martinez – 512-974-2264,
• Council Member Bill Spelman – 512-974-2256
• Council Member Sheryl Cole – 512-974-2266
• Council Member Laura Morrison – 512-974-2258
• Council Member Chris Riley – 512-974-2260

2) You may also email our city council and mayor all at once by going here http://austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members. Your email will be sent to all of them once you click the SEND button.

Here’s what you can write in your email:

“Hello. My name is (your first name, last name). I live in Austin. I’m emailing to ask Council Member (name) to support Council Member Tovo’s proposal asking the city attorney to write an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, one that also includes a ban on chains or tethering elephants. Thank you.”

3) Join us at 10:00 a.m., on Thursday, December 11th, at City Hall where the city council and mayor will vote on a proposal asking the city attorney to write a law to protect animals in circuses in Austin.

We’ll need you to do the following once you arrive:

• Register your support for this proposal by voting at one of the kiosks located in the lobby of city hall. Two of our members will be stationed next to the kiosks to assist you with this step. This takes 2 minutes to do so please do this.
• If you feel comfortable speaking in support of this proposal then sign up to speak for 3 minutes during the city council meeting. You do not need to speak for the entire 3 minutes but you cannot go over 3 minutes either. Please be polite when speaking, give your full name and simply ask the city council to protect animals in circuses by banning painful devices used on animals in traveling shows as well as banning chains on elephants.
Follow Austin For Cruelty Free Entertainment on facebook or twitter for updates.

Rabbit Food Grocery is moving to a Brick & Mortar with your help!

Sometimes when you talk about veganism people call you an elitist and say that a vegan diet is too expensive.

Mostly, it’s cause people are dicks and they have to give you a hard time about something.

But, beyond that, I never understood this argument since the vegan meal is  almost always the cheapest entrée  on the menu, especially if you have to make your dinner from the sides portion.  Maybe people think that because guacamole is usually extra?

Anyway, for years I’ve wondered about this idea of veganism being more expensive and I think now I finally get it. The reason that you spend more when you are vegan isn’t because you are buying more expensive food, it’s because you find all sorts of great people and causes to donate too. People don’t want you to know that vegans are actually awesome and they are always doing cool shit like saving elephants, planting trees, and in this case, building an all vegan grocery store.

I’ve been hearing Jessica talk about her dream to open a vegan grocery store since before I even knew her IRL. This is something she and Gabe have been working on for a million years. They have been so successful with their online shop and pop-up shops (blogged about here) because they have got their shit together. They are the kind of brilliant vegans who are always working towards the cause to save animals. When I saw a pet bunny being carried down the road in my neighborhood by a dog it was Jessica and Gabe that I called to help me with it. And of course, not only did they help me save that bunny but they ended up adopting it. I trust these people with my vitamins, my dog food, and I know that I never have to order some special new vegan product because Rabbit Food will be the first to have it in stock.

I am so excited that that they are finally getting to open the store. Reading that in addition to groceries they will have a vegan coffee bar with bagels and homemade cream cheese, breakfast tacos, and a community event space is making my heart pitter-patter with enthusiasm.

So today I am asking you to check out the Rabbit Food Grocery Kickstarter and donate if you can. They have tons of cool prizes for out of town people too and think about how exciting it will be to shop here! No label reading! Lot’s of cookies! It’s going to be the best!

New vegan menu options at the Alamo Village!

The other day I was considering moving to a different part of the country. Obviously, there are so many horrible parts to moving. Like, I can’t imagine leaving my friends and family here, or selling my house. I started thinking about what I would miss the most about Austin itself like the shiny happy people and the anything goes anywhere dress code. But there are three things I just can’t even imagine how I would even live without. Tacos, Barton Springs, and the Alamo Drafthouse.

My partner and I are big movie/TV nerds since childhood and since our first days back at the original Alamo on 4th and Colorado the Alamo movie theater has been our favorite place. For Christmas we get Alamo giftcards and that’s where we go for birthdays and when we have friends in from out of town. I’ve gone from my first Mister Sinus theater experience of the Lost Boys, to wandering around the park between the four video screens for each of the four tracks of the Flaming Lips Zaireeka, to drinking Romulan Ale at the Star Trek premiere, every SXSW, Karaoke at the Highball, and seeing Leprechaun with Doug Benson every St. Patricks’s Day. I even got to see my friend chase James Franco down the alley behind the Alamo Ritz yelling “Mr. Franco”. It’s always just been a place that seemed meant for me.

Except for one gigantic problem.

While everyone around me is chowing down on movie themed specials and five dollar milkshakes I’m stuck with either the hummus plate, the veggie burger, the cheese-less pizza, the salad without half the stuff, or the plain popcorn. AKA the most boring vegan food in the world. Over the years they have added better vegan items like the Kick-Ass Tofu sandwich and the spaghetti squash pomodoro and then taken them away. The things is, when I go to the movie theater to laugh and drink beer I usually don’t want a meal. I want bar food. Snacks that go with beer. Things that are tasty and deep fried. Or if I’m having coffee and have already eaten I want something sweet. I look at their ice cream list every time, longingly, hoping that something has changed but alas, these snacks never come. Since the day I got twitter I feel like I’ve been harassing the Alamo to come up with something better for us. Once I even came up with a veganized menu that would be at my dream Alamo. It’s an obsession that I had pretty much given up on.

And then, last week, out of the aether I got the message I’ve been waiting for. “We heard you” and want “to extend an invitation to our first ever vegetarian and vegan food tasting and new menu reveal.”

It turns out that one of the kitchen workers at the Village is vegan and rode in the MS150 with Alamo owner Tim League. After a long and difficult training ride their team was scarfing up pizza and he couldn’t participate so Tim decided then and there to come up with some menu items! Finally! The best part, as a vegan blogger, is knowing there is a vegan at the kitchen and I can be certain that the bread and the tortillas are vegan without harassing the staff. And they have a little v for vegan on the menu. I couldn’t be happier. Well…unless they had deep fried olives and Sweet Ritual parfaits.

When I got to the Alamo Village last night there were already a million people there waiting to taste the food. That’s a good sign! We grabbed the four different items and found a seat. 

I think I started with the “Cherry Tomato & Avocado Bruscetta” served with basil, lemon vinaigrette, crostini, and a balsamic reduction.

I loved this dish, it’s like what I eat all summer when tomatoes are in season. The creamy avocado was a big yes for me. When they serve it at the theater you will get a big bowl of the topping and then slices of crostini. I love this idea and I am glad they are executing it so well.

I couldn’t believe the main dish was tacos, or in other words: my favorite food.

Even though they were called “Spiced Tofu Tacos” I was surprised by how spicy they were, definitely the spiciest tofu in town. The spice was balanced a bit with the avocado and I loved that the extra crunch was with fried tortilla strips instead of something like lettuce (I hate shredded lettuce) but I felt like these could have used another vegetable like baked squash or potatoes. They were a little understuffed but when you order them you get three. I wish there was a corn tortilla option because their flour one was just so-so. I really liked them regardless and I’m so happy to have a taco for when I’m there at breakfast!!!

Next I tried the Samosas that were served with a peach and mint chutney. Now, I’ve never met a samosa I didn’t like and this one was no exception.

They were pretty good sized and chock-full of filling. The crust was both soft and crunchy, just how it should be. I really liked the chutney too although I usually prefer some sort of tamarind sauce. You get three of these in an order and they are seven bucks so I can see myself getting these quite a bit and I’m sure they will go over especially well with the omni crowd.

Finally, I begrudgengly tried the Oatmeal Cherry Cookie, it didn’t look or sound like something I would like but hot damn, that was a great cookie! It was warm and soft with perfect texture and flavor. It might have been our favorite! That or the Bruschetta. The only thing about the cookies that they could improve is adding some ice cream.

And Jesus Christ get some nooch for the popcorn so I don’t have to sneak my own in. Where are we, North Dakota?

The new menu is available at the Alamo Village only right now, I beseech you to head over there and support it so that it spreads to the other locations. I think now I’ll finally be able to see Chef since I’ll have something to snack on during an entire movie about food.

PS. I’ve never beseeched anyone before and it was really fun. I’m going to start saying it all the time.

 

A review of A-OK Chinese

I hate writing bad reviews. I try to give a new place every chance. I don’t check out a restaurant until it’s been open a couple weeks (unless I just can’t help myself!) and then I try to go a couple of times with different people both vegan and omnivore. Even then in my review I always try and focus on the positive because I know not everyone likes the same kind of food and running a restaurant can be a real struggle. I was a waitress for many years and I know restaurants have bad days. But I can’t recommend A-OK Chinese at all, and judging from their yelp reviews I don’t think they will stay open that long unless they really retool their food.

At first I was really, really excited to have a Chinese restaurant in South Austin that focused on fresh local food, had craft beer, and was right between work and home, my favorite place for any new restaurant in Austin! When they told me that most of the dishes (with the exception of the Broccoli and Garlic) would be vegan if ordered with tofu I was sure it would become a go-to favorite. Currently, the only really vegan friendly Chinese that I eat at with any regularity in South Austin is Hao Hao which hits the spot for cornstarch heavy American Chinese food but isn’t a place I would recommend for a great meal but hey, they deliver. I thought A-OK would be the opposite with fresh Asian vegetables, light sauces, and then thick crusty tofu like you get at the best Chinese restaurants. Alas it wasn’t to be.

First, the interior is really cute, although it’s the fast-casual style where you wouldn’t want to linger. They have really nice decorative touches like stacked up cans from China and a giant photo from Nixon’s trip to China. You wait in line and order from the register. Or, in my case you order, then the cashier takes off to help someone else. Then you try and order again, and she stops you to give a to-go order to someone that just came in. Then you try to order a third time and she says “what” and you order again and then she repeats the order back to you all wrong. That it took four times for me to place my extremely simple order when it wasn’t busy at all (there was maybe three tables, no one behind me, and another cashier) was a bit dispiriting. If I was George Costanza I would have been sure she hated me.

Sesame Tofu looks better than it tasted.

I ordered the Sesame Tofu and it quickly came out. It looked pretty good, but it was utterly tasteless. After a couple of bites I got up and grabbed every condiment they offer in an attempt to make it tasty but the food really couldn’t be saved. The rice was mushy. The tofu was completely bland, dried out, and pointless. I didn’t notice any spices, just an abundance of carrots which doesn’t work in this dish at all. Then when researching this post and looking at the menu again I see that on the menu online it’s titled Honey Sesame. So it’s not even vegan. URGH.

at least they knew to serve a hefeweizen with an orange

On another trip a few weeks later I tried the Orange Sweet & Sour which is usually my favorite dish and it was even worse than the Sesame, the orange sauce was just like straight up orange juice except it was also really bitter. I couldn’t finish my meal and saved the leftovers and then I couldn’t bring myself to eat those. Dan ordered the Kung Pao and was really disappointed too, he said it wasn’t spicy at all even though the menu would have you believe it’s very spicy.  I really don’t know what is going on at this restaurant. All four of my different dining companions were just as unsatisfied as me. Oh and the worst part was that it was considerably more expensive than your standard Chinese restaurant. I spent 20 dollars for a bowl the bowl above plus a beer and tip. Yikes! I’ll be sticking to Hao Hao for now. A-OK? No way.

Vegan Bake Sale for Austin Pet’s Alive this Sunday at Wheatsville South

It’s time again for this year’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale and out Austin contribution gets bigger and better every year!

me & Kristen at the Counter Culture sale last year

If you like you can still sign up to bake here  http://tinyurl.com/2014AustinWWVBS

But if you want to help the leaders of Austin’s no-kill movement and thousands of pets find forever homes the best way is to let everyone know about the sale this weekend! Share our Facebook event! Harass your friends! Dedicate songs to us on the radio! Whatever it takes!

We will be at Wheatsville South this Sunday April 27 from 11:30am – 3:00pm

There will be gluten-free, soy free and savory items at the sale. And maybe even some dog treats.

The most exciting part is that we will also have treats from Sugar Mama’s, Happy Vegan Bakery, Red Rabbit Bakery, Mr. NaturalPatticake CupcakeryUnity Vegan Kitchen, and of course Capital City Bakery.

Help us make this sale this best yet!