Tag Archives: breakfast taco

Summer Vacation: Portland in July

I just came back from a whirlwind trip and am already planning my next one. This time I swore I would blog every day but there was just no time. For example, I went directly from the airport to fireworks on Oregon/Washington border because it was the fourth of July.

We had a big bonfire and sang songs all night and the next day I woke up and went directly to the Flavor Sport for one of their delicious sausage and maple cream stuffed waffle tacos. Sadly, I was foiled just like the last time I went; this time they were out of vegan batter! I had to go back the next day. As in, I had to. I am powerless against the siren song of this crazy ass breakfast taco.

After the “we are out of vegan waffles” debacle all I wanted was a breakfast taco and I decided to check out El Nutri Taco, an unassumning vegan friendly truck on Alberta. The tacos didn’t sound too exciting so I got, what turned out to be, a GIGANTIC burrito. I didn’t even take any pictures ’cause you all probably know what a gigantic burrito looks like. At first, I couldn’t decide what to get so I just randomly ordered what the people in front of me ordered and got the “Super Gabby” which had tofu, chipotle soyrizo, button mushrooms, grilled onions, fresh jalapenos, cabbage, avocado, & chipotle aioli. It was fantastic and wayyy spicer than I thought I would get up in the Northwest. I worried that I couldn’t eat another bite.

But don’t you worry, I still went across the street to Back to Eden for some softserve because I needed to cool down after all that.

Another day I stopped at the Native Bowl which is in a PACKED food court off Mississippi. I remember a couple summers ago when they were just opening and it was an empty lot and now there are so many trailers it’s like the freaking state fair. Native Bowl, by the way is probably the cutest trailer I have ever seen, it’s so well designed calling it a trailer doesn’t even feel right.

I got the Mississippi Bowl only because I have head so much about it. It had Jasmine rice, ranch sauce, barbecue soy curls, two kinds of barbecue sauce, fresh crisp slaw, and scallions. It was pretty tasty and a very large portion but I think next time I would try something else. I didn’t even really notice the ranch and the slaw just made it taste like a salad which I have a life long aversion too. I’m trying to break out of it!

My last stop in the city was Green Papaya for Pho. I have been continually disappointed with vegan pho in Austin. It’s either way too much star anise or really bland broth and always full of vegetables that don’t make any sense…if you are lucky to get vegetables at all. Although it wasn’t the best I have ever had it was so much better than versions I have had here. The broth had flavor! The green beans were crisp and delicious! I was so happy.

So that’s the city of Portland portion of my trip, next up is Willamette Valley, Seattle, and then Chicago. Dang.

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The Vegan Nom – a new taco trailer for North Loop

The other day I went a book signing party for Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious at Icenhauer’s. I got into a conversation, about food of course, with a student from the Natural Epicurean who asked me what my favorite genre of food is. I couldn’t think of anything, we had just sampled some colorful and spicy Vietnamese food and that was very much on my mind. Michael had talked (briefly!) about mudardara and I was thinking about how I hadn’t had Lebanese food in forever. I panicked. I’m a spaz sometimes IRL.

I said “I like everything”.

It is a total lie, I definitely have a favorite food and without a doubt to anyone that has met me, read my blog, followed me on twitter, come to my house, seen me in the morning, or gone on a trip with me then you know I certainly have a favorite genre of food and that culinary tradition is the mighty taco. 

There is are quite a few places in town to get a fabulous breakfast taco (which I wrote about here) but now we have a new cart on North Loop, the Vegan Nom, dedicated solely to bringing us the wide range of vegan tacos!

I finally got to try it last week, and I was pretty excited just to read the menu, they have 2 dollar breakfast tacos and 4 dollar signature tacos. Breakfast is served all day so that’s one star for me right there. The breakfast tacos are all the vegan combinations you would expect including, tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, vegan chorizo, refried black beans, caramelized onions, mushrooms, spinach, potatoes, and avocado. You can also add on from a long list of extra topping for an extra .50 cents. With the recent closure of Elsi’s I was saddened, but not surprised, to see the Vegan Nom doesn’t carry fried plantain. What can I say, it’s my favorite topping and it goes so well on a breakfast taco mixed with guacamole! Where am I going to get fried plantains on breakfast tacos now? The “signature” tacos include mostly these same toppings with the addition of vegan cheese and more toppings.

I was pretty happy with my choices. The tofu scramble and tempeh bacon was the perfect protein packed breakfast and the flavors were right on. I asked the person at the counter for a tortilla recommendation, and she told me to go with the corn. It was pretty good but I don’t think they are homemade. Hopefully in the future when they get the kinks worked out they will start making their own because a fresh tortilla makes all the difference. I also tried the refried black bean and vegan chorizo taco and was so surprised by the spicy-ness. 

I love a spicy taco so for me it worked out great but if you fear spicy things I recommend sticking with the red sauce. Also note, that there aren’t any tables yet and the parking lot isn’t the best spot to enjoy your food right now with all the folks that like to hang out outside the convenience store and ask for change. But you can order your taco ahead of time by calling and they will have it ready to go when you get there.

And go there you should! I am sure it is just going to get better and better and for a trailer that just opened, they are clearly on the right track. Once the tables come they are going to be staying open for dinner too. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu.

*******EDITED 8/30 2012

I wanted to note that they have totally fixed the outdoor seating situation, now they have some umbrella tables right next to the trailer and they have completely fixed up the back tables and it’s very inviting and super cute.

Austin Vegan Breakfast Taco Guide

I often repeat that old bit of wisdom that the breakfast taco is the most important taco of the day but it is also a philosophy that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. It’s the taco that I long for, almost tragically, when my digestive fires start burning. I realized this week that although they show up in a lot of my guides, I haven’t done a wrap up since 2008 and there are a lot of new players since then. I don’t think we even had the Whole Foods taco back then. Isn’t it weird to think of a time when the Whole Foods was just a regular old health food store instead of a ridiculously packed megastore with mile long lines and even Japanese tourists? I wait in those long lines quite a bit for their monster of a breakfast taco. I like mine packed with tofu scramble, seasoned potatoes, and pico de gallo but others prefer the vegan chorizo, refried pintos, black beans, and now even steamed kale and Daiya. The key to their whole success, I think, is in their Margarita’s Tortillas. The spelt is one of my all time favorites but I also adore their pico de gallo. I don’t know how they manage to find good tomatoes all year long but they do it! If you like spicy food the new mango habenero salsa is delicious too.

Even though Margarita has fantastic tortillas they can’t compare to my number one favorite homemade tortilla from a little Mexican trailer in my neighborhood off south first called La Flor. I read about this spot on Taco Journalism and ventured out there with the desperate hope that they didn’t use lard in their refried beans and I was granted with wonderfully cooked beans and the most sublime corn tortilla I have ever had in my life. It must be made by angels in the middle of the night. It’s filled with their delicious refried beans, seasoned potatoes, and nopales and then topped with their own green salsa. It’s the kind of taco that would make baby Jesus weep.

*/UPDATE 5/30/2010*/ My boyfriend was at La Flor today and heard that the beans weren’t vegan. I have questioned them extensively about lard and cooking with meat and they told me in the past that they used vegetable oil so as of right now I’m not sure who to believe so ask before you order.

If you live in North Austin, I recently became totally hooked on a Mexican/ El Salvadoran restaurant introduced to me by the Lonestar Plate called Elsi’s. This little restaurant is the perfect place to avoid brunch chaos and hang out for awhile and enjoy the best veggie chorizo in town. The first time I went I followed Molly’s rec and got a bunch of sides to make my own taco and I still do that, but now I add fried plantains and guacamole and the last time I ate it I swore it was the best vegan taco in town. If you have any idea how much I hate driving across town, know that I will drive all the way to Burnett to eat this glorious taco.

*/UPDATE 5/7/2010*/ Soon after I wrote this post Elsi’s sadly closed down but there is hope that they might reopen in another location. In the meantime a new all vegan Taco trailer, the Vegan Nom opened on North Loop. I wrote about it here. 

If you live on the East Side, I still think your best bet is still Mr. Natural, and they are even open on Sunday now! I didn’t like their tacos at first because they have sprouts and lettuce on them. It took me several trips before I realized I could order whatever I want! They have a newly expanded menu and I am so stoked about the upcoming Serbian night!

The Cherrywood Coffeehouse, also on the East Side supposedly has great tacos topped with shoestring potatoes but I have never tried it because they are always really really busy on the weekend, and by the time I get all the way over there I am hungry like a wolf so I can’t wait around all day.

Wheatsville is a nice central option but I have never been too impressed by their tacos, even thoughI LOVE everything else there and think they are a really good deal. They have delicious salsa’s of the month and are the only place I can think of that even tries a tempeh taco but they can’t help but leave behind that “healthy” taste in my mouth so I usually opt for something else when I go there.

The best taco I’ve had on the west side is definitely the Freakin’ Vegan at Taco Deli. Even though it’s just beans and avocado their salsas are really outstanding and the one off mopac is a fun place to go before hitting trails on the Greenbelt. 

And now I realize that I would be remiss to not mention Bouldin Creek. Many consider it the holy grail of a vegan breakfast taco and their tofu scramble is one of my most favorite foods in the world. But I’ve got to admit that their tacos have never been a favorite of mine. Their salsa is a little flat and the tortillas aren’t the best so while I love the scramble and the vegan chorizo, I’m probably just going to have it in it’s non taco form. Blasphemy, I know.

If you don’t live in Austin, or you just don’t like leaving the house in the morning (I hear you) check out my post on how to make a breakfast taco.

And Please let me know if you have any other favorites in the comments. We should have a vegan taco tour!

South Austin Vegan Brunch Guide- a rebuttal

The other day The Lonestar Plate wrote a guide about the best brunches in Austin. I started to comment about this and that because I felt like Molly’s criteria for best brunch isn’t the same as mine and we have such different opinions about something so important. Luckily, I have my own blog where I can ramble on about my favorite brunch spots with my favorite pictures.

My criteria is this: I don’t want to wait to sit forever and brunch can’t end at some absurdly early hour. I love that Wheatsville runs their hot bar with biscuits and gravy and tofu scramble all the live long day on Sunday. I actually end up there quite a bit because sometimes I don’t truly get my act together until around 3. It’s a tough life! Whole Foods is kind of the opposite of mellow wonderful Wheatsville. Breakfast taco service ends at 1pm on the weekends and the store is always buzzing in a beehive-like panic. But I adore their breakfast taco, even though it is totally inconsistent and sometimes doused with turmeric, when it’s on it is my favorite taco in town so I will occasionally brave the crowd…or more likely send someone to get tacos for me!They have other stuff too, they recently reformulated the donuts but I am still not impressed and they have a bagel bar with all sorts of vegan toppings but it seems to always close before I get there. They used to serve all kinds of good specials at the vegan bar but now that they are on the health kick it isn’t as appealing to me. So tacos it is and I don’t mind one bit.

One place I do love for healthy food is the recently opened Juicebox. For months I have been enjoying the Green Monster Smoothie (broccoli, peanut butter, coconut water, banana and spinach how are you so good?) but recently they expanded the smoothie menu and it is a lot harder to choose. So far I love the “Buisness Time” (cold pressed coffee, coconut water, cacao, and banana) even more than the Tropicalia (mango, banana, pineapple, lemon, kale, and spirulina) probably because tropical smoothies in Hawaii are still fresh in my memory. They also have vegan soup options from the Soup Peddler but so far I have been disappointed. I don’t know people refuse to make creamy vegan soups like corn chowder or potato leek, it really isn’t a sacrifice to use non dairy milk! I promise.

Another place I frequent is La Flor, and not just ’cause I live so close by. This place has the best tortillas I have ever had. Both the flour and especially the corn are just another level of amazingness. They are almost like a crepe and so fresh and delicious that no other taco can compare. The Spanish speaking proprietors of the trailer have assured me several times of an absence of lard in the refried beans and they are just delicious and similar to the fabulous recipe that I make at home. I finish off my taco with their steamy potatoes, nopales, and spicy green sauce and I am in cielo.

I was so excited when I found out Summermoon was selling Red Rabbit Donuts. I am desperately in love these deep fried morsels of wonder even though they don’t have any cream filled varieties. I am so glad to have a spot close to my house where I can pick them up. They probably have a location close to you too. I wish I could eat them every day.

Another coffee shop on South First has probably the greatest vegan breakfast empanadas in the world. The Fair Bean works magic with their flakey buttery crust surrounding perfectly seasoned breakfast sausage and soft potatoes. I don’t know why it isn’t one of the most popular vegan spots in town but I wish you all would check it out. Believe me on this! Maybe it is because they run out of vegan empanadas sometimes or maybe they are just too close to Bouldin Creek that not enough folks seem to give them a shot? They also have fantastic lattes, the best in town and red roobis lattes, a Roto de vegan, fantastic and giant chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. And eveyone that works there is really nice. And the owner is Brazilian. So go. I don’t work for them I just want them to always be there.Of course there is a reason that everyone goes to Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. It probably has my favorite brunch in town. I love their unique baked tofu scramble in both the omlettes or the tacos. The Rennedict was truly a step above it for me. All that delicious tofu scramble covered in hollindaise and the best tofu bacon I have ever had make me want to cry because I go there all the time and this picture you see is the only time I have ever gotten to try it. They stop serving it at 11 or whenever they run out. And they always run out. So if you are one of those people that gets up and goes for a nice run and then needs a hearty breakfast by 8am check it out. I’ll be in bed drinking coffee and thinking about how much I hate you.

Although it isn’t paticularly vegan friendly I do end up at Polvo’s quite a bit and eat about a million chips with their delicious trio of salsa’s and escabeche while sucking down their giant Michelda. By the the time I get my food I’m not even hungry (stupid awesome chips and salsa) but their breakfast tacos are pretty good and they have lots of options. The trick is to go to the very  back middle bottom page of the menu to see your options. The staff is notoriously unhelpful but if they aren’t busy and you can get across veganism to them they sometime will make you really good food off the menu. If you don’t want a battle just be prepared to order a breakfast taco and say “really no egg” about seven times to get the point across. Curra’s over on Oltorf has better vegan options but they always seem to have a long wait so I never go.

Mr. Natural is another place with inconvenient brunch hours but worth checking out on a Saturday for sure. Mexican Breakfast is probably my favorite thing about life in Austin and this cafeteria does it right, if you weren’t impressed by lunch or dinner give their breakfast a shot. And then try lunch again on a different day. The menu has tons of stuff that can be easily veganized like this Mexican pancake. It is just a pile of potatoes, a fresh tortilla, and vegan chorizo covered in Ranchero sauce but they make every aspect of it in house so every ingredient is done to perfection. I love the Tofu Migas and the breakfast tacos (with no lettuce) as well but they also have vegan Belgin Waffles, acai bowls, cinnamon toast and ice cream sundaes! And vegan tres leches but that’s another story.

Just down the street from Mr. Natural, and at 4 other locations in town, is the very popular Kerbey Lane Cafe which is one of those places that is great for vegetarians and really not worth the hour wait on Sundays for vegans. The pancakes are much better than they used to be now that they don’t try to do vegan and gluten free and I love that they bring you margarine without asking. But, the rest of the vegan platter is kind of a disaster. The tofu scramble is either way over-spiced or not spiced at all and it really doesn’t go with pancake and maple syrup at all. Then there is the utter disaster that they call soysage. Thier soysage is the reason people throw rocks at vegan kids at school. It is exactly what the people who refuse to try your cooking think of when they hear “fake meat”. Maybe that sounds harsh but I really think nasty vegan food does more of a disservice to veganism than having no food at all. The really sad part is that vegan sausage is so easy to make or buy! It is probably the truest meat analogue there is after chick patties. I wish they would just get rid of the scramble and the sausage and serve the pancake with fakin’ bacon and homefries.Another disappointment, but for the opposite reason is Snack Bar on South Congress. They used to have these fantastic vegan migas, pictured above but then they got a new chef and took them on the menu. Before that, they had tempeh bacon and vegan waffles but they got a new chef and took them off the menu. They contacted me the other day to say they reformulated the vegan arepas and they are really good now but I think I’m afraid that I will go and love them and then they will take them off the menu. At least their cocktails are delicious and the patio remains one of the cutest in town.

For me, only two north spots make the cut because I am a southie for sure but I have to mention Counter Culture because pretty much whenever they have brunch (they only do it some Sunday’s so follow them on F*c*book) I have to go. French toast is usually the main attraction but I love the tempeh bacon, biscuits and gravy, and almost everything I have had there. I dream of Sue opening a restaurant in South Austin that has brunch every day. Finally, Sunflower Vietnamese restaurant should not be missed. I regret all the years I was too lazy to drive all the way up to research or 183 or whatever the hell crazy road this little Vietnamese restaurant is on because I missed out. The Vietnamese crêpe (or Bánh Xèo) is stuffed with mushrooms and and sprouts and all the traditional Vietnamese elements. The crepe is made out of rice flour and coconut milk and is probably even gluten free. It is by far the best vegan crepe I have ever had. I highly recommended you check it out.

So that is my brunch guide. If you disagree fee free to comment or, better yet, make one yourself! I love reading about vegan food in Austin.

 

Love letter to my co-workers

Today I got to my desk and this was sitting there. There is nothing better than a breakfast taco to start the day. I have the best co-workers in the world! Not only do they help save turkeys with me and make donations to Farm Sanctuary but they are just the best people ever and they don’t seem to mind that I sing all day long. Sure, most of them distract me all day with pictures from Cute Overload and there is endless talk about the minutia of life but without that I could never get through the day. Plus they help me decide which picture of tofu is the best out of 10. And they bring me food. And sometimes make me cupcakes. It is great. Thank you guys! I love you!