Tag Archives: Counter Culture

Vegan Weekend Plans

One thing that I do to make myself feel really terrible is make a ton of plans for the weekend and then cancel them all. This is going to be one of those weekends because there is so much vegan action that sounds like a blast. But, if you read yesterday’s post and saw what my deepest desires are then you know that I won’t make it to all of these events. Hopefully there are more energetic people out there than me and so this post is for you!

First up, is the return of Vegan Drinks tonight at Cheer up Charlies. It’s super exciting that Arlo’s reopened at the Red River location and they are even giving away free french fries if you tell them the secret password: VEGAN DRINKS FRIES! . The drink specials will include The Vegan Yeti (White Russian), The Banana Hammock (pineapple, banana juice, coconut milk & rum), and Whiskey Root Beer Floats made with ice cream provided by Sweet Ritual! It’s tonight Friday at September 5th at 7pm.

On Saturday morning, I will spend the morning at the Beagle Brigade at Norwood Estate Dog Park. Then, at 5pm Unity Vegan Kitchen is going to be throwing a birthday party at their new location in South Austin! And they are going to be making their chicken and waffles with an even better recipe! Hard to imagine cause they were pretty amazing at the 4th of July Party. 

If you don’t stalk Austin vegan business you might not know that there have been a lot of changes in the past few weeks. The Northloop trailer park had to close down completely and Red Rabbit moved into Monkeywrench Books, Taco ‘Bout It closed down, Unity moved to the South Austin Social lot, and BBQ Revolution moved next to Brass Ovaries at 3111 Manor Rd. The Vegan Nom moved back to it’s original location on North Loop. The Dojo closed down and it looks like the Health Box shut down too.

On Sunday Mr. Natural is serving up their monthly vegan brunch buffer at the Ceaser Chavez location.  They will be serving a Boston creme cake as a special treat. Counter Culture will also have brunch, as they do every weekend, this time they will be continuing the special of Blueberry Blue Corn Pancakes with Organic Maple Syrup which are amazing! And as usual Counter Culture will also be hosting the Rabbit Food Pop-Up shop so get your orders in. And if you haven’t read about it, please check out their awesome kickstarter ’cause it’s going to be the best thing ever.

On the horizon for next week Counter Culture will be hosting a Wine and Cheese night on September 10th. If you haven’t tried their cheese, it’s so good! I promise you will love it. They have also gotten together another screening of Cowspiricy because the last one sold out and it’s getting rave reviews. Finally, next weekend there is going to be a AVVA+VRA End of Summer Cookout .

So that’s the weekend haps that I know about. I can at least guarantee you one thing, I will spend the weekend eating vegan food.

Happy Veganmofo!

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Taco Cleanse Day 12 – Sweet Ritual’s Amazing Wonder: The Chaco Taco

When we first started talking about the taco cleanse back in April I never would have guessed that it would have led to so much new taco goodness. At that time in my life I already ate a taco pretty much every day so I didn’t realize that there would be so much more to discover when committing to the cleanse. So many people have been joining the cleanse and local restaurants have been adding new and unique tacos to their menus just to help us through this! I got to try Teriyaki soy curl tacos at Counter Culture’s Taco Tuesday a couple of days ago and then a The Ginger Bliss special at the Vegan Nom last night. There is so much creativity coming out with tacos in Austin. But I have to admit, so far my favorite new taco on the scene is the Chaco Taco that Amelia from Sweet Ritual has put together for us.

I’ve been dying to try it ever since Ross posted his last week. Then they were suddenly all over social media. Last night I was up north with my fellow taco scientists and after eating Rockin Vegan Tacos for dinner we headed over to Sweet Ritual for the chaco taco dessert. When we got there they only had one left and everyone graciously stepped back and let me have it. The taco cleanse is really working, we are feeling so much more love for humanity and tacos than ever before.

I had cinnamon ice cream in my waffle cone taco shell topped with one the many long lost loves of my life, the hard chocolate magic shell. I was dead quiet while I ate it and went into a state of taco bliss that I can’t even describe.

And yes Austin, they have more today and will have them all weekend.

Comedian Jamie Kilstein in town, trailers moving, and super exciting new restaurant news

I would be so excited that vegan and Citizen Radio Host Jamie Kilstein is going to be in town this Saturday August 10th except I’m leaving town. Damnit! At least you all can go & bring your friends & watch this clip above so and learn the best response ever to the Hitler-was-a-vegetarian comment.

Trailers in Austin are on the move again, the Via 313 by Cheer Up Charlies is moving to Rainey street in  the Craft Pride backyard http://atxhipsters.net/13Yj2W2 Dumpling Happiness has moved to Whisler’s at E 6th and Chicon. The Raw Vegan Bar at Whole Foods Lamar has closed down while they are doing construction, El Chile has moved from Manor down to South First across the street from Bouldin and brought their puffy tacos with them. The Steeping Room  on N. Lamar is offering a special through August that if you bring your kids they eat for free during Breakfast 8-10am & dinner 5pm-close. http://bit.ly/16xSbmL . The Wheatsville South Opening has been pushed again, this time to September. The pizza shop Sauced in the Highland Mall has announced Wednesdays and Saturdays are officially vegan pizza by the slice day. Counter Culture is going to close for a week 8/21-25 but starting Sept 1st they will be open 6 days a week! The air conditioner is very pleasant these days too. August 11th there will be a big rally against Ringling Bros Circus because of their long record of abusing animals

And in super exciting news it looks like two more vegan trailers are going to open very soon, Unity Vegan Kitchen, who everyone was really excited about during Texas VegFest is getting their permits and inspection next week! Also, vegan barbecue trailer Junkfood Revolution is getting their new trailer this week too! Finally, although they haven’t found a location yet, the national chain the Veggie Grill is looking for a spot in Austin too. I’m hoping for a downtown vegan restaurant!!!

Don’t forget to support local business during August, with the students gone and the mercury peaking it can be really tough for our small vegan businesses and they need you to stay open. And make sure you keep your pets hydrated and out of parked cars. Heat Stroke is no joke.

SXSW VEGAN HAPS

It’s all happening.
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There are a billion people here and it’s about to get even crazier when the music fest starts tomorrow.

Here’s what you need to know:

Vegan food can be found in every part of the city, I have a comprehensive list of every option I know of in Austin, a vegan Austin tour if you want to explore our many food options, a sxsw guide and a brand new late night guide in case you don’t want to be bothered and just need to eat now (or later). Don’t try and subsist on free beer you are bound to regret it.

Counter Culture will be open until midnight during the music fest, it’s an all vegan full service restaurant on the Eastside on Caesar Chavez. They are going to have music on friday and a St. Patricks day party Sunday.

Cheer Up Charlie’s is going to have day parties every day, this vegan bar also on the Eastside is home of Arlo’s which has the best veggie burger and tons of other treats at their adjoining trailer park.

Music Promoter Brooklyn Vegan will also have day parties every day with free vegan breakfast tacos from Pink Avocado Catering Company and free food for lover’s nachos!! and on Friday Mr. Natural will be giving away Food for Lovers Queso as well!

If you can’t make it out of downtown you can now try Sweet Ritual‘s ice cream at Counter Culture and in milkshakes at the Hideout right on congress. But if you are in Hyde Park they are going to have caramelized banana splits on special!

Most exciting to me is the Beagle Freedom Project’s benefit showcase. This is a cause that is very close to my heart because I live with two beagles and learned that they are the most common dog used in animal testing because they are so sweet. If that doesn’t break your heart I don’t know what will! The BFP rescues dogs that would have otherwise been killed when the experiment was over and finds them homes to live out the rest of their lives instead. Seeing these videos of beagles seeing the grass for the first time will make you want adopt beagles and give the project all of your money, and you should! They are going to have free parties every day at the Free Now Showcase so go and have fun!

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I have been having a blast at the interactive and film conference so far. Highlights have included being inspired by the 100 year starship project, seeing Marcon Maron ask James Franco about General Hospital and then later seeing my friend chase the latter down an ally at 4am yelling “MR. FRANCO”, #tacos, getting my picture with LeVar Burton, and seeing a gigantic decal of grumpy cat glaring over the 6th street revelers. I learned that smiling almost instantly makes you happier physiologically from a scientist and that we don’t tell our children “the future can be better” anymore from an astronaut. I went to a panel about universal love where we were all instructed to concentrate on loving the person next to us and while i was doing that the person next to me left! Harsh! Right now I’m sucking down a free sweet tea vodka and writing this post on my phone (so south by) so i hope you were able to bear with me.

Top Ten Austin Vegan Eats for 2012

2012 was such a great year for vegans in Austin, Rabbit Food Grocery pop-up shops expanded to include all sorts of hard to find vegan items from condoms to chocolate covered Twinkies they have got it all. Capital City Bakery and Sugar Circus both opened up their doors to cupcake loving vegans and both have fantastic reviews. Sweet Ritual added chocolate dipped homemade waffle cones to their menu and had a successful kickstarter for hardpacked ice cream, and both Sweet Ritual and Cap City made into the Chronicle’s best of Austin. Arlo’s moved their game-changer vegan burgers to Cheer-Up Charlies where ATX Vegan Drinks started having monthly events, many participated in the Worldwide vegan bakesale,and the bakesale for SARA animal sanctuary and we raised a ton of money for animal sanctuaries in Texas. Counter Culture opened their doors to their long awaited brick and mortar restaurant on the eastside. Green Island Catering started selling readymade vegan meals at the Daily Juice and hosted yet another Vegan Party Barge. Juiceland opened two more northern restaurants, the Steeping Room opened a second location, Austin Java opened an incredibly vegan friendly location on the westside, a ton of bloggers joined our happy vegan blogosphere, and that’s just off the top of my head!

My top ten is an annual tradition of what I liked the best this year, there are always repeats because I eat them all the time and I don’t want you to miss them! Other things have fallen off the list due to declining quality (using a shit-ton of turmeric in a breakfast taco for example). This year it was harder than ever to keep it to ten, somehow there wasn’t room for my beloved Bouldin Creek which I promise hasn’t declined in quality, but here is what I’ve got.

Brunch at Counter Culture.

The Potato Bowl

If there is one thing that I really wanted in Austin it was a place to sit around enjoying vegan brunch. A place to get your tofu scramble AND sausage that wasn’t chorizo or disgusting, just some good-old American vegan sausage. And fresh juice. And coconut water. Oh and maybe some tempeh bacon. And some french toast. Usually I prefer Mexican breakfast but Counter Culture gives me the option for Mexican or traditional American and your don’t have to wait an hour to sit down….yet. With Rabbit Food Grocery hosting their pop-up shops on Sunday it’s certainly become the can’t miss weekend event.

La Condesa Vegan Platter– I feel like this is the best secret menu item of all time. La Condesa has become my go to place for nice vegan meals because they have a fantastic atmosphere, the service is great, the cocktails are unique, they have 6 different salsas and four guacamoles, and the platter is always remarkable. I promise some day soon I’ll take my camera and take notes so I can properly blog about it but it’s always different every time. Truthfully, I also end up drinking too many fancy cocktails. They even have a vegan dessert. So go there next time you want to be pampered and check out Vegan Explosion’s post for an actual description.

The Specials at Capital City Bakery

Thanksgiving Pecan Pie with Caramelized Marshmallows on top, Mini Apple Pies with a side of coconut ice cream, and Cinnamon Roll Saturdays are what make me go to this magnificent vegan trailer more than I should. I think Kristen’s dedication to heard work and high quality is her secret and she makes the best baked goods I’ve ever had. Everything is just so perfect.

Wasota Vegan Platter 

This got number one last year and I couldn’t resist putting it on the list again. I just love everything about Wasota and every element of this platter is addictive and just so crave-able  Dan and I both will save leftovers only to eat them cold from the fridge at the first opportunity. I don’t know where they get their pixie dust but it sure would like to buy some and put it on all my food

Tom Kha Soup at Little Thai Food This soup has become my number one obsession, I blogged about it a while back, so check it out. Basically its the best Thai coconut soup I can remember ever having and perfect for dreary weather days.

Austin Cream Pie from Red Rabbit Bakery

Everyone loves the doughnuts from Red Rabbit Bakery. Honestly, that is kind of weird and just goes to show how great they are. People don’t even complain about them on yelp! And people complain about everything on yelp. I love all of their doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, bread, and apple fritters, but those cream filled doughnuts that you can only get at the dang farmer’s market are easily my favorite.

Chocolate Covered Waffle Cone Sundae’s from Sweet Ritual

I don’t think you really need me to describe these, just re-read the title. And yeah, the one in the photo is topped with chick-o-sticks.

Arlo’s Bacon Cheezeburger

When this trailer opened I was a little excited that there was another vegan trailer opening, but then I read the menu and thought, eh veggie burgers. The next thing I knew everyone was raving about them. One bite was all it took for me to become totally hooked. Their homemade patties topped with tofu bacon don’t sound nearly as delicious as their execution makes them. Plus Arlo’s is next to the vegan bar Cheer Up Charlies and you can get french fries and vegan milkshakes from other trailers in the trailer park next door to create a full 50s diner style meal.

The Salads at Juiceland 

While it might be true that the lure of The Originator smoothie is what brings me to Juiceland all the time I am constantly amazed by how much I adore their salads. I don’t even usually like salad. First I was hooked on the Soba Noodle Kale salad, then I finally tried the Quinoa Ranchero and that was all I wanted to eat for weeks. Though it was hard I finally, skipped it tried the Double Rainbow Quinoa salad and I loved it too! Juiceland amazes me!

The Tofu Vermicelli Bowl at Lulu B’s

This year I traveled quite a bit and I went to Vietnamese restaurants all over the place and I am more sure than ever that the vermicelli bowl from Lulu B’s belongs on this list, as it has every year I’ve been doing the list! I brought a couple of friends who had just spent the last 6 months in Thailand and Vietnam with me one day, they were so sick of noodles that they didn’t order anything and then they couldn’t believe how good my dish was and wanted to go back. Lulu B’s fantastically grilled tofu mixed with their always fresh ingredients and spicy vegetarian sauce always keeps them a step ahead of everyone else.

Best New Product – GoodSeed Organic Burger & Breakfast Sausage20121007-133528.jpg

I used to love the food truck down on Oltorf and I am thrilled that the people behind the trailer are selling their burger all over the place now, you can pick it up at Farmer’s Markets, Wheatsville, Greenling, Ingredients, and tons of other local spots. Additionally, some restaurants are now using the patty including Javelina, Snack Bar, Red’s Porch, and the Violet Crown Theater! I love buying a prepackaged burger from a company I completely trust that’s filled with organic non-gmo healthy ingredients.

Most Missed- Toy Joy

Thank all that is good that we still have Sweet Ritual but I will really miss the vegan ice cream at Toy Joy. I already missed the vegan cafe Dhaba Joy that used to be there. Not only do I adore their ice cream and late hours, but I also was always loved to bring friends there because instead of “vegan ice cream wtf” they would be all excited about Hello Kitty and Star Trek toys. Plus now I won’t have a reason to wander around buying toys I don’t need while waiting for my milkshake. It’s a sad sad closure.

If you live in Austin tell me what your favorites were. I love seeing everyone’s list.

Austin Pets Alive Fundraiser at Counter Culture Saturday, September 22

As Dale Cooper once said, “when two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry, we must always pay strict attention”. In this case everyone’s favorite vegan restaurant Counter Culture is having a benefit for Austin Pets Alive, our amazing/large/inspiring no-kill animal shelter so pay attention! Sue has gotten together a bunch of local bands to perform 3 to 4 songs each about Cats & Dogs (she says “think Walkin the Dog, Leave My Kitten Alone, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Cool For Cats, Puppy Love, etc.”)

A portion of all the sales is going to be donated to Austins great animal shelter so come out! And don’t think you can use some sort of dietary excuse because Sue will feed you some delicious food whether you are gf-ing, E2-ing, soy free or whatever else you want to be. Even Paleo folks can come and eat a dang salad just like our ancestors did. And for everyone else there is going to be Tempeh BLT’s with Blue Sheese Dressing. I’m so there.

If you don’t come to the benefit this cat is going to be pissed off

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.