Tag Archives: mr. natural

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!

GIVEAWAY- Try Mr. Natural’s new Brunch menu for free!

Mr. Natural contacted me the other day to help get the word out about their new menu items. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Natural and I love Mexican Breakfast so I was happy to help, especially when they said they would throw in two free brunches for y’all! The menu for this Sunday at the Caesar Chavez location is all vegan and it looks super friendly for gluten free folks as well. I already love their tofu migas but they will also have tofu scramble, rice with their fantastic refried beans, a variety of salads and, oh yeah, vegan fried chicken and waffles!

photo by Mr. Natural

fried chicken and waffles photo by Mr. Natural

They’ll also have a tamale casserole, toasted cauliflower curried quinoa with tofu , tofu and veggie quiche, spinach and daiya cheese filled puffs, and traditional biscuits and gravy!

photo by Mr. Natural

biscuits and gravy photo by Mr. Natural

You can finish it off with desserts like gluten free cheesecake bites,
marble chocolate bread, kombucha mimosas or even a vegan bloody mary.

photo by Mr. Natural

bloody mary photo by Mr. Natural

They have also added a lot of American style food to the regular menu like cheeseburgers, deluxe hot dogs, and chili cheese fries.

chili cheese fries

chili cheese fries photo by Mr. Natural

Since it is a vegetarian place make sure that you specify vegan when ordering off the regular menu and they will take care of you. Since this weekend is their first vegan brunch buffet they’d also love your feedback, if you feel weird about it, you can let me know on this post what you liked and I’ll get back with them.

TO WIN A FREE BRUNCH just comment below, you can tell me what your favorite thing is to eat for brunch, or what you are most excited about at Mr. Natural. Make sure you leave your name and a real email in the form so I can let you know if you won!

The giveaway is now closed (Congrats Lorena & Cady!) but stay tuned, there will be another one soon!

Thanksgiving is coming it’s practically here!

I say it every year but I’m saying it again: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I am especially looking forward to this one, I want nothing more than to hunker down with a tasty feast that will last me the whole weekend. This year we don’t even have anyone coming over so I can wear pajamas all day. I also love all the pre-Thanksgiving meals up to the big day. Now, it’s become tradition to go to Mr. Natural the night before and then Wheatsville has been having Wednesday Thanksgiving on the hot bar for weeks.

Wheatsville Wednesday Hot Bar

Meanwhile on another end of town, Counter Culture has had their fabulous Thanksgiving sandwich on the specials menu last week and Sue has promised more fun stuff in the days leading up to the holiday.

If you are looking to purchase meals for Thanksgiving Day the Happy Vegan Baker has a whole array of items to choose from to create a 100% hassle free feast. She does pot pies or stuffed acorn squash for the main course so I bet it would be perfect for GFers and E2. Inge’s whole menu can be made with accommodations for dietary restrictions. She also has Pumpkin Cheesecake and Maple Pecan Pie! 

Mr. Natural and Wheatsville will also sell you whatever you need, they both have extensive vegan menus to chose from. This Saturday, the 17th. Wheatsville is doing their sampler. If you have never tried it before you should go. Last year I bought a couple of side dishes from them and it was fabulous.

I got my vegan pie, though, from Capital City Bakery and this year they are selling pumpkin, chocolate cream, and sweet potato pecan. Since last years was so fabulous I am getting another one this year. They sell them both in pie size and in mini pie size and we have had a hard time deciding which one to get. Last year, the pumpkin was perfect but I know everyone loves her chocolate cream and sweet potato pecan. Decisions decisions.

Capital City Bakery Pumpkin Pie

I tried the gardein roast last night and it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either so I think I’m going to stick with a homemade roast this year. Here is my menu so far but it is subject to change

PPK Seitan Roast stuffed with shitakes and leeks
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Diner Dressing (we loved the recipe from Vegan Diner last year)
Sage Gravy (also from Vegan Diner)
Cranberry Orange Almond relish (from Wheatsville)
Pumpkin Pie for dessert from Capital City But I might get two pies.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Mr. Natural Goes Serbian! Plus, adds brunch and new menu items!

It seems like lately Mr. Natural, one of our most time-honored vegetarian restaurants, has been going through some really positive changes. First, they added new vegan items to the menu. I wish I could express to you how happy I am that someone in town is making a vegan chile rellano! Now if restaurants would just start making their own cashew or nutritional yeast based sauces I’d be in heaven*. I’m telling you, it’s the answer to outstanding vegan food! Of course, that is my preference and I know tons of vegans are just wild about daiya cheese which is what Mr. Natural is using for their rellano AND the new quesadilla.

Mr. Natural is one of my favorite places for when I am really really hungry and don’t want to wait for some table and talk to some waiter and figure out what’s vegan. For the incredibly impatient they have a buffet with convenient signs pointing out exactly what is and isn’t vegan and you also get to pick out a salad, an entree and two sides. It’s the best thing ever if you have been working really hard one something all day and need to eat now. But maybe you have been working hard on doing absolutely nothing so here’s a little trick; if you can wait, oh, maybe five minutes before you eat you can chose items off the menu and get whatever you like made to order. It’s really the better way because food on the buffet can be a little uneven, especially if you get there closer to close. Which speaking of closing, they are now open until 9pm most days! They also started opening on Sunday 10am-3pm for a brunch buffet at the south lamar location.

I was pretty excited that your choice of fruit or green salad came with the buffet and that waffles were an option! My dream is that in the future they will do a savory fried tofu and waffles!

I also had the spicy tofu scramble and the brown rice. Brunch overall was good and very filling, I’m sure it’s just going to get better and better.  As always I was disappointed that so many of the agua fesca’s contained honey but I was stoked that cantaloupe was ok because if there is one thing I love, it’s fresh cantaloupe. It was so bright and delicious.

What I’m the most excited about is that for reasons I can only guess at, Mr. Natural has decided to have a Serbian night tomorrow April 24th and I just can’t believe it! I didn’t even know there were other Serbs in the area and I hope to meet them as they are sure to swarm the restaurant with me tomorrow night!  

Please join me! We’ll drink slivo in the parking lot to celebrate.

*Actually,  homemade cashew cheese and nutritional yeast sauces will probably happen later this week when Counter Culture has their soft opening!!!!

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.

 

VeganMoFo- Happy Halloween

VeganMoFo is over and it is breaking my heart. I am going to keep posting so please come and hang out any time!

First, today’s food porn: I was slightly hung over from last night’s reveleries so I wanted something really healthy and I didn’t want to cook or go far. In this situation there is really only one option, Mr. Natural. I got the lunch special of Milenesa with pipian sauce, stir fried vegetables, Mexican brown rice, and a spinach salad with a sweet leaf iced tea. It really hit the spot and made me feel ready to move on into November.

Last night we dressed up as Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston for Halloween and went down to 6th street. It was a lot of fun.

Vegan MoFo- Taco Town

Austin Texas is famous for a lot of reasons and it is a great city to live in. Not only is it beautiful and filled with lots of fun outdoor activities but it is also a really fun city, has the countries best movie theater, an awesome music scene, multiple great festivals, and a lot of friendly people. All of these are great reasons to enjoy living here but there is one aspect that I could never live without—the breakfast taco.

If you have only had a bad experience with these (maybe a McDonald’s burrito) I implore you to come to Austin and try them out for yourself. Nearly every place in town has the standard variety- the bacon egg and cheese- but you can often find vegan versions as well, like black bean and potato. The key to a great taco is in the tortilla and having a good salsa or fresh pico de gallo.

My favorite vegan versions in Austin are Mr. Natural, Bouldin Creek, and Polvos, they all have multiple options and plentiful combinations. However, when it comes to vegan breakfast tacos nothing beats Whole Foods. Whole Foods actually started as an Austin company so the store at corporate headquarters can blow your mind (an your wallet) they even have guided audio tours through the store! It is massive and their are numerous little islands throughout the store that you can dine at. There is a sushi stand, a raw vegan table, even a chocolate island with a chocolate fountain. But the thing that brings me to whole foods again and again is the breakfast tacos. They are only open from 7 to 11 and the line can get pretty long but the wait is worth it because for just two dollars you get your choice of flour, corn, wheat or spelt tortillas warmed up and filled with any combination of
tofu scamble
fried potatoes
black beans
roasted vegetables
cilantro rice
or vegan sausage
they you can top it all off with salsa, pico, jalapeños, and cilantro if you wish. They are only 2 bucks and always huge. You can make your own at home pretty easy but nothing beats the whole foods taco in my world. I love them and when I go out of town I crave them.