Vegan News Bites

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We interrupt our (not so) regularly scheduled 2014 Vegan MoFo theme posts, “Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition” for an overdue (and slightly indulgent) “Vegan News Bites”. Some of this might be old news to many of our readers, but there’s so much that happens in this town, that we hope everybody will have a chance to learn something new! Apologies in advance for the epically long post, but that’s what happens when you combine the incredibly active vegan scene we have here in Austin with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned procrastination.

Vegan-friendly Businesses

Rabbit Food Grocery is moving to a brick and mortar!

  • We’ll start off with the biggest and most exciting news for Austin vegans: Rabbit Food Grocery is moving into a brick-and-mortar location! Their kickstarter campaign just got 100% funded yesterday, but there’s still a little over two weeks left for you to back their campaign and help them move in. Kickstarter backers can look forward to scoring some awesome RFG swag, groceries delivered to your home, or even a chance at an all-you-can-grab vegan supermarket sweep! In the meantime, you can still order online, and as our readers, you can save 10% off your whole order for the entire month of September! Just enter coupon code “RedHotVegans” at checkout!
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Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Tofu & Broccoli Salad from Bouldin Creek Cafe

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BouldinCreekSalad

Never in my life did I think I would wax poetic about a tofu and broccoli salad, but that’s what happens when you start diving into the world of great vegetable dishes this town has to offer – you find things you never expected to find. I think before this series started, we ordered a salad at Bouldin Creek Cafe, errr, once. Maybe? We figured if we were going to drive across the river (we’re die-hard northies), we’re going to get a Veggie Royale or a Renedict. When we placed our order for the Tofu & Broccoli Salad, we had low, looow expectations – I’ve never been happier to report that we were wrong. This salad has become our new go-to.

The Tofu & Broccoli Salad is loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sunflower sprouts and seeds… you know, the standard salad fare. Where this salad really shines is in the crisp stir-fried broccoli and the firm sesame tofu – both flavored to perfection in a delicious savory marinade. The thing that seals the deal, and brings all the flavors together, is the ginger-miso dressing. Do not order this salad without that dressing! It’s imperative. We were so close to ordering it with just the garlic tahini dressing (because, tahini — yum!), when our table-mate and bestie Tenley, a Boulin Creek Cafe regular, saved the day and told us we needed the ginger-miso dressing. So we got both. The garlic tahini was no match for the ginger-miso. Tofu & Broccoli Salad + ginger-miso dressing = love at first bite!

BouldinCreekSandwichBouldinCreekRenedict

Before we stumbled upon the tofu and broccoli salad, Dan and I were dead set on featuring the Kool Summer Sammich at Bouldin. It was a very close runner-up to the salad. It’s basically a salad sandwich. A stellar salad sandwich. Made up of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, sunflower sprouts, field greens, and shredded carrots piled high on grilled ciabatta with a chipotle-pecan pesto spread. It’s made complete with an order of tofu bac’n or hummus. Tenley (Hey, Tenley! Are you totally not embarrassed by all of these these shout-outs?!) also wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the hummus is legit, and that she loved her Kool Summer Sammich in large part because of the pesto spread – so now you know. Order that stat!

BouldinCreekInteriorBouldinCreekExterior

I’m happy we found a new favorite at Bouldin, and look forward to switching it up more often now. I honestly don’t think you can get a bad meal at Bouldin; I mean, c’mon, everybody knows Bouldin’s the bomb! So if you’re stuck in a rut like we were, ordering the same dish time and time again, maybe it’s time to try something new? Hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Falafel Salad from Maoz

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Salad Box from Maoz

Love falafel? Who doesn’t? It’s a magical combination of chickpeas, veggies, herbs and spices all mixed up and fried into little balls. Maoz, an international chain of vegetarian falafel shops, has it down to a science. We’re lucky that Austin is one of the few US cities to have its own location, which opened up in The Triangle (Lamar and 46th) in early 2012. Grabbing a falafel in a pita is the standard go to, but we prefer grabbing a salad bowl. The bowl comes pre-filled with a little bit of lettuce and five falafel balls with plenty of room on top to spare for their rotating salad bar fixings: shredded carrots, red cabbage, green cabbage, beets, fried broccoli, cucumber and tomato salad, chickpeas, tabouli, olives, pickles and more. There’s a cilantro sauce at the end that I love to slather all over my salad, and a green chili hot sauce that Dan prefers. To top it all off, we grab the squeeze bottle of tahini and go to town.

Salad Bar at MaozVegan Shawarma at Maoz

The best part about Maoz is that they take their vegan customers seriously. Almost everything in the restaurant is vegan, and they’re not afraid to label it so. They offer vegan soups, and even have a vegan rice pudding dessert. Almost everything on the salad bar is vegan, and everything is clearly labeled vegan if it is. The fryer is a dedicated vegan fryer, so pile on that fried broccoli – it’s so good! Maoz is also incredibly gluten-free friendly, making their falafel balls gluten-free, and labeling the salad bar with gluten-free labels. They’re also trying out a new option of a vegan shawarma and vegan BBQ. When we were there, they mentioned that the shawarma is a chik’n style protein fried with onions and peppers, and the BBQ is a beef style protein marinated in BBQ sauce. The BBQ style was temporarily unavailable, but the shawarma was delicious and can be added in a wrap or salad.

Maoz Austin located in The TriangleInterior of the Maoz location in Austin

We live nearby, so taking our food to-go is pretty standard, and we love that there are dedicated 10 min and 30 min parking spots right out front that are almost always available. If you plan to eat in, the sandwich is a steal at $6, as you get a little box for salad bar toppings that you can refill as many times as you like. If you get it to-go, they give you a slightly bigger salad container, so it’s still a good deal. If you’re grabbing a salad bowl, you can do like we do, and stuff it to the max and then head home and transfer it to a larger bowl for easy eating. This is one superb salad that will fill you up.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Quinoa Ranchero Salad from Juiceland

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Quinoa Ranchero and Smoothies from Juiceland

Juiceland, oh Juiceland, why are you so expensive*! I’d eat you for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could afford it. You make spinach juice taste good. You’re clearly working some sort of voodoo magic. When we’re looking to eat our veggies, we turn to you first. Your Quinoa Ranchero salad is a flavor explosion. Steamed quinoa tossed with corn, covered in a tangy ranchero sauce, and topped with cilantro and massaged spinach. It’s bold, and limey (as in, full of lime flavor – totally unrelated to the wonderful British people). We sometimes cheat on you with the Feast in the Middle East, the Double Rainbow Quinoa Salad and the Kale Salad, but we always come back to you in the end. You pair so well with a Peachy Green smoothie – which tastes more peachy than green, but looks more green than peachy, or an Applelily juice – the lovechild of an apple and cold-pressed green juice. Both are our go-to drinks when we want the benefits of downing our greens, without it tasting like we took a nosedive into a patch of grass.

Assorted salads, smoothies and a Mannawich from JuicelandOriginator and Peachy Green Smoothies from Juiceland

When we’re not looking to break the bank, we make sure to check out your daily specials board. Get a medium size Originator for $5.95? Yes, please! I’m drinking protein powder and spirulina, and yet all I taste is peanut butter & jelly. When we’re looking for something sweeter, we grab a Mannawich – which, both baffles and intrigues me. Who came up with the idea to put cinnamon date paste mixed with cacao and goji berries between two slices of manna bread? It’s like a cake sandwich. I have a love/hate relationship with this bizarre concoction that keeps me coming back for more.

Mannawich from JuicelandJuiceland on Burnet

Juiceland, it’s so swell that you’re doing well. I swear I blink, and another location opens up around town. I can find you at Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, North Burnet, Hyde Park (shoutout to Sweet Ritual!), Oak Hill, E. Cesar Chavez, Lakeway, Westlake, 29th & Guadalupe, and now I even hear you have a location in Brooklyn (NYC, not some new nickname for the East side)! Three cheers for world juice domination!

*I kid! I know why your delicious food is expensive. It’s because it’s full of expensive sh*t. And I’ll happily pay, because what’s the alternative? I get my own juicer dirty, and have to clean it? I don’t think so.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Vegan MoFo 2014 is Here – Ready or Not!

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Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo is this month! The one month out of the year where hundreds of bloggers, out of a sense of fun and camaraderie, decide to blog at least 20 times in one month about vegan food. Some supervegans (aka people) have their act together and post all the time, but we can rarely make a blog post appear once a month, much less twenty, so this is truly a challenge for us – and we are so not ready!

Dan nomming on some donuts, ice cream, waffle cones and candy. The four main food groups, right?
Dan nomming on some donuts, ice cream, waffle cones and candy. The four main food groups, right?

Last year, Dan and I put together a list of our Top 20 Austin Favorites. A veritable list of all the most amazing vegan pizza, corn dogs, burgers and other insanely delicious food in this town. We didn’t really have to search high and low to find these dishes, because uhhm, we eat out a lot, and already frequented these fine dining establishments. If you fry it, we will come. We did notice that the list was lacking a certain something – namely vegetables. We eat vegetables, don’t get us wrong, but if we’re going to go out of our way to get some, it’s probably not going to be a salad. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some killer salads in this town, and this month we’re going to find them, along with some amazing stir-frys, bowls, sushi and even some fruity desserts. We’re calling it Top 20: Eat Yo’ Veggies edition.

The ideal way to get in your daily servings of vegetables - just add vodka. Bonus points if you add even more veggies on top - particularly the pickled kind.
The ideal way to get in your daily servings of vegetables – just add vodka. Bonus points if you add even more veggies on top – particularly the pickled kind.

We love that there are people in this town already dedicated to eating their veggies: the 80/10/10’ers, Engine 2 folks, and raw foodies, but this list is probably not going to be up their alley. We’re hoping to create a list of veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. We’ve got a great list started, and hope we surprise you with a few of our finds.

Eating Vegan at Alamo Drafthouse:

New and Improved 2014 Guide

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Alamo Drafthouse Logo

It has been over two years since we originally posted our “Eating Vegan at Alamo Drafthouse” guide, and it was in desperate need of being updated. Our seriously outdated post was still getting hits every week, due in no small part to new Alamo Drafthouse locations opening up left and right around the country, so we felt really bad that our guide wasn’t particularly helpful to anyone in its current state. Our previous contact at Alamo had moved on, and we were having trouble finding anyone willing to answer our emails… that was until we found Zane!

Through some slightly creepy Facebook stalking, we found the vegan behind the scenes – the one who helped create the new vegan menu at Alamo Drafthouse Village, the one who helped bring Alamo tofu to the 21st Century*, and as it turns out, the previously anonymous vegan staffer behind our original Alamo post as well! We are so lucky that he was able to take some time out of his busy schedule helping reopen the newly renovated South Lamar location to give us a hand in updating our list (and just in time for the sold-out Cowspiracy screening tomorrow night!). He’s let us in on some really exciting info including that the burger buns are vegan again (woot!), there’s dedicated veg fryers at most Alamo locations, and drumroll please… soyrizo is now on the menu (as an option for the black bean dip)! What!?! Now I just have to figure out what I want to put it on. We’re excited to share this list of the current vegan and veganizable menu items that you can find at Alamo Drafthouse locations around town:

Appetizers:

  • Chips & Salsa
  • Chips & Black Bean Dip (sub soyrizo, no sour cream, no cotija)
  • Garlic Hummus
  • Bottomless Popcorn (for our behind the scenes popcorn sleuthing, check out our original Alamo Drafthouse post, and in case you’re curious – the ‘real butter’ topping you can add is indeed real butter – so just don’t add that)
  • Baked Pretzel (no queso, sub dijon mustard for honey mustard)
  • Veggie & Fruit Plate
  • French Fries** (with ketchup)

Burgers and Sandwiches:

Note: The buns are vegan (no longer egg washed), and locations in Austin currently serve Goodseed as their veggie burger option (which is vegan & gluten-free). The gluten-free buns have egg, but you can always get the burger in a lettuce wrap (also an option for those who just prefer lettuce – you weirdos). You can get any of these with tofu as your protein too. We realize that ordering a “Prosciutto & Goat Cheese” burger with no prosciutto or goat cheese sounds pretty silly: each burger comes with many toppings besides the ones called out in its name; check the descriptions in the menu for more details.

  • Royale with Cheese (no bacon, no cheddar, no mayo)
  • Spicy Blue Cheese (no blue cheese, no mayo)
  • Kalamata Olive Tapenade (no mayo)
  • Mushroom & White Cheddar (no cheddar)
  • Prosciutto & Goat Cheese (no prosciutto or goat cheese)
  • Avocado & Pesto (no pesto)
  • Hatch Green Chile (no queso)

Salads and Wraps:

Note: These options are available as either a salad or a wrap. You can pick tofu as your protein, or leave them plain. The only non-vegan dressings are the lemon basil vinaigrette (see below) and the Caesar.

  • Caesar (no dressing, no parmesan)
  • Mexican (no cotija)
  • Greek (no feta, and request no pesto in the dressing: the lemon basil vinaigrette is pesto mixed with lemon vinaigrette)
  • Beets & Goat Cheese (no goat cheese)
  • Chopped (no mozzarella, no pesto)
  • Asian
  • Groot’s Root Vegetable (this is a temporary special, so it might not be available by the time you read this)
  • Side Salad

Pizza:

Note: Some of these pizzas come with multiple types of cheese, so you may want to make it clear that you mean “no cheese of any kind”, and not just “no mozzarella”. The gluten-free pizza crust unfortunately has eggs.

  • Roasted Red Pepper & Feta (no cheese)
  • Prosciutto & Spinach (no cheese, no prosciutto)
  • Mushroom & Caramelized Onion (no cheese)
  • The Godfather (no cheese, no pepperoni)
  • Asparagus (no cheese, no bacon)
  • Brussels Sprout (no cheese, no bacon)
  • Artichoke (no cheese)

Candy:

  • Sour Patch Kids

* Alamo Drafthouse recently changed the procedure for its tofu. It’s now marinated and grilled as opposed to just being dropped in a fryer right out of the box. The marinade features chipotles, ginger, lime juice, cilantro, and other deliciousness. This new procedure, and the marinade recipe are all because of Zane! Woot for vegans helping to make change!

** In Austin, Alamo Drafthouse has dedicated veggie fryers at all locations except the Village.

Vegan Menu at Alamo Drafthouse Village

In addition to all the options listed above, the Alamo Drafthouse Village location rolled out a small vegan menu with spiced tofu tacos (try them with soyrizo!), cherry tomato & avocado bruschetta and oatmeal cherry cookies (plus samosas that were unfortunately nixed). These items are currently only available at the Village location (on Anderson), but we’re hoping that if they are popular, other Alamo locations might get the message.

This list is specific to the Alamo Drafthouse locations in Austin (and not all menu items will be available at all locations), but all Alamo Drafthouse locations maintain a set menu, so while you should always double check to make sure that another kitchen doesn’t do things a little differently, this list is a great starting point.

Now that we feel confident in our connection at Alamo, we’ve gone ahead and made this list an official Red Hot Vegans “Guide” – which means that we are going to do our best to keep it up to date. So, in the future, head on over to the guides section to see our latest edition of “Eating Vegan at Alamo Drafthouse.”

New(ish) Vegan Grocery Store Finds:

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Vegan Section in Whole Foods

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve done a new product round-up, so a few of these are not so new, but they’re all worth checking out! We scoured the shelves of Whole Foods, Wheatsville Co-op, Central Market, HEB and Rabbit Food Grocery to find vegan products that we hadn’t tried before – so many of them are keepers! We’ve got vegan ranch chips, crème-filled chocolate bars, cheddar squares, maple breakfast sausages, mini vegan bottles of wine, boxed mac and cheese and so much more!

Let us know what you think of these products, or if we’ve missed a new product you love! Also, if you’ve seen any of these on the shelves of a store we didn’t list, give us a heads up, and we’ll update our post. Happy Eating!

Cool Events for a Hot Summer:

Upcoming Austin Vegan Events

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Austin Vegan Party Barge
Summer is in full swing, and everyone’s taking advantage of the warm weather. Austin vegans are planning up a storm, and with a dessert social, 4th of July cookout, party barge and more in the works, there’s something for everyone in this town. There are some great recurring events coming up, including the June Fruitluck (aka fruit potluck) at Barton Springs tomorrow (June 22nd), a newly created Crafty Night at Unity Vegan Kitchen on Thursday, June 26th, and an Austin Raw Food Diet potluck on Saturday, June 28th. In addition to these recurring events, we’ve quite a few special events on the calendar:

Sunday, June 22nd:

5pm to 7:30pm – NadaMoo!’s Whole ‘Lotta Dessert Social at NO VA Kitchen & Bar tomorrow is a not-to-be-missed fundraiser for the Whole Planet Foundation! It’s not mentioned on the event page, but the event organizers have assured me that this will in fact be an entirely vegan event with desserts, cocktails, and coffee provided by Skull & Cakebones, GoodPops, NadaMoo!, and Chameleon Cold Brew. So far I’ve heard there will be whoopie ice cream pies, pop-tails, and cold brew floats, plus Brad Sorenson from NO VA will be making a vegan dessert as well. For those hoping to watch USA in the World Cup, have no fear, the game will be playing at the bar. Tickets are $10, and you can purchase them in advance on Eventbrite or pay in cash at the door.

Raw Cheezecake at BeetsFriday, June 27th:

7pm to 10pm – Beets Cafe fans have known for a couple of months now that Austin’s one and only raw restaurant will be shutting its doors indefinitely. To celebrate the great run they had, they’re throwing a farewell celebration. There will be droves of Beets fans, music, and of course, the Beets crew is going to make some delicious raw treats! Let them know how much they meant to the Austin community, and send them off with a bang.

Sauced Vegan PizzaSaturday, June 28th:

All Day – It’s Vegan Pizza Day! This most glorious of holidays will be celebrated with pizza-themed specials at Capital City Bakery from 11am to 7pm. At 12pm the Austin Progressive Vegetarians are hosting a Vegan Pizza Day meetup at Sauced in the Highland Mall. For those looking to throw their own Vegan Pizza Day party, check out our extensive (and recently updated) Austin Vegan Pizza Guide!

9am to 4pm – Head on down to Seguin, TX for a chance to lend a helping hand at the SARA Sanctuary Volunteer Day and Picnic. Get out of the city, get your hands dirty for a good cause, and get animal kisses in return! Vegan food and drinks will be provided (beer & wine for the grown ups), but you’re also welcome to bring any vegan food you like. Their only requirement is that you be an animal lover.

BBQ Revolution Platter Friday, July 4th:

3pm – BBQ Revolution and the rest of the North Loop House & Yard vegan trailer gang will be hosting a 4th of July Cookout in conjunction with ATX Vegan Drinks! Every trailer in the lot is now entirely vegan (making this the first all-vegan food trailer lot in the world!), as Taco ‘Bout It recently switched their menu to be entirely vegan!  All the trailers will be coming up with patriotic specials, from veggie burgers at BBQ Revolution to vegan funnel cake and chick’n and waffles from Unity Vegan Kitchen. Rabbit Food Grocery will also be in attendance, dessert will be provided by Skull & Cakebones, there will be a raffle to raise funds for a local nonprofit, and to top it all off, there will be free beer!

4pm to 8pm – Counter Culture will also be hosting a 4th of July Party on the East Side, with summer classics including vegan corndogs, burgers, slaw, potato salad, strawberry shortcake and more. Enjoy your food while listening to all-American country, roots and rockabilly, and try your chances at the Happy Cow cookbook giveaway!

Brunch at Mr. NaturalSunday, July 6th:

10:30am to 2pm – Mr. Natural’s next monthly vegan brunch falls on the 4th of July weekend, and we cannot be more excited by their patriotic themed brunch! For $16 you get an endless buffet that will include corn dogs, mac and cheeze, fried chick’n, pancakes, chocolate cream pie, apple crisp and so much more! We think it’s really awesome that a vegetarian restaurant has taken on the task of creating a huge, entirely vegan brunch buffet, so we always look forward to these weekends. Expert tip for Mr. Natural brunch newbies – don’t skip out on the agave mustard! It’s a must on the country fried seitan, and whatever else you can think to put it on.

Sunday, August 31st:

12pm to 5pm – The Vegan Party Barge is back! The 5th Annual Vegan Party Barge is officially happening, and while it’s a little ways in the future, you should certainly start planning now (and buy your tickets ASAP, as they always sell out). This year the tickets are $40 (with a $5 discount for AV&VA Members), which includes entrance to the barge, pool noodles for lounging in the water, non-alcoholic drinks and a catered vegan lunch. The barge is BYOB, so pack a small cooler, and enjoy a beautiful day on Lake Travis with a bunch of awesome vegans!

Exciting New Options in South Austin

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Selection of dishes from Pulse Vegan, Austin's newest all-vegan trailer

Pulse Vegan – Austin’s Newest All-Vegan Trailer:
Pulse Vegan announced their soft opening over the weekend to their Kickstarter supporters as a way to get a first look at Austin’s newest all-vegan food trailer. Once we heard, we hightailed it on over there Saturday afternoon and managed to order almost everything on the menu. We devoured The Frenchy and The Philly sandwiches, the sides trio with The Mac, dill home fries, and Slow-Burn Slaw, and the Buffalo Basket. We all really enjoyed the food, with the sandwiches being a standout, and the au jus for the vegan French dip was a table favorite. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, beware that the Buffalo basket carries a kick that only the die-hard spicy food fan at our table could handle. I’m excited to come back again for the grand opening on June 7th, and try the few menu items we couldn’t manage to fit in the first time. As Pulse Vegan evolves over the next few weeks and months, I’m sure it will soon become a staple vegan hangout, and a refreshing new option for the South Austin vegan community.

The Pulse Vegan Trailer in the South First Food Court

Pulse Vegan's all-vegan menu

Pulse Vegan is parked in the The South First Food Court on S. 1st and Live Oak, just down the street from Bouldin Creek Cafe and next to Fair Bean Coffee. In the same lot, you’ll find other vegan-friendly food carts including Bananarchy and Candanosas Snowballs. If you’re looking to get dessert to go with your vegan smorgasbord from Pulse Vegan, head over to Bananarchy for chocolate dipped frozen bananas, or to Candanosa’s for fruit-filled snowballs. Both desserts were the perfect temperature for these hot Texas summer days.

Chocolate-dipped banana from Bananarchy

Mango snowball from Candanosas

Baton Creole’s New Locations:
Baton Creole has opened a second location in South Austin, and it’s a game changer. Located in Sweetwater, a bar and Blues/Country/Rock and Roll music venue on Stassney Lane just west of South 1st, the new location comes with a new menu, including mini jambalaya on a stick (only $3!), vegan crab cakes, and dirty rice. The jambalaya on a stick is still my favorite thing ever, and the crab cakes and dirty rice were also a hit. The jambalaya on a stick is fried in a communal fryer, but the crab cakes are pan fried and the dirty rice is not fried at all, so there is something for everyone at the new location.

Selection of food from Baton Creole

We had a chance to talk to the chef at the new location and he mentioned that he’s working on creating some new vegan specials, and that he’s always willing to whip something up for vegans, even if he’s out of the regular menu items – so if it’s not crazy busy, just ask at the bar to talk to him if you feel you need some extra help ordering. While we were there, he treated us to a Cajun vegetable salad that he’s working on (not pictured), that was incredibly flavorful and which we’re hoping will become a regular menu item. We’ve also heard that they’re working on putting together a vegan-friendly brunch and hope to have it ready around late July/early August. Considering how stellar everything else has been that’s come out of Baton Creole’s kitchen, I for one think this can’t happen soon enough.

Decor inside the Sweetwater barInterior of the Sweetwater bar

Sweetwater is surprisingly nice for being situated in a strip mall. The bar is stocked with quality liquor and beer, there is plentiful seating including a shaded outdoor area, and there are pool tables and a stage for live music. The bar opens at noon, but the kitchen hours can be a bit tricky to find. Currently, the kitchen is open from 5 pm to 2 am, 7 days a week. The only downside to the new location is that the new cook is not currently making the beignets vegan at Sweetwater (they are still vegan at the trailer), but we can always hope that will change. Whether you check out the new location down South, or head to the original trailer (now parked in the 6th St and Waller Food Court), you won’t regret it.

Vegan croissant and OJ from Thai FreshCroissants at Thai Fresh:
Thai Fresh recently announced that they are making vegan croissants again, and this time they’re available every single weekend – Friday through Sunday. The new croissants are a bit different from the ones they produced last year, and are everything I remember a croissant to be, crusty on the outside, with soft, flaky – even buttery layers inside. At $3.50, they are a steal, and for a little more you can order them with a side of vegan butter, house-made strawberry jam, and OJ. As a die-hard North Austinite, few things will compel me to cross the river, but these croissants are one of my new favorite weekend treats.

Site of Ramen Tatsu-ya's South Austin location New Locations for Local Favorites:
Restaurants are opening left and right in South Austin, and luckily a few of our vegan-friendly favorites are slated to open locations down south soon. Ramen Tatsuy-ya, who offers a crave-worthy vegan ramen, will be opening their second location on 1234 S. Lamar Boulevard, next to the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar development. Via 313, the phenomenal Detroit style vegan-friendly pizza trailer, announced they will be opening a full restaurant and pub in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Austin in the late Winter/early Spring of 2015. They plan to expand their menu to include a few more styles of pizza not already found in Austin (that will hopefully be vegan-friendly as well). Juiceland, the local vegan-friendly juice chain, has been popping up all over town, with new locations in Westlake, Lakeway and a South Austin location in Oak Hill that even has a drive-through. Glad to know I’m never too far away from the quinoa ranchero salad of theirs I love so much.

Let me know if I’ve missed any exciting happenings in South Austin! It’s not my normal neck of the woods, but something tells me I’ll be spending more time down there now that there’s so much popping up. Also, keep your eyes out this week for a full Vegan News Bites post already in the works…

Vegan News Bites

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New Vegan Menu Items:

Fresh falafel from JuiceLand in Hyde Park- JuiceLand is not the kind of place I’d plan on finding my new favorite falafel in town, but that’s in fact where you’ll find a fresh, moist falafel that’s drenched in delicious tahini. It’s definitely not too oily or too dry, problems that can plague a lot of falafel joints. I think you could potentially fault it for not being authentic, with kale and carrots finding their way into the mix, and being cooked in avocado oil, but it all just works for me. It’s gluten free if you skip the pita and get it salad style. As of right now it’s made fresh to order during lunchtime, Monday through Friday, at the Hyde Park location. It’s decently priced at $6, plus you can grab a Facebook deal for 50% off right now.

Chipotle announced that for the first time in the company’s 20 year history it’s expanding its menu with a new vegan option. The Chipotle sofritas, shredded tofu with chilies and spices, is made from organic soybeans from Hodo Soy Beanery and produced out of a factory in Oakland, CA. So far it looks like the tofu is making its way slowly inwards from the coasts, with Texas not quite on the sofritas map yet. I called a few locations to see if they knew when it would land in Texas, and no one that I spoke to had an idea of the timeline, but it’s definitely something to look out for in the near future – and a great option to find when you’re traveling.

Vanilla Silk Almond Froyo at TCBY- TCBY has added a Silk vanilla almond Froyo to their selection of flavors. This is the second vegan flavor in their lineup, after they introduced a Silk chocolate almond froyo a few months back. The vanilla flavor was available at the UT location on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive when we went to check it out, and while we didn’t have high expectations, we were pleasantly surprised by the flavor and consistency. It’s fat free, and a true frozen yogurt with added live active cultures. It’s certainly nice to see that TCBY, a major national chain, is adding more vegan options, and it’s a great option for those looking for a treat near campus.

Brunch at The Vegan Nom- Vegan Brunch is blowing up in this town! Down south, The Vegan Nom has created a vegan brunch platter available every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. For $12, you get not only a platter stacked with classic brunch fare (french toast, potatoes, scramble, sausage and tempeh bacon), but a free mimosa from the Buzz Mill as well! Brunch at the Vegan Nom is a bit of a departure from their usual menu of Rockin’ Vegan Tacos, but it’s quickly becoming a new Saturday morning favorite.

Vegan Brunch at Mr. Natural- We’ve tried the Mr. Natural Brunch buffet twice now, and are definitely fans. Come hungry, as just trying a little bit of everything will fill you up (pictured is a little bit of everything from last Sunday’s brunch, minus the spinach puffs and tamale pie which came out a little later). Head on over to the east side, and check it out yourself on the first Sunday of the month at the Cesar Chavez location for $16.
New Menu Items at Taco 'Bout It- Up north we have some new menu items at Taco ‘Bout It, and their first vegan-friendly brunch this Sunday with free drinks! The new tacos include a vegan baja fry taco (aka fish taco), and a vegan beef taco, which compliment their two veggie heavy vegan tacos. For those looking for a little more food, try making any taco into a burrito for only $3 more (note: the burrito is really a giant taco). They also offer agave for their sopapillas (fried flour tortilla with cinnamon) to make them vegan, so you can finish off your meal with something sweet.

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