Eating Vegan at Alamo Drafthouse

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Alamo Drafthouse LogoIn my first piece of hard-hitting investigative blogging journalism, I bring you the answer to a question that’s been on everyone’s mind – Is the popcorn at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema vegan? The short answer is: yes (if you order it without butter, obviously).

In a series of emails back and forth with Alamo Drafthouse management (thanks Brian!), I received a response that the popcorn is indeed vegan. A little while later, it was brought to my attention that someone at Alamo (not Brian) had said that the popcorn is not vegan. This conflict in information led me to dig deeper. I started by contacting Alamo again to determine exactly what was going into the popcorn and got this response: “Procedure is: turn on the popper, put in a scoop of oil, when it gets hot dump a cup of popping corn and a little scoop of Flavacol brand popcorn seasoning in and voila, popcorn.” I quickly realized that the root of the conflicting information was probably the Flavacol butter flavored salt. Flavacol Popcorn SeasoningFlavacol only lists artificial flavors on its packaging, and many online sources listed it as a vegan product, but I wanted to go one step further to solidify my investigative reporter status. I wrote to Gold Medal, the makers of Flavacol, and received this response: “The Flavacol popcorn seasoning salt is Vegan friendly – containing no animal and/or derivatives of animal products. However, we are not Vegan certified.” Whatever the heck ‘Vegan certified’ means, I don’t know, but I am fairly confident now that the popcorn at Alamo Drafthouse is indeed vegan.

And since man cannot live on popcorn alone (though one can certainly try), I also asked for a list of foods that are vegan/can be modified to be made vegan. This list was put together by an Alamo Drafthouse Village cook and a vegan staff member:
Dan Dan the Popcorn Man

[ UPDATE: Alamo Drafthouse has made several changes to the menu since this post was originally published. The list below is out of date; check out “Eating Vegan at Alamo Drafthouse” in the Guides section for the most up-to-date list. ]

  • black bean burger – no butter on bun; no aioli
  • Asian salad – no wontons; no chicken
  • Greek salad – no feta
  • house salad/side salad – no parmesan cheese
  • hummus
  • vegetable plate – no tomato (it has non-vegan stuffing)
  • spaghetti squash
  • popcorn
  • chips and salsa and/or guacamole
  • Asian wrap – sub tofu, no wontons
  • turkey wrap – sub tofu
  • Greek wrap – sub tofu; no feta
  • Mexico wrap – no cotija; no wontons; sub tofu
  • BLT – sub tofu for bacon; no chipotle mayo
  • mushroom pizza – no cheese
  • wild at artichoke heart pizza – no cheese
  • Greek pizza – no cheese
  • the spicy peanut dressing, and all vinaigrette dressings are good to go

I was super stoked to learn about all of these options and I hope you are too! I was also told that the vegan staff member suggested they add Daiya as an option for their pizzas – which I wholeheartedly agree with! I did have a couple follow up questions, including if there was butter on the bread that came with the spaghetti squash (they said it was only oil), and if the reason the fries didn’t make the list was because they didn’t have a dedicated veg fryer (turns out they don’t, but they are looking into it). This list is specific to the Alamo Drafthouse Village location, 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.

30 comments

  1. Kate

    THANK YOU! This has forever been a question of mine and I’m glad to finally get to the bottom of what is/isn’t vegan.

  2. Paulina

    Thanks for sharing! My husband and I have been wanting to go to an Alamo Drafthouse, but we didn’t know what the vegan options were.

  3. Abigail

    Thank you for this. I have always wondered why the Alamo’s food choices aren’t more vegan friendly, at least by being labeled on the menu. I would think they would be at the forefront of this! Anyway, this is really helpful.

  4. Courtney

    We have been told by more than 2 waiters at Alamo that the black bean burger was not vegan. I’m still not convinced it is. We’ve had way too many conflicting stories from waiters there. Too risky.

    • Daniel

      Unfortunately, information that we get from staff at the various Alamo Drafthouse locations is often inconsistent. The management and chefs have consistently reported that the burger is vegan without the aioli when asked. There have been a couple of occasions that Drafthouse staff have told use the burger isn’t vegan. Every time this has happened, we asked the server to double-check, because we had been told in the past that the burger is vegan. They always came back after double-checking with the kitchen to tell us that the burger is vegan, and apologized for the confusion.

      It would be great if Alamo Drafthouse could clearly mark vegan options on their menus and make sure all staff are specifically trained on what is vegan and what is not. Here’s a recent thread from the Vegans Rock Austin forums where the Alamo Drafthouse (Lake Creek) chef confirmed that the black bean burger patty and bun are vegan: http://veganaustin.org/topic.php?id=4820

  5. Zack McGhee

    Thank you so much for this post! Couple of quick questions: (1) Is the spicy peanut dressing on the Asian salad vegan? I’ve heard conflicting reports. And why wouldn’t the Asian wrap (sub tofu) be vegan if the salad is? (2) I’ve been told by Drafthouse staff that the baked pretzel is vegan if you get it only with the horseradish mustard. Is that right?

    Thanks again! Great work!

    • Marie

      Hey Zack! Thanks for bringing this up. I received word back that the spicy peanut dressing is vegan, and the Asian wrap would be vegan with the same subs. They aren’t sure about the pretzel, as it’s one of the few things they don’t make.

  6. Austin Vegetarian Living

    It’s funny how they just listed “spaghetti squash” when their menu reads, Spaghetti Sauce and Pomodoro Sauce. The description is “Spaghetti squash roasted to al dente, topped with a classic pomodoro sauce with sliced portobellos and fresh basil. Served with garlic bread. Afraid of being a vegan? Add Chicken or Parmesan for an extra charge”. It is MY FAVORITE VEGAN MEAL in this town, so far. We sometimes just order it just for take-out (no movie). I don’t know if the garlic bread is vegan, though.

  7. Lynn

    Thanks for posting this! I always get conflicting information from the Alamo staff. Glad to hear I can eat the black bean burger safely again.

  8. Phillip

    Fantastic. Thanks so much for inquiring. When I’m out with other people I’m often a bit shy about asking lots of menu questions and often just stick to things that are obviously vegan, so this is such a great help to me.

  9. Brian

    Awesome post! We are going to tonite and were just debating if they had soy cheese or not. Any updates?

    • Marie

      No vegan cheeze as of yet – but be sure to let them know that you want it. They actually read those customer feedback forms, and fairly frequently even respond to them. If we all ask for more vegan options, maybe they’ll actually offer them 🙂

  10. Josh

    I just went today to the Alamo at S Lamar. I asked about vegan options and they actually gave me a small printed vegan menu!

    • Marie

      That’s amazing news!!! I can’t wait to head down to the S. Lamar location and check it out for myself. Thanks for letting us know!

  11. Sid

    So you mention that it’s vegan if you avoid the butter. So you did check to verify that the butter they use is not vegan? I know that AMC and others use a blend of tropical oils that, while will likely kill you, are vegan.

    • Marie

      The Alamo Drafthouse menu says “topped with real melted butter by request” – so I have to assume that they mean actual dairy butter. I have seen “buttery topping” at theaters before, which could quite possibly be accidentally vegan… but I’ve never cared enough to check.

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  13. Andy

    Seriously? You folks have nothing better to do with your lives than spending time trying to figure out if the contents of popcorn is vegan or vegan enough for you to consume without filling/feeling guilty? Movie theater food and all of its accoutrements are supposed to be bad for you, that’s the whole idea behind going to the movies. Watch a good or bad flick and fill your body with junk food and enjoying yourself immensely whilst doing so. Have a big plate of chili cheesy nachos perhaps with a big ass dollop of sour cream and certainly some jalapeños, to be followed up with a big ass sugary coke or considering it is The Alamo Drafthouse, maybe a beer. But wait what if said beer isn’t vegan or vegan enough? You fukkers are really messed up……sorry, but sometimes the truth hurts..

    • Marie

      Hi Andy! I’m sure you have nothing better to do with your time than to leave mean comments on blogs, but I can assure you that our time researching this post was well spent. You seem to have made the assumption that we are vegan for health reasons, and that our ‘guilt’ about eating non-vegan popcorn comes from it being ‘bad for you’. People are vegan for a lot of reasons, but our particular ‘guilt’ surrounding eating non-vegan food (be it popcorn or anything else) is based on the inherent cruelty of animal farming. If you have any question about the fact that a commercially mass produced dairy product for popcorn would not be tied to animal cruelty, I would suggest watching Meet Your Meat or Earthlings. If you’ve happened to catch our Top 20 Austin Favorites series, you might have noticed that we indulge in our fair share of ‘junk’ food. We don’t have to share the same beliefs, but I hope you can respect our reasons for wanting our movie theater indulgences to be cruelty-free.

  14. April

    Hey, y’all! I was checking around online to see if I could find updated vegan options for the Drafthouse’s new menu, but couldn’t. Have you heard anything about their new offerings? I think I had heard that the hamburger bun isn’t vegan (though I can’t get a straight answer about the Good Seed veggie burger). I’ve been doing chips and hummus or the Beets & Goat Cheese salad (with tofu, minus the goat cheese), and I have to say, I’m missing the previous veggie pizzas something terrible.

    • Daniel

      Hey, April!

      We miss the old menu, too. 🙁 The Good Seed veggie burger patty is definitely vegan: Good Seed is a local company whose patties are available in several places around town. If anything’s not vegan about the burger, it will be the bun (which Alamo Drafthouse has gone back and forth with different suppliers multiple times – last we heard, it’s currently not vegan, though our contact at Alamo Drafthouse has moved on, and the current staff has not been as responsive to our inquiries) or the toppings, like the obviously not vegan goat cheese.

      It’s sad that the vegan options have gone downhill so much since the current menu started. I think the best we can do for now is continue to let Alamo Drafthouse know how disappointing the new menu has ben for us vegans, and hope they can bring back some of our old favorites or add some new options that are more interesting than a plate of veggies and hummus.

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