There’s a brand-spanking new vegan food truck in Austin, and it’s a gold mine (womp, womp!). The Golden Spike Rail Cart, an all-vegan comfort food trailer, has been open for just a few weeks now, but they show so much promise. The menu is still evolving, but it currently features frito pie, sweet potato waffle fries (with or without cheese sauce), and egg rolls for dinner, plus pancakes, home fries, biscuits and gravy, and sausage waffle egg rolls with maple syrup for brunch. The Buffalo chik’n with mozzarella egg roll on the dinner menu, and the pancakes and sausage waffle egg rolls on the brunch menu are all stand-outs. The Golden Spike is currently parked at the The Buzz Mill and is open for dinner every night, and brunch on the weekends (we’d recommend calling for hours).
It looks like Austin is in store for another awesome vegan food trailer. Craig Vanis of the roving vegan supper club, Bistro Vonish, posted a picture of himself in a food trailer with the caption, “I heard Austin likes trailers… ” Clearly a sign of good things to come.
Rabbit Food Grocery has successfully funded their kickstarter, and has secured a brick-and-mortar location! South Austinites win here again, as the future home of Rabbit Food Grocery will be on South 1st street, within spitting distance of Bouldin Creek Cafe and Pulse Vegan.
The east side lost a great little vegan-friendly grocery store, as the Wet Whistle closed their doors for good recently. We’re sad to see them and their abundant vegan grab-and-go options go.
Nice-n-ful, a great little vegetarian soul food truck on the east side, also appears to have shuttered their doors. They weren’t around for very long, but we’re sad to see them go. We hope this isn’t the end of the road for their delicious soul rolls.
Now that Cheer Up Charlie’s has moved to a swanky new location on Red River, the old Cheer Up Charlie’s location has turned into Wonderland Austin, a bar with two trailers parked in back: East Side Kings – Thai Kun, and Chaat Shop. The vegan options at Thai Kun are marked on the menu, and include cabbage two ways (very spicy!) and black noodles. Both dishes are pretty different from the vegan options at the other ESK locations. Chaat Shop serves a variety of Indian snack foods, including samosas and bhel puri, with vegan options clearly labeled.
We’re looking forward to checking out these two new veg-friendly Indian restaurants in town: Suprabhat is a pan-Indian vegetarian restaurant up north on Parmer Lane by SH 45. The menu isn’t clear on which dishes are vegan, but we’ve never run across a pure veg Indian restaurant that wasn’t vegan-friendly, so our hopes are high that this will be a great spot up north. Nasha is a new restaurant on the east side which labels their vegan options clearly on their menu, and has a decent size vegan curry menu with some unique curries you won’t find on other menus around town.
With the chilly weather coming in, some of our favorite vendors of cold treats have gone into hibernation for the season. Say “sweet dreams” to Bananarchy and Frozen Rickshaw until 2015.
Sa-Ten is a new Japanese-inspired cafe on the east side. The vegetable curry is the only entree that can be made vegan (and is marked as such on the menu), but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood because it’s really well done. You can also find Red Rabbit donuts and Better Bites baked goods at the counter, which certainly bolsters this trendy cafe’s vegan-freindly cred.
Vivo has finally reopened at a new location off I-35, right by the Marchesa Hall and Theatre (near Highland Mall). Don’t let their I-35 address fool you though: you won’t see the restaurant from the frontage road, and it might be easier to approach from the Middle Fiskville side of the block. The restaurant is under new management, but the menu and recipes are the same, so we can still enjoy our tofu puffy tacos!
With Thanksgiving around the corner, several of our favorite local vegan and vegan-friendly businesses have got you covered if you need to BYO food to a family dinner, or want to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at home without getting your kitchen dirty:
Counter Culture is offering a full traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $15 (plus extra for optional desserts), with gluten-free options available as well. Orders due by November 23rd.
Happy Vegan Baker is offering a Thanksgiving meal including dessert for $30 for one person, $55 for two, and $100 for four. They are also separately offering pies for $20 and cheesecakes for $35. Orders due by November 24th.
Alamo Drafthouse has been adding some more vegan-friendly dishes to their menu, including a quinoa kale salad and tofu roasted vegetable bowl. They have also brought back the much missed spaghetti squash pomodoro. These dishes can all be found on the vegan menu at the Village location, but have also been spotted at other locations around town.
Smoothie King, the gigantic international smoothie chain, now carries Sunwarrior vegan protein. You can add it to the smoothie of your choice, or you can try it in their featured vegan smoothies: mango kale or dark chocolate banana. We were sent some gift cards to give the vegan specials a try, and enjoyed them. They’re more mild than the smoothies we’re used to, but they won us over after drinking a whole 32oz. I’d recommend them for the cheap price alone, but they’re also a great option if you have a Smoothie King in your neighborhood, or you run across one on a trip. In addition to the smoothies, we also noticed that Smoothie King carries Complete Cookies, a line of vegan cookies that carries a whopping 16 grams of protein per cookie. I look forward to stopping by Smoothie King in the future, to support them as they continue to expand their vegan options.
Unity Vegan Kitchen has been settling in nicely at their new space in the South Austin Social lot on Jessie Street, and serving up exciting rotating specials like tortilla soup, chimichangas, chick’n with waffles, and taco salad. The lot has big propane heat lamps to help you keep toasty, now that the temperature has dropped.
BBQ Revolution is also settling in nicely at their new space behind Brass Ovaries on Manor Road at Airport, and are now open for both lunch and dinner. They’re now open on Monday as well, serving a special Meatless Monday sandwich which honors Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples, famous for his criticism of the Meatless Mondays campaign. The double-decker Todd Staples sandwich stuffed with vegan BBQ brisket and soy curls should put to rest any concerns about meat-free meals being devoid of protein!
Chipotle‘s vegan Sofritas option has finally landed in Texas! No more enviously drooling over photos from your friends in other parts of the country: now you can get your very own Sofritas burrito, bowl, or tacos at any of the several Chipotle locations around town.
At long last, soft serve has returned to Sweet Ritual! After successfully reaching a stretch goal on their latest crowdfunding campaign, Sweet Ritual has a new soft serve machine, and you can once again enjoy sundaes and shakes made with Sweet Ritual’s original vanilla soft serve.
Uchiko has started a meatless Monday menu on the third Monday of every month. The menu features a full tasting menu of vegetarian dishes, many of which can be made vegan. We headed out to try their first meatless monday event, and had a lot of fun trying the vegan specials, as well as our go-to favorites on their regular menu. (Spoiler Alert: Uchiko’s happy hour will be featured as one of our Top 20: Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition posts, so keep your eye out for our informative blog post about how to keep it affordable at one of Austin’s swankiest restaurants.)
Hat Creek Burger Company serves up an awesome veggie burger using the delicious vegan Hot Dang grain patty. We wrote to Hat Creek to see if the whole burger (bun and all) is vegan, and to see if there are any other vegan items on the menu, and this is what we learned: The bun is vegan, and the burger patty is deep fried (yum!) in a small dedicated veg fryer. (The fries, however, are prepared in a shared fryer.) The special sauces are mayo-based, and anything that’s battered is a no go (milk powder in the batter). The veggie grilled toppings are grilled on a shared surface, but they are only grilled with olive oil (no butter). Thanks to our curiosity, we gleaned a few Hat Creek gift cards, and went to town on these delicious burgers. We loved the family-friendly design of Hat Creek with a large children’s play structure, the beer specials ($1 beer on Thursdays!), and the house-made pickles and sauerkraut. Check them out at any of their three locations – Burnet, Westlake and Georgetown.
Kaylee, the super talented baker at Thai Fresh has done it again, and blown us away with her ridiculously delicious gluten-free baked goods. These cake donuts (something I’ve been missing dearly) are fried and crunchy on the outside (they do use a shared fryer), and light and crumbly on the inside. I would never have guessed that they were gluten-free, which is always high praise coming from a gluten-lover.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya has made a change to their dedicated fryer situation. They had added a small countertop fryer dedicated to their tofu and Brussels sprouts toppings about a year ago, but it was causing them to lose power (we were actually eating there on one of those nights – it was spooky!). They are currently deep frying the tofu and Brussels sprouts in a fresh batch of oil at the beginning of their prep schedule, but if they run out of the pre-prepped items, they no longer have a dedicated veg fryer to make more. If shared fryers are a problem for you, then leave the tofu and Brussels sprouts off, or check to see whether tofu and Brussels sprouts fried in dedicated oil are still available before you order, since availability will vary.
Kite Hill vegan cheeses have finally arrived in Austin! These cheeses are exclusively at Whole Foods, and are sometimes stocked in the dairy cheese section, and sometimes in the vegan cheeses section (so just ask where they’re hiding them if at first you don’t find them). These fancy cheeses are cultured in the same way that dairy cheeses have been cultured for ages, so the flavors are completely unique amongst all the vegan cheeses on the market. There are currently three flavors being stocked: soft ripened, soft fresh truffle dill & chive, and soft fresh original. The soft fresh flavors and texture are very similar to tofu. We’ve enjoyed them in a caprese salad. The soft ripened is far more complex, flavor and texture wise, and worth a try if you’re missing the flavor of brie. We highly recommend waiting to eat the soft ripened variety until about a week before its expiration date. You’ll notice that the cheese will go from firm, to almost caving in on itself as it ripens – that’s the sweet spot.
Field Roast has done it again! Their new Chao slices combine coconut oil and chao (a traditional Vietnamese fermented tofu) to create a soft, melty cheese alternative, available in three different flavors: Coconut Herb, a very mild white cheese; Creamy Original, with a delicious yet subtle cheese flavor; and Tomato Cayenne, with a robust flavor and a hint of a kick. We can’t stop making grilled cheese sandwiches with the Tomato Cayenne and Creamy Original flavors. You can find Chao slices at Rabbit Food Grocery, Wheatsville, and Whole Foods.
‘Tis the season for vegan nog! Alongside the old standbys like Silk Nog and So Delicious, this year we have a newcomer Califia Farms, with their almond milk nog. We’re huge fans of Califia’s toasted coconut/almond milk blend, and were pleasantly surprised by the light, refreshing flavor of their nog.
So Delicious seems to be keeping pretty busy with several new products on the market:
Holiday-themed mini popsicles – the fun pumpkin and candy-corn shaped So Delicious coconut milk mini pops have come and gone, but hopefully the wintery snowman and peppermint star pops will land soon!
Cocowhip – a coconut based whipped topping that is purchased frozen and defrosted in the fridge. We found So Delicious CocoWhip at the downtown Whole Foods and immediately devoured it served over fresh berries. (Well, not immediately, since you have to defrost it for four hours first.) There are two types on the shelves: regular and light (less fat). Initially we preferred the light version, as it had an airier texture, though both were delicious. After sitting in the fridge for two days though, the light version had turned to soup while the regular version had remained the same. So, we might recommend the light version if you plan to eat the whole tub right away (or maybe re-freeze it), but try the regular version if you will be eating it over the course of a few days.
Almond milk coffee creamer – we already love the So Delicious coconut milk creamers, so when we saw that they now have an almond milk version, we had to try it. We didn’t find it to be as rich as the coconut milk version, so we’ll stick with the coconut, but if coconut is not your thing, we suggest that you give it a try.
As if we didn’t love Sweet Earth Natural Foods enough already for their juicy bacon and other wonderful seitan products, they now have a line of frozen burritos, including four vegan flavors! The Anasazi (Southwest), Kyoto (Japanese), and Curry Tiger (Indian) burritos take their inspiration from world cuisines, and the Big Sur is a classic breakfast burrito. All of the Sweet Earth vegan burritos except for the Anasazi feature Sweet Earth’s own seitan. We can’t stop eating the Big Sur breakfast burrito: the combination of seitan and tofu scramble is delicious. We’ve also tried and enjoyed all of the other vegan burritos. FYI: the Kyoto has a strong seaweed flavor – a plus for some people, a minus for others.
Malk has finally landed in Austin! This Texas-made fresh nutmilk can be found at Thom’s Market on Barton Springs Road. It’s a little pricey at $9 per bottle, but fans of freshly made organic nutmilk with no additives will appreciate the convenience of a premade product that could previously only be made at home. It comes in three flavors: maple pecan, unsweetened almond, and vanilla almond. We gave the maple pecan a try, and loved the light texture and unique flavor.
Celeste’s Best cookie dough is now available at all nine Central Market locations across Texas, as well as in Austin area Costco locations. We wish that these were Costco-sized tubs (we can always dream), but we’re still super stoked that this amazing vegan cookie dough is becoming available to an ever growing audience!
TruJoy Sweets Organic Choco-Chews are now available at Rabbit Food Grocery. This chocolate chew is similar to a Tootsie Roll. We can’t wait to get our hands on this much-missed childhood treat!
There’s a new vegan social cycling club in town, riding around Austin neighborhoods and ending their rides at local favorite hangout spots like Sweet Ritual and Arlo’s. If you’ve got two wheels and love vegan food, join the Facebook group to find out when the next ride is!
If you don’t have two wheels, you can still join in on the fun with the No Meat Athlete – Austin running group on Facebook.
A local family has organized an Austin Vegan Co-Housing Meetup Group to plan a vegan co-housing community in Austin. Co-Housing is a type of intentional community where members live in separate private homes that share public spaces and facilities. If this is something that interests you, and you missed their initial meeting last weekend, make sure to get in touch with them to find out more.
We’re really excited to be part of the upcoming “Passage to India” fundraiser event for Animal Aid Udaipur. Join us at the Off Center on the evening of February 7th (note: there has been a date change) to enjoy delicious vegan food and delightful entertainment including Indian dancing and Bollywood Karaoke, and join in on the raffles and silent auctions, all in support of a great cause. Tickets will be going on sale soon, so make sure to RSVP to the event and like the Austin for Animal Aid India page on Facebook for updates.
Vegans Rock Austin is organizing a meetup at Mr. Natural’s Thanskgiving Eve vegan dinner! This traditional dinner with all the trimmings features homemade vegan seitan turkey with gravy and orange-cranberry sauce, a fresh baked roll, and your choice of three sides (we call dibs on the mashed potatoes). Come to the E Cesar Chavez location on Wednesday the 26th and enjoy this wonderful Austin vegan tradition!