Tagged: Top Austin Vegan Food

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Harvey Pekar Reuben from Schmaltz

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Harvey Pekar Reuben from Shhmaltz

The Harvey Pekar Reuben from Shhmaltz is one mean sandwich. Starting from the inside out, the finely chopped fresh cabbage lends a satisfying crunch to every bite, nicely complementing its neighbors: a rich vegan chipotle Russian dressing slathered on top, and a homemade seitan pastrami folded in layers forming the base of the Reuben. The pastrami is really something: sliced paper thin with just the right amount of seasoning, it’s everything you could hope for in a deli sandwich. Last, and certainly not least, the fresh grilled marbled rye bread completes the picture, making this sandwich an instant classic that you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

For us, the Reuben is the shining star in Shhmaltz’s menu of sandwiches (all of them named after famous writers and artists), but there are plenty of other great options, like the Helen Frankenthaler Falafel wrap, which uniquely features falafel balls that are grilled instead of deep-fried. The potato salad is a great addition to any sandwich – the tender potatoes drowning in creamy vegan dill mayo. Mostly everything at Shhmaltz is made from scratch: from the pastrami, to the pickles, even the kombucha is home brewed, which should give you an idea for the level of dedication that goes into everything on their menu.

Helen Frankenthaler Falafel Mock 'Tuna' Salad Sandwich from Shhmaltz

All vegetarian and vegan Jewish deli food trailer behind Farewell Books and Flat Track Coffee in Austin, TX.

Once you get over the hilarious (and intentional) irony that an all-vegetarian food trailer is called “Schmaltz“, look for them tucked behind Farewell Books on East Cesar Chavez at San Marcos Street. The trailer is not visible from Cesar Chavez, so watch out for the sidewalk sign that says “DELI”, which ought to point you in the right direction. Once you’re there, place your order, then sit down at one of the bright blue picnic benches and nosh on the traditional offerings with an Austin twist from this little Jewish delicatessen on wheels.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Popcorn Tin from Cornucopia

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Vegan Popcorn Trio in Mini Tin from Cornucopia

If you’re like me, and think that popcorn should be its own food group, Cornucopia Popcorn Creations is the place for you. With a large rotating selection of popcorn flavors, many of which are vegan, Cornucopia will satisfy all of your popcorn cravings, be they salty, sweet, or savory.

You can buy your choice of popcorn flavor by the bagful, with sizes ranging from the tiny “Kids” bag holding a couple fistfuls of corn, to the ginormous 5-gallon “Party” bag, but our favorite way to take home the crunchy goodness is in a tin. Feeling nostalgic for the classic holiday popcorn tins of your childhood, filled with multiple flavors separated by a high-tech cardboard partition? Cornucopia will let you mix and match up to 4 flavors in a tin to recreate that experience. When you’re done, come back and refill your empty tin as often as you like, and get a 50% discount on every refill, forever.

If you’re having trouble deciding what flavors you want to fill your tin with, take your time, and enjoy some free samples to help you make up your mind. With familiar flavors like Kettle Corn and Garlic & Herb, and unique creations like Veggie Green Corn, Cinnamon Toast, and Madras Curry, it might take you a while before you get a chance to taste them all and decide which is your favorite.

Vegan Popcorn Tasting Containers at Cornucopia Popcorn Bag/Tin Options at Cornucopia

Cornucopia's old location on Guadalupe (Behind Veggie Heaven)

You can find Cornucopia at their new location on Red River and East 32nd. Show your Go Local card to get a free Kids bag with any purchase — the perfect way to sneak in one extra flavor, or a little bit extra of your favorite. Availability of all flavors is subject to supply, so if you want to make sure that a particular flavor is in stock, call ahead, and they can make a fresh batch if they’re out. Be careful, though: the crunchy goodness of Cornucopia popcorn is highly addictive, and before you know it, you may find yourself making excuses to get your tin refilled… not that there’s a problem with that.

[ Updated to reflect Cornucopia’s new location. ]

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Vegan TBLT from The Steeping Room

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Vegan TBLT with Caesar Salad from The Steeping Room

A fun take on a classic BLT, the vegan TBLT is our go-to meal at The Steeping Room: tofu, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and basil vegenaise served on a fluffy ciabatta – pair it with a tangy cashew Caesar salad on the side (a highly recommend $1 upgrade). The Steeping Room has been a favorite of mine since our arrival in Austin. The attention to detail and the quality of ingredients have us coming back time and time again. From the marinade on the tofu, to the sear on the tempeh bacon, to the quality of the bread, The Steeping Room is clearly paying attention to making a fantastic product.

There isn’t a bad vegan dish on the menu, but the tomato soup (one of the rotating vegan soups), scone, lemon edamame tea sandwich and buddha bowl (we recommend the cashew sauce) are all stand outs. When you get a die-hard fried food fan like myself to eat something called a ‘buddha bowl’ you’re clearly doing something right.

Besides delicious food, The Steeping Room, as the name would indicate, also has top-notch teas. Cool down with a tea-tail (a shaken tea cocktail), or warm up with one of the dozens of specialty teas – from green and black to pu-erh and oolong, there’s something for everyone. Soy or almond milk, agave and raw sugar are all available to complete your cup.

TBLT with a Caesar side salad, and a tea sandwich with tomato soup. Special of the week at The Steeping Room

The Steeping Room on North Lamar Check out The Steeping Room in The Domain, or at their relatively new location on N. Lamar. The N. Lamar location is looking to bring in the dinner crowd with a new line-up of dinner specials every week. With specials such as vegan ramen and a Java bowl, and a complementary glass of wine punch with your entree – what’s not to love? If you’re looking for a deal, the Vegan Breakfast Sandwich is a steal at $4 with baked tofu, hummus, cilantro and spicy sriracha on wheat or white bread. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and even brunch, there’s never a bad time to head to The Steeping Room.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

The Bella from Conscious Cravings

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Vegan wraps from Conscious Cravings - Spicy Chickpea, Chimichurri Seitan and The Bella.

Bite into The Bella wrap from Conscious Cravings and you’ll find a crunchy, flaky exterior shell, filled with grilled portobello mushrooms, onions and olives, all cooked in a perfect blending of herbs and spices, and finished with a creamy herbed vegan mayo and Daiya vegan mozzarella. There are so many delicious wraps to choose from at Conscious Cravings, including the flavorful Pan Seared Tofu, Chimichurri Seitan, and Spicy Chickpea, that it was hard to pick a favorite. The best part? At only $5.49 for The Bella, or any of the other tasty wraps from this all-vegetarian trailer, it probably should have been called “Budget Conscious Cravings”.

Conscious Cravings offers several ways to customize your meal. Our favorite modification is adding the quinoa and rice blend added to the wrap — it soaks up the sauces and makes for a heartier meal. When we’re extra hungry, we love to get the pilaf option: instead of getting rolled up into a wrap, the fillings are served on a bed of the quinoa and rice blend. You end up missing out on the crispy goodness of the wrap, but in exchange you get a lot more food for only a $1.29 extra. If you’re looking for a little something extra, you can complete your meal with Conscious Cravings’ famous rosemary baked fries, or cool off with their refreshing hibiscus iced tea or blueberry lemonade.

Blueberry lemonade, hibiscus ice tea, Chimichurri Seitan over quinoa and The Bella wrap.Conscious Cravings Trailer on Burnet, conveniently located next to a car wash.

Conscious Cravings has three locations: one on Burnet Road just south of West Koenig Lane, one on South 1st Street in the South Austin Trailer Park Eatery, and the third in the Dobie Mall food court by the UT campus. We like to head to the Burnet location, which is right next to a Mister Car Wash, and get our car washed while we enjoy our food – the south location is in a food trailer lot that features a neat indoor seating area with fun games like table tennis and foosball. No matter which location you go to, you’ll get the same great food, so you win either way.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Thai Tea Ice Cream over Sticky Rice from Thai Fresh

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Thai tea ice cream over hot sticky rice from Thai Fresh.

What’s better than vegan Thai tea ice cream? Thai tea ice cream melting over hot coconut sticky rice! Its rich coconut flavors melding with the bold flavors of Thai tea – the creamy, cold ice cream contrasting with the hot, chewy rice. This ice cream is more than just a summer staple: it’s the perfect year-round indulgence.

This incredible combination can be found at Thai Fresh, the coffee bar/Thai restaurant tucked away on Mary Street. I love the whole coffee shop/restaurant, but the ice cream and desserts blow me away. The ice cream case is entirely vegan, and with distinctive rotating flavors such as ginger lemongrass, Thai basil, sweet potato pecan and salty tamarind, you’re likely to want to try them all. The dessert case always has something fun going on, from vegan cookies and cakes, to pies, parfaits and ice cream sandwiches – for a few lucky months this summer, their amazing baker was even cranking out vegan croissants and pain au chocolat.

Vegan grasshopper pie and a latte from Thai Fresh.Vegan Croissants from Thai Fresh

Thai Fresh on Mary StreetIf you’re confused by the Thai restaurant/coffee shop combo, you’re not alone. This pairing is uniquely set up, with two spaces, and two focuses, yet with one counter from which you order. It’s unusual, but once you get used to the idea of ordering Thai food from a coffee shop, it all falls into place. Head there in the morning for a latte and parfait, in the afternoon for a full vegan-friendly Thai meal, or in the evening for some wine, dessert and live music. Vegetarian Thai cooking classes (that are vegan-friendly) are also offered regularly, and there is even a small Thai market with those hard to find ingredients, for when you want to re-create the flavors at home.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Akara from Wasota African Cuisine

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Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) from Wasota African Cuisine

If you’ve been paying attention to this series so far, you may have noticed that we tend to have a thing for deep fried food. There’s probably no better example of this than the akara from Wasota African Cuisine. Perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these delicious black-eyed pea fritters are available either on their own, as part of the Wasota Platter (a great way to sample some of the different flavors of West African cuisine), or in a slightly larger form as the patty in the veggie burger. The stand-alone akara plate comes with their tasty Benin sauce for dipping, which can be made as mild or spicy as you like. However you end up ordering your akara, each bite will leave you wondering why anybody ever bothers to cook anything else.

West African food is traditionally very vegetable-heavy, and as a result, most of what is offered at Wasota is vegan. There are a lot of excellent dishes to choose from: one of our favorites, besides the akara, is the egusi soup, a flavorful spinach soup named after the ground egusi seeds used as a thickener, served with fufu, a West African staple made from mashed yams (it reminds us a bit of starchy mashed potatoes). Everything on the menu, except for the Wasota Platter, costs between five and seven dollars, so between that, and the ridiculously generous portions (either bring a serious appetite, some friends, or be ready to take a lot of food home), Wasota is one of the best places in town to get delicious, fresh vegan food on a budget.

Black-eyed Peas, Spinach and Fried Plantains plate from Wasota African Cuisine Wasota African Cuisine's Vegan Menu

Wasota Trailer in the SoLa-Bluebonnet Lot on South Lamar

If you’ve been in Austin for a while, you may recognize the owner of the trailer, Lawrence Eguakun, formerly of the much-beloved World Beat Café, which sadly had to close its doors in 2006 when Lawrence was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily for us, after several years in remission, Lawrence was able to open up Wasota in 2011. If you’ve been to the trailer before, note that it has moved twice from its original location on South 1st street: first to the SoLa-Bluebonnet lot on S. Lamar, and more recently to 1112 E 11th Street, sharing a lot with Nice-N-Ful. Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado of West African cuisine, or you’ve never heard of Jollof rice, check out Wasota for a meal you’re not likely to forget.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

The Johnny Hash from Biscuits and Groovy

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The Johnny Hash with tofu scramble from Biscuits and Groovy

Flaky biscuits, drowned in a thick, rich gravy*, then topped with potatoes, cheese, sausage, and bacon. Biscuits and Groovy calls it “The Johnny Hash”. We call it “breakfast”, and yes, you’re still reading a vegan blog: Biscuits and Groovy’s not-very-well-kept secret, buried in fine print in the corner of their menu, is that almost anything that they offer can be made vegan. This trailer takes their vegan-friendly options seriously, with color-coded equipment in the kitchen to keep the vegan cookware and utensils separate, and there’s never a “vegan tax” upcharge for any of the vegan ingredient substitutions.

The signature product at Biscuits and Groovy is, as the name of the trailer implies, biscuits and gravy, covered with your choice of toppings. Their featured biscuits and gravy dishes are all named after famous musicians, and you can customize any of them with extra toppings. We’re partial to the Johnny Hash, a nod to the delicious grilled potatoes sitting atop your biscuits, and of course, to the Man in Black himself. We also love the tofu scramble, which you can add to the Johnny, or any other biscuit dish that doesn’t already have it, for an extra dollar. If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to beat the breakfast burrito (available only on weekdays), a giant tortilla stuffed so full that you can’t even close it. No matter how many fillings you pick for your burrito, it will always cost a cool four dollars.

A Burrito from Biscuits and GroovyThe Johnny Hash with Tofu Scramble.

Biscuits and Groovy located on 51st and Duval.

Biscuits and Groovy is located at the corner of 51st and Duval. They’re open seven days a week for breakfast / brunch / lunch, and they get pretty busy on the weekends, when the easiest way to find the trailer is to look for the line. You can beat the rush of hungry biscuit cravers by coming on a weekday, but otherwise, expect to wait a little bit (when they get super busy, they are often unable to take advance orders over the phone). Once you make your way to the front of the gravy train and decide what you want, place your order, and before you know it, you’ll be digging into a hot breakfast that will start your day off right.

* The vegan gravy option has changed a couple of times in the past year, and we really love the new recipe! If you haven’t had it in a while, now’s a good time to try it again.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Salted Caramel Brownie Shake from Sweet Ritual

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Salted Caramel Shake with a brownie from Sweet Ritual.

You know the magic that happens with a brownie sundae, when the ice cream starts to soak through the cake? Now, imagine that as a shake. That’s the fun behind adding a Capital City Bakery brownie to your Sweet Ritual shake. This is not an official menu item, but it’s officially become my favorite off-menu item at Austin’s one and only all-vegan ice cream parlor. All you have to do is pick your favorite shake (mine’s the salted caramel shake made with soft serve), and then add a brownie. Your brownie will be crushed into your shake, and served with a big straw to accommodate the bits of brownie you are about to eat/drink.

I’ve never met a shake from Sweet Ritual that I didn’t like, but the salted caramel always takes the cake for me. The combination of sweet and salty is so good, you might just want to grab a bottle to take home with you. The recent collaboration between Sweet Ritual and Capital City Bakery to make ice cream sandwiches has also been a hit in our household, and we’ve been known to grab a few to take home and store in the freezer for a rainy day.

Salted Caramel available to take home from Sweet Ritual.Ice Cream Sandwiches from Sweet Ritual

Sweet Ritual rock star employee Nandy torching marshmallows for a Red Hot Vegans Sundae.While shakes and ice cream sandwiches are my go-to orders, I’m also a big fan of the chocolate waffle cones, and will order a sundae in a cone just to eat the cone. The RedHotVegans.com sundae (yeah, we have a sundae!), aka the s’mores sundae, is a favorite because it comes with a pyrotechnics show. After you place your order, stick around to watch the marshmallows get torched – and possibly burst into flames.

So next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, come visit this adorable old-fashioned ice cream parlor at 45th and Duval (inside JuiceLand). Whatever you decide to go with, be it a shake, sundae or ice cream sandwich, your inner child will thank you.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Mac & Chz from Happy Vegan Baker

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Happy Vegan Baker Mac & Chz, served with a side of fresh farmer's market veggies

Thick, tender elbow noodles covered in a rich cheezy sauce, with little bits of seasoned tofu mixed in — Happy Vegan Baker‘s vegan version of this all-American favorite comfort food has it all. Each bite is packed with flavors and textures that are guaranteed to make you a happy vegan eater. Best of all, this lip-smacking cheezy goodness can be yours for only three dollars, so when you feed your cravings it doesn’t bleed your savings. (Yes, eating Mac & Chz makes you tell cheezy jokes.)

You can find Happy Vegan Baker at several of the local farmer’s markets around town (check their website for details), where they sell Mac & Chz in refrigerated containers along with other tasty ready-made meals like the ChickUn Salad and Lentil Shepard’s Pie. They’re all so good that I could dig right into them cold, but if you really want to make the flavors pop, the Mac & Chz and Shepard’s Pie can be reheated at home. Happy Vegan Baker also offers a wide selection of delicious vegan baked goods (e.g. cupcakes, bread, oatmeal sandwiches, even gluten-free biscotti), which you can find at their farmer’s market booth, as well as in several coffee houses around town.

Mac and Chz at the Farmer's Market Gluten Free Options from Happy Vegan Baker

Happy Vegan Baker Booth at the Triangle Farmer's MarketHappy Vegan Baker is a family-owned business, and their passion and enthusiasm shows through in everything they do. They were the first vegan business we ran into when we moved to Austin (purely by accident, at the downtown farmer’s market), and we were welcomed warmly with a big grin that made us feel right at home in a city that was brand new to us at the time. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory, head over to the farmer’s market and visit the Happy Vegan Baker booth: their friendly greeting will brighten your day, and so will the food, with every bite from the first to the last.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Mochi Tempura from The Dojo

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Mochi Tempura from The Dojo

[UPDATE: Unfortunately, The Dojo has closed its doors as of August 26th, 2014.]

House-made sweet mochi (japanese rice cake), covered in tempura batter, deep fried, drizzled with rasberry syrup and agave, then topped with fresh fruit and powdered sugar. For a girl who loves her mochi, and certainly all things fried (we’ve clearly established this), this is a dream team combination. From one quick glance of the menu, I knew The Dojo was going to be my new favorite hang-out spot in town, and it certainly has not let me down. The Dojo is Austin’s first izakaya, a type of Japanese bar and restaurant built around small plates and great drinks, with an emphasis on social dining – customers are encouraged to linger and share their dishes with their table.

With over 20 vegan options on the menu, and more being added seemingly every week, The Dojo means business when it comes to their vegan customers. With so many options, there is something for everyone on the menu, with small starter plates of pickled vegetables and edamame, salad plates of tofu caprese and fried tofu salad, recognizable favorites like gyoza and tempura, fun dishes like tofu steak and tomato croquettes, and even vegan ramen and dessert to finish off your meal.

Kinpira Gobo and Sapporo at The DojoTofu Caprese from The Dojo

As with all new businesses (their grand opening was just 3 days ago), things have been changing quickly, so I’m sure their menu will make a few more changes before they’re really settled in. Since their soft opening a few weeks ago, they’ve really listened to their customers and have implemented a dedicated veg fryer, added new vegan sauces (including a previously unavailable tempura sauce), and started a vegan-friendly lunch service.

Vegan Okoge Ankake from The Dojo

The Dojo in North Austin

I love to head over to The Dojo early for happy hour, when you can buy drinks together with one dollar appetizer specials, such as the kinpira gobo (braised burdock root – a traditional Japanese side dish and a surprise favorite of ours), or when in need of a late night meal (open till 1:30 am or later with a full menu till close). This Friday would also be a great time to check out The Dojo, at a special edition of ATX Vegan Drinks. We’ll be hanging around the bar area, where you’ll be able to order drinks and some special menu items that The Dojo will be putting together for this event, including a vegan sake jello shot. No matter when you decide to check them out, the huge vegan-friendly menu and the relaxed, casual izakaya atmosphere are sure to make The Dojo a fast favorite of yours too.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!