Red Hot Vegan Bloggers Daniel and Marie spent the month of September sampling, photographing, and writing about their Top 20 Austin Favorites – a list fairly heavy in oily, sugary, and calorie-dense foods. The foods included in their guide are all great, but I realized that list was a far cry from what my top 20 list would be, as I tend to go after foods that are lower in oil, are less calorie-dense, and don’t have faux meats. I was inspired to write my first ever blog post, to chronicle the lighter side of Austin’s vegan food scene. If you’re like me, you may find that you love some of these lighter, but equally delicious, options right here in Austin:
Popcorn Tofu from Wheatsville Food Co-op is the best! Particularly the Buffalo Popcorn Tofu, and more specifically the Buffalo Popcorn Hoagie (sub ciabatta*) from the deli counter. Popcorn Tofu is the stuff of legends, and the Buffalo Popcorn sandwich lives up to its reputation, stuffed to the gills with Buffalo Popcorn Tofu, vegan blue cheeze dressing, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, carrots, jalapeños and alfalfa sprouts. If you’re not into spicy food, order it without the jalapeños, or play it even safer and get the Popcorn Tofu Po’boy (also sub ciabatta, and sans jalapeños). Want more Buffalo Popcorn Tofu in your life? Buy it by the tubful from the deli counter, or pick it up in the cold case. You can even grab it on a ready-to-bake pizza.
When you want to switch things up, try Wheatsville’s always vegan-friendly, and always delicious hot bar. My favorite hot bar combo is on Sundays, when they break out the biscuits and gravy, vegan sausage crumbles, spicy greens and the other Wheatsville fave – mac and cheeze (also available during the week, as well as in the cold case).
Wheatsville will soon have two locations where you can get your Popcorn Tofu/hot bar fix. We have our tried and true north location on Guadalupe, but South Austinites have a very exciting second location coming at ‘em any day now. Yay for more Popcorn Tofu in this world!
* Why sub ciabatta you may ask? Well, as you can see from the pictures above (top is ciabatta, below is hoagie), you get the same ingredients either way, it’s just how you prefer them to be distributed. If you like to eat your sandwich like a burrito, where each bite comes with a different ingredient, then go for the hoagie, but if you’d rather eat your sandwich like a sandwich, and taste the combinations of flavors and textures with each bite, go for the ciabatta. Obviously I have my preference, but it really is great 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!
New Grocery Products:
- Upton’s Naturals Bacon Seitan has been spotted at Wheatsville Coop! Some of you may remember my post about this product published over a year ago, begging for this product to hit shelves, and now it has! There’s a bevy of fakin’ bacon products out there from coconut bacon, to grain bacon, to tempeh bacon, but no one has made a commercial seitan bacon until now. I can’t wait to make BLTs and benedicts with it!
- Beyond Meat is finally here as well! Technically, it’s been here for a few weeks, so you’ve probably seen it on the shelves at stores around town, but I know that both Rabbit Food Grocery and Wheatsville definitely have it in stock!
- Sophie’s Kitchen’s lineup of vegan seafood products just keeps getting bigger and bigger! I spotted coconut shrimp and fish sticks at Wheatsville the other day, right alongside their vegan crab cakes, fish filets, calamari and prawns. Is there a seafood product they can’t make out of konjac?
New Menu Items:
- Have you had a chance to check out the adorable little East side bakery Sugar Circus yet? Well if you haven’t, this is the perfect excuse: vegan cake balls! These little moist marvels come in three vegan flavors: double chocolate, vanilla chocolate and cookie dough. Eat one or eat a dozen, it’s up to you!
- My favorite local tempeh company and my favorite local Indonesian restaurant have teamed up to bring you tons of tasty tempeh creations! Head on over to Java Noodles on E Oltorf, and add organic tempeh from The Hearty Vegan to any dish!
- We’ve got not one, but two vegan ramen options up in this town! I reviewed the ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya last week, so I thought I should stop by Daruma Ramen to compare. The two ramens couldn’t have been more different. From what I can gather from people who know more about ramen than I do, Ramen Tatsu-Ya’s vegan ramen is a more traditional take, while Daruma Ramen tries to do something a little different with a sweet potato broth and salad toppings. If you have a chance to check out both, let me know what you think.
- The Daily Juice in Hyde Park is now a Juiceland, and while I’m super sad that they got rid of all the awesome menu items like the nachos, I’m super happy with the new items in the salad case. I hope I see more food options from them in the future, cuz sometimes it’s nice to grab a meal to go with my ice cream.
- You may have seen them at Texas VegFest, but did you know that Unity Vegan Kitchen is planning on opening up a vegan food trailer sometime this summer? After trying their vegan cannoli at VegFest, I for one, am very excited to see what they plan on bringing to the Austin vegan scene.
- Free this Saturday, April 20th? Why not head on over to the annual Gathering of the Tribes at Pease Park? It’s a large vegan potluck that gathers a good chunk of the different Austin veg groups together in one place. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet some new friends!
- The 2013 World Wide Vegan Bake Sale in Austin is going to be held on Sunday, April 28th at not one, but two locations! Sign up to bake something here, then head over to MonkeyWrench Books or Counter Culture to drop off your goods. The money raised will go towards helping the animals at Sunny Day Farms!
- ATX Vegan Drinks goes south of the border next month with a special “Drinko de Mayo” event at the Vegan Nom on Friday, May 3rd! Come join us for piñata smashing, food specials, music, and BYOB fun.
- ForAnima.com is a new all-vegan online marketplace. With food, beauty, clothing and home goods all in one place, you can conveniently browse for new and exciting vegan products. They have a blog, recipe, service directory and community section of their website too, so you get a little bit of everything, all from one site.
- Vegan Food is Everywhere is an interesting new food mapping website that shows, in a very visual way, that in fact, vegan food is everywhere. The Austin section is lacking, though, so if you have some free time, get on there and let the world know how much awesome food we offer!
- Raw, gluten-free, fruitarian? Austin’s got your back. Blenders and Bowls, a new açaí smoothie and bowl cafe has opened up shop downtown. They offer both gluten-free and vegan options. Wild Wood Bake House, an entirely gluten-free bakery and cafe has reopened across the street from Wheatsville. They offer a selection of vegan baked goods, sandwiches and hot entrees. For our fruit loving friends, Daily Juice‘s downtown location is now open, as well as the new JuiceLand on North Burnet. Go forth and get your juice on!
- Brand new bakery Sunshine Sisters Vegan Bakery will be offering their goodies at the Bouldin Brunch Sales Event this Saturday from 8am to 2pm. The wait to get a table for brunch at Bouldin Creek Cafe is notoriously long, but luckily you now have a new way to kill the time – shopping! Head on over tomorrow morning and grab a delicious vegan baked good and browse the stalls of local vendors while you wait for your table. Vegan baked goods, brunch and shopping – it’s a win win win situation.
- In case you missed the multiple Facebook posts… Mr. Natural has announced that they now have vegan tiramisu! It’s so exciting, it just had to be called out one more time.
- Those of you familiar with Green Island Catering‘s Party Barge will be excited to hear that they have introduced a whole line-up of cruises, including a sunset bat watching cruise and a Valentine’s Day cruise! The next cruise will be on Friday, October 12th, with a 4-course vegan dinner. Make sure you get your tickets early, so you don’t miss the boat (pun intended).
- Amazing coconut-based vegan caramels are now available at Wheatsville Coop! JJ’s Sweets Cocomels are in stock in original, sea salt, vanilla and java flavors. Priced at a reasonable $3.99 for the pocket packs, you might just have to try them all!
- Get your Sheese fix before it’s too late! The US distributor for Sheese has decided to stop importing it for now. Rabbit Food Grocery has stocked up, but after they’re sold out, that’s it. No more delicious dairy-free sharp cheddar or blue cheese – oh no!
- ATX Vegan Drinks will be hosting its first ever Ice Cream Party TONIGHT! It’s going to be a monster of a party, with $5 build-your-own sundaes from Sweet Ritual, $1 sample-sized donuts from Red Rabbit Bakery and free cookie dough samples from Celeste’s Best. It’s BYOB, so grab some beer, a bottle of wine, or stash some liquor in your bag to “enhance” your sundae (Thanks Cassandra for the idea!). Be there or be square!
This week has been particularly full of announcements and openings! It’s an exciting time to be a vegan in Austin:
- Red Rabbit Bakery’s cinnamon-cardamon rolls, apple fritters, raspberry filled donuts, and cinnamon sugar donut holes are now available at Wheatsville Food Co-op!!! If you’ve had a chance to try these items at HOPE Farmer’s Market, then I bet you are just as stoked as I am to be able to get your hands on them at Wheatsville.
- Sagra, a vegan-friendly Italian restaurant, tweeted this week that they now have vegan homemade pistachio “cheese.” I’ve been looking for an excuse to try them out, and this sounds like the perfect opportunity – now I just have to wait till graduation week is over to be able to get a table.
- The old Counter Culture trailer found a new home on Cesar Chavez and San Marcos as the new all-vegetarian food cart Schmaltz. Their menu includes falafel and an awesome rueben (vegan if ordered without the cheese), and they offer a cute little grassy seating area tucked behind Domy Books, an adorable bookstore and art space.
- On Monday, May 21st, Moses Falafel will become the newest addition in the Longhorn Food Court (Downtown: 610 W. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd & Rio Grande Street). This makes the Longhorn Food Court the most vegan-friendly trailer lot in Austin, with Moses joining the likes of Conscious Cravings and the brand spankin’ new Capital City Bakery trailer (don’t forget about their Grand Opening Party tonight!)
- Speaking of grand openings, after a successful soft opening, Counter Culture has announced their Grand Opening Party will be on Wednesday, May 30th at 6pm. Check out the Facebook invite, and come join the fun!
- On June 3rd, Sweet Ritual will be at Secret Society’s Summer Frolic! serving up hand-cranked earl grey ice cream with lavender waffle cones. Earl grey ice cream, people! EARL GREY!! My life is complete. That is all.