Friday, October 2, 2009

Top Ten Vegan Eats in Austin

Lazy Smurf's Guide to Life did a top ten list for vegan food in Austin. I thought I'd do the same. There's enough great vegan food in Austin for multiple top ten lists, so I'll come back and add links to any other lists that pop up over the month.

So, in no particular order, my favorite places to eat in Austin.

1. Pars Deli. The family that runs this place is really committed to quality food. If you ask them about any of the ingredients, not only can they tell you what's in everything off the tops of their heads, but they'll also tell you their commitment to serving "real food". Their refrain is "this is the food that I serve my family."

My favorite order here is the salad plate, which is a plate of sides. The rice is wonderful, a bit sweet, a bit sour (be sure to ask for no butter). All the sides at Pars Deli are vegetarian (no chicken stock or meat), but not all are vegan. Be sure to ask about yogurt and butter in whatever you order.

2. Breakfast at Bouldin Creek Coffee House. Bouldin Creek serves the best tofu scramble in Austin, no contest. It might even be the best in the world. I like my scramble in a breakfast taco, but the El Tipico is good, too.

3. A burger at Burger Tex. There are a few caveats here. The burger is frozen from a box. And there are animal heads on the wall at the location near me. But, they make their own buns fresh daily, and sometimes a girl just wants to eat a burger. There's just something about the combination of the burger and the bun that transcends the ordinary ingredients. It could have something to do with the barbecue sauce and jalapenos I add to mine.

4. Titayas Thai Cuisine. Pretty much anything here makes me happy. About 90% of the menu can be made vegan. But I have a special place in my heart for Panang Curry and Pad Thai. See, whenever my mother and I are in the same city, no matter the city, we always get together to split Pad Thai and Panang Curry. And both of these dishes are excellent at Titatyas.

5. Banzai Grill. There's no one dish that I turn to at Banzai Grill. Like Titayas, part of the charm is the luxury of choice. I also love how knowledgeable the staff is about all the ingredients. Dishes I've enjoyed include miso soup (no bonito!), vegetarian bento box, and cold soba noodles. They've recently added bubble tea to their menu, and most of the flavors are vegan. (Some day, somewhere, someone will make vegan taro bubble tea.)

6. Celeste's Best cupcakes at Hey Cupcake! Vegan cupcakes about a mile from my house. Wonderful and dangerous. Flavors vary day-to-day and often sell out before the end of the day. Celeste's vegan cupcakes are smaller than the default non-vegan cupcakes, but in these days of super sizing everything, I think that's a good thing.

7. Sunflower. A little Vietnamese restaurant in a strip shopping center, Sunflower is surprisingly delicious. Unlike most Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S., the menu doesn't feature bahn or pho (though they do have a small selection of, I assume non-vegan, pho). I've never seen most of the dishes on this menu anywhere else. My favorite so far is the lemongrass tofu, but really everything has been good. After your meal, sneak next door to the Hong Kong Market and grab a box of peanut- and walnut-flavored soy milk.

8. Chile relleno at El Mercado. A roasted poblano pepper stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and rice (ask for no cheese). El Mercado is a short walk from where I live, so it's perfect on those nights when it doesn't look like dinner is going to happen. Most of the items on the vegetarian section of their menu can be made vegan. Just ask for no cheese or sour cream. Everything comes with guacamole, which is just icing on the chile relleno. Or something.

9. The vegetarian sandwich at the Little Deli. Now, usually I grumble when I'm reduced to eating a vegetable (or hummus) sandwich. It's the uninventive vegetarian item on every restaurant menu. Lazy. But Little Deli's sandwich goes above and beyond the usual tiny slice of avocado with sprouts. Besides avocado, there are artichoke hearts, roasted eggplant, onions, tomato, lettuce, and olive salad. All the vegetables are cut paper thin and come in a roll big enough to hold it all. Divine. I have never met a better vegetable sandwich. (Order sans cheese.)

10. Peanut butter soft serve at Toy Joy. Walking around Toy Joy is fun in and of itself. But walking around with a butterfinger milkshake (vanilla soft serve with chocolate and chik-o-stick) is, well, joyful.

It was hard to stick to ten. I didn't even mention Dog Almighty, Elsi's, Wheatsville, or Kerbey Lane.


Other Austin lists

Lazy Smurf's Guide to Life
Pulling It Together (in ten installments)


Evelyn said...

Great list! I might have to try one of those when I'm in Austin in about a week. I usually just go to Kerbey Lane, which I love, but it would be nice to branch out.

Barbara said...

They all sound so yummy! Especially number 10.... I'll be there in two weeks' but not for long. I'll have to draw lots to see which foods I will get to experience. Ditto on Pars Deli and Little Deli.. since I've been to both and can validate your comments from my personal experience, I know I can trust the other eight selections. Thanks!

mollyjade said...

Barbara, they change the flavors every week, so you can't always get peanut butter soft serve. But I think their flavor of the week when you're here is chocolate peanut butter.

Evelyn, we should get together sometime when we're in the same city!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I can't believe how many places on your list I have never even heard of. I am going to print it out and put it in my glove box for the next time I am up North. Everything sounds really good! Do you want to go to Sunflower some time? I am going to be out of town the 10th-15th but could probably go the next week.

Jenny said...

Oh, I love visiting Austin - we live in Arkansas, and we have family and friends all over Texas so it's one of the spots we get to visit every so often. Can't believe I've never been to any of these places. I'll check back to your list before we go next time!

mollyjade said...

Jenny, I have family in Arkansas. Where do you like to eat?

Alin said...

Very cool, Mollyjade! I don't know many of these places, maybe one day I'll venture out at your recommendation!

I've always wondered if Banzai has anything vegan, so good to know.

austin homes said...

Love the list. I love all of these places.

Anonymous said...

This list is missing some good places:

Beets Cafe
Veggie Heaven

Anonymous said...

Frank (downtown) offers veggie dogs for any of their dogs
Trudy's has several vegetarian beans & sauces, and many dishes can be made vegan

mollyjade said...

I think Mother's has some really bland food. I've never had a good meal there.

I really like Trudy's. I was trying to highlight some places that people might not have heard of, though.