Known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin is home to the TV concert series Austin City Limits and the annual SXSW music festival. Austin is currently the fourth largest city in Texas with nearly 1 million people. Having proudly adopted the unofficial slogan “Keep Austin Weird,” Austinites love their city and make strides to be environmentally conscious (source). What’s more, PETA ranked Austin the #1 vegan-friendly city in 2013 (source).
Now having seen for myself the many wonderful things this progressive city has to offer, and being the foodie that I am, I want to share with you the various food establishments, grocery stores and markets I went to while visiting.
Biscuits + Groovy
A food trailer that offers breakfast for herbivores and omnivores alike, Biscuits + Groovy specializes in, you guessed it, biscuits! Boasting fun names for their dishes such as The Donna Summer, The Johnny Hash and The M.C. Hammer, all items on the menu can be made vegan. Having enjoyed my meal of The Aretha Franklin so much, I went back later during my vacation and had The Donna Summer.
Capital City Bakery
Previously a food trailer, Capital City Bakery offers a 100% vegan selection of desserts including cupcakes, cookie sandwiches, brownies, cheesecake and ice cream, in addition to beverages. Opting for a samoa cupcake, a slice of blueberry cheesecake and a plain brownie to enjoy later, I was not disappointed. Every delicacy I tried was delicious and left me wanting to try every other offering they had. But alas, my stomach is only so big!
A large supermarket with hard-to-find items (including this fruit-based whipped topping I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of), Central Market was a lot of fun to walk around. Furthermore, they have a sense of humor. One such example is a special they were having for bundt cakes and their headline was “We like big bundts.” Love it! Having a sizeable bulk section with various snacks and spices, loads of health food items, and a nice selection of items to suit anyone’s fancy, Central Market is a must if you are a foodie. Being the peanut butter fan that I am, I spotted a bunch of nut butters by Reginald’s and decided on a jar of Bourbon Pecan Peanut Butter.
Cornucopia Popcorn Creations
Before visiting a new city I sign up for daily deal alerts so that I can save some money while on vacation. Luckily for me, Cornucopia Popcorn Creations had a deal so I couldn’t help but to indulge. This creative place offers 40+ flavors of popcorn (10+ are vegan). After trying nearly every vegan flavor available, I finally decided on caramel (which I was told is now vegan), cinnamon toast, garlic & herb, lemon poppyseed, and veggie green corn. Cornucopia is making popcorn right, and I love that they have so many flavors!
Also formerly a food trailer, Counter Culture specializes in raw unprocessed foods with much of their menu being free from oil, gluten or soy. Having heard rave reviews on their brunch, my guest and I decided to give it a try. We opted for the specials of the day: mocha stuffed french toast and a tofu omelette with spinach, artichokes and mushrooms. And what is a vacation brunch without a watermelon lime mimosa?
Perhaps the oldest vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Austin, Mother’s Cafe has been serving the public since 1980. Serving a mix of American, Italian and Mexican dishes, Mother’s Cafe has a warm, welcoming feel with various plants and a little pond/fountain in the back room. Being that we were in Texas, my guest and I decided on an order each of the Artichoke Enchiladas and Tofu Enchiladas. For dessert we shared a piece of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.
New India Cuisine
I’m a big fan of Indian food so I was more than happy to enjoy a meal here. New India Cuisine offers a variety of choices with vegan options clearly marked on the menu. What’s more, they have vegan naan which most establishments don’t serve. With so many options, I decided on the 5 Star Thali Platter which features “curried potato, chana masala, sprouts mung, dal, lentils masala, green beans, achar, dessert & choice of flat bread,” topping it all off with a cold bottle of gluten-free Estrella Daura beer. A testament to the spunk of New India Cuisine is that they have Hippie Hour instead of Happy Hour. Awesome!
An organic pizza chain, Promise Pizza caters to both gluten-free and vegan crowds. My guest and I decided on an order of garlic knots with Daiya cheese, and a pizza with black olives, minced garlic, Italian spices, red onion and mushrooms.
Rabbit Food Grocery
Austin’s only 100% vegan market, Rabbit Food Grocery is currently an online store with pop-up shops at various locations throughout the city. I had the pleasure of meeting these lovely folks after enjoying brunch at Counter Culture. Needless to say, I left their pop-up shop with my arms full of various goodies including a Caramel Cashew Chocolate Bar, a Polar Dream Vegan White Chocolate Bar, a Peach Jel Dessert mix, Caramel & Nougat Bites and a super cute Cruelty-Free Kitchen towel.
Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery
I can’t say enough good things about this place. The folks at Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery are super friendly and their doughnuts are absolutely delicious. While in Austin, I couldn’t stop myself from going back to their food trailer for more. Not only did we devour two Austin Cream Pies, one Maple Glazed with Walnuts, one Coffee Glazed, one Yellowbird Glazed, and two Apple Fritters, I brought along five more doughnuts with me on the flight home.
If you want non-dairy ice cream, Sweet Ritual is the place to go. Creating coconut and soy based ice creams, some of which are gluten and/or soy free, this shop offers a variety of exciting flavors including toasted coconut and salted caramel with various toppings to further satisfy your sweet tooth. My guest and I decided on two scoops peanut butter cup ice cream with a peanut butter shell for one dish and one scoop each of the peanut butter cup and salted caramel ice creams with caramel, chocolate and cookie dough toppings for the other. Sometimes you’ve got to go all out while on vacation.
A Taiwanese restaurant off the popular strip of Guadalupe, Veggie Heaven has a largely vegan menu. Needless to say it was difficult to decide on what to eat because there were so many options! After gobbling up a fried spring roll and curry bun as appetizers, we had Taipei Lomein and Tropical Rainforest for our entrees, polishing them off with a glass each of peach iced tea and soy Thai iced tea. This place isn’t as nice-looking as other establishments I’ve been to, but the service is super fast and friendly.
Wheatsville Food Co-op
Wheatsville Food Co-op is practically a vegan’s heaven. Having heard nothing but good things about this place, I had to stop by for a meal at their deli. My guest and I decided on Popcorn Tofu Po’Boy and Southern Fried Tofu Sandwiches (which we devoured before even thinking about taking photos — sorry!) Needless to say, they were delicious and I highly recommend the Southern Fried Tofu Sandwich. With our bellies full, we happily walked down each aisle of the grocery store and found multiple items to take home with us. Two such items were The Hearty Vegan’s Texas Tempeh Mild Sausage and a package of Louisville Vegan Jerky. Not much of a spicy fan, I opted for the Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper flavor, and boy am I glad I did. If you ever have a chance to try this stuff, DO IT. As far as my favorites go, it is right up there with Primal Strips. Even better, it is 100% gluten-free!
Whole Foods Market
Anytime I visit a new city, I have to go to Whole Foods Market. Why? Because Whole Foods in different parts of the country carry different items that you can’t get at your local store. Not to mention, Whole Foods was born in Austin. Opting for the location on Lamar because they have their own vegan doughnuts, I was in a little bit of a time crunch so I was only able to walk around for a little bit. As always though, I found couple items I wanted but had to stop myself from purchasing them because my suitcase was getting full. Bummer!
Have you been to Austin before? Or do you currently live there? What are your favorite veg-friendly places to frequent?