I moved to Austin about two years ago, but I had been planning to move to the “weird’ city years before that — and, if I’m being honest, it was mostly because of the vegan food. There is so much to vegan Austin and so many amazing places eat that I had a rough time narrowing it down. However, I finally decided to focus first on my favorite places that feature only 100% vegan food, then a few vegetarian or vegan-friendly places I love.
100% Vegan Places
I cannot say enough good things about this eatery. Counter Culture has a great variety of all-vegan comfort foods, from pizza and macaroni to salads and raw dishes. They have desserts made with natural, whole food-focused ingredients and a full brunch menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekends. Starting as a food truck, they now have a nice storefront and tons of regular customers.
Now, let’s talk more about the pizza. The type of pizza rotates every week and never fails to impress. I also say I’m going to get something different when I go, but then end up ordering the pizza again. It’s made with an amazing cornmeal crust (gluten free brown rice crust also available) and they come up with the most creative combinations. Some great flavors have been house-made Seitan Chorizo, Buffalo Cauliflower, and Roasted Pear and Brie with caramelized onions.
The brunch is never to be missed, either. Each weekend features a different French toast or pancake, then they have a set brunch menu that includes a breakfast burrito, quesadilla, biscuit bowl, and sides like seitan sausage, tempeh bacon, and roasted potatoes.
Austin’s taco culture is one of a kind. A group of local vegans even did an entire “taco cleanse” in September 2014. Thus, the Vegan Nom food truck doesn’t disappoint with its all-vegan breakfast, classic, and signature tacos.
The tacos range from $3-5, and a type of vegan meat and cheese or sauce. For example, The Three Amigos features homemade country sausage, vegan cheddar, and organic tofu scramble. The popular Vegan Del Ray contains a gluten free breaded lemon pepper mock-fish, avocado, cabbage, and their signature cilantro-lime crema sauce.
You get the choice of flour or corn tortillas and will usually be asked if you want a cookie and/or coffee with your order (and who would say no to that?). It’s a great place to stop by for a quick, inexpensive, and cruelty-free breakfast with a cup o’ Joe.
Here’s another fully vegan food truck. And unlike many food trucks here, Arlo’s is open every day of the week and for long hours — from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. They’re also conveniently located next to the vegan bar Cheer Up Charlies.
Arlo’s features “classic” fast food equivalents, like the Bac’n Cheezeburger and Chipotle Burger and tacos made with Chik’n or veggie crumbles.
You can create a combo with any dish by adding fries, tots, or chips and salsa.
This is a pretty new addition to the Austin vegan food scene that admittedly I haven’t tried as much as I’d like to yet, but they are raved about by many locals. As the name suggests, the focus is on fancier dishes and seasonal, fresh ingredients, or “elevated vegan dining,” as advertised on their website.
The menu changes daily based on ingredients available and features supplis (a type of Italian rice ball dish) and croquettes. They also serve traditional dishes like pizza and macaroni and cheese. I had a chance to try one of their Apple Cinnamon kolaches, which had the perfect sweetness and tenderness of a classic pastry.
Just a food truck now, Bistro Vonish has plans for a brick and mortar in 2015.
I’m lumping these two together because they share a building and are good complements to each other. You can stop in for a scoop or two of Sweet Ritual’s all-vegan ice cream and toppings, then follow with a wholesome juice or smoothie from the baristas at Juiceland. What a balance.
Every non-vegan I’ve taken to Sweet Ritual has said they can’t tell the ice cream is made without cow’s milk. It’s so good. The ice cream sizes range from kid-sized to large (3 scoops) and you can choose from a nice list of toppings and sauce choices. There are also signature sundaes, shakes, banana splits, or you can enhance your ice cream with a brownie from Capital City Bakery.
My personal favorite is Rocky Road ice cream topped with vegan cookie dough bites and a Peanut Butter Magic Shell.
Juiceland has a huge variety of options for getting greens and other raw foods in your diet. Some are more simple, while others feature supergreens and other special foods, like the Tikal Juice with papaya, pineapple, ormus (a supergreen blend), other supergreens, lime, and mint.
This is my go-to place for any special dessert occasion. They make cupcakes, cookies, rice krispie treats, cinnamon rolls, brownies, etc., with a daily cupcake menu and new rotating flavors each Monday.
These are the best vegan desserts pastries I’ve ever had. They taste so fresh and so rich. Capital City Bakery is another business that started as a food truck and recently moved to a store front.
Though not fully vegan, these places have some great vegan dishes. They’re also good for those eating with someone who wants non-vegan options too.
If you’re a tea drinker, this is your heaven. Steeping Room has an endless list of all types of teas, green, black, oolong, holiday, etc., and you can buy packages of any tea at the restaurant. They also have coffee, smoothies, and tea lattes. The atmosphere is a mixture of casual and fine dining. There’s no pressure to dress nice, but you get a little table candle and a nice waiter.
And it’s not all about the drinks. Steeping Room has a diverse menu of items for dessert, brunch, and lunch or dinner. Most dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan, and the food is fresh and high quality with some ingredients that rotate daily.
One of my personal favorites, the Buddha Bowl, features a daily bean, grain, greens, and sweet potato that can be ordered with tofu or walnuts for the vegan/gluten free options. You also choose your sauce: cashew or peanut sauce, balsamic vinaigrette, sesame lime, sesame tamari vinaigrette, or extra-virgin olive oil.
A great place for healthy Asian food. You get the choice of white or brown rice for most dishes, and vegan additions include tofu, shiitake mushrooms, or avocado. During lunch, you can get salad and miso soup with your meal. I highly recommend ordering one of their bubble teas as well, most of which can be ordered with soy milk.
The dishes are highly customizable, and everything I’ve had here is delicious. My usual order is the Japchei, a warm bowl sweet potato noodles and veggies ordered with tofu.
This place is known by local vegans for their abundant selection of vegan ice cream and desserts. Most of it is gluten free, as well. They also have a full Thai food menu with some vegan options.
My last trip involved a soy latte and huge slice of Grasshopper Mint Chocolate cake. It did not disappoint!
Serving Austin since 1980, Mother’s is all vegetarian with vegan options for most dishes. You get chips and salsa with your meal, and the atmosphere is laid-back in true Austin fashion. Food choices include Mexican food, soups, salads, burgers, and weekend brunch at Mother’s.
Most of the menu either is vegan or can be made vegan. They have creative sandwiches and salads, tacos, and breakfast foods, plus a great coffee menu. I recommend the Veggie Royale Sammich with the chipotle-pecan pesto and Asian slaw side!
Austin is a fantastic place to find a diverse range of convenient vegan food options, and its laid-back and open-minded personality is what makes it a real treat to live in or visit.
Lauren is the author of Veggie in a Jiffy, a food and lifestyle blog focused on healthy, balanced vegan living. She is a web designer and writer living in Austin, TX, with her vegan boyfriend and three awesome pets. In her free time, she likes to create healthy dessert recipes (then eat them), go to the gym, and watch Netflix or read a great book. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter and find her on Instagram. She’s also the author of Sinless Sweets!
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