Cheap Vegan Eats in Austin: 2013 Edition

This is an updated edition of my 2011 Cheap Vegan Eats in Austin post. It’s amazing how much has changed in two years. Places have opened. And closed. Menu items have come and gone. And prices have gone up, knocking nearly half my previous list over $5. On the economic front, It seems like more and more of my friends and family have found jobs after long searches. But eating cheap never goes out of fashion.

  • Rice, beans, and salsa at Wheatsville or Whole Foods ($1.99). It’s basic vegan comfort food served up cheap. You can easily grab a piece of fruit to round things out, but stay away from the food by the pound which can add up quickly.
  • Or get your beans at rice at Bouldin Creek with the slackers banquet ($4.75). You’ll pay a bit more than you will at Wheatsville or Whole Foods, but you’re getting table service.
  • A cup of tempeh chili or soup ($2.99) at Wheatsville. Or go all out and get a frito pie ($4.99).
  • Wraps at Conscious Cravings are still just $5 (though tax is no longer included). I still really like the chimichurri seitan, but the seitan has been pretty spotty lately. If you want a safer bet, I recommend the masala chickpea wrap or either of the tofu wraps. With no extra charge for vegan cheese versus dairy cheese, this is still  one of the best deals in town.
  • Try a tofu bahn mi at Baguette House (pdf) for about $3. Ask for no mayo (and add sriracha if you know what’s what).
  • A slice of vegan pizza at Whole Foods ($2.50) or Bennu Coffee House ($3.75). Both come with Daiya cheese. Round out the meal with a coffee or a piece of fruit. Occasionally vegan pizza by the slice isn’t available at Whole Foods, but no worries. A small 6-inch pizza is only $5.
  • A biscuit with jam is only $1 at Biscuits and Groovy. Or try the MC Hammer (biscuit with tofu scramble and vegan sausage or bacon) for $3.

    The Jalisco taco from Vegan Nom

  • Tacos or nachos from the Vegan Nom. Almost everything on the menu is less than $5. Many items are cheap enough that you can get two tacos for less than $5.
  • At the Steeping Room, a bowl of soup is $5. Or for just a bit over our price limit ($5.75), you can get a cup of soup and a salad or scone. Soups change daily, though usually at least one variety is vegan. The coconut tomato is really great on a rainy day.

    Veggie Cabbage Roll from Lucy's European Cuisine

  • The vegetarian stuff cabbage at Lucy’s European Cuisine is only $4.99. This food truck is tucked in the courtyard of the UT Hillel.
  • Breakfast tacos all over town. It’s hard not to find breakfast tacos in Austin (unless it’s too late in the day), and they’re all pretty cheap. Look for good vegan options at WheatsvilleCherrywood CoffeehouseWhole Foods,  and Bouldin Creek. If you need to grab and go, Thunderbird Coffee has vegan Tacodeli tacos. And P.S., Tacodeli’s green sauce is vegan, despite it’s creamy appearance.
  • Smoothies! Sure they’re liquid, but a good smoothie is as good as a meal. Look for good all-fruit smoothies at Juice Box, JuicelandMonkey Nest Coffee, and Cherrywood Coffeehouse ($4.39-4.62). Watch the add ons because it’s easy to go over your $5 budget by adding lots of protein powders and exotic ingredients.
  • Order wisely at Tarka, and you can get a great deal. Their Madras soup is delicious ($2/cup or $4/bowl) as are the pakoras and samosas ($3.50). Be sure to ask for the vegan chutney as the standard one contains yogurt. Round your meal out with a roti ($1.75).
  • Zen used to be awesome until they changed their menu. You can still get a build-your-own veggie bowl for $4.60, though. I’m confident that the Teriyaki, Spicy Terikayi, Ginger-Lime, and Oyako are vegan, but I’ve gotten vastly different answers about the remaining seven sauces.

    Akara (black-eyed pea fritters) from Wasota.

  • About half the vegan menu at Wasota African Cuisine is under $5. I highly recommend the black-eyed pea fritters. And while I haven’t tried their veggie burger, I’ve heard great things about it. Be aware that everything at this food cart is cooked to order, which is a nice way of saying service is slow, but exceedingly friendly.
  • Check out the burger joint Arlo’s Food Truck, though don’t get a burger. Try their tacos or tomato basil dog with slaw and chipotle sauce for $5.
  • Two tofu tacos with Korean toppings in double corn tortillas ($5) at ChiLantro BBQ.
  • Ital tofu plate ($5) or Salvation Sandwich ($5) at One Love Kitchen. After a brief closure, One Love is reopening any day now at a new location, and they’re promising an expanded menu.
  • If you’re downtown, get a vegan hot dog ($4) from the Hot Dog King.
  • Falafel or Hummus Wrap ($5) at Tom’s Tabooley. I also love the Thai Salad with tofu (small $4.25). If your budget allows grab a piece of vegan halva or a packet of carrots to round out the meal ($0.50 each).You can also find their food sold all around town in cold cases.
  • Or grab a fast lunch at Maoz. Try the lunch special (falafel sandwich and salad bar) for only $3.99 or a bowl of soup for $3.75. Extra falafel balls are fifty cents each.
  • Veggie Heaven is the original cheap eats. Most of their menu is vegan, and several dishes are less than $5. Whatever you order, you’re likely to go home with leftovers.
  • Breakfast at Bouldin Creek can be a steal if you plan things right. Get a few breakfast tacos ($2.25-3.25 each), a bagel with  hummus or the yummy chipotle pecan pesto ($2.25), or a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, or granola ($2-5).
  • Sarah’s Mediterranean is a little Middle Eastern place inside a grocery store (or maybe a grocery store attached to a Middle Eastern restaurant. You decide.) Expect some of the best (some say, the best) falafel in town. Also expect a lot of corny jokes. Those come free with every order. You can get a falafel sandwich for just $3.99, or, if you’re like me and can’t ever make up your mind, get a plate of hummus and pita or babaganouj and pita ($2.99) and add on a falafel ball ($0.50 each) or veggie stuffed grape leaf ($0.65 each). Or both. Deciding is hard. On your way out, grab some halva from the grocery part of the store.
  • At Freebirds Burritos you can get a hybrid veggie burrito (including guacamole) for $5. The hybrid is smaller than a usual Freebird burrito, but still plenty big enough for a meal. You can also get a taco meal with two tacos, chips and salsa, and a drink for $5.
  • Grab 2 chole samosas ($4.50), potato and pea turnovers with a chickpea sauce and chutney, at Bombay Express.
  • Volunteer at Casa de Luz and you get their $12 dinner for free. You have to sign up ahead of time, so this one takes some planning.

What did I leave off the list? What’s your favorite cheap meal in Austin? Should I raise the price limit a bit next year?

7 thoughts on “Cheap Vegan Eats in Austin: 2013 Edition

  1. Damn you certainly got all the important ones. Lately I’ve been getting two breakfast tacos at whole foods in the am and then I’m good for the day for 4 dollars. The smoothie of the day deal at Juiceland is awesome, especially Originator wednesdays and I think their salads are a good deal. Frito pie is usually cheap too, I like the wheatsville one. Most Mexican restaurants will let you make your own taco plate for just a few bucks with rice, beans, and guac. The thundercloud veggie delight is 4 dollars for a lot of food, hummus and guac makes it pretty substantial.

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  3. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that Arlo’s has rasied their prices (despite what the website still says) on everything. The dog and tacos are now $5.50. They also took guac off the menu.

    Frankly, I was kind of pissed off the last time I ate there because not only had prices gone up (which I understand), but I also got much less filling in my tacos than before AND no guac (which really made the chick’n tacos the bomb, in my opinion.) Less food AND higher prices, all at once?! A little hard to swallow.

    Otherwise, I’m glad you put this list together…I’m new to town and still have to try many of these options!

    • Thanks, Rachel. I noticed they no longer make guacamole, but obviously didn’t pay attention to the price!

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