San Antonio Vegan-Friendly Map

Sign outside Green Vegetarian in San Antonio

Sign outside Green Vegetarian in San Antonio

There’s a new San Antonio vegan blog called Veggie Angie. Angie just posted a terrific map of all the vegan-friendly restaurants in San Antonio. It’s incredibly thorough, with fifty-six restaurants currently listed. I’m pleased to add it to my list of Texas vegan restaurant guides. Besides the map, you’ll also find reviews of many of the restaurant on the blog.

Do you know of another Texas city guide I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments.

Vegan Pizza in Austin

Vegan Pizza Day is this Saturday. If you’re having trouble picking a slice in Austin, here’s a guide to the best vegan pizzas in Austin. (Not in Austin? Check out this post about vegan pizza in Texas.)

Note: This list is regularly updated.

Austin’s Pizza
Vegan cheese: Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese
Recommended pie: Mediterranean (minus the feta) because kalamata olives
Tip: Avoid the online ordering system. For whatever reason, calling gets more accurate results

Bistro Vonish
Vegan cheese: homemade!
Recommended pie: Whatever is on special
Tip: This cart is entirely vegan. As with all carts, check social media for accurate hours.

Brick Oven on 35th 
Vegan topping: chipotle pesto, no extra charge
Recommended pie: Spicy Vegan, a personal sized pizza with chipotle pesto, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, and jalapenos
Tip: Be aware, this is an entirely different restaurant than Brick Oven. (Bonus tip, you can get the chipotle pesto on pasta as well. Just ask for no cream.)

Spicy Vegan from Brick Oven on 35th

Spicy Vegan from Brick Oven on 35th

Conan’s Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, counts as double topping
Recommended pie: Don’t Choke Art, spinach, sliced tomato, artichoke heart, garlic
Tip: Both the deep dish and thin-style crusts are vegan now

Counter Culture
Vegan cheese: homemade!
Recommended pie: Whatever is on special
Tip: Gluten-free pizza available

East Side Pies
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $2/14-inch pie, $4/18-inch pie
Recommended pie:
Sharon’s Pie with spinach curry sauce, broccoli, and red potatoes
Tip: 
They make thin-crust pizza, so you may want to order a bit more than usual. Take advantage of their unusual pizza sauces, including hummus and curry sauce.

Flaming Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1 extra
Recommended pie: Eater’s choice. Choose your own toppings.
Tip: Like Mi Pizza and Mod Pizza, you can have unlimited toppings for no extra charge

Hoboken Pie
Vegan cheese: Daiya and tofu ricotta, $3 extra for any size
Recommended pie: Any pie with fruit (pineapple, pear, or misison fig)
Tip: They also have seitan and occasional vegan specials. (Bonus tip:The garlic knots can be made vegan.)

House Pizzeria
Vegan topping: Not actually cheese, but the eggplant tapenade is a wonderful topping made of eggplant, lemon, tomato and onion
Recommended pie: Eggplant, no parm. In addition to the tapenade, this pizza has capers and kalamata olives.
Tip: Start your meal with roasted olives or cannellini bean spread.

Marye’s Gourmet Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, unknown extra charge
Recommended pie: sun-dried tomato, red onion, rosemary, and garlic

Mellow Mushroom
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1.49-3.29, based on pizza size
Recommended pie: Tempeh (because where else can you get tempeh on a pizza?), onions, and bell peppers.
Tip: Remind your waiter, “No butter or parmesan on the crust.”
[Guadalupe location closed]

Mi Pizza
Vegan cheese:
Daiya, $1 extra

Recommended pie: build your own personal pie with as many toppings as you like for only $6.99.
[closed]

Mod Pizza
Vegan cheese:
Daiya, no extra charge
Recommended pie:
Garlic rub with arugula.
Tip:
Red sauce is not vegan. They’re working on a new recipe. In the meantime, get BBQ sauce or garlic rub as your base.

North Door Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $3 extra
Recommended pie: Green and black olives (in honor of Lazy Smurf, who recommended this place and loves olives)
Tip: North Door Pizza only serves pizza during events at North Door.

The Parlor
Vegan cheese: Follow Your Heart, $3.50-5.50 extra, depending on the pizza size
Recommended pie: Any pie with their homemade vegan meats (pepperoni, sausage, chicken). The meats aren’t always available. If they have all three and you can get a vegan meat lover’s pie, it’s like you’ve won the lottery.
Tip: If there’s no vegan meat, try a vegan French bread pizza with broccoli. Trust me.

Promise  Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, no extra charge
Recommended pie: Nature’s Choice, a pizza loaded up with all the veggies
Tip: Stretch the definition of pizza and try a Vegan’s Choice calzone

Rockin’ Tomato
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1.50/10-inch, $2.75/14-inch or 18-inch
Recommended pie: Farmers Market

Sagra
Vegan cheese: Homemade nut cheese, no extra charge. They sometimes substitute Daiya if they run out of the homemade cheese.
Recommended pie: Calabrese vesuvio. Named after Mount Vesuvius, the pizza comes flopped over on itself.
Tip: Walk your waiter through the definition of vegan when you order. They’re really flexible about adapting many of their dishes, but it means they get a bit confused sometimes.

Sauced
Vegan cheese: A blend of mozzarella and cheddar Daiya
Recommended pie: Veggie meat and basil
Tip: Wednesday and Saturday you can order vegan pizza by the slice. The rest of the week, you’ll have to order an entire pizza.
[Closed]

Spartan Pizza
Vegan cheese: Galaxy Foods vegan rice cheeseDaiya, $2.5/10-inch or $4.50/14-inch
Recommended pie: The Athena, with roasted garlic olive oil, fresh spinach, red onion, mushroom, whole roasted garlic cloves
Tip: The tomato sauce, the roasted garlic spread, and roasted garlic olive oil sauce are all vegan.

Via 313 vegan pizza

Via 313 vegan pizza

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint
Vegan cheese: Daiya
Recommended pie: It’s build your own, so it’s up to you.
Tip: They list all of their vegan ingredients online.

Via 313
Vegan cheese:  Follow Your Heart, $2 extra
Recommended pie: They serve Detroit-style pizza, which mean deep dish, cooked in a square cast iron, with a strip of tomato sauce on top rather than under the toppings.
Tip: Try a Vernor’s Ginger Ale, a Michigan classic. The ginger is so spicy, the first sip makes you cough.

Wheatsville Coop
Vegan cheese: Daiya, cheese price incorporated into the price of the pizza
Recommended pie: Popcorn tofu pizza. They’ve added everyone’s favorite sandwich topping to their pizza. Pick up a ready-made pizza in the refrigerated case and cook it yourself at home.
Tip: Occasionally, pizza-by-the-slice is offered at the deli counter.

Whole Foods
Vegan cheese: Cheddar or mozzarella Daiya, $1 extra/pie. As far as I know, this is the only place in town that offers cheddar (or as the last employee I talked to called it, yellow) vegan cheese.
Recommended pie: Red, green, and yellow bell peppers for a really colorful pie
Tip: Thursday is $10 pizza night, the best deal in town

ZPizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1.35-2.25 extra/pie, depending on size
Recommended pie: The Berkley Vegan, with (Gardein) veggie crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, bell pepper
Tip: Their gluten-free crust is vegan. See the FAQ section for a vegan menu.

Updated 3/3/16

What I Learned at Vida Vegan Con

A box of brownies from Capital City Bakery on their way to the Vida Vegan Con Galarama

There are dozens of posts about Vida Vegan Con 2013 out there, and I encourage you to read them. Especially read Lazy Smurf’s and Joanna’s posts. Pretend I’m in the background cheering them on, which I was. So instead of a recap, which others have done much better than I could anyway, here are five things I learned at Vida Vegan Con.

1. Be negative. If you look in the archives of Lone Star Plate, you’ll notice I’m almost unfailingly positive about veganism in Texas. Up to now, if I didn’t like a vegan restaurant, business, or product, I just didn’t write about it. Grant Butler, food writer for the Oregonian, says that hurts my credibility. A writer who likes everything isn’t believable, and beyond that, it hurts veganism if we call bad food good. I haven’t gone as far as writing sparkling reviews of bad food, but you’ll notice I just never mention certain vegetarian and vegan restaurants. So here on out, look for more critical reviews.

These will be difficult to write, partly because I need to be exceedingly fair. Grant recommended visiting a restaurant you don’t like four or five times before writing about it. It’s also difficult because these restaurants are part of our community. They hold fundraisers and parties. They donate to our bake sales. If I’m not out-and-out friends with them, I’m certainly friendly.

Read the Gay Vegans’ notes on the restaurant review session.

2. Incorporate animal activism into your writing. I’m unapologetically a baketivist. Writing directly about institutionalized animal abuse isn’t my strong suit. But that doesn’t mean I can’t bring animal activism into my writing more often. Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House gave a presentation about how to subtly bring animal activism into vegan food writing.

The suggestion that resonated most with me was to speak as if your audience already knows about animal abuse. You don’t have explain what a battery cage is, but you can mention that vegan recipes are fantastic because they taste great and allow you to bake without using battery cage eggs. Leave it up to the reader to find out what a battery cage is.

3. MoFo doesn’t need to be complicated. I always debate about participating in Vegan MoFo because I worry that I can’t blog twenty times in a month and keep to the mission of this blog, which is write about vegan life in Texas. MoFo often opens me up to writing more about my personal life than about Texas veganism in general. But by the end of the Vegan MoFo panel, I was fired up to participate again this year. The blogs I like best myself are the ones that show a lot of personality. You can’t do that without writing about your personal life.

One of the big points of the workshop is that a MoFo post doesn’t need to be elaborate. It doesn’t need a recipe. And I think remembering this will help me mesh MoFo with my usual writing. This year, instead of a big grand theme that I can’t carry out (50 best dishes in Texas, eek!), I’ll try to scale down to something more manageable.

There will be official MoFo themes this year, which we came up with in the workshop. I’m really excited about them and can’t wait until we can share them with everyone. Sews Before Bros recapped the MoFo Workshop.

Regarding points four and five, did you know VRA founder Ross designed the Tofurky mascot on this shirt? He also does all the design work for Texas VegFest.

4. Tofurky quiche is amazing. There were a lot of new products to try in the exhibitor hall at Vida Vegan Con. The Tofurky quiche is the one that blew me away. I was also pleasantly surprised by the reformulated Nayonaise. Who’s up for a mayo taste off?

5. We have a fantastic vegan community in Austin. I went to a session on community building, and, while it was lead by a really accomplished group of vegans, I found myself thinking, “Well, we do that.” Or, “So-and-so from Austin is a great example of how to do that.” As I said in my last post, Austin has a serious group of activists and vegan business leaders. It’s time to stop thinking of ourselves as amateurs.

There are rumors that the next Vida Vegan Con might be in Austin. Personally, I’d rather visit another city. I’ve already eaten most of the food in Austin. But if it does come here, I’ll be excited to share how awesome our city is with the rest of the world.

The entire community building session can be viewed here:

Why Name Austin the Most Vegan City?

A now-closed vegan food cart in Austin, TX. Iggi's Texitarian opened in 2010. Photo by Jeff Gunn and licensed under creative commons

Recently, PETA named Austin the most vegan-friendly city in the United States, beating out Portland, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. So why Austin?

As we saw from my post last week, Austin doesn’t have the most vegan restaurants (that’s Los Angeles). And we don’t have the highest concentration of vegan restaurants per person (that’s Portland). So why Austin?

The great thing the vegan community in Austin has going for it is momentum. I moved here at the very beginning of 2009. Austin was a pretty great city to be vegan in at the time, but the difference between today and four or five years ago is astounding.

Casa de Luz, Austin's only vegan restaurant five years ago. Photo by Chris Hardie and licensed under creative commons

In 2009, Austin had just one vegan restaurant: Casa de Luz. Joining Casa, were seven or eight vegetarian restaurants. Austin was home to the Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook Off, two vegetarian meet up groups, and one vegan group (VRA). This is a healthy mix of options, but it leans pretty heavily towards vegetarian, and an older vegetarian scene at that.

The economy in 2009 was terrible, and it stayed that way for years. But the slow economy opened up space in Austin for food trailers. And there was an explosion of vegetarian, but more importantly, vegan food trailers.

 Month  Cart
 April 2009  Goodseed Organics*
 July 2009  Counter Culture
 October 2009  Defresh Mode
 October 2009  Cheer Up Charlies
 April 2010  Edible Earth
 July 2010  Iggi’s Texitarian
 September 2010  Biscuits and Groovy**
 August 2010  Conscious Cravings*
 October 2011  Kat’s Ice Cream
 November 2011  Arlo’s Food Truck
 January 2012  Moses Falafel*
 April 2012  Vegan Nom
 May 2012  Schmaltz*
 June 2012  Capital City Bakery
 August 2012  Good to Go*
 November 2012  Guac N Roll*

*Vegetarian
**Switched between vegetarian, vegan, and omnivore

Some of these trailers transitioned to brick and mortars. Toy Joy Ice Cream, Sweet Ritual, Beets Cafe, Austin Java Tarrytown, Maoz Falafel, and Counter Culture all opened as brick and mortars since the beginning of 2009. Altogether, that’s four or five new vegan or vegetarian restaurants opening most years. That’s a tremendous amount.

Austin has also been the home to a number of new packaged vegan food products, including Hearty Vegan Tempeh, Food for Lovers queso, Celeste’s Best cookie dough, Goodseed Burgers, Nacho Mom’s queso, Red Rabbit Bakery, and Baby Zach’s BBQ Hummus. You can buy their products in Austin stores, and in most cases, nationwide.

In 2009, Rip Esselstyn published The Engine 2 Diet, which quickly exploded into a national diet craze with books, classes, camps, and even food products. Today, the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page has 65,000 followers.

And 2009 is also the year that Daniela Nunez started a Vegan Drinks in Austin. Marie of Red Hot Vegans revived it as ATX Vegan Drinks in 2012.

In 2011, a small group of people began planning Texas VegFest in order to showcase the great vegan offerings in Austin and expose them to a wider audience. Texas VegFest attracted 5,000 attendees in its second year and is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best vegan festivals in the country.

A sign announcing Vegan Drinks happy hour outside Cheer Up Charlie's. Photo by mollyjade and licensed under creative commons.

This is an extensive list, and it doesn’t even cover Austin’s all-vegan grocery store, vegan hot dog eating contestssupper clubs, vegan party bargesTrancegiving Thanksgiving potlucks, a vegan bar, bake sales that raise thousands of dollars, a no-kill city animal shelter. Read the past four years of this blog and you still wouldn’t be able to cover everything. And it’s all happened in less than five years.

So why is Austin the most vegan-friendly city in America? The people. It’s a small group of creative, dedicated people who go the crucial step beyond wondering “wouldn’t it be awesome if there were vegan…” and make it happen. The PETA award belongs to the people behind each of these businesses and events. Thanks for making it happen!

Vegan Restaurants per Capita

This post was updated on May 31 as a result of a discussion in the comments section.

I just spent a magical weekend in vegan wonderland. I was surrounded by great food and people who really “get” veganism. It made me think a lot about what it means for a place to be vegan-friendly. Is it the vegan community? The food options? Understanding and accommodation by the larger community?

One thing in particular I was curious about was the density of vegan restaurants in cities. Was New York really the capital of vegan restaurants as one person told me? So I put together a table with the U.S. 2012 Census estimates for the top 50 cities by population and listings of vegan restaurants in Happy Cow. And the results were both expected and surprising.

How the numbers were calculated

For population, I used the U.S. 2012 Census estimates from Wikipedia. Large cities close together were counted as a metro area with the exception of DFW, which was counted both individually and as a metro area. For vegan restaurants, I went strictly by what was under the vegan category on Happy Cow. That means that my hometown of Austin has six vegan restaurants because Capital City Bakery and Sweet Ritual are counted as a bakery and a grocery store (weird category, that), not as vegan restaurants.

The overal city score is given as number of restaurants per million people. It’s a bit of an odd way to do it, since more than half of these cities have less than a million people, but it makes the numbers much easier to compare one against another. As Pete points out in the comments below, this is pretty inexact. The U.S. census is using very defined borders whereas I’m using much broader geographic terms in the Happy Cow search.

And the winner is . . . ?

While New York City has the second greatest total number of vegan restaurants with 57 (only beat out by the Los Angeles metro area with 68), it’s beat out by fifteen other cities and metro areas in vegan restaurants per capita. The city with the highest rating is Portland with a score of 38.1, followed by Seattle (33.1),  San Francisco metro area (21.2), Atlanta (18.0), and Miami (16.9).

The largest city with only a single vegan eatery is San Antonio, with a score of 0.7. The largest city without a single vegan restaurant is Indianapolis (there’s a business opportunity for an aspiring vegan restaurant owner). El Paso, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, Raleigh, Omaha, and Wichita also have no vegan restaurants.

For cities with just one or two vegan restaurants, they’re most likely to be a Loving Hut, a raw food restaurant, or a small cafe inside a health food store.

A vegan BBQ plate that looks like it belongs in Texas but actually comes from Homegrown Smoker in Portland, OR. Y'all, we live in a mixed up crazy world.

Texas

Is Texas a particularly hard state be vegan in? A little. Seven of the largest U.S. cities are in Texas, and from most dense to least they rank Dallas (7.3), Austin (7.1), DFW (4.6), Houston (3.2),  Arlington (2.7), Fort Worth (1.3), San Antonio (0.7), and El Paso (0). Personally, I think about 5 restaurants per million people (i.e., a score of 5) is a good place to aim for, and yet only two Texas cities make that cut. If you want to open a vegan business in Texas, it looks like Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso are severely underserved.

Things that surprised me

No one talks much about Miami (except Lazy Smurf), but it comes in with a fairly high score of 16.9. It looks like a great place to mix nightlife, eating, and beach time for a vacation. Atlanta (18.0) also has a good number of vegan restaurants for its size. On the other hand, I’ve always thought of Minneapolis as a great city to be vegan in, yet they only have one vegan restaurant for a city of almost 400,000 people.

In the end, I think we could spend countless hours analyzing these numbers. There are certainly some shortfalls. Perhaps a city doesn’t have many vegan restaurant, but instead has a huge number of vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants. Or maybe a city has a really accommodating culture, and you can expect to find a good vegan meal at any restaurant in the city. Or cities without a robust restaurant culture might have thriving vegan potluck and social groups.

Small Town Vegan

Sign at a Texas BBQ restaurant

Despite the constant jokes, it can be pretty easy to be vegan in Texas. At least if you live in a city. There are tons of vegan-friendly restaurants and grocery stores with specialty foods. But what about the rest of the state? I talked with Kori, who lives in a small town about an hour from Austin to find out what it’s like to be a small town vegan.

***

So for those of us who have never lived in a small town, tell me what that’s like. What grocery stores and restaurants are available to you? Do you have to drive far to find good food?

I live in a town of 18,600 people in central Texas. We have four BBQ restaurants, five Mexican restaurants, and four pizza places. We have many burger places and fast food, but the only place to get a good vegan or vegetarian meal is the movie theater which only serves lunch from 11-2 Monday-Friday :( Or a salad bar at the pizza place. And when i say a good vegan meal I mean a salad with more than just shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

As for grocery stores we finally got a Super HEB last year which has made things much easier. They sell tofu and some vegan alternatives as well as some frozen meals and breads that are vegan. I have found one restaurant within 30 miles from me that will make a dinner with tofu, and also I go to Austin, which is a little over an hour away, when I can because most restaurants have at least an option or two available to vegans.

So it sounds like you probably cook a lot of your meals at home. Is it challenging to find all of the ingredients you want? Is there something you’d really love to get your hands on that you just can’t find?

I cook a lot more meals at home now, but due to my schedule recently I haven’t been able to. We do have a natural foods store that opened last year as well about 20 miles from me, so I can get pretty much all I need. I do wish I could have more ready-to-eat options because I’m always on the go and have found these options closer to Austin.

I have realized that preparing foods a week or so in advance and putting in containers to carry makes life much easier. I think the largest obstacle I face is the attitudes of the people around me. They are mostly hunters and ALL meat eaters, and they can’t grasp why I won’t eat meat, especially what they kill.

A big help to me when I first went vegan was finding a community of vegans. It helps so much to feel normal for a bit. Have you found other people who think like you, either locally or online?

Online only. And a friend in Austin. My parents still will not recognize that I will not eat meat, even after four years. I have some friends that are more aware of vegetarianism and veganism, and they try their best to understand, but it would be amazing to be a part of a community that is more understandable.

What advice would you give to other people from small towns who want to go vegetarian or vegan?

Investigate your food when going out to a restaurant. You may order green beans or mashed potatoes, but they usually are made with bacon or ham. Southern cooks hide their meat and do it well. You have to ask, and they are usually very honest!! Also, find a way to talk with people who are like-minded. There are many benefits to these ways of life and hopefully one day people will see them but for now stick to your guns (haha no southern pun intended).

 

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?

Longhorn Food Court Closing: What’s Next?

Hummus and falafel from Moses Falafel

As you may have heard by now, the mostly-vegan Longhorn Food Court at Rio Grande and MLK in Austin is closing. While the food trucks in the lot knew the lot would be developed…eventually…they had no idea that eventually would be next week. Tenants only received about ten days warning, which left them scrambling to figure out what’s next.

A few days into that ten day period, and answers are starting to come in. For Conscious Cravings, the answer is a move up north. The trailer, which specializes in healthy wraps and salads, will set up shop near the corner of Burnet and Koneig, across the street from HEB. This area of Burnet is lacking in food options, especially health ones. Owner Rishi Dhir is optimistic about the move and even hints at a return to the UT-area before long.

Moses Falafel will be closed for the next few months. Owner Samuel Haviv has decided to make the best of the sudden closure and transform his business into a brick-and-mortar operation. He will use the next few months to look for financial backing and a suitable location. While this means we’ll miss out on his delicious falafel for a few months, hopefully this will lead to bigger and better things for this small falafel business.

The timing is also unusual for Capital City Bakery which had already announced plans to expand into a brick-and-mortar. Unfortunately, the new Cesar Chavez location isn’t ready yet, and likely won’t be for some time. Owner Kristen Davenport is looking for another central location that offers veg-friendly savory food nearby in order to recreate the magic of the Longhorn Food Court. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter for updates on her new location.

In the meantime, join other Longhorn Food Court fans for a good-bye party on Friday evening starting at 5:30 PM.

World-Wide Vegan Bake Sale 2013

Savory Vegan Cornbread

Savory Vegan Cornbread. On the left, Zucchini Corn Bread veganized from this recipe. On the right, Corn Bread with Fennel Seeds and Currants veganized from this recipe.

It’s spring, and that means bake sale season! Let’s start the season right with World-Wide Vegan Bake Sales. Texas is hosting seven eight sales this year, including multiple in Austin and Houston. See below for a full list of Texas sales and info on how to participate.

I’ll be baking for the Austin sale at Monkey Wrench this Saturday. I’ve come into a motherlode of Dandies (that’s vegan marshallows), and despite my friends’ recommendations to EAT THEM ALL, I’ll be baking with at least some of them. I’m thinking chocolate-dipped marshmallow pops and some kind of cookie bar. Have you decided what to bake? I’ve been gathering some ideas over on Pinterest, if you’re still deciding.

A few bake sale tips:

  • Start with a clean kitchen
  • Individually wrap each item
  • Make it cute. Cute items bring in more money. Look for fun bake sale wrappers at a craft store.
  • Label your baked goods with their name and major allergens. (Think soy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, and tree nuts.)
  • Don’t neglect savory. I like to make corn bread with savory herbs and dried fruit.
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2013 Texas World-Wide Vegan Bake Sales

ARLINGTON

Friday, April 26, 10 AM to 1 PM
UTA Central Library Mall
Benefiting Promise Worldwide
Sign up here 

AUSTIN

Sunday April 28, 11 AM to 2 PM
Sign up here
Sunday, April 28, 11 AM to 2 PM
Sign up here

DALLAS

Saturday, May 4, 12 PM to 4 PM
Sign up here

EL PASO

Saturday, April 20, 9 AM to 1 PM
Union Plaza District

HOUSTON

Saturday, April 13, 3 PM to 9 PM
Unitarian Fellow Ship of Houston Spring Music Festival
Benefitting VegFest Houston
Saturday, April 27, 5 PM to 8 PM
Reception Hall at K.C.E.L Church
Benefitting VegFest Houston

THE WOODLANDS

Wednesday, April 24, 4 PM to 8 PM

Texas VegFest 2013

Those of you who know me in real life know that about eight months of the year, my life is consumed by planning for Texas VegFest. And all that work is worth it. This year’s festival is fast approaching, and it’s going to be a great one!

Clear your calendars for April 6. You’ll be at Fiesta Gardens in Austin, enjoying great food, music, speakers, beer, kids’ activities (beer helps), and more. We have some really exciting partnerships and vendors this year, including our Premier Sponsor, Wheatsville Coop, a new vegan food truck, Unity Vegan Kitchen, and Atkinson Candy Co., the makers of Chick-O-Stick!

So check out our speaker line up, drool over the food options, and get ready for another fantastic Texas VegFest!

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Local folks, if you haven’t signed up to volunteer yet, do it now! It’s a lot of fun interacting with all the veg-curious people, and there are some pretty good volunteer perks.