Goodseed Burgers

When Flat Top Burger Shop opened up earlier this year, I was excited. They advertised a vegan burger, and I could walk there from work. Heaven. They even got things right with the bun, which was the ironically named Butterkrust brand. But before I could even type up a post about their burger, they switched to a non-vegan veggie burger.

Former vegan burger at Flat Top Burger Shop (no longer available). Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The folks at Flat Top told me the burgers weren’t sturdy enough; they kept falling apart. I couldn’t really disagree with that. But they said they really wanted to serve a vegan burger and would keep looking for one. I wrote off Flat Top thinking this was the usual brush off.

I’m happy to say I was wrong. Flat Top is now carrying Goodseed Burgers!

You might remember Goodseed Organic, the trailer which opened in Austin in 2009, but closed not too long after. One of their most popular items was their hemp burger. Owners Oliver and Erin recreated their business to package their hemp burgers and sell them to local restaurants and through grocery stores.

Goodseed burger at Flat Top Burger Shop. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The burger I had at Flat Top was good. Still a tiny bit crumbly, but I got 90% of the way through it before that was an issue. The burger is visibly grain-based but still manages to look like a burger. Flat Top offers a Vegan burger (two patties) or a Jr. Vegan burger (one patty).  The Jr. is more than enough for me. They also have tasty fries made in a dedicated frier. Be aware that Flat Top’s “all they way” dressing includes mayo, so ask for yours without.

You can also find Goodseed burgers served at Daily Juice (gluten-free bun is not vegan), Snack Bar, Red’s Porch*, Javelina Bar*, All Star Burger*, People’s RX*, Violet Crown*, Strange Brew*, and The Vegan Yacht. Or purchase them for yourself at Wheatsville,  Hyde Park Market, Greenling, or Thom’s Market.

*I have no idea if the bun at these places is vegan.

VRA Best of Austin 2011

Image by Ann Douglas. Licensed under creative commons

Every year when the Austin Chronicle Best of Austin list comes out, I’m sad that so many great options get overlooked. For instance, the best tofu dish is almost always something I’ve never heard of. And don’t get me started on the best veggie burger. Finally, someone has answered my cry of “what about the vegetables?!”

Get ready to vote in the first ever Vegans Rock Austin Best of Austin list. I won’t tell you who to vote for, though I’m warning you, I’ll be disappointed in you if the wrong veggie burger wins. Choose wisely.

You have until December 28 (that’s about ten days) to vote. And resist the urge to ballot stuff!

News Bites from around Vegan Texas

Counter Culture's new Cesar Chavez space

Take a sneak peek at the photos of Counter Culture’s new space in East Austin. There’s so much to work with there.

My friends Crystal and Chris at Food for Lovers have teamed up with vegan crafters to make some unique holiday gifts. I’m not a holiday person, but I never turn down queso.

Dallas Vegan has a review of the Fort Worth Food Park. A year ago, DFW didn’t really have much of a food truck scene to speak of. Now there’s an entire area of vegan-friendly spots.

A possible new location near Llano for Sunny Day Farms

Sunny Day Farms is moving to a location closer to Austin! Don’t worry San Antonio, they’ll still be close to you, too. Brooke is looking at a location in Blanco. This will make it easier for the farm to reach people in both Austin and San Antonio. Sunny Day will need tons of help to relocate all the animals, both physically and monetarily.

The latest rumor is that Sweet Ritual will be opening in January. Crossing my fingers for ice cream in the new year.

Houston can look forward to some new vegan grub in 2012. Ripe Cuisine will be selling vegan food at Urban Harvest Farmers Markets early next year. Ripe Cuisine has been tweeting about Green Chili Burgers, Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Cream Frosting, and a mushroom French dip. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

And dessert for last! After years of hard work, Celeste of Celeste’s Best is selling ready-to-bake (or eat with a spoon, no judgement!) vegan cookie dough at Wheatsville Coop. Right now there’s traditional chocolate chip, but Celeste is planning to branch out into other flavors and other stores in the future.

Counter Culture Opening Brick-and-Mortar Location

Counter Culture vegan food cart. Photo by ilovemypit. Licensed under creative commons

Congratulations are due to Sue of Counter Culture! She’s signed a lease on an East Austin space. The Brick-and-Mortar Counter Culture will be on Ceasar Chavez five blocks east of Chicon. That’s near the east location of Mr. Natural. Expect sit down table service, wine and beer, and a patio. Sue will expand the menu while keeping some (but not all!) of the current cart favorites. All the food will be the healthy comfort food that Counter Culture does best. New items will include salads, sides, raw foods, and lots of deserts. I’m hoping the pumpkin cheesecake makes a permanent appearance.

The new location is expected to open in early March. The trailer will stay open until January or so, which means we’ll have to endure a few weeks without Counter Culture. The trailer is just a few blocks from where I live, so I’ll be sad to see it go. But having an expanded menu and the conveniences of indoor dining in bad weather will more than make up for that.

Sweet Ritual Moves into Daily Juice

 

I spied this banner yesterday hanging on the fence of the Hyde Park Daily Juice. Earlier in November, Valerie and Amelia announced they finally had a location to open their long-awaited vegan ice cream parlor. They will be sharing space with Daily Juice in a very vegan-friendly part of Austin that also includes the Hyde Park Market, Mother’s Cafe and Garden, and Biscuits and Groovy.

It looks like “construction” is going rapidly. Valerie and Amelia expect to be slinging soft serve and coffee sometime this month. December might not be the most popular month for ice cream, but I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting the opening of Sweet Ritual. Hopefully the coffee (and central heating!) will make it all worthwhile.

 

 

New Vegan Food Carts in Texas

Did you know today is World Vegan Day? There are events happening all around the world. I thought I’d celebrate by gushing over the vegan food cart renaissance in Texas. These carts are all about to open or opened recently.

Arlo’s will be located on 6th Street in Austin and will keep bar hours. So now you have a new spot to grab some food before taking the bus home after a night of carousing. Fittingly, the menu is full of classic bar food like burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and chips. (My secret wish is for chili cheese fries.) Arlo’s is no slouch. They’re making their own burgers, seitan bacon, and hot dogs. I’m more likely to stay home and read a book than carouse in a bar, but I can’t wait to try out this food.

Eat At Zombies will be operating in the Greater Fort Worth area. They hope to open by November. The head zombie gave me a sneak peek at their menu, which is full of comfort fusion food like a Buffalo Joe (sloppy joe meets buffalo wings), Seoul Survivor (bulgogi sandwich with sriracha-ginger mayo), Hanoi Polloi (a bahn-mi-style tofu sandwich), and The Panther (chipotle barbecued tempeh with caramelized onions, cole slaw, and chipotle ranch).

Asian Lettuce Wraps. Photo from Good Karma Kitchen's Facebook page. Licensed under creative commons.

Good Karma Kitchen This truck isn’t 100% vegan, but it is 100% vegetarian and gluten-free and very vegan-friendly. They’re opening very soon in Fort Worth, and the menu will include foods inspired by places around the world. Check out their Facebook page for a sampling of the items on their menu.

Jackalope The owners of this cart spent years working in others’ restaurants and dreamed of opening their own vegan business. Jackalope was a huge hit at the Texas State Veggie Fair. The menu promises to be traditional sandwiches with a gourmet vegan twist. The truck will wander around DFW. Keep track of their location by Twitter or Facebook.

Cinnamon ice cream with butterscotch sauce. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Kat’s Ice Cream This adorable orange truck was opened by a family member of Thai Fresh in South Austin. The ice creams range from traditional flavors like vanilla to more adventurous flavors like Hibiscus and Ghost Pepper. Ice creams are made with a variety of plant milks. Choose coconut for a really creamy ice cream or soy or rice for something lighter. You can also choose from a variety of toppings, from chocolate chips to sticky rice!

Tempeh Jerk Sandwich from Green Seed Vegan. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

And a quick shout of love to our established trailers, Counter Culture, Conscious Cravings, Vegan Yacht, and Green Seed Vegan. Thanks for leading the way!

Thai Veggie Pie at Boomerang’s Pies

Thai veggie pie at Boomerang's Pies. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The other day I was grabbing a link to the menu for Boomerang’s Pies for my post on vegan menus when I noticed they have a new vegan pie. What is with people making new vegan things in Austin and not telling me? I lost no time going to Boomerang’s to try it out.

If you remember, awhile back Boomerang made one of their pies, the Curry Veggie pie, vegan. Truthfully, I wasn’t real fond of the curry flavor, so I haven’t been back very often. So I was excited to try something they described as baby corn, water chestnuts, and carrots in peanut sauce. I am all over peanut sauce.

Inside shot. Check out the flakiness! The black sprinkle on top is pepper, not poppyseeds. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The vegan crust is still good. That was the best part of the curry veggie pie, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s flaky, crispy, rich but not greasy, and not-at-all soggy from the filling. The veggie filling is mushy, which is how it’s supposed to be. There’s a bit of crunch from the water chestnuts though. And the peanut sauce is very, very faint. I’m not sure I would have noticed it, if I hadn’t been looking for it. It could use more peanut butter and maybe even some coconut milk, though that might push the pie beyond a reasonable level of richness. Fortunately, the pie is served with a spicy-sweet Thai dipping sauce, similar to what you’d get with fried spring rolls. As I’ve said before, a spicy sauce is all it takes to make me happy. The dipping sauce, the crust, and the novelty of a vegan hand pie really push this over the edge.

The one caveat is that they don’t make the Thai veggie pie every day. It’s on their online menu, but they haven’t added to the permanent menu in the store yet. The curry veggie pie should always be available. (For some reason it’s not marked as vegan on their online menu, but I asked, and it still is.) But if you want to try the Thai veggie pie specifically, you should call ahead and make sure it’s available.

Once again, thanks Boomerang’s for adding vegan items to your menu and for marking them as vegan.

The Vegan Menu

The new vegan menu at Guero's Taco Bar. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

I’ve been talking a lot lately about vegan menus. Guero’s recently incorporated their secret vegan menu into their regular menu, and I rejoiced. Galaxy Cafe recently made a vegan menu that you can only get if you ask for it, and I rejoiced. And Kerbey Lane has a vegan menu that’s really a cheat sheet for ordering off the regular menu, and I complained. So what’s the difference between all of these, and why does it matter?

It matters for two reasons. As a vegan and really as a consumer in general, I want to know what I’m ordering. And at a restaurant, where the food prep goes on behind closed doors, and in an atmosphere where rumors fly about what chefs do to vegan food orders, there’s a degree of trust involved when ordering food. The more information offered up front in a clear manner, the more confident I can be when I order food. And the more likely I am to show up at a restaurant in the first place or recommend it to someone else.

The other reason it matters is because I’m vegan for the animals. I want other people to go vegan and stay vegan. And that’s much easier to do when your environment and culture supports a vegan lifestyle. For someone new to veganism, I’d much rather recommend a restaurant that has a menu with easy-to-understand vegan options rather than giving them a cheat sheet (“order with no cheese and skip the rice—it has butter”). And for those of us already vegan, it’s much easier to navigate social situations with friends, family, and colleagues when you don’t have to draw attention to yourself by asking the waiter a million questions.

So what makes a good vegan menu? The best vegan menus are incorporated into the regular menu. Either as a separate section, like Guero’s new menu, as a comment at the bottom of the page, like the menu at Titayas, or indicated with a symbol, like the menu at Clay Pit, where vegan items are marked with a green V. These menus are easy to understand and automatically given to everyone at the restaurant.

The next best is a separate vegan menu that you have to ask for, like the menu at Galaxy Cafe. Having to ask for a special menu can be awkward. It also means you have to know that the special menu exists. Just glancing at Galaxy Cafe’s regular menu, it doesn’t look like a very vegan-friendly place.

Third best, is a cheat sheet like the one at Kerbey Lane. Not only do you have to ask for it, but you also need the regular menu to interpret it since there aren’t full descriptions of the items on the vegan “menu”. This means awkwardly flipping between the two menus.

The least helpful (but still greatly appreciated) vegan menu is one that only exists online, like the one at East Side Cafe. I really appreciate having the information, but I don’t eat with my computer. Last time I ate there for a work lunch, I literally made myself a cheat sheet on an index card. Awkward, but less awkward than asking a million questions.

So, who offers vegan menus or marks vegan items here in Austin?*

Black Sheep Lodge
Black Star Coop**
Blue Dahlia Bistro
Boomerang Pies
Brick Oven on 35 (not to be confused with Brick Oven)
Chez Zee
Clay Pit (pdf)
Cornucopia (not online)
East Side Cafe
Elevation Burger
Galaxy Cafe (not online)
Get Sum Dim Sum
G’raj Mahal
Guero’s Taco Bar
Hut’s Hamburgers
Hyde Park Bar & Grill (not online)
Kerbey Lane
Kona Grill
Masala Wok
New India
Noodles and Company
North by Northwest
The Parlor
Sagra
Snack Bar
Steeping Room
Tarka
Terra Burger
Titaya’s Thai (not online)

*I’m certain this list isn’t complete, because it’s from my memory.

**I almost left this one off. They mark items as vegan, but they don’t indicate that the aioli or ranch need to be left off to make it vegan. It’s almost worse than not marking the menu at all.

Brunch from The Happy Vegan Baker and the Brixton

The Happy Vegan Baker and the Brixton are teaming up to serve a vegan brunch on October 23. The menu will be biscuits and gravy, breakfast tacos (boracho beans, tofu scramble, and roasted potatoes with a selection of tortillas and salsas), fresh local fruit, and oatmeal with all the fixings. And this is real biscuits and gravy. Buttermilk biscuits or rosemary biscuits and cream gravy. Not mushroom gravy. Not beer gravy. Not tomato gravy. (We take our biscuits and gravy very seriously in Texas.) The price is $12 for two plates of food. [Edit: this was unclear. It’s $12 a person and you can get seconds.]

If the event is a success, it may become a weekly thing. For anyone watching their calendars, this is the same weekend as the Texas State Veggie Fair. You have to make some tough choices. I have tickets to the Austin Film Festival and can’t make it up to DFW for the State Veggie Fair, so that makes it a bit easier for me. But you, boy you have some hard choices to make. Good luck with that.

Here are a few things I’ve bought from the Happy Vegan Baker over the years:

Whole wheat bread from the Happy Vegan Baker at the Burnet Rd Farmers Market. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Cherry Danish from the Happy Vegan Baker. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Vegan chocolate chip cookie made by the Happy Vegan Baker and sold at Bennu. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Austin Bakes for Bastrop: Sign Up Now!

Doggie Biscuits at the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in 2009. Photo by dontloseyourlunch. Licensed under creative commons

Vegan bakers, mobilize! The seven bake sale locations to raise money for Bastrop fire victims have been announced, and they’re taking baked good pledges now. I want to see vegan baked goods at all seven locations!

A deal has been worked out so that any leftover vegan baked goods will be transported to the Gathering of the Tribes later that same day for a post-sale bake sale. So even if you’re not baking, the bake sale will come to you. But seriously, bake something.

Tomato Rosemary Scones at Tacoma Vegan Bake Sale in 2011. Photo by Roxanne Cooke. Licensed under creative commons

Baked goods should be individually packaged as cutely as possible (we’re pulling for big bucks here!) and labeled as vegan. The label should also include your name and blog/twitter.

Bake sales will all be from 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, October 1. The Gathering of the Tribes is at 5 PM that same day. Sign up here to bake something.