Denton: Shiitake Swerve

Shiitake Swerve vegetarian food truck. Image from their Twitter feed

Shiitake Swerve, first announced in May 2012, is finally opening in Denton. This is, as far as I know, the only vegetarian restaurant in Denton aside from UNT’s vegan cafeteria Mean Greens. So this is a big effin’ deal.

Their menu focuses on, surprise!, mushrooms, which you can get either in sandwiches or tacos. All of the tacos are vegan and most of the sandwiches are as well. And everything can be ordered gluten-free, if that’s your thing.

Catch them at 35 Denton music festival and around town. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to find out their current location.

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And while we’re talking about Denton, a big shout out to Denton Vegan Cooperative which is still going strong at the Denton Community Market and area restaurants. They’re approaching their two year anniversary. www.dentonvegancoop.com

Capital City Bakery on Cooking Channel This Sunday

Candy Cane Cupcake, one of the holiday specials at Capital City Bakery. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Austin-favorite Capital City Bakery will be on the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, this Sunday at 9:30 Central. The episode features peanut butter desserts, and anyone who’s had Kristen’s peanut butter brownies or Peanut Butter Crunch cupcakes can understand why she made the show.

Congrats on the exposure, Kristen! It’s well-deserved.

Texas State Veggie Fair 2012 Recap

No fair is complete without a wristband! Source: mollyjade

I had a lovely time at Riverchon park on Sunday. The weather was beautiful, if a bit muggy, and the park was crowded with families. I couldn’t stay for long, so I focused on my goals. See Ginny Messina talk. Eat at Zombies food truck. See as much else as I could.

Ginny Messina with a sample vegan meal plan that incorporates Asian and Mediterranean food patterns. Source: mollyjade

Ginny’s talk was in the rec center gymnasium. There was a small crowd of people there to learn about vegan nutrition. A few take home messages: Make the majority of your diet fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. But, nothing plant-based should be off limits. To protect your bones, get enough calcium (same amount recommended to average American, 1000mg), get enough protein, and load up on fruits and vegetables. And, as always, anyone on a vegan or nearly vegan diet should make sure foods fortified with b-12 or b-12 supplements are a part of their routine.

Zombie's Food Truck. Source: mollyjade

Aftewards, I joined the long line for Zombie’s Food Truck. The line moved surprisingly fast. They had one or two people taking orders and money, and several others preparing food. Sadly, they were out of the dish I wanted, the Buffalo Joe. In fact, the person in front of me AND the person behind me tried to oder it, too! Just means we’ll all have to come back another time.

Source: mollyjade

Instead, I tried the Bratwurst plate: a handmade veggie bratwurst, potato salad, sauerkraut, and a roll. I’m not sure I’ve ever had German potato salad before (I know!), so I can’t say how this compares to traditional. It was a tad sweet, which surprised me, and the potato chunks were on the small size. The bratwurst was really good dipped in mustard. By far, the best part of the plate was the sauerkraut. I let my mom steal a bite, and she agreed. The roll was unfortunately a bit dry and bland, but I didn’t come to the Texas State Veggie Fair for plain bread. Instead, I saved room for samples.

My mom tried the PB Chocolate Crunch cupcake from Capital City Bakery and declared it better than both her birthday cakes from the day before. (Some birthdays call for two cakes.) But everyone knows vegan cupcakes are the gateway food.

Utpon's Naturals hickory seitan. Source: mollyjade

For the exhibitors, I loved the samples I tried from Tasty Bite. The portions were generous, which is good because I couldn’t get enough of the eggplant dish. They also had these neat little cardboard serving utensils which we all spent a few moments marveling over. Upton’s Naturals was sampling a new hickory smoked seitan. The seitan was really good, though if they’re going for a bacon imitation, the texture is not quite there. But this seitan would work perfectly in bean dishes.

It was a really nice event and I enjoyed overhearing people say things like “wait, this is vegan?” or “This is the best corndog I’ve ever had in my life.” Congrats, TSVF on a successful event!

Good to Go at the NATY

Good to Go at the NATY. Source: mollyjade

Austin has just been graced with another vegetarian, very vegan-friendly food cart. Good to Go is one a handful of trailers set up in a parking lot at 183 and Anderson called North Austin Trailer Yard, or NATY. When I first heard about this food trailer park, I was pretty skeptical. It’s an enormous parking lot surrounding by highway on two sides and a fairly busy road on a third. Not a tree in sight. Ugly, even by parking lot standards. But the NATY has transformed that area of the parking lot into something really pleasant.

Animal statues in front, with a peek of a bean bag toss in the rear. Source: mollyjade

You’ll find giant statues of a giraffe and a dinosaur, oversized board games, shade, and just a bit of greenery on the edges. It’s really a nice little spot to eat your dinner. And now, that dinner can be vegan.

Jenga, enbiggened. Source: mollyjade

Good to Go (not to be confused with Good 2 Go) is a vegetarian burger spot. Nearly everything on the menu can be made vegan. Of their four (yes, four!) vegan burger patties, three are homemade. The fourth is the wonderful hemp patty by Good Seed. I tried a patty melt with the black bean burger. The toasted bread and grilled onions were right on. The patty was great. Though the sandwich was a bit dry. Mayo isn’t traditional on a patty melt, but the sandwich needs a bit of something like that to even it out. Or maybe a thinner patty.

Patty melt with black bean patty and vegetable chips. Source: mollyjade

The star of the show, though, were the vegetable chips made from sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets. Crispy and just a bit sweet, they were indulgent without being greasy.

I highly recommend a visit. I can’t wait to go back and try the the Thai burger, which features marinated daikon and carrots, veggie fish sauce, cucumbers, and spicy mayo, with an edamame patty. Any spot with vegan fish sauce is alright by me!

Biscuits and Groovy

The Gloria Gaynor, vegan style. Source: mollyjade

It’s hard for me to believe I haven’t written about Biscuits and Groovy yet, but a quick search of the archives shows I haven’t. It’s a regular part of my brunch rotation now, but it took me awhile to warm up to it. For the first months they were open, their menu was in constant flux. First they were vegetarian (and vegan-friendly), and I was thrilled to support a new veg business. Then they added bacon to the menu, and I was crushed. Then they took it off. The menu morphed and changed multiple times. But, it’s finally settled down and I’ve adjusted my expectations.

Biscuits and Groovy serves, as you’ve probably guessed, biscuits. The groovy refers to a music swapping program, though it’s also how they refer to their gravies. The final menu does include eggs, dairy, and meat. Sigh. But almost everything on the menu can be made vegan. (One pet peeve, they label things “real” or “vegan.”) Order yourself a few fluffy biscuits and cover them with anything from Daiya cheese or gravy to jalapenos or sausage. My favorite is the Gloria Gaynor ($9) with gravy, tofu scramble, Daiya, bacon, sausage, jalapeno, and chives, though often I’ll just order a few biscuits with jam (sadly, vegan margarine is the one alternative they don’t carry). It’s a pretty good deal at a dollar per biscuit.

The food tends to take a while to make, even if you just get a biscuit with jam, but they have a fairly nice shaded area with green onions growing, which always gives me a kick for some reason. I spend my wait pulling the deal leaves off the onions and sipping coffee from Flight Path.

Moses Falafel

2012 is starting out with as much momentum as 2011. No sooner do I brag about the ten new veg restaurants in Texas in 2011, than I read about the opening of a new vegan* and kosher falafel cart opening at the Dell Jewish center. Moses Falafel will serve Israeli-style falafel, which is a bit different from the Lebanese, Persian, and Greek styles commonly available in Austin. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll have the tiny Israeli pickled cucumbers I know and love. [Aside: these are the pickles I’m talking about. A friend occasionally sends me some, which I then hoard.] The cart’s Facebook page also announces that their falafel balls are now gluten-free. They also serve baklavah, which is dairy-free, but unfortunately not honey-free. Which also means the restaurant isn’t technically vegan. But whatever, new veg food cart!

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.

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!

Vote for Your Favorite Vegan Cart

Green Seed Vegan in Houston. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Meatless Monday is holding a contest to find America’s favorite vegan or vegetarian food cart. Right now they’re accepting nominations for food carts or trucks. On August 8, they’ll set up a poll with the top ten most nominated carts so we can vote for America’s favorite.

There are carts I’ve loved in other states, and a few that I’m dying to try, but I don’t have to leave Texas to get some great vegan mobile cuisine. I won’t tell you who to nominate, but here are all the completely vegetarian carts that Texas has to offer.

Conscious Cravings, Austin, TX
Counter Culture, Austin, TX
Green Seed Vegan, Houston, TX
Iggi’s Texatarian, Austin, TX
Vegan Yacht, Austin, TX

Did I forget anyone? You don’t have to vote for a vegetarian or vegan cart. The cart just has to serve at least one meatless entree. Read the full rules at the bottom of the nomination page.

Edit. Sadly, Iggi’s Texatarian is closing after a year in business.