A family member was just diagnosed with celiac’s disease, so I have a new interest in the intersection of gluten-free and vegan, also known as xgfx. Where can the whole family get a good meal together in Austin? Here’s what I found:
A quick note on gluten: Because even minuscule amounts of gluten can cause havoc for people with celiac disease, restaurant staff need to take special care to prevent contamination issues. I consulted Jessica of ATX Gluten-Free about which restaurants have a good reputation for preventing cross contamination, and these all passed the test. But if you have celiac disease or a severe allergy, it’s always a good idea to check in with your waitstaff before ordering.
Bouldin Creek Cafe
This is the perfect spot for breakfast. Order off the gluten-free menu. The staff is well-informed about both gluten-free and vegan diets. The most popular order seems to be the El Tipico with tofu scramble, though my personal favorite is the Tofu Chorizo tacos.
Casa de Luz
Casa de Luz is an experience. You pay when you enter. Seating is communal, and you both serve and bus your own table. The menu varies day to day, but you can expect some combination of beans, whole grains, greens with a sauce, a vegetable dish, and fermented vegetables. If it sounds bit hippie, that’s because it is. Meals are all gluten-free and vegan. Desserts are an extra charge, and some may contain gluten.
Gluten-free items are clearly marked on the menu. My favorite xgfx item is the tempeh reuben, made with local Hearty Vegan Tempeh, sauerkraut, and cashew cheeze. Ask for gluten-free bread on your sandwiches. Keep an eye on the daily special. If you feel like a splurge, try the raw cashew cheeze plate or the spicy baked artichoke dip from the appetizer menu. Both are fantastic.
Check out the veggie and gluten-free section where vegan and gluten-free items are marked. Chili cheese fries (skip the sour cream to be vegan) and frito pie are highly recommended.
Grab a gluten-free menu by the door and ask for the vegan menu at the cash register. Stare intently at both until your eyes cross. Then order a vegan burger (no mayo please!) on rice bread with a side of sweet potato fries. Or regular fries, if you’re boring. Other good choices include an avocado and tomato sandwich or a veggie wrap.
Vegan items are marked on the menu. Gluten-free items are not marked, but all the entrees are gluten-free (though consult your waitstaff to be safe). For bread, try the papadum, crispy crackers/chips made from lentils. I always get the baingan bartha, but the whole menu is pretty popular. (Note that G’Raj Mahal is temporarily closed while they switch from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar location. They expect to reopen in February.)
Their regular menu has icons for both gluten-free and vegan options, which is nice because you can order off the same menu as normal folks. Get a pot of tea, crook your pinky, and then pig out on a Buddha bowl.
The great news about Tacodeli is that all of their vegetarian tacos are also gluten-free (obviously, choose corn tortillas). The bad news is they’re only open for breakfast and lunch. I highly recommend the Freakin’ Vegan, even if you feel like a doofus ordering it. And bonus, their famous Dona Salsa is xgfx.
This is a fast-casual restaurant from the people behind Clay Pit. Check out their gluten-free menu, which has icons for vegan options. Almost all of their vegan items from the regular menu are also gluten-free. I can’t get enough of their madras soup. If you get a dish that comes with chutney, ask for the vegan chutney as their standard chutney contains yogurt.
This quirky place is half Thai restaurant half coffee shop and serves wonderful desserts, many of which are xgfx. Gluten-free and vegan items are clearly marked in both halves. While the Thai food is great, be sure to save room for dessert. Adventurous eaters should try some of the more unusual flavors of ice cream, which in the past have included Texas Corn, Thai Basil, and Ginger Lemongrass. Newcomer tip: order your food at the counter. They’ll bring it out to you.
The entire restaurant is gluten-free, which means this is a good spot if you’re very sensitive to cross contamination. The vegan options aren’t super exciting, but if you’re gluten-free you’ll be thrilled to be able to eat sandwiches (with multiple bread options!) and pizza, even if the vegan toppings aren’t exciting. Be sure to check out the Sunday brunch buffet which comes with either a mimosa or juice.
Bonus: Sweet Ritual
This is the perfect spot to pick up a xgfx dessert. Their homemade waffle cones are gluten-free, and most of the ice creams are gluten-free as well. And of course everything’s vegan. The homemade salted caramel sauce is highly recommended.