Austin and Dallas: Vegan Best of Polls

There are few things more satisfying in life than being asked your opinion. So grab a hot beverage and get ready to tell the world who has the best vegan food in Austin and Dallas. And then let the satifaction of being right roll over you.

Vegans Rock Austin is hosting the second Vegan Best of Austin poll. You can vote in thirty-seven categories including Best Coffee, Best Late Night Grub, and Best Fried Food. Voting ends Wednesday, December 4.

Dallas Vegan has launched their own Best of Vegan Dallas poll with eighteen categories. For someone who only visits Dallas occasionally, I think I need to adopt the voting ballot as my to do list! I’m especially excited about the Best Bar category. Voting ends Monday, December 2.

One thing I really like about both contests is that they include a really great mix of vegan and nonvegan businesses. I love when the vegan movers and shakers get credit, but I also love an opportunity to tell nonvegan restaurants that we noticed they’re offering awesome vegan options and we appreciate it!


The Vegetarian Society of El Paso also voted on a Best Vegetarian of El Paso recently. They were so quick that I missed my opportunity to tell you to go vote. They’re announcing the winners this week, so keep an eye on their Facebook page.

Vegan Food at DFW

Paper Airplane Embroidery by Hey Paul Studios. Licensed under creative commons

If you’re a vegan flying American Airlines, there’s a good chance you’re going to spend a few hours poking around DFW looking for something to eat. And now that’s easy! The folks at DFW have posted a list of all the vegan options at every restaurant in the airport. That’s really impressive. Other airports: take note.

Restaurants with especially good vegan options include Blue Bamboo in Terminal D (sushi, miso soup, spring rolls), UFood Grill in Terminal B (tofusion bowl, chili, smoothies), and Au Bon Pain in all terminals (rotating soups and snacks). As usual with a list like this, it’s probably a good idea to verify items are actually vegan before you order.

New Vegan Restaurants Opening in Texas

Veggie Grill

Veggie Grill: Fried (Gardein) chick'n, mashed potatoes, gravy, kale, or as I like to call it, the Wannabe Luann Platter

Fast casual vegan chain Veggie Grill plans to open at least two Texas locations in 2014. According to an article in the Los Angeles Business Journal, Veggie Grill is looking for appropriate locations in Houston and Austin.

I was lucky enough to try Veggie Grill in Portland while I was there for Vida Vegan Con. The menu strikes a great balance between hearty comfort food and health food. Who doesn’t love a plate of food that has both kale and gravy?


Buffalo Chick'n Sandwich from Green Vegetarian

As I announced recently on Facebook, Green Vegetarian of San Antonio is expanding to Houston. The food at Green is somewhat similar to Veggie Grill, except that Green has table service. I think both restaurants will find an audience that’s hungry for comforting, healthy food in Houston, seeing how few vegan restaurants Houston has for it’s large population. In the future, Green plans to franchise their restaurant.


Gluten-free vegan oatmeal cream pies from Reverie Bakeshop. Photo from Reverie Bakeshop Facebook

In Dallas, two friends are opening a vegan bakery, Reverie Bakeshop. The duo is currently hosting a Kickstarter fundraiser to help cover the costs of build-out and inventory. The grand opening is planned for September of this year.


Locali (perhaps a pun on local and low cal and California?), another Los Angeles-based fast casual healthy chain, is planning an Austin location according to Eater-Los Angeles. At first glance the menu isn’t that exciting. Sandwiches mostly. That is, until you notice almost every sandwich is vegan or can be made vegan, including a list of hearty breakfast sandwiches. Look out breakfast tacos, you’re going to have some competition.

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.

2013 Texas World-Wide Vegan Bake Sales


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


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


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


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


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


Wednesday, April 24, 4 PM to 8 PM

Winner! and Restaurant News

Hacienda on Henderson vegan brunch options from their Facebook page

A number of vegan-friendly Texas restaurants are changing things around. In Dallas, Hacienda on Henderson has added vegan brunch options to their already vegan-friendly menu. French toast sounds just about right to me. Dallas Vegan and MFA has been working with Hacienda on Henderson, and this just shows what big changes you can get by asking for more vegan options.

In Arlington, the Loving Hut is changing format again. This time they’re scrapping their pasta/wraps/anything goes menu for vegan pizza. This makes two restaurants offering vegan pizza with cheese in Arlington (the other is Mellow Mushroom). The new menu debuts March 19. I can’t wait to see what toppings they’ll offer.

And in San Antonio, Green Vegetarian has moved their Flores St location to the Historic Pearl Brewery. The new location is in a much more visible and accessible area. Menu and prices remain the same.


In site news, Annemieke is the winner of the Vegan Bag of Tricks. Congrats! Let me know if these giveaways are something you want me to continue.

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!

Sunday: Austin and Dallas

Texans, you have some hard choices to make this Sunday. Dallas or Austin. Fried food or baked goods. Puppies or Gene Baur. Texas State Veggie Fair or Austin Bake Sale for SARA.

This is the third Texas State Veggie Fair, and it’s looking to be a great event. Lots of great speakers, music, and vegan food. This is the first year I’m able to go to the State Veggie Fair, and I’m really looking forward to trying new foods and meeting new people. On my to do list, Ginny Messina, Zombie’s Food Truck, and jugglers.

For people in Austin, the bake sale for SARA is the place to be. SARA is an animal shelter that cares for animals that often can’t be placed elsewhere very easily. Their specialty is old, sick, or abused dogs. They shelter more than 800 dogs, cats, and farm animals.

Lazy Smurf organized this bake sale when she heard that SARA was in danger of losing its electricity (a big deal in a steaming hot Texas summer). Let me tell you, if you’re ever in need of fundraising, get Lazy Smurf on your side. She plans wonderful events and can sell the hell out of a vegan cookie. There’s still time to sign up for the bake sale, or, if you’re not up to baking, come buy lots of goodies. The sale will be Sunday, October 21, from 2 to 5 PM at Counter Culture.

50 Vegan Foods to Try in Texas: Part 1

There’s a huge variety of vegan food in Texas, and I know I’ve only nibbled a fraction of it. With a few recommendations from friends, I’ve made a list of 50 Must Try vegan foods that represent the best our state has to offer. I’ve split the list into parts for my sanity and your suspense. In no particular order…

1. “The Mitch” Tofu Club from Spiral Diner (Dallas or Fort Worth): A club sandwich that even Mitch Hedberg is allowed to eat. Three slices of bread, grilled tofu, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo (you know, because we’re in Texas), and bac’n bits all held together with frilly toothpicks. The combination of the chipotle mayo and the bac’n bits adds just the right amount of smokiness. The potato salad on the side is mashed and bright yellow. I can never decide if I like it or not, yet I always eat every bite. (True story: last night I had a dream that I had a gallon of this potato salad in my fridge and couldn’t decide whether to eat it or not.)

Arlo's Bac'n Cheez Burger. Source: mollyjade

2. Bac’n Cheese Burger from Arlo’s Food Truck (Austin): This cheeseburger is like its greasy counterpart at a national fast food chain, except healthier and free of animal products. Instead of beef, the homemade patty sports lentils with plenty of gluten to hold everything together. Add cheese, seitan bac’n, lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, and lettuce, and you might be humming that song all night long.

Chole Bhature at Shri Balaji Bhavan. Source: Vegan Houston

3. Chole bhature at Shri Balaji Bhavan (Houston). Vegan Houston calls this “the best on the planet,” which is pretty high praise. If you’ve never had this dish before, it’s North Indian chickpea stew with fried bread, and it’s as awesome as that sounds.

4. Chimichurri seitan wrap from Conscious Cravings (Austin): The quality of this wrap varies. On its good days, it’s my favorite sandwich. But even on its bad days, it’s worth eating. Chewy chunks of seitan dressed with chimichurri sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, vegan mozzarella, and a squirt of sriracha, all baked up in a wrap that gets a bit crispy.

5. Neftacos Feliz from Zombie’s Food Truck (Fort Worth and Dallas): Named after Ranger’s pitcher Neftali Feliz, these tacos are the fan favorite at Zombie’s. Shredded seitan is served in a tortilla with all the fixings, including a drizzle of pepper pineapple ranch.

Vegan Platter at Kerbey Lane Cafe. Source: madam.furie

6. Pancakes at Kerbey Lane (Austin). Kerbey Lane isn’t the kind of place that makes you feel like family or the kind of place that leaves you writing embarrassing love notes about your meal on Yelp. It’s the kind of place where you can get vegan pancakes at 3 AM and slather them with Grade B maple syrup. And really, what else do you need from pancakes?

7. Kale salad from Central Market (Austin, Dallas, Forth Worth, Houston, Plano, San Antonio). Sold at the prepared food counter, this sweet, tangy, and crunchy salad is now a permanent part of my family’s holiday meals. The salad has inspired many copycat recipes, including this one from Hail Merry.

8. Pretzel bread from Tough Cookie Bakery (Bastrop and Dallas). This rich bread is great for sandwiches, though truthfully, I usually end up pulling off large chunks and find myself surprised that it’s all gone before I even got a chance to put avocado and tomato between two slices. For now, you can find Tough Cookie at farmer’s markets in Dallas and Bastrop, though they have plans to distribute to Austin soon.

Peach Kolache. Source: mollyjade

9. Fruit kolaches from Sinfull Bakery (Houston). The kolache is one of Texas’s iconic foods, but no city embraces the kolache like Houston does. You’ll find kolaches filled with everything from migas to barbecue. So it’s no surprise that Houston has the first vegan kolaches. Generally sticking to more traditional fillings, Sinfull Bakery’s fruit kolache fillings are all homemade and often local and organic.

Holiday Sundae at Sweet Ritual. Source: mollyjade

10. Sundae from Sweet Ritual (Austin). The ladies at Sweet Ritual make all their own syrups, and it shows in their sundaes. There’s nothing wrong with a milkshake or cone, but if you really want to get the full Sweet Ritual effect, start with a homemade waffle cone or bowl and end with a drizzle of salted caramel or chocolate sauce.

Vegan Drinks: October 2012

After an ice cream break at Sweet Ritual, ATX Vegan Drinks will be back at Cheer Up Charlies on Friday, October 5 from 7 PM to 9 PM. Same great food options as usual. (I finally tried that Via 313 pizza, review to come.)

DIY Guiness Extra Stout float and so-called Frito Pie at ATX Vegan Drinks.

Dallas Vegan Drinks will be Thursday, October 11. Location TBA.

And for the first time ever, Houston is hosting something similar to, but not the same as, Vegan Drinks. Join other Houstonites at a “Monthly Vegan Social Mixer”  following the VSoP Second Saturday event on Saturday, October 13. The location will be announced at the Second Saturday potluck, but expect somewhere with alcoholic beverages and vegan snacks.

Information for starting a Vegan Drinks in your city can be found at

Dallas: Donuts and Asking for What You Want

There are vegan donuts available in Dallas.

QUESTION: When did that happen, and why didn’t anyone tell me?!

ANSWER: Years and years ago, and because you never asked.

Jennifer of Dallas Mom’s Blog has been frequenting Donut Palace in Dallas for five years. Recently, one of her kids was diagnosed with an egg allergy. Like many people who have out-of-the-ordinary food requests, Jennifer avoided asking about the donuts at her family’s weekly donut trip. I can imagine what she went through. If you ask, you’re likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. As long as you put off asking, the donuts could be safe to eat.

Finally Jennifer faced the inevitable, asked about the donuts, and got a huge surprise.  Not only were the donuts egg-free, but they’re also dairy-free and peanut-free, as well. The proprietor avoids using those ingredients because those allergies are so common, yet he never thought to advertise his donuts as being anything special.

Moral of the story? Even though it’s a bit embarrassing or intimidating or you dread hearing the “wrong” answer, go ahead and ask. Otherwise, you risk being donut-less for no reason at all.


Thanks to Jamey of Dallas Vegan for sharing the Dallas Mom’s Blog post.