Texas State Veggie Fair 2012

Can you smell it in the air? It’s fall. Which means state fair time. And the Texas State Fair also means the Texas State Veggie Fair. The third annual Texas State Veggie Fair will be at Reverchon Park in Dallas on Sunday, October 21. Besides the usual carnival games for kids, vegan eats, and music, this year’s fair features an art contest for all ages and a fried food contest.

The veggie side-show avengers are the inspiration for the creative writing contest. Source: Texas State Veggie Fair

Art entries can be photography, paintings/drawings, or creative writing. I’m looking forward to seeing entries for the 10 and under category, because nothing makes my heart melt more than a six-year-old’s drawing of dancing vegetables. Deadline for art submission is Sunday, September 16. That’s this Sunday, so get drawing!

2012 speakers include Gene Bauer, founder of Farm Sanctuary, and Ginny Messina, coauthor of Vegan for Life.

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Other upcoming vegan festivals include Texas VegFest (Austin, April 6, 2013) and VegFest Houston (summer 2013).

Dallas: Sunset at the Granada

On a recent trip to DFW, I checked out Sunset at the Granada with some family. If you’ve been looking for a good date night or special-but-not-extremely-fancy restaurant, Sunset at the Granada is for you. There are great vegan options, and, it’s hard to emphasize this enough, they are clearly marked. “Vegan” is all over that menu. Not only vegan, but “ANDI” (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) and “Dr. Furhman,” too. So this is also a good option for anyone following an Eat to Live, Engine 2, Dr. Esselstyn et al. diet. And they even have vegan desserts from Hail Merry. Prices are a bit on the higher side, especially if you order several courses, but the meals justify the price.

Source: Sunset at the Granada

We started with the Mediterranean Plate (ask for it without the feta to make it vegan). It comes with olives, hummus, roasted garlic, tabouleh, and pita. As you can see from the photo, there’s not much parsley in the tabouleh, which I was thrilled with since parsley tastes like grass. The pita was pillowy, almost weirdly so, but in general, this was a standard Mediterranean sampler. Other vegan appetizers include stuffed avocado with endives and chili.

Source: Sunset at the Granada

My sister-in-law ordered the ANDI salad, which has a kale base with candied pecans and dried fruit. The texture was surprisingly spongy. I usually think of kale as chewy and a bit rough, but this was very light. It’s honestly not something I’d usually order, but I’m glad it’s on the menu. All of the salads can be made vegan by request.

Source: Sunset at the Granada

For the main course I had Chilled Buckwheat Soba Noodles. It came with more pita and a basic salad with raspberry vinaigrette. The noodles were tossed with a slightly sweet peanut sauce and shredded vegetables. I loved this. I packed half of it to take home so I could save room for dessert, but 10:30 predictably found me standing in front of the fridge with a fork shoveling in the last of the noodles. Other vegan options include a quinoa and black bean dish and an Indian-inspired chickpea dish. Wraps and flatbreads can also be made vegan with a substitution of avocado for any cheese.

Imagine this without the ice cream on top. Source: Sunset at the Granada

If you’ve been vegan for long, then I don’t have to tell you how thrilling it is to have choices for dessert at a mainstream restaurant. And neither of the choices was berry sorbet! Both vegan choices are based on Hail Merry products and are both vegan and gluten-free. We chose the Chocolate Tartlet with strawberries and strawberry sauce. The tartlet was creamy on the inside and very rich. The other option is a medley of Hail Merry macaroons. If you won’t be anywhere near Dallas anytime soon, you can order Hail Merry desserts through their website.

Sunset at the Granada also has an extensive beer and cocktail menu. I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of the menu on future trips to Dallas.

Vegan Drinks: September 2012

It’s time for another round of Vegan Drinks, Texas!

Join ATX Vegan Drinks at Cheer Up Charlie’s on August 7 at 7 PM. The usual food options (Via 313, Arlo’s, Fire and Soul, and Miso Hungry) will be there. I still haven’t gotten up the courage and money to try the Via 313 pizza. Seriously, y’all, that thing is $14! Maybe this time? RSVP on Facebook.

Dallas Vegan Drinks will be September 13 at 6:30 PM. Location TBA. Dallas is quickly gearing up for the third Texas State Veggie Fair, so someone be kind to hardworking Jamie and buy him a drink. UPDATE: Dallas Vegan Drinks will be at Pizza Lounge.

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

August Vegan Drinks

We’re back with another round of Vegan Drinks!

ATX Vegan Drinks will be August 3 back at Cheer Up Charlie’s. As usual, grab a bit to eat from Cool Haus, Arlo’s, Me So Hungry, Via 313, or Fire & Soul. The spicy vegan corn dog I had at Fire & Soul last time was delicious, but I have my eye on a pizza this time. RSVP on Facebook.

Dallas Vegan Drinks will be August 9. Location TBA.

San Antonio Vegan Drinks will be August 24 at 8:30 at Drink Cocktail Bar. Come by to meet vegan and veg-interested folks. San Antonio Vegans founder Shylah will be celebrating her birthday as well. Happy birthday, Shylah! Afterwards, join your fellow vegan drinkers for a bite to eat at TBD location. RSVP on Facebook.

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

Vegan Tex-Mex in DFW

Vegan enchiladas in the Metroplex. Photo by tofutti break. Licensed under creative commons

The folks at Dallas Vegan have been putting a lot of work into their website lately. They’ve added several new food guides, including this list of vegan Tex-Mex options in DFW. The list tells you the vegan status of beans, tortillas, rice, and sauces at restaurants. With that info, you can create just about any vegan Tex-Mex restaurant dish. The info is crowd sourced, so be sure to let Dallas Vegan know about your favorite Tex-Mex spot in the Metroplex.

Vegan Pizza in Texas

Cartoon by Matthew Diffee

So I get this cartoon. Really. Texas is a wasteland of BBQ and chicken fried steak. Except it isn’t, exactly. Don’t get me wrong. You can drive along miles and miles of highway seeing signs advertising brisket and chicken fried chicken, and Texas isn’t exactly known for its fresh produce or vegetarian cuisine. But this cartoon always makes me a little wistful, because people who think like this are missing out on some great vegan pizza.

Here in Austin you can find vegan New York-style, deep dish, Detroit-style, Italian wood oven-baked, and French bread pizzas, among the many many options. That’s a lot of vegan pizza.

So partly in honor of this cartoon and partly in honor of the fact that “vegan pizza in _____” is always one of my top search terms, here are links to vegan pizzas around Texas.

Austin, by Red Hot Vegans
Dallas-Fort Worth, by Dallas Vegan
Houston by Vegan Houston
San Antonio: Fraolo’s Art of Pizza and ZPizza via San Antonio Vegans

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I have a few favorite vegan pizzas in Austin that didn’t make the Red Hot Vegans list. The Spicy Vegan at Brick Oven on 35th (not to be confused with Brick Oven) for some reason doesn’t get much love. Maybe because there’s no cheese on the pizza. But there’s chipotle pesto, which I think is even better. FYI you can also get the chipotle pesto on pasta (ask for no cream).

Sagra also makes some great vegan pizzas, and recently they started making pistachio cheese for their vegan pies. The pizzas are Italian-style, not the Italian-American pizzas which are the norm in the U.S., which means you get more creative vegetable toppings including arugula, truffle oil, and asparagus. Their menu changes seasonally.

Austin: The Best Bread You’re Not Eating

This photo serves no other purpose than to have something pretty at the top of the page and to show you these awesome looking brownies by Capital City Bakery.

Did you know there’s another vegan bakery in the Austin area you probably haven’t even heard of? Ridiculous, no?

Celeste’s Best satisfies our pb cup and cookie dough needs. Red Rabbit is filling us up with doughnutty goodness. Sugar Tooth is about to unleash tasty desserts on downtown Austin. The Happy Vegan Bakery makes some wonderful gluten-free (and nongluten-free) goods. And Capital City Bakery has been blowing us away with pies and brownies.

But have you heard of Tough Cookie Bakery? Probably not.

Tough Cookie Pepperoni Pretzel Bites. I tried to find a photo of their bread or a pretzel dog. Instead I found this incredibly awesome vegan pepperoni pretzel bite. Photo by Dallas Vegan.

They bake out of Bastrop, Texas, and sell their goods at the Bastrop Farmers’ Market as well as some farmers’ markets in DFW. (Yes, DFW.) Despite the name, what they are famous for is their pretzel bread. They also do pretzel dogs with Tofurky sausages as the innards. But unless you drive out to (or live in) Bastrop or DFW, or you caught them at Texas VegFest, you’ve probably never tried their bread. And that is sad.

It’s delicious. A friend (hi there!) bought some for me because she thought it tasted like what challah sounds like. (She’s never had challah, and I’m on a lifetime quest to find a perfect vegan challah). And while it’s not quite challah, it’s the closest thing to rich eggy challah that I’ve had in a long time. It makes delicious sandwhiches and French toast. And inspired by the challah comparison, we ate some of the bread dipped in agave nectar.

Alas, I haven’t had it since. I’m too lazy to drive out to Bastrop very often just for a loaf of bread. Even really great bread. I’m guessing you are, too. Which is why I was very excited to see this cryptic message on Tough Cookie’s Facebook page today:

Howdy Friends! We are now stocking out pretzel bread, pretzels, brats, and other vegan goodies at Producers Market in Cedar Creek. We also have some exciting news about Austin Faves picking up our goodies as well, we will keep you posted! source

“Austin Faves” could mean lots of things. My mind is racing with the possibilities. Wheastville Coop and Whole Foods are both high on the list, since they tend to work with small local businesses. But it could be coffee houses, restaurants, food carts, Rabbit Food Grocery, Greenling, that guy who brings food to my house for no apparent reason (note, that guy might be fictional, but wouldn’t that be awesome?).

So now you know what you’ve been missing, Austinites. And you can wait anxiously with me to see where you’ll be buying your next pretzel dog.

Texas Restaurant News

So much is happening across Texas lately that it’s too much for one person to keep track of. I’m always looking to add more voices to Lone Star Plate. If you live in Houston, San Antonio, DFW, or elsewhere in Texas and would like to contribute to Lone Star Plate, send an email to lonestarplate (at) gmail (dot) com

In the meantime, grab a drink and catch up on all the latest in vegan food in Texas: 

Austin

  • Arlo’s has reopened a few blocks away from their old location. They’re now just outside of Cheer Up Charlie’s! Get the best veggie burger in town and support the only veg bar in town. They’re still keeping bar hours (8 PM to midnight, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; 8 PM to 2 AM Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), but rumor is they’re contemplating adding daytime hours.
  • Counter Culture had their soft opening last week. The menu looks fantastic. I know you’re going to find this harder to believe, but Sue’s food has gotten even better. I got the Philly Seitan. The seitan is sliced thin, the cashew cheez is now creamy, and there were lots more grilled onions and peppers. My husband tried the seitan roast, and it came covered in one of the best gravies I’ve ever had. Counter Culture is only open for dinner currently (cash only), but they’ll be opening for lunch and accepting credit cards soon.
  • Austin’s much anticipated Capital City Bakery is holding a grand opening party on May 18. The trailer will be located at Rio Grande and MLK in the same lot as Conscious Cravings. You’ll also be able to find Cap City’s baked goods for sale at Counter Culture. We tried the Black Forrest cake at Counter Culture, and were in heaven. RSVP for the grand opening on Facebook.
  • All my life I’ve dreamed of waking up to vegan breakfast tacos. OK, really I’ve dreamed about getting locked in a library stocked with lots of great novels and a case of diet dr. pepper, but I should have been dreaming about tacos. Because the Vegan Nom just opened up in Counter Culture’s old location, and it’s a dream come true. They had their grand opening during the Austin Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale last Sunday, and sold out almost immediately! They’ll be opening full time (7 AM to 7 PM) very soon. Drool over their menu in the meantime.
Dallas
  • CoolHaus, an ice cream sandwich trailer with a location outside Cheer Up Charlie’s in Austin, is opening another location in Dallas. Check out Red Hot Vegan’s review of the Austin location for an idea of what you can expect.
Denton
  • Denton is getting a new vegetarian (vegan-friendly) food truck. Eventually. Shiitake Swerve will be serving tacos and sandwiches featuring a variety of mushrooms. They’re hinting at vegan pancakes for brunch as well.  But it will be a few months before their truck is ready. I’ve always thought Denton was a good place for veg food trucks and hope this is the first of many.
Houston
  • Green Seed Vegan has their brick and mortar location. The photos of the restaurant look so peaceful. According to that article, they have expanded their menu. I can’t wait to try out their new spot.
San Antonio
  • Check out this tweet about the vegan platter at Bliss! That’s my idea of fancy vegan food. A variety of vegetables, beans, and grains done just right. Maybe this has been there forever, but I’m just finding out about it. San Antonians, this looks like a great option for a celebration dinner or fancy work meeting.

May Vegan Drinks

I’m posting about May Vegan Drinks a bit earlier than usual since they’re all taking place early in the month.

Vegan Drinks San Antonio will meet at Drink Cocktail Bar again on May 1 from 7 to 9 PM. There’s free parking downtown on Tuesday evenings. RSVP on Facebook.

ATX Vegan Drinks will take place May 4 from 7 to 9 PM at vegan bar Cheer Up Charlies. Grab a drink and welcome Arlo’s to their new location in the lot by Cheer Up Charlies.

Dallas Vegan Drinks will feature a new location, Sundown at the Grenada. Join other DFW vegans on May 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM to have a few drinks and network. The folks at Sundown have made a big effort to create a vegan-friendly menu, so the food should be great.

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

April Vegan Drinks

 

Dallas Vegan Drinks will be this Thursday, April 12, at Trinity Hall from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com. Come meet up with some like-minded people, catch up on the latest veg-friendly events in Dallas, and have some great food and a drink or two.

Save the date: The next San Antonio Vegan Drinks will be May 1 at Drink Cocktail Bar from 7 to 9 PM.

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