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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.