Courtesy of Conscious Cravings
Food & Drink

The 17 Best Vegetarian-Friendly Spots in Austin

Updated On 08/24/2017 at 05:00PM EST
Courtesy of Bistro Vonish

Bistro Vonish

North Loop

Specializes in: Fancy vegan fare
“Elevated vegan dining” is the name of the culinary game at this eatery, which offers area herbivores creative, tasty, and beautifully plated options that often seem more suited to silver-platter serving than trailer-side eats (though there is a brick-and-mortar location in the works). The menu changes daily, but always reflects seasonal flavors, utilizing locally sourced produce, and featuring dishes that are far more fun than stereotypical vegan fare -- like, for example, the kolache-dough doughnuts, which are a staple at every Sunday Brunch. Fortunately, doughnuts are always in season.

The Vegan Nom

Cesar Chavez

Specializes in: Mexican
The people behind Vegan Nom take their tacos seriously, and you’ll find an almost overwhelming selection of vegan (and largely gluten-free) options. Swing by for a breakfast taco (served all day) featuring fillings like tofu scramble, veggie chorizo, and tempeh bacon, or opt for a classic like the Rockin Vegan Migas. If you want something more elaborate, go for one of the signature items, for which tortillas are stuffed with creative combinations of beans, faux meat or mock fish, veggies, and homemade salsas. Just be sure to bring your appetite, because while the tacos are super-filling, you’re going to want a lot of them.

Eduardo Longoria

Casa de Luz

Toomey Road

Specializes in: Family-style dining
With set menus featuring vegan, gluten-free, 100% organic fare, Casa De Luz -- a community center and restaurant -- is ideal for the indecisive eater with nutritious intentions. The offerings change daily, and food is served continuously from 7am to 8:30pm, with a plant-based, nutrient-dense breakfast, lunch, and dinner dished out family-style in the community dining room. If you really fall in love with the place, you can even pull on an apron and clock in as a kitchen volunteer (no soup-kitchen experience required).

Mother's Café and Garden

Hyde Park

Specializes in: Basically everything
This neighborhood spot has been serving Austin meatless meals for over 30 years, and apart from being entirely vegetarian, the food doesn’t fit in a specific culinary category. Items run the gastronomic gamut from traditional lunch staples (think soups, sandwiches, and salads) to Tex-Mex requisites like burritos, nachos, and enchiladas, along with pasta dishes, stir-fries, and an omelet-taco-and-pancake-packed weekend brunch that, we promise, is worth getting up for. Given the fact it’s served until 3pm, getting up shouldn’t be that hard.

Conscious Cravings

Conscious Cravings

South First, Mueller

Specializes in: Wraps
Another food trailer, Conscious Cravings offers what it describes as “modern plant-based cuisine,” a concept it successfully carries out with smoothies, salads and signature wraps. Try the Spicy Chickpea, which features a tortilla stuffed with Indian-inspired flavors; the BBQ Seitan, which is packed with hearty protein (seitan) in an agave-ginger barbecue sauce; or the Eggless Tofu Salad, a vegan twist on a long-time lunch staple. Then, try everything else.

Counter Culture

East Cesar Chavez

Specializes in: Comfort food
East Cesar Chavez has, over the last few years, developed into a vegan mecca of sorts with restaurants, food trailers and even a killer bakery popping up,. When it comes to a true sit-down meal and dining experience, though, Counter Culture is at the top of the list with its affinity for creating inventive, affordable vegan dishes. Specials change daily, but on the current menu, you can expect options like Buffalo Mac & Cheeze Balls, Jackfruit BBQ, a Tempeh Reuben, and Southern Baked Seitan. Then, for dessert, think pies, brownie bites, and donut holes -- it’s all vegan, so we’re pretty sure even those are good for you.

Curra's Grill

Oltorf

Specializes in: Tex-Mex
This place is perhaps most renowned for its tart and creamy avocado margaritas, but the food is outstanding as well, with a surprisingly extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan options on offer. Think homemade vegetable tamales, award-winning vegetable enchiladas, and an upgraded protein option in the form of tasty veggie chorizo you can enjoy in a taco, atop bolillos, or stuffed in a crunchy, fried empanada.

Bouldin Creek Cafe

Bouldin Creek

South First

Specializes in: Breakfast
This all-veg diner is a guaranteed win at any hour, but the prime time is probably brunch, when perhaps its most popular dish, The Renedict -- a version of eggs benedict that is also offered vegan -- is available… until it inevitably sells out. Besides that, you'll find a well-rounded portfolio with items ranging from a veg-friendly rendition of the BLT to fajitas, pastas, always-evolving seasonal offerings, and, most importantly, all-day breakfast.

The Parlor

Hyde Park

Specializes in: Pizza
There’s a saying about how sex is a lot like pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s good. That being said, we’d like to think we have standards for both, and on the pizza front, the Parlor knocks it out of the park. Vegetarian pies aren’t an atypical menu occurrence, but this spot -- a comfortably dive-y bar with a jukebox, pool table, pinball machine, and killer porch -- takes toppings up a notch with made-in-house vegan alternatives to pepperoni, sausage, and chicken. And don’t feel bad that you’re devouring pizza on the porch while watching people grunt their way through some Crossfit equivalent across the street. Eating is exercise, too!

Courtesy of Robert Nabbe

Arlo's

Red River, North Campus, East Austin

Specializes in: Comfort food
When it comes to bar-based food trailers, Michelin-star status isn’t really a requisite (the inebriated aren’t quite cuisine connoisseurs), but Arlo’s Food Truck -- which occupies patio space at Cheer Up Charlies and Drinks Lounge -- boasts vegan food that’s satisfying whether you’re gobbling it up post-drinks at 2 am or sober on a Tuesday afternoon. The tacos and Chipotle Chik’n sandwich are must-tries, but the real star of the show is the big-as-your-face Bac’n Cheeze Burger, which features a house-made patty stacked with seitan bac’n that even the staunchest carnivore will admit is pretty damn delicious.

BBQ Revolution

Webberville Rd

Specializes in: BBQ
Texas -- and Austin, in particular -- is known for its barbecue, but most spots aren’t designed for abstainers of meat. Enter BBQ Revolution, a trailer that’s giving barbecue a meat-free makeover with vegan variations featuring the same great flavors. Take your protein in the form of Smokey Soy Curls, Garbanzo Tempeh “Ribs,” or No-Bull “Brisket,” and add a heaping mound of coleslaw, Mom’s Potato Salad, or the Southwest Mac 'n Cheeze. This is one revolution we’re happy to support.

G’Raj Mahal

G'Raj Mahal

Rainey Street

Specializes in: Indian
Indian restaurants typically have vegetarian options aplenty, and this Rainey Street spot -- a food trailer turned brick-and-mortar eatery -- is no exception. Expect all the samosas, pakoras, masalas and naan necessary to help you fuel up and muscle your way to the bar at the next stop of your Rainey Street excursion. Throw in a solid dose of date-night-worthy ambience outside under the soft lighting of the canopied patio, and an extensive beer and wine list, and we’d say you’re in business.

Mr. Natural

Cesar Chavez, South Lamar

Specializes in: Basically everything
We’re not sure who this Mr. Natural character is, but one thing’s for sure: he makes some mean meat-free fare. One especially noteworthy menu item is the veggie burger, one of the best in town, which is available in traditional fashion, loaded with barbecue sauce and piled with “bacon,” or topped with a tasty medley of sautéed onions and spinach, avocado, and Monterey jack cheese. Want to try a little of everything? Swing by the Cesar Chavez location on the first Sunday of every month for the all-vegan brunch buffet.

Cool Beans

Cool Beans

North Campus

Specializes in: Mexican
There’s certainly no shortage of taco trucks in Austin, but how many of them can boast serving both award-winning fare and a menu that's entirely vegan? From a vibrant red-and-white food truck stationed just north of UT, Cool Beans dishes up piled-high nachos, tart n’ creamy street corn, and its famous tacos (made with homemade tortillas, of course). If you’re all taco’d out (blasphemy!) you can’t go wrong with a plate of fresh tamales. Taco Tuesday may be played out on Instagram, but Cool Beans celebrates the weekly holiday by offering its signatures for only $2 from 6 to 10pm.

Citizen Eatery

Rosedale

Specializes in: Organic
The clean and modern aesthetic at Citizen Eatery sets the perfect tone for a menu that emphasizes fresh, garden-to-table fare. This newly opened spot is not only a vegan’s dream, it also caters to the gluten-free and paleo-only Austin crowds. Menu highlights include parsnip waffles with BBQ, vegan Bolognese, and “pulled plant” sandwiches. You may be getting your daily dose of veg in one sitting, but there’s no need to worry about being too healthy -- polish off your dinner with a glass of organic wine or a cocktail made with cold-pressed juice. Or, if you’re ready to get really crazy, order from the breakfast menu that’s available... All. Day. Long.

Jessica Attie

The Beer Plant

Tarrytown

Specializes in: Bar food
Normally the phrase “bar food” conjures all things meat-filled and greasy, but The Beer Plant is changing that with its 100% plant-based menu. Chicken wings and juicy burgers are swapped out for buffalo cauliflower wings, nachos with quinoa chorizo, and Hops n’ Chips (beer-battered hearts of palm) that pair perfectly with the 40 craft beers on tap. Homemade breads and veggies pickled on-site fit right in with the rustic chic, farmhouse vibe, where musicians play live every Sunday night. After just one visit, you’ll be denying that you ever scoffed at the idea of a vegan gastropub.

Swad

North Lamar

Specializes in: Indian
Plenty of Indian restaurants are generous when it comes to their plant-based offerings, but it's hard to beat Swad, where every item on the menu is vegetarian-friendly. The North Lamar location is a bit of a hike from downtown Austin -- and the vibe is pure dive -- but the bold flavors of South Indian cuisine will make it a trip to remember. If you’re having trouble deciding between the chaats, puris, and Medu Vadas, try the Thali special platter to taste a bit of everything, and don’t forget to add on a selection of dosas. The only thing better than authentic Indian cuisine is when it’s priced to match.

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Austin's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
T here were plenty of restaurant openings in Austin this year, but the best ones all had a few things in common: comforting, un-gimmicky foods, served in chic surroundings, by (unsurprisingly) the top culinary talent in the city. They may not be the places with 4-dollar-sign price points, or the ones with two-hour weekend waits, but each of the restaurants below quickly earned top spots on Austin’s “You’ve gotta eat here” board. Whether you start with pimento and peacocks on the patio of a historic Victorian home, or by submitting your naughtiest behavior into a confessional box after an order of fries and soft serve, you’ll enjoy eating your way through Austin’s best new restaurants of 2017.
Thomas Allison / Thrillist

Bonhomie

Burnet Avenue

Casual-yet-refined French/American diner with classic cocktails
Chosen as one of Thrillist's Prime 13 best new restaurants of 2017, this French bistro/American diner mashup features the tinge of Asian flavors you’d expect from chef Philip Speer, former director of culinary operations at Uchi. Don’t expect to find any pretension here -- Bonhomie is approachable, casual, comforting, and yes, affordable! The double-meat burger is oozing with Dijonnaise and cheese, the pommes rosti are crispy potato birds’ nests with toppings like roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach (our favorite), and the croque monsieur and French onion soup are so over-the-top-rich that you practically have to share them. There are no literally no wrong choices, except not dining here -- or drinking here, thanks to the full bar and fantastic cocktail list.

Robert Lerma

Holy Roller

Downtown

Comfort food, cocktails, and kitsch from pastry chef Callie Speer
Callie Speer, former pastry chef of Swift’s Attic and Geraldine’s, opened punk rock diner Holy Roller as a labor of love, alongside an all-star team of women including beverage director Jen Keyser. The menu is full of comfort food, and each Texas classic is stamped with Callie Speer’s signature whimsy, like the addictive Trash Fries (gravy, sunny-side egg, sour cream, corn, lime, and cotija cheese) and the migas kolache (stuffed with queso, crispy potatoes, and jalapeño). Better still, Holy Roller caters to Austin’s brunch-obsessed masses by serving it all day on Sundays, including the Sunday School menu of pastries and tasty cocktails based off the Seven Deadly Sins. Drop a confession note in the box by the bathroom, and it might just get chosen as inspiration for Holy Roller’s next special cocktail.

Kemuri Tatsu-ya

East Austin

Mash-up of a Texas smokehouse and a Japanese gastropub
Describing Kemuri Tatsu-ya to the uninitiated gets convoluted: a Japanese izakaya in a former Eastside BBQ joint, with Texas influences and a killer Japanese whisky selection? Sure. The menu starts with bites like the uber-popular, Gouda-and-brisket-stuffed Hot Pocketz, and ends with ramen served with a thick dipping broth and fiery jalapeños, but not without a few twists and turns along the way. The “odd bits” menu offers tiny dishes of the (very) funky squid marinated in its own guts, as well as sweet and sour marinated jellyfish, while the yakitori offerings range from familiar chicken meatballs to challenging chicken hearts. And don’t even get us started on the cocktail program; arguably one of the best in Austin, the menu features fun, shareable portions served in kitschy vessels (like the Matcha Pain Killer, served in a cat-shaped cup). Think of Kemuri Tatsu-ya as a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience; stay in your comfort zone or get weird, it’s all up to you. Whatever you do, though, order a crisp Orion lager: it gives your go-to light beer a run for its money.

Nicolai McCrary

Soursop

South Congress

Pan-Asian fusion served on the patio of a craft brewery
Soursop, the pan-Asian trailer serving bar food on the patio of St. Elmo Brewing Co. is a standout in the neighborhood, the food truck landscape, and Austin in general for a few reasons: inventive flavor profiles, the fact that St. Elmo’s beers magically pair with everything on the menu, and the culinary team’s (possibly tongue-in-cheek?) shrine to Guy Fieri. Menu offerings occasionally change, but our favorites don’t appear to be going anywhere -- namely the Water-Burger (a refreshing burger made with ground chuck and brisket, caramelized onion ranch, lettuce, marinated cucumber, garlic pepper, and toasted rice powder), and the huge, sticky sambal wings (jumbo whole wings, Thai chili, palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut vinegar, peanut, mint).

Charles Reagan

Native Hostel

East Austin

Upscale hostel and bar serving modern diner classics
Hip digs and a kitchen with generous hours add up to Austin’s newest hotspot for sleeping, eating, drinking, and checking out live music and DJs. The kitchen has everything an Austin guest (or resident) could want, comforting diner food, brunch and lots of vegetarian options. With picks like the fried chicken sandwich (pickle brined chicken, dill pickles, pickled peppers, mayo) and the meatless chilaquiles (veggie chorizo, corn tortilla chips, pickled peppers, tomato, avocado, queso and sunny-side-up egg), this is the sort of food that late dinners and (ahem, challenging) breakfasts require. Pro tip: Native serves brunch until 3pm on weekends.

El Chipirón

South Lamar

Spanish tapas and cocktails found on first floor of residential building
A new kid on the block, El Chipirón earns its stripes with Spanish tapas and pintxos in a modern Euro setting alongside a lovely cocktail menu with an emphasis on gin and tonics (like The Tejano, which involves lots of smoke and herbs). The menu is decked out with meat and cheese boards, small plates, and a couple of large options like the juicy lomo de vaca (44 Farms strip steak, Padrón pepper, LaFou demi-glace, tomato, potato); standouts include the squid ink (colored and flavored) black rice with squid, mussels and scallops and tabla de ibéricos loaded with Spanish chorizo, Iberian ham, salchichón, and accoutrements.

Laura Hajar

Pitchfork Pretty

East Cesar Chavez

Stylish eatery taking a chef-forward approach to modern Southern fare
Helmed by executive chef Max Snyder, Pitchfork Pretty appeared seemingly out of nowhere -- before anyone realized what happened, East Cesar Chavez was home to a design-forward, A-frame building with a mix of chef-y small plates and hearty fried chicken, and cocktails that satisfy both the cucumber margarita and whiskey crowds. The concept is hard to pin down but easy to fall in love with. Critics are rightly swooning over the pickled quail egg on crispy leeks -- a perfect bite consumed like you would an oyster -- and the gluten-free, chickpea flour-breaded fried chicken brined in a habanero vinegar.

bao'd up

Bao'd Up

Mueller

Fast casual joint for steamed buns and bubble tea
Bao’d Up, Mueller’s new steamed-bun-dedicated restaurant from chef Ting Li, is making waves with its bite-size offerings made with the sticky, steamed bread in multiple forms: baozi, mantou, gua bao, and bao fries. We like the simple BBQ pork bao and Szechuan fries topped with spicy mayo, sesame, and green onion, and no trip to Bao’d Up is complete without a build-your-own bubble drink; the matcha and taro are favorites.

Nick Simonite

Mattie's

Bouldin Creek

Elevated Southern cuisine served among live oaks and peacocks
The former Green Pastures (which now refers solely to the event space), Mattie’s is the revamped new concept from Austin developer Greg Porter and La Corsha Hospitality -- which operates Second Bar + Kitchen and Boiler Nine. With its marble countertops, exquisite light fixtures, copper hardware, and textured wallpaper that begs to be touched, the new skin applied to the home’s old bones is incredibly gorgeous to behold. The menu is also just as impressive, whether you’re having dinner in one of the many dining rooms or on the lawn alongside the resident peacocks. Southern dishes sprinkled with French and Asian influence as well as untouched classics like pimento cheese and fried chicken eggs Benedict sparkle at Mattie’s... just as much as the dreamy surroundings.