Food & Drink

The Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Austin

Arlo's
Arlo's | Courtesy of Robert Nabbe
Arlo's | Courtesy of Robert Nabbe

If any of your resolutions involve getting healthier, doing more for the environment, or eating less meat, here’s your quick fix in a nutshell: Go vegan. Sure, you won’t be getting down on our legendary barbecue, but Austin's plant-based fare has come a long way, baby. Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and veg-flexible folks can find delectable dishes to fit their lifestyle in almost any of Austin's healthier restaurants, and we've also got an impressive crop of exclusively meatless eateries as well. Here are some of our veggie-focused faves, serving everything from crave-worthy vegan pizza to legit vegan tacos.

Bistro Vonish
Courtesy of Bistro Vonish

Bistro Vonish

North Loop
Specializes in: Fancy vegan fare
The thing about vegan food is, you already have to be creative… so why not go whole seitan? Bistro Vonish features an ever-changing, always seasonal, locally sourced menu whose dishes push the limits in the best way. This truck gives brick-and-mortars a run for their money with items like hearts of palm po-by, sweet potato arepas, and hearty hot soups. Don’t skip the brunch either, if the idea of kolache dough-doughuts sends your heart aflutter.

The Vegan Nom

Cesar Chavez
Specializes in: Mexican
Tacos are the lifeblood of any self-respecting Texan, and there’s no reason to change your taco ways when going animal-free. Consider the Taquito Fabuloso: a glorious mashup of potato hash-browns, mushrooms, kale, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and bodega sausage. For something a bit heftier to start the day, try the big brunch burrito and breakfast nachos. The Vegan Nom's open late night, too (until 11pm!), so stop by for a Korean BBQ taco or a Birdie Sanders (buffalo chicken) post-beverage.

casa de luz
Eduardo Longoria

Casa de Luz

Toomey Road
Specializes in: Macrobiotic family-style dining
Set back from the road and nestled in a lush, green garden, Casa de Luz inspires almost cult-like devotion. Every day is a little different here, quite literally: There's a set menu for every day of the week, all of which are vegan, gluten-free, and 100% organic. The dining at this community center/restaurant is family-style, and if you're struck by the communal vibe, you can also volunteer in the kitchen with no experience required.

Bouldin Creek

South First
Specializes in: Breakfast
When people say “you wouldn’t even know it’s vegetarian,” they’re talking about places like Bouldin Creek. This all-veg diner is a go-to for both vegetarians and for people dipping their toe in the lifestyle. Prime time is definitely brunch, when perhaps its most popular dish, The Renedict -- a version of eggs benedict that is also offered vegan -- is available. 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.

Mother's Café and Garden

Hyde Park
Specializes in: Basically everything
For those lamenting the loss of Austin originals, you have the opportunity to support one right now: this neighborhood spot has been serving Austin meatless meals for over 30 years. Apart from being entirely vegetarian, the food doesn’t fit easily in any specific culinary category. Items run the gastronomic gamut from traditional lunch staples (think soups, sandwiches, and salads) to Tex-Mex staples like burritos, nachos, and enchiladas, along with pasta dishes, stir-fries, and an omelet-taco-and-pancake-packed weekend brunch that is worth getting up for.

Arlo's

Red River, North Campus, East Austin
Specializes in: Comfort food, Burgers
Arlo’s vegan offerings are the stuff of legend. The food trucks -- which occupy patio space at Cheer Up Charlies and The Grackle -- boasts vegan food that’s satisfying whether you’re gobbling it up post-drinks at 2am 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.

Mr. Natural

Cesar Chavez, South Lamar
Specializes in: Basically everything
One of Austin’s earliest vegetarian joints, if you’re eating with Mr. Natural, you can feel secure in the knowledge that everything is 100% meat-free. One especially noteworthy menu item is the veggie burger, one of the best in town; it's 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 austin
Cool Beans

Cool Beans

Fruth Street
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 at Spiderhouse Coffee, Cool Beans dishes up piled-high nachos, tart n’ creamy street corn, and its famous tacos. You’ll swear the fresh tamales and charro beans are made with actual lard. Taco Tuesday may be played out on Instagram, but Cool Beans celebrates the weekly holiday by offering its signatures for only $2 from 6-10pm.

Citizen Eatery

Rosedale
Specializes in: Organic everything
Fresh, garden-to-table fare is all you’ll find at Citizen Eatery. This modern cafe caters to vegan, gluten-free and paleo-only Austin crowds, so you can safely bring your whole family. Menu highlights include parsnip waffles with BBQ, vegan Bolognese, and “pulled plant” sandwiches plus breakfast is served all day. For those looking to indulge, that full daily dose of veg pairs wonderfully with a glass of organic wine or a cocktail made with cold-pressed juice.

The Beer Plant
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 bread and veggies pickled on-site fit right in with the rustic chic, farmhouse vibe. After just one visit, you’ll be denying that you ever scoffed at the idea of a vegan gastropub.

Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food

East 7th
Specializes in: Soul Food
If you despaired of ever finding meat-free hot and hearty soul food, your prayers have been answered by Sassy’s. Inspired by her own search for the same, Sassy set up shop using techniques learned in her childhood kitchen. Sit on down for some “Chicon N Waffles” (crispy fried chicken seitan with eggless waffles, vegan Cajun mac n cheese, and a brick of hot water cornbread. She hosts music events too so keep an eye on the events calendar.

Possum Pizza

South First
Specializes in: Pizza (duh)
Alluding to one of the least attractive creatures on the planet might not make your stomach growl, but don't let that dissuade you. Possum's foldable, New York-style thin crust slices (self-dubbed as "vegan trash pizza") are hugely popular among the vegan set, and in addition to regular offerings like pepperoni (seitan), the menu also features specialty pizzas. Take a walk on the wild (animal) side with the Buffalo Cauli pizza, or a Bac’n Mac’n Cheezer.

Rebel Cheese

Mueller
Specializes in: Deli sandwiches
Cheese is one of the most lamented eliminations from a vegan diet -- but no longer! Rebel Cheese is Austin’s only all-vegan cheese shop, which also features vegan meats, deli sandwiches, soups, salads, and gourmet grocery items. Feast on the Flake and Bake, with crispy bacon, cheddar, avocado, tomato, harmless egg on a local croissant; or the Greater Grinder with salami, ham, pepperoni, garlic aioli, mozzarella, pepperoncini, and Italian dressing. Again, to reiterate, the meats listed above are not actual meat.

Fat Cats Organic Coffee and Dessert

Airport Boulevard
Specializes in: Coffee and Dessert
Life is sweeter when you’re eating at Fat Cat Organic, because they specialize in out-of-this-world desserts and fair trade, organic coffee, tea, and ice cream. The fresh-daily baked goods -- like adorable Campfire cupcakes or made-to-order Belgian Waffles -- may steal the show, but there’s always room for a cafe cortado, a milkshake, or a vegan sundae piled high with toppings.

Zucchini Kill

North Loop
Specializes in: Baked Goods
When you imagine vegan baked goods, decadent might not be the first word that springs to mind… but it totally should be. Zucchini Kill's punk-themed shop on 53rd Street offers different desserts daily, including cinnamon roll donuts, vanilla buttercream churro cupcakes, enormous cookie cakes, and chocolate crunchers topped with salty pretzels. Said baked goods are also made with any allergy or food restrictions in mind, and are 100% gluten-free.

Bodhi Viet Vegan

Parmer Lane
Specializes in: Vietnamese
Going meat-free can open up a whole new world, and in Bodhi's case, that world includes an active Buddhist community who believes that peace begins on your plate. Powered by 100% volunteers (including Buddhist nuns), all the food here is meat-free, from-scratch, and made with vegetables grown in their garden -- we're talking fresh spring rolls, dumplings, meatless barbecue banh mi, and vermicelli plates, to name just a few standouts.

ATX Food Co

South Lamar
Specializes in: Alkaline menu
Using locally sourced ingredients and chef-prepared foods, ATX Food Co focuses on “body absorbing minerals to help maintain a healthy state” -- which all sounds a bit woo-woo, but who cares when the food's this good? Brightly colored dishes ike the Goodness Gracious Wild Stir Fry (wild mushrooms, kale, red onions, green goddess, tricolor quinoa, pickled cabbage) and the Lucky Squash Taco (Spelt tortillas, red onions, kabocha squash, zucchini, pickled cabbage) will have you feeling good and snappin’ ‘grams at the same time.

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Kelly Stocker is a Thrillist contributor.