While the majority of Texas might be turned off by the word “vegetarian” (and, let’s be real, have no idea what the word “vegan” even means), Austin caters to this dietary demographic very well. Our city boasts both eateries serving exclusively plant-based fare and others that just offer a ton of great veg-friendly options. Here, we’ve rounded up 14 of the best spots in town… no salad bars, we swear.
“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 grubbing. (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.
North Loop, Cesar Chavez
The people behind Vegan Nom take their tacos seriously, and you’ll find an almost overwhelming selection of vegan -- as well as largely gluten-free -- options at each of their food trucks. 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, trust us, you’re going to want a lot of them.
East Cesar Chavez
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, but when it comes to a true sit-down meal and dining experience, Counter Culture is at the top of the list with their affinity for creating inventive, affordable vegan dishes. Specials change daily, but on the current menu, you can find expect options like Buffalo Mac & Cheeze Balls, Jackfruit BBQ, a Tempeh Reuben and Pesto Rawvioli. 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.
This neighborhood spot has been serving Austin meatless meals for over 30 years, and aside from being entirely vegetarian, the food doesn’t fit in a specific culinary category. Items run the gastronomic gamut from traditional lunch staples -- soups, sandwiches…that, ahem, other s-word -- 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 3 p.m., getting up shouldn’t be that hard.
East Cesar Chavez
While the term yacht has fancy connotations, in this case, think less caviar-on-a-boat-on-the-French-Riviera and more kick-ass vegan comfort food served from what’s one of Austin’s longest-standing food trailers. Predominantly organic, often made-from-scratch ingredients combine for dishes like the Freeto Burrito -- a Frito pie equivalent encased in a tortilla and grilled -- along with mock chick’n tacos and wraps and a stadium-worthy Chili Dawg that you can enjoy without having to do the whole, you know, watching-sports thing.
Consider this your most nutritious option. (Seriously, there are a lot of healthy-sounding adjectives coming your way.) 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 7:00 a.m to 8:30 a.m. with a plant-based, nutrient-dense breakfast, lunch and dinner dished out family style in a 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.
South First, Mueller
Another food trailer, Conscious Cravings offers what they describe as “modern plant-based cuisine,” a concept they successfully carry 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.
This all-veg diner is a guaranteed win at any hour, but the prime time is probably brunch, when perhaps their most popular dish, The Renedict -- a version of eggs benedict that is also offered vegan -- is available…until inevitably selling out. Besides that, think 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, breakfast food that’s offered all day. Because hungover mornings and/or nine-to-fives shouldn’t limit your access to omelets. And sometimes that’s just what you need at 8 p.m.
This Tex-Mex establishment is perhaps most renowned for their tart and creamy avocado margaritas, but the food is also outstanding with a surprisingly extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan options on tap. Think homemade vegetable tamales, award-winning vegetable enchiladas, and an upgraded protein option in the form of tasty veggie chorizo you can take in a taco, atop bolillos, or stuffed in a crunchy fried package in the form of empanadas.
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 jukebox, pool table, pinball 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.
Red River, North Campus
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 a.m. or scarfing it down 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.
Texas -- and Austin, in particular -- is known for its barbeque, but most eateries aren’t designed for abstainers of meat. Enter BBQ Revolution, a trailer that’s giving the 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 Big Daddy “Brisket” and add a heaping mound of coleslaw, Mom’s Potato Salad or their Featured Mac and Cheeze. Basically, they’re changing the grill game, and this is one revolution we’re happy to support.
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.
East Austin, South Lamar
We’re not sure who this Mr. Natural character is, but one thing’s for sure: He makes some mean meat-free grub -- and it’s available at two locations in town. One especially noteworthy menu item is their 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.
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1. The Vegan Nom120 N Loop Blvd E, Austin
2. Counter Culture2337 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin
3. Mother's Cafe & Garden4215 Duval St, Austin
4. The Vegan Yacht2324 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin
5. Casa de Luz1701 Toomey Rd, Austin
6. Conscious Cravings1311 S 1st St, Austin
7. Bouldin Creek Café1900 S 1st St, Austin
8. Curra's Grill614 E Oltorf St, Austin
9. The Parlor4301 Guadalupe St, Austin
10. Arlo's900 Red River St, Austin
11. BBQ Revolution2421 Webberville Rd, Austin
12. G'Raj Mahal Cafe73 Rainey St, Austin
13. Mr. Natural1901 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin
This tiny blue taco truck serves some of the best vegan tacos in Austin with animal-free ingredients like tofu, tempeh, and vegan chorizo. Don’t be fooled though: The Vegan Nom’s tacos taste almost exactly like the real thing. Breakfast tacos, filled with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, and refried black beans, are served all day. Lines can get pretty long during lunch and dinner, but you can call ahead to avoid the wait.
This cerulean-hued restaurant and patio cooks up tried and true comfort foods with an inventive vegan twist. You'll want to stop by for brunch and nosh on Tex Mex vegan breakfast burritos, crispy quesadillas, and biscuit bowls. The specials change daily to keep things as fresh as possible, but past eats have included Buffalo Mac & Cheeze Balls, Jackfruit BBQ, a Tempeh Reuben, and Pesto Rawvioli. You can even top it all off with vegan pies, brownie bites, and donut holes for dessert.
Home of what might be the best veggie burger in Austin, this laid-back local favorite has been attracting throngs of vegans and vegetarians for more than 30 years. Warmly lit and inviting, Mother's cooks up dishes that don't fit neatly into one category of cuisine, spanning from lunch staples like soups, sandwiches, and pastas to Tex-Mex classics like burritos, nachos, and enchiladas. On the weekend, you can dig into a brunch packed with omelets, tacos, and pancakes that you'll definitely want to get out of bed by 3pm for.
OK, so it's not exactly a yacht. It's more of a silver trailer parked behind Cheer Up Charlies, but this fan favorite dishes out tasty meatless lunch and late-night eats. The kick-ass vegan comfort food here is almost all organic and made from scratch, and features scrumptious plates like organic tempeh chili with daiya cheese, avocado, and jalapeño, the Freeto Burrito, which is essentially a Frito pie encased in a tortilla and grilled, and mock chick’n tacos. You might also want to check out the Chili Dawg that puts most stadium dogs to shame (partially because you don't have to watch sports while eating it).
Both a community center and restaurant, Casa De Luz is serving set, affordable menus of hearty vegan, gluten-free, totally organic fare, with dishes that change daily. You can nosh on plant-based, nutrient-heavy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options in the communal dining room. It's self-service, so you'll build your own plate cafeteria-style. If you really want to pitch in, you can even pull on an apron and volunteer in the kitchen.
This mobile restaurant (it's housed inside a trailer) wraps up treats for vegans and vegetarians on the go -- what Conscious Cravings calls "modern plant-based cuisine." You'll want to try the signature, perfectly tangy hot wrap with quinoa and chimichurri, or go for the spicy chickpea: a tortilla stuffed with Indian-inspired flavors. No matter which you choose, you can (and should) cut the heat with a refreshing and tart strawberry banana smoothie.
Tucked away in a little residential spot on 1st (save for its brightly colored windows, it's easily passed), Bouldin Creek Cafe takes a seemingly impossible takes and makes it a reality -- they made diner food entirely vegetarian. Even dishes like BLT sandwiches, fajitas, and tacos are cruelty- and meat-free when they come from this tiny, bustling kitchen. On most days you can phone your orders in and pick them up, but half the delight of eating here is mellowing out amidst the plant life and pastel-yellow painted brick walls.
Curra's Grill slings Mexican fare like burritos and ceviche across Travis Heights alonside the most sought-after tamales around. Avocado lovers can put down the tortilla chips shoveled into their guac and shift their attention to the mother of all margs, the avocado margarita, the art of which this place not only created, but perfected, as well. Although they take the cake as the most popular menu item, the impressive offering of specialty margs leave no tequila or mezcal to be desired.
Here's where you end up when you die and go to dive bar heaven. Know why? Build-your-own-pizza, that's why.
Head to the back patio at Cheer Up Charlie's and guaranteed, you'll have died and gone to food heaven via Arlo's, the dopest vegan food truck in the ATX. When it comes to bar-based food trailers, Michelin-star status isn’t really a requisite (the inebriated aren’t quite cuisine connoisseurs), but this truck -- which occupies patio space at Cheer Up Charlies and Drinks Lounge -- boasts vegan fare that’s satisfying whether you’re gobbling it up post-drinks at 2am or scarfing it down sober on a Tuesday afternoon.
Austin may be home of the food truck, but BBQ Revolution is changing the game-- when have you ever had "no bull" brisket before, and when was it this delicious? Stock up on these good eats with a combo platter: your choice of three proteins (all vegan, natch) and five sides for $25.
What began as a simple Indian kitchen operating our of a truck inevitably became so popular it had no choice but to go brick-and-mortar. G'Raj Mahal's Rainey Street house-turned-cafe churns out traditional Indian fare with a little quirky Austin flare and, of course, Southern hospitality. In this outdoorsy eatery, bright pinks and purples light up the room, and little bowls of tandoori meats like chicken tikka, curries, and seasoned chickpeas fill the tables while groups of hands reach in to slather them all over their fluffy naan slices.
Chef Jesus Mendoza, a.k.a Mr. Natural himself, serves up good food with a cause: to make high quality vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free fare affordable and available in his little Holly cafe/market combo. No one kind of food dominates his menu -- it's all a healthy and equal split of breakfast meals (tacos, omelettes), smoothies and juices, soups, salads, sandwiches, and Tex-Mex offerings. If you're lucky and available on the first Sundays of every month, Jesus'll be there, whipping up all the best items for a vegan brunch buffet.