From environmental concerns to wellness, there are a lot of good reasons to go vegetarian. But the most compelling has everything to do with taste. Fruits and veggies always give us something new to savor — especially now that spring has delivered a rainbow of choices.
A new crop of Austin restaurants seem to agree, filling their menus with a delicious bounty that can please even the most hardcore carnivores. Whether you are trying out Meatless Mondays, taking a meat-free challenge, or ready to jump headlong into a new diet, these spots are essential additions to your plant-based rotation.
The owners of Kerbey Lane Cafe surprised Austin when they opened this brand-new healthy concept in March. High Note sings with energy-filled foods like a vegan dip trio featuring grain-free chips, edamole, salsa, and cashew queso; a kale salad with plenty of crunch from puffed rice and sunflower seeds; and a Mediterranean bowl chock full of quinoa cakes, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and tzatziki. Even the cocktails are healthy-ish, using veggies like carrot, beet, or celery as the base for juices with a little oomph.
In January, Parkside Projects brought the second location of its grab-and-go favorite to North Austin. Like the downtown outpost, the Rosedale Jugo is full of herbivore snacks like raw beet hummus; a black bean, sweet potato, kale, and tahini wrap; and veggie medleys like roasted cauliflower and olives. Don’t walk out without a supercharged juice in hand. The concoction with carrot, orange, garlic, and trendy turmeric is especially refreshing after a workout.
This East Austin technically isn’t new, but it does have new energy thanks to chef John Clark DiCicco, who took over the kitchen after the restaurant and bar suffered a brief hiatus in 2018. Keeping with the semi-equatorial theme, the menu mostly steers clear of gut bombs. Vegetarian-friendly options include avocado toast with spicy togarashi, a filling salad with local gem lettuce and brie, and a pulled jackfruit sandwich served on gluten-free bread. Pair those with a draft Paloma to keep the island vibes flowing.
Standby bar food menus filled with wings and burgers aren’t exactly friendly to vegetarians who want a night on the town. Luckily, this downtown stunner provides plenty of options for those who want to join in on all the fun. The comté gougères, served warm with tomato jam, are a must. But other dishes, like sweet roasted beats crumbled with cashews and pistachios provide a fresh counterpoint. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will surely want to try the Eggs in Purgatorio with gigante beans and some zip from Calabrian chiles.
A collaboration between Emmer & Rye’s Kevin Fink and Berty Richter of Hummus Among Us, this Fareground food hall spot is one of precious few places serving Israeli cuisine in Austin. The team doesn’t make much fuss about it, but roughly a half of the menu is vegetarian, making it a great casual date spot for couples with mixed diets. Start with the impossibly creamy hummus m’sabaha — kicked up with a green chili sauce — and one of the salatim, or salads. Then, dive right into one of the Capital City’s best sandwiches: a pita stuffed with green falafel, more hummus, green cabbage salad, tahini, tangy amba (a mango pickle condiment), and a sprinkle of Yemenite pepper sauce schug.
Vida Pura Juicery
With its menu of picadillo tacos, carne guisada, and beefy breakfast tacos, Manor Road stalwart Mi Madre’s isn’t exactly known for light fare. But with the opening of their new juice shop in January, the owners prove they have some tricks up their sleeves. In addition to wellness oriented green juices, smoothies, and shots, Vida Pura has several get-up-and-go snacks like açaí bowls swimming in fruit and granola, avocado toast on vegan sourdough, and a salad with some unexpected punch from cactus and fermented red cabbage.