Calling all vegetarians — and those who want to give it a try. It’s Veg Week: a nationwide campaign empowering thousands of people to choose vegetarian foods for at least seven days as a way to discover the many benefits and flavors of vegetarian eating.
“Every time we choose a meat-free meal, we can protect our health, the planet, and animals,” states the Veg Week website. Luckily, we live in one of the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly cities in the U.S. So we’ve rounded up some of our favorite foodie spots around Austin to get your veg on, from the tried and true to new kids on the block, plus some you might not think of for a plant-based meal.
The Beer Plant
The first vegan gastropub in Austin has a motto of “drink beer, eat plants, be happy.” The Tarrytown pub features an eclectic mix of hearty, plant-based dishes from chef Lou Mustachio, with a focus on fermentation, including pickled vegetables, house-made breads, and cultured vegan cheeses and butters. They also offer 40 craft beers on tap, a curated wine program, and botanical cocktail list in a farmhouse pub atmosphere.
Jinya Ramen Bar
Located in the hot new Rock Rose area of Domain Northside, this ramen restaurant isn’t vegetarian, but their options are plenty. The best ramen is mostly about the broth, and Jinya offers a stand-out veg ramen, and the creamy version is one that many vegans swear by. They also can make many of their appetizers vegan, with cauliflower, kale, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts options.
Casa de Luz
If you aren’t familiar with the lush gardens and kinship feel of Casa de Luz, it’s a place that regulars often treat as a second home. It not only serves up 100 percent organic, vegan, gluten-free food made by nutritionally trained chefs, but is also a true community space. Tables are shared, and there is no menu. Instead, guests pay a set price and receive a token, which allows them to help themselves to soup and salad, while the day’s entree is brought to the table.
This extremely popular vegan restaurant serves healthy, globally-inspired cuisine that is all made onsite daily. The vibe and decor is fun midcentury modern. Check out thee daily blue plate specials and weekend brunch.
Mother’s Cafe & Garden
You may be surprised to learn that 80 percent of the people who eat at this vegetarian restaurant are not vegetarians. Yes, it’s that good. Mother’s has been serving plant-based comfort food, such as sloppy Joes, stroganoff, and enchiladas for more than 35 years.
Billing itself as "elevated vegan dining," this North Loop food trailer definitely serves upscale food, by veg or any other standards. It is especially recommended for Sunday brunch, with dishes such as a tofu scramble with French toast that changes weekly. And the kolaches and cinnamon rolls ... oh my. They even make doughnuts with kolache dough. Almost sinful.
While the food truck version of Thai-Kun only has two vegetarian main dishes, Austin's vegan crowd raves about the cabbage two ways. This is one of those dishes that even people who claim they don’t like cabbage will love. The other veg dish is the black noodles, which can also be made vegan and gluten-free. The Rock Rose restaurant also has several other vegetarian options, including the awesome clay pot.
Capital City Bakery
One non-vegetarian friend says this bakery has “the best vegan cupcakes on earth” — she didn’t even realize they were vegan until after she had eaten them, a true testament when it comes to desserts without any dairy or other animal products. The owners are dedicated to creating fresh-baked goods daily, as well as the environment and community.
This ice cream, though. The delicious, dairy-free recipes use a variety of bases, including coconut milk, almonds, cashews, and even avocado, and they have truly perfected the balance of ice cream without the actual “cream” part.
Several restaurants that you might not think of for plant-based menu items deserve an honorable mention here. The plentiful and delicious veggie plates at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Cenote, and Bartlett’s get top picks. Austin breakfast favorite Kerbey Lane Cafe is very accommodating with substitutions (at all meals) and is an easy place to make a lot of seasonal dishes vegan. When it comes to ethnic options, Titaya’s Thai Cuisine, Habesha, and Swad Indian Vegetarian Restaurant get high marks.