The Meatless Monday movement started with the idea of introducing non-vegetarians to the concept of eating a little less meat. Skipping meat one day a week is good for you, great for your nation's health, and fantastic for the planet.
Austin is pretty vegetarian friendly already, whether you never eat meat or are just trying to eat less. For veg and non-veg eaters alike, here are some awesome spots around town to get your Meatless Monday and delicious vegetarian fix.
This newcomer to revitalized Airport Boulevard is quickly becoming a favorite. From Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside fame comes this modernized take on a Spanish tapas restaurant, where Executive Chef Ryan Shields wows diners with a menu that is heavy on seafood and inventive with its treatment of vegetables. For example, the gazpacho made with corn, tomato, or cauliflower; Spanish tortilla with summer squash blossom and sheep's cheese; and green garbanzo beans with smoked Idiazabal cheese and shallots on grilled bread. The menu changes with the season and locally available ingredients.
Insider tip: The house-made sangria is delightful, made rich with the use of sherry instead of brandy.
The sushi darling of Austin gets in on the Meatless Monday action as well. Once a month, Uchiko offers a 10-course, all-green omakase menu with dishes such as chanterelles with smoked egg and brioche and sunflower-seed congee with sunflower hearts, sunflower leaves, and shaved summer truffles. The 10-course meal will set you back well over $100, so this is a special occasion thing for most people.
Insider tip: For affordable dining here, check out the vegetarian sake social hour every Monday — featuring dishes from nigiri pieces to plated specials — as a great way to get your meatless sushi fix without sticker shock.
Also with ties to Uchi, this new east side spot features the North Italian fare of Chef Nicholas Yanes, most recently chef at Uchi. Yanes takes top quality modern ingredients and prepares them with old world techniques to create a menu with a good vegetarian selection like pasta stuffed with roasted cauliflower and dried cherry in a brown butter sauce, risotto with grated beets and hen of the wood mushrooms, and milled polenta with celery root and farm carrots. For seafood eaters there is also a nice selection of fish dishes such as arctic char and branzino, as well as a stone crab salad and Gulf shrimp. The signature cocktails are inventive, and a weekend brunch is also a good bet.
Insider tip: The small plates are perfect for sharing or tasting several different items.
This classic Italian restaurant goes all out for Meatless Monday with a special menu each Monday night. The specialty dish is the pasta mista, which highlights three different types of pasta on the same plate. Other veg dishes include an antipasti of breaded eggplant stuffed with mozzarella and ricotta in a light tomato basil sauce and the signature gnocchi served in either brown butter sage sauce with butternut squash or a rich marinara.
Insider tip: The extensive wine list is curated by sommelier Pier Giorgio Manna, which can be seriously appreciated in their Tuesday Wine Dinners.
This healthy venture is the place to get your Meatless Monday meal to-go. Catering to various eating styles, Snap has a great selection of flavorful, handcrafted foods that supports a commitment to local, organic ingredients and healthy cooking. At Snap, guests can easily grab a healthy meal made fresh daily, snack, or cold-pressed juice.
Insider tip: You can call ahead for Snap Kitchen meals and have your order delivered to your car curbside.
Austin's favorite dishes, veg-style
Some food items just scream Texas — yes, we're talking about tacos and barbecue. Where can you find the best veggie versions of these beloved noshes? Our picks are the fried avocado tacos at Torchy's (ask for plain avocado and voila, it's vegan), and an assortment of vegan taco options at The Vegan Nom. Also worth mentioning is Guero's Taco Bar, which participates in Meatless Monday with its own vegan menu.
For barbecue, BBQ Revolution is getting raves as the first 100-percent vegan barbecue joint in Texas, serving vegan versions of brisket and ribs. Also of note is the pulled jackfruit barbecue sandwich at Counter Culture, highly recommended by several vegan friends.
Get your burger fix
One of the most hotly debated questions in the vegetarian world is where to get the best veggie burger. You know, one that doesn't taste like cardboard and bean sprouts. While most people have their distinct go-to spots, several are consistently rated as tops in town. Arlo's food truck has a house-made veggie patty with seitan bacon and vegan mayo and cheese. The award-winning Veggie Royale at Bouldin Creek Cafe is served on grilled ciabatta bread with a choice of barbecue sauce, basil aioli, or chipotle-pecan pesto. And the ever-popular Hopdoddy Burger Bar has a deep-fried black bean and corn burger called La Bandita topped with avocado, goat cheese, arugula, cilantro pesto, and chipotle mayo on a whole wheat bun.
Want to learn to cook your own delicious Meatless Monday dishes that are so good you won't miss the meat? Check out Chef Lorena Basteris-Rubio's classes through Natural Epicurean. Basteris-Rubio shows students creative ways to make whole foods and vegetables the star of every meal. Natural Epicurean itself offers a wealth of resources for adopting a plant-based diet part time or all the time.