The concept of eating vegetarian in Austin might be a foreign one to you. After all, this city is known for its big, beefy Tex-Mex cuisine like tacos, burritos and enchiladas and its down home barbecue joints serving up signature Texas beef brisket and pulled pork. Having said that, it may surprise you to know that Austin is chock full of vegan and vegetarian restaurants for the meat-averse, or anyone who’s looking to nosh on something healthier than rib tips and beef nachos. Read on to find our favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Austin.
In addition to being known for its meat-centric dining options, Austin is also known for its food trucks peddling high quality, gourmet fare in a mobile setting. Concious Cravings presents an interesting concept to Austin foodies: vegan and vegetarian, made to order wraps stuffed with a variety of tasty and healthy fillings, like barbecue seitan, curried tofu and blackened tempeh. Round out your order with a side of rosemary fries and a cup of iced blueberry lemonade and you’ll have yourself a healthy and substantial meal.
Where: 1901 Rio Grande, Austin, TX 78705
Casa De Luz
Not only committed to offering delicious and affordable vegetarian and vegan cuisine, Casa De Luz offers macrobiotic food, with a menu that changes daily and always features fresh, healthful options for those looking for an alternative to fast food. The food is served cafeteria style, but you won’t find any mystery meat or mayonnaise-laden carrot and raisin salad here. Instead, you’ll see options like brown lentils, pickled radishes, blanched greens with pecan walnut sauce and roasted millet with mixed vegetables.
Where: 1701 Toomey Road, Austin, TX 78704
What first started as a food trailer in 2009 has developed into one of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Austin. Now located in its permanent space in East Austin, Counter Culture serves up meatless, dairy-free and raw foods made from scratch and offered at affordable prices and made from local and organic ingredients wherever possible. If you’re not afraid of a little spice, try the Spicy RawPad Thai, made from kelp noodles, coconut, seasonal vegetables and cilantro tossed in a savory ginger sauce. For something a little tamer yet still delicious, try the Tempeh Reuben, with homemade marinated tempeh and a soy cashew cheese sauce.
Where: 2337 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78702
Any vegetarian knows that Indian food is usually a safe option, and Swad is no different. Don’t let its strip mall location on North Lamar Boulevard fool you – the atmosphere is chic and homey inside. Swad offers a large and varied menu of South Indian vegetarian favorites, like vegetable samosas, paneer dosas and a rotating selection of thalis, featuring a number of vegetable-based curries and breads like naan and roti.
Where: 9515 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753
Another gourmet food truck, Arlo’s proves that vegetarian and vegan cuisine doesn’t have to be stuffy or bad tasting, and its location on 6th Street in the heart of it all can’t be beat. Locals swear by the hearty Bac’n Cheeze Burger, featuring a house made soy patty that is gluten free as well as a few slices of seitan bac’n, melted soy cheese, vegan mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. Or, try the Chik’nTacos, topped with vegan chicken strips, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and chipotle dressing.
Where: 1104 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78702
Photo credit: iStockphoto/metschan