Really, this is Part II of Spring’s Austin Cocktail Round-up.
Better late than never, right?
Pretty much. I’ve been devouring travel blogs lately and finding them incredibly encouraging and useful (& hilarious) while researching an upcoming adventure, so the way I see it, if this inspires just one more person to head to Austin for vegan tacos, then all the better. That’s kind of the point.
I mean, I could continue to let these photos sit in my Flickr, horribly lacking tags in a giant album and being forgotten, or I could totally share them and reinforce the growing opinion that Austin is the new vegan ‘it’ city. Because, frankly, if the following gives you a quick, mult-day glance into its current vegan scene, (which has no doubt, grown since my time in February) you’ll see that it’s true.
Give Us All Your Vegan Tacos aka Belated Vegan Eats…Austin, Texas edition
In the footsteps of South by Southwest, it’s undeniably become a huge vegan travel destination, arguably replacing Portland as the ‘mecca’, if you will. My visit with team Vida Vegan Headquarters is now months behind me, and there’s this before in my life on the matter of (and hunger for) vegan tacos…and margaritas. The growing vegan options in Austin, TX have such a buzz to them, rapidly growing both casually and grander; both key signs that your city has become the vegan must (and as someone who moved to Portland in 2004, trust me on that!)
So, this may be shamefully turned shamelessly belated, but with judging this weekend’s Pop Up! Taco Shop! (the inspiration is apparent) ahead of me, the timing was inevitable. I barely scratched the surface of Austin’s vegan options and by the final evening, already deeply regretted not making time for at least ten more taco breaks.
After a full day of connecting flights and some shopping (and we’re vegan, so that means Whole Foods for local snacks), we had a lovely dinner on the patio at Vivo, where I never wanted the chips & salsa to end, until my Puffy Taco plate arrived. At that point, I was content. So content I didn’t dare order a second cucumber margarita.
Our first experience of Austin’s chips & salsa lifestyle remains my favorite of the all too short trip.
Refreshing cucumber margarita, Vivo
Earlier that day, we perused Whole Foods (where it was born!) for goodies and shampoo. We didn’t “Sip & Shop” until a few days later, shockingly, but as we learned in Chicago, the option is a goddamn delight.
Snack time. Not quite a Red Rabbit doughnut, or a taco, but with a side of hot sauce, it held me over til dinner.
Austin, TX: Where I did not expect to be tempted to snack on California-made, New York-style pickles.
The made-in-California thing became a curious theme.
The city seriously renewed my jaded appreciated for novelty food carts:
Which brings me to our second day, where we met up with friends for a Vida Vegan meet-up dinner at Vegan Nom’s Rockin’ Vegan Tacos, which was apparently a must. I’ll agree! I’ll get to our lunch that day (a day of location scouting), shortly. Don’t mind me, months later, for the bit of random order.
Vegan Nom/Rockin’ Vegan Tacos
It’s all good with good tacos. And BYOB microbrews.
I went with the enormous El Diablo, an incredibly, and thankfully fiery, house soyrizo-packed taco. Doesn’t it look like a burrito!?!
The flavors took me everywhere I could possibly want to go with so much welcome heat: no hot sauces required (but rest assured, they were certainly sampled).
Take home dessert from Vegan Noms: chocolate-covered peanut butter bombs.
After dinner, our friends took us to another must-must-must (must-must-must!): Sweet Ritual for vegan ice cream sundaes.
Evidently run by a former Portlander, it was a charming shoppe with creamy vegan ice cream and creative toppings. I don’t quite remember what I ordered anymore besides the giant gobs of salty cookie dough (which I bizarrely could not finish), but like I said, it was a pretty dang must experience for vegan ice cream fanatics.
I’m all for vegan ice cream extraveganzas when there’s peanut butter involved.
Guero’s Taco Bar
Prequisite chips & salsa
Janessa’s order, the Enchilads de Verduras
My plate of Tacos de Sulud with hearty, tomato-flavored house chorizo
S. Congress Ave.
Just look at that charmingly indie American Apparel market…
We visited the home of addictive and world-famous popcorn tofu at least twice, which I can be sure of because I have pictures of two very different tacos and made my way through even more of their kombucha section.
This is right before I got a little bit food blogger crazy with a camera in one hand and coffee cup in the other and sloshed the deli case…
I’m usually a tad more reserved these days, but Austin had me so incredibly excited about vegan food, non-stop, and I couldn’t stop.
Wheatsville Co-op: breakfast taco & coffee break
I don’t think I can count how many times I’ve made scrambled tofu & potato breakfast tacos (and not limited to the mornings) since this trip! Here’s the most recent.
Breakfast! Taco! House vegan chorizo, potato & hot sauce, to be exact.
Enjoying that local kombucha scene
Add these fascinating krauts & kimchi (another one from California, in fact) to the list of fermented products that caught my eye in Texas…
Another afternoon taco lunch at Wheatsville, with what had to be the freshest and most vegan taco of our visit:
Of course, we threw some more popcorn tofu into the meal, and more buffalo popcorn ‘fu to take with us.
Wheatsville lunch taco and half a Popcorn Tofu Po Boy shared with Janessa (we were misguided on a ciabatta alternative, sorry!)
….which truly didn’t make it a Po Boy. It was tasty, but difficult to eat and didn’t pack enough goodness. I should have known better!
We didn’t have a chance to grab lunch at Veggie Heaven (no tacos!), but we did stop by for $5 T-Shirts on our way to the popcorn next door. Next time! I do love my vegan Chinese food.
As you can see, the menu specifies which flavors are vegan. I picked up the savoury Spirulina, Salted Toffee, Garlic & Herb and Birthday Cake (Note: this last one is vegan before they add a final ingredient – so ask the staff if there’s any in-progress in the back) varieties.
And literally, the icing on the cake of our Austin trip, the fabulous Capital City Bakery.
Capital City Bakery
Probably the only thing we were super excited in town that wasn’t at a taqueria (but I’m pretty sure she’s made taco-shaped sugar cookies before, or will at some point).
Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches with Vanilla Cream
Our take-home showstoppers:
The very start of the box I’d fly back to J. Legume (and likely the reason we realized we needed Kristen and her brownies at the Galarama’s sundae bar).
Capital City’s then-next door neighbor, Conscious Cravings. Vegan food carts, represent.
You can find Capital City’s new location and other spots to find her treats right here (and there are it’s-really-happening plans to move into a legit and surely adorable storefront).
Had to. Just imagine our faces.
As usual, vegan shopping = grocery shopping
Fiesta Mart & H Mart
Even the freaking Rotel variety (let alone the massive hot sauce assortment in multiple aisles) here blew my mind.
This is merely a bonus of more tropical hot sauces in the international aisle: (or…maybe this was H Mart, again, it’s been a while)
Taking in some nature with a visit to The Writing Barn
Spider House Cafe
One night, our friends took us to Spider House Cafe & Daily Juice bar for fresh cocktails & mocktails, again, on a really stellar outdoor patio.
It marked my second housemade cucumber margarita experience of the trip (with Vivo’s taking the title)
Yeah, it wasn’t Friday.
For our final night, we poured over the amazing vegan taco spreadsheet a few of our local friends, Smurfy, Chris & Crystal, had put together for our arrival, and decided to start the evening’s taco & margarita farewell tour at the fabulous La Condesa on 2nd Street.
Guacamole flight with traditional mash, chipotle purée & toasted almond, watermelon, pomegranate molasses and various salsas (again, just let them know you’re vegan and they’ll leave out the crab one).
Bring it on: Alma Blanca cocktail with habanero-infused siembra azul blanco, ginger liqueur, agave nectar, pineapple juice, fresh corn, hoja de hierba santa, hibiscus-rose-infused salt rim.
I spent the following two months back in Portland shockingly wishing for sunny days and non-surprisingly, playing around with margarita combinations, tacos and infused salt rims.
Walking on to our next stop.
Bat sightings, Colorado River
Walking on towards Rainy Street as nightfalls, passing this electric critter outside the intriguing G’Raj Mahal
Our destination: Icenhauer’s on clearly popular Rainey Street, where I opted for the Hatch Chili Margarita to continue the tequila streak
Obvious contemplation to move onto bourbon (which I successfully I resisted)
Next stop, another vegan-friendly favorite, Curra’s for dinner
Starting with the usual
One of the delightfully sweet & sour margaritas (and live chip-action)
Janessa and I shared the Vegetarian Taco Plate .We went for the strikingly red chile tortillas and both refried and black beans. I really appreciated the chock-full-of-vegetables aspect of the tacos.
Bonus avocado margarita in the back left
Smurfy’s Vegan Tamales
Course #2, I mean Margarita Dos
Team Taco contemplates our next move (and I think to myself, I can totally fit in one more taco, two if we share).
Violet Crown Social Club & more food carts
Not exactly tacos, but since our next stop was the Violet Crown Social Club, team VVC decides to share a Detroit…style….pizza!?! The New Yorker in me was reluctant, but decides to keep up the late night food cart & bar tradition and try out Via 313.
Honestly, I’m all for trying new cuisines, and they had me at the fortunate absence of a certain d-cheese.
At this point, it was officially getting late, and we had a flight in the morning, so my final Texas refreshment that grand evening was a break from all the agave with this easy Peacemaker from Austin Beerworks.
However, confusingly, this is still not a taco.
We then headed over to Cheer Up Charlie’s for a little more excitement (and surely, tacos).
Of course, it was time for a final snack, since time was wasting in Texas, so we headed outside to check out the options (do forgive the crap photo, it goes with the story at the time).
Arlo’s was certainly tempting, but veggies burgers aren’t exactly a ‘small bite’. Of course, I now catch the part where it states, “TACOS”.
Sadly, we googled a bit and asked around, but couldn’t find tacos within the immediate area, so it was down to Me So Hungry for a final bite.
Fat Elvis Rolls (minus the honey glaze). I didn’t get to try these, but they looked great and were so hot-from-a-food cart.
Asian BBQ Tofu Banh Mi. Definitely, equally tasty late night cart food that you probably wouldn’t order before sundown.
One final morning
Morning brews at Thunderbird Coffee
My sole soy latte of the trip. Clearly, I was busy elsewhere.
I do believe Janessa grabbed the very last vegan breakfast taco (!)
Drive by bug bite
One last Austin refreshment in our hotel room before heading off to the airport, the pleasant Coconut Tea from CAcafe (again, circa California)
My collection of goodies back home. My first order of business was slow-cooking black beans and using those tortillas.
J. Legume’s breakfast the following morning:
Somehow, I don’t have tacos in store for lunch today.
For the margarita & cocktail tour, check out my much-less delayed Austin Cocktail Round-Up.
For everything Austin vegan and taco, go get your vegan blog reading on and head over to Lazy Smurf’s Guide, Red Hot Vegans, Lone Star Plate, Joanna’s blog (because Joanna is an old friend and has seen my taco revolution first-hand) and Vegan Austin. Enjoy!