If it seems like Matt and I went out to eat a lot….. well we kind of did. I’m obsessed with scoping out vegan places while in a new city and well, Austin has a LOT of options. This isn’t to say that we didn’t make lunch and dinner often, because we did that as well.
I originally wanted to put a zine together for my good buddy Christopher and anyone else coming to town for Chaos in Tejas but time fell short and instead I’m making this blog post that will hopefully prove useful to him and others visiting Austin. It is by no means all inclusive and I’m sure we missed some places. For more on vegan options in the city, check out VegAustin.
You can get to all of these places by bike, bus, some are walking distance and well, if you have a car, I’m sure that’ll get you there as well. The bus system is decent here. It’s affordable, too: $1 per ride or $2 for a 24-hour pass. Or if you are staying for the week it’s $9 for a seven day pass. You’ll have to get the 7 day pass at HEB, the chain grocery store here. But you can purchase the day passes and single trip passes on the bus. Their late night buses aren’t too great so make sure you check into those if you party pretty late.
I’ve focused mainly on vegan food, and threw in a couple of other things to do as well. I didn’t really touch on bar culture because I have a heavy dislike for bar culture. There are a decent amount of places that have punk shows here, but I’m sure you can ask plenty of other people about bars. XXX
That being said….. here’s the list of places that stood out to me- they are all linked to their websites that have the location and other info as well:
Bat Emergence – Congress Ave Bridge: If you are in Austin anywhere between March-October you need to head over to the Congress Ave. bridge located South of heading out of downtown. Get there just before the sun sets and you’ll get to see approximately 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed bats emerge from under the bridge. Go see for yourself, you won’t regret it. For more information about the bats, check out the link provided.
Zilker Park and Botanical Garden: Enjoy some plants and nature! The park and garden are across form one another and also near Barton Springs. You can visit these places for free. Just make sure there isn’t a special event at the Garden by checking their website, special events sometimes have a fee. You can swim for free at certain parts of Barton Springs as well, accessed through the park. If you want to go swim in the fancier place, it’s $3. Parking is free on the weekdays, $3 on weekends.
There are plenty of parks here, you’ll see them around, or just scope them out on google maps.
Austin Texas Bike Stuff: They post about various biking events around the city. More for punk, diy culture and less of the full on spandex is what you’ll find here. Although it can be a bit of a mix. There is plenty going on with bike culture here in Austin and there are a dozen or more bike shops in the city as well.
The Austin Yellow Bike Project: Didn’t get a chance to check out their open shops, but they seem to be doing great things in the Austin bike community so I wanted to list them here. Yay for bike collectives!
Black Swan Yoga: Because you shouldn’t have to be rich to be healthy. I love this place and went a couple of times a week. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it right away. It’s totally donation based only, they are collectively run and donations go to the upkeep of the studio and what’s left goes to the instructors. If you don’t have a mat you can make a donation to use one of theirs, and same goes for water and towels. They also have showers available. They offer a wide variety of classes for every level.
MonkeyWrench Bookstore: A fantastic all volunteer, collectively-run radical bookstore. I was able to volunteer here weekly while in town and really enjoyed the atmosphere and experience. They have been around for a decade or so. They get in new books weekly, or more and have a decent subject range. Most of their zine collection is for reading while you hang out there, but they have some good ones in their library. While you’re in town check out their schedule of events to see if they are having any guest speakers or showing a film.
If you are visiting Monkeywrench, then you are right next to both Counter Culture and one of the Parlors:
Counter Culture: MMMMMM This place is a vegan (with raw foods, too) food trailer. Everything I’ve had their is really delicious. If you want something heavy, try the Philly Seitan. The cashew chz on it is so creamy and has a lemony fresh taste to it. The garbanzo “tuna” is fresh and perfect for a hot day. I also recommend the pacman salad, not only for the taste, but also because the carrots are cut to look like pacman.
The Parlor: The BEST vegan pizza that I’ve ever had. That’s right, I said it. It’s a little pricey, but totally worth it. Their dough is fantastic and they have an excellent selection of toppings. Including vegan sausage. They have non-vegan pizza as well, so make sure you ask for it vegan because why would you want to eat something that came unwillingly from a cow? They have two locations, the one on North Loop next to the book store isn’t open until 5pm, but the other one is open for lunch everyday and it’s not too far away. Check the website for a map and hours.
Mother’s Cafe and Garden: Located in Hyde Park (North Austin) and right off of the 7 bus line. Please go here and get Deluxe Nachos. You can order them vegan and add spicy tofu as well. I can’t even explain how awesome these are, but know that Ian gets nachos there more than once a week and on one outing 4 out of 5 of us ordered the vegan deluxe Nachos. & just the other day 4/4 ordered them. I’ve tried some of their other dishes and I would rank them as OK. The spicy enchiladas aren’t spicy and are overall pretty bland. Maybe I’m just saying that because I eat the spiciest things ever, but they are pretty bland. Matt recommends the vegan reuben, but you should add wheat roast to it otherwise it’s just seems like bread with a ton of sauerkraut. Oh, their soups are great, too. They always have a vegan option.
Toy Joy / Sweet Ritual: VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! VEGAN SOFT SERVE!!! So yeah GO! They make all their own flavors and they change weekly, but there is always vanilla (which is also really tasty) so you can have a twist or vegan shakes of a variety of flavors as well. Oh and vegan sundaes!! If for some reason you don’t want soft serve they also offer coffee, bubble tea and more. Currently it’s a counter located in Toy Joy, but I think by spring/summer they will have their own VEGAN ICE CREAM SHOP! So make sure you check the two links I provided to get the latest info.
EDIT (5/26/12): Sweet Ritual is now located inside Daily Juice.
Wheatsville Co-op: Just a block away you will find a wonderful Co-op. So if you don’t feel like surviving on vegan soft serve as your main meal, enjoy lunch from the deli here, pick up some groceries and THEN go and get some vegan soft serve from Toy Joy. Unless of course the new shop is opened up and it’s not near here… that kind of changes things. Lucky you, they have delicious vegan dessert at the Co-op as well. If you are going for lunch I recommend (thanks to Ian’s suggestion) getting the Southern Fried Tofu Sandwich. You can get a whole plethora of veggies added to it. They have a hot food/salad bar as well, including vegan soups. Although they have decent variety, their prices are a bit higher than most places (including other co-ops I’ve been, too) and they sell some crappy things like coca-cola and kraft products. Blegh… I guess it’s hard to avoid.
Bouldin Creek Cafe: All vegetarian cafe with plenty of vegan options. Probably my favorite place to eat at in Austin. You can go here to just hang and drink tea or coffee as well. A really chill place with a comfortable diy, punk feel. I highly recommend the Wanna-BLT sandwich. Their tofu not-bacon is the best I’ve ever had. They also add a basil aioli which I had never experience before this sandwich. I’m going to forever crave this for lunch. The Asian slaw is really good for your side item.
Veggie Heaven: If you are craving Asian vegan food, this is a good, affordable place. They have a lot of items on their menu. Matt and I have had a couple, but none of them have really stood out to me. They offer brown rice as an option with their dishes so this is a plus as well. It’s all vegetarian and it seems like it’s mostly vegan, including lots of bubble tea options. I like the vibe of this place, they set out free containers of food for people in need and I think that’s something everyone should do. If for some reason you crave shrimp, they have vegan shrimp as an option but it totally creeps me out. I was curious and I almost regret trying it. I’m not too big on things that are similar to their dead animal options and their vegan shrimp looks and feels, and I think taste like shrimp as well but it’s been awhile.
Mr. Natural: 100% vegetarian with lots of vegan options. It’s a cafe plus they sell some groceries and lots of vitamins. They specialize in Mexican dishes. There are two locations in Austin. We’ve gone to both, but for some reason I like the east side one more. I like the feel of the place and it’s close to where we are staying. They have an extensive menu, but they also have daily specials- cafeteria style. I’ve only gone on Saturdays and I highly recommend their dinner special with the Tofu Pipian as a main and nopalitos on the side. I’m currently typing this on a Saturday and I’m almost drooling thinking about it. They are a bakery as well, and many of their treats tend to lean on the healthy end of desserts- a definite bonus! Oh and they have vegan tres leches cake, which Matt tried… it’s heavy. They also have vegan soft serve (vanilla and chocolate). It’s good, but nothing compared to Toy Joy.
Kerby Lane: It’s open 24 Hours. They have a Vegan Breakfast Platter than includes pancakes. Perfect for those late nights. There are a few of them scattered around Austin. It can be busy, but a good place to go if you are out late and want something to hit the spot. You can also ask for their vegan menu, which is more of a list and less of a menu, so use it to compliment their menu. We’ve tried some other sandwiches and they were decent as well. & they also have better ethical practices than your average diner… at least that’s what their website says.
Dominican Joe: If you need coffee or enjoy tea (they have a decent selection of loose leaf tea) this is a decent coffee shop. I spent a lot of hours here using their wifi. They also sell some vegan treats from other places around town. They have ethical practices so the coffee you drink supports a good cause.
Austin Public Library: There are plenty scattered around the city. They have computers for internet access and such, and of course they have plenty of books and other resources for you to read.
Please feel free to add suggestions, links, your favorite places, dishes, etc in the comments of this post! Enjoy!