At first glance, vegetarians and vegans might not have it easy in a state known for its love of barbecue and steaks. Austin, however, does a fantastic job of providing locally made, fresh options to veggie lovers, with some restaurants going above and beyond. Head on over to one of our top 10 favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants and sample the joys of meatless cuisine.
Offering delicious, vegetarian-style wraps, Conscious Cravings has made a name for itself by promoting healthy foods. Its signature wrap is topped with your choice of a house-made sauce and is served best with a healthy salad or smoothie, made in house and custom-ordered. Many foods are infused with omega-3 and focus on sustainable production; Conscious Cravings wants to reduce Austin’s carbon footprint by creating a minimum of waste and using biodegradable products.
Located in the historic University of Texas district, Veggie Heaven offers delicious Chinese cuisine for vegans and vegetarians, including traditional pot stickers, California rolls and sesame noodles. Most of the full-size portions are directed towards vegans, who flock to this location so they can enjoy the freshly made sauces and spices. Non-meat-eaters can also come here to enjoy the bubble tea, which is an Austin favorite – the boba milk tea is probably the most famous and is great for after dinner or when walking around.
Casa de Luz is a favorite for anyone vegan or gluten-free thanks to its home-cooked meals that offer plenty of vegetables and nutrients. The concept of Casa de Luz revolves around the idea of creating macrobiotic food to lead a healthier lifestyle, with simple dishes that have not been processed. The food is also a great deal as it comes in a package – for a set price you can get salad, soup, tea and an entrée plate for lunch. The menu changes daily so check the website for updates.
Swad serves classic Indian cuisine. This restaurant is perfect for vegetarians looking to get out of their comfort zone with no fear of accidentally ordering a dish with chicken. Everything is meat-free and made in the kitchen by the lovely staff who can answer any questions about the meals. Because Swad is a South Indian restaurant, it specializes in the famed dosa — a thin pancake-like snack made of lentils and rice batter.
Austin vegetarians may remember this restaurant from way back in their childhoods because Mother’s Cafe has been an Austin staple since 1980. Serving vegan and vegetarian food at affordable prices, Mother’s menu is varied: lunch options range from the classic sandwich to enchiladas or fettuccine. While here, try one of the amazing smoothies on the menu or make your own.
Austin locals flock to the city’s food trucks for lunch. Arlo’s is a fantastic treat for many vegans who have been previously unable to find good vegan dishes at a food truck. The fresh meals are made on site out of locally sourced ingredients. Arlo’s specializes in burgers, burritos and tacos and has a special house salsa to go with the soy and gluten-free chips.
Counter Culture, E Cesar Chavez Street | Courtesy of Counter Culture
Counter Culture is often seen as a healthy challenge by locals whose attempts to eat raw foods only last a few days. Counter Culture serves dairy-free and meatless foods all year long and makes them from scratch. Many ingredients used to create these foods are organic and fair-trade and come from local farmers to contribute towards a nutritious, unprocessed diet. In addition to raw food, Counter Culture offers plenty of other vegan options, including mac and cheese. We recommend trying the spicy raw pad thai at least once. Brunch is also a great time to go, with tofu rancheros a popular choice.
Vegan Yacht has a delicious menu featuring a single burrito, wrap and taco. Don’t be fooled, however; this joint is comparable to other full-scale restaurants in its quality and production. All ingredients are cruelty-free and organic and never fried or microwaved. Most products are made from scratch in the small location inside Spider House Cafe on the University of Texas campus. Vegan Yacht offers amazing service from the husband-and-wife pair who run the business all by themselves, so stop by and say hi.
The Bouldin Creek Café has situated itself among Austinites’ favorite establishments, in the same vein as Torchy’s Tacos and Franklin’s Barbecue but for vegetarians. The cozy café located south of the Colorado River is a brunch favorite with its breakfast tacos and omelettes. For dinner or lunch, be sure to check out the spicy pesto-plate appetizer and the massaman curry bowl for an entrée.
The Beer Plant is the type of place your non-vegan or non-vegetarian friends will want to go to. Located just northwest of downtown, the Beer Plant has among the largest selections of beers in the city, and the taps change regularly. The atmosphere is warm and simple with a turntable and vinyl stacked in the corner. The plant-based kitchen serves up some soul-food favorites with a vegan twist – mac and cheese with cashew cheese; buffalo cauliflower wings; hand-cut fries and Sriracha-glazed brussels sprouts.