Texas two step: The Speedy Vegan Gets a Taste of Austin and San Antonio

 Tempeh Bowl from Freebirds at the Texas VegFest

Tempeh Bowl from Freebirds at the Texas VegFest

So you think Texas is only home to big beef barbecue? 

Spoiler alert: I did a quick visit to Austin and San Antonio and found vegan options on virtually every corner.  
Austin is decidedly the more hip and edgy of the two cities and I definitely felt under-pieced and under-tattooed. Austin offers endless food truck options along with sit down restaurants and of course, the original Whole Foods Market. It's worth making the trek just to see this A-mazing store!

Texas VegFest 2016 was taking place when we arrived so we got to see a whole lot of food vendors in a small area. Because the lines were long at the food trucks we ended up having the Tempeh Bowls from  the Freebirds stand. While this is not a strictly vegan restaurant,  we were pleased with this delicious vegan dish. We took a pass on dessert but were very tempted by the frozen bananas at Bananarchy and the creative baked goods at Capital City Bakery

After lunch we enjoyed a leisurely ten mile bike ride in the warm sunshine and followed it up with wheat grass shots and smoothies at Juiceland (Barton Springs Road location). We loved this super fun and funky chain of juice bars throughout Austin.

 Wheatgrass Shots at Juiceland

Wheatgrass Shots at Juiceland

Sunday brunch at Mother's Cafe was a treat.  They have plenty of vegan options from pancakes to breakfast tacos.  I enjoyed the Huevos a la Mexicana  made with tofu instead of eggs, with a few dashes of hot sauce.  It was a delicious start to the day. We followed brunch with a cubano coffee chocolate cookie ice cream sandwich at an all vegan ice-cream parlor, Sweet Ritual.  Imagine two soft, rich chocolate cookies from Capital City Bakery holding a cold creamy layer of Sweet Ritual's cinnamon cubano coffee -- totally vegan ice-cream. Heaven!

 Sunday Brunch at Mother's Cafe

Sunday Brunch at Mother's Cafe

                                                               Sweet Ritual Ice-cream Parlor

                                                              Sweet Ritual Ice-cream Parlor

Dinner was at Arlo's because we had to try the famous Bac'n Cheeze Burger and it did not disappoint. The seitan bac'n could easily fool omnivores. 

On our way out of Austin we stopped by Bouldin Creek Cafe and we were so glad we did. The place was packed for Monday lunch so we knew we were going to get a good meal.  We had the Garbanzo Tortilla Soup to start and then the Muscle Man Curry and Bouldin Buddha Bowl. The food was fresh and delicious and the people watching was very cool. Reluctantly we rolled out of town but we know we will be back; there were just so many places we did not get to visit. 

 Bouldin Creek Cafe

Bouldin Creek Cafe

San Antonio feels older and was packed with tourists -- the old-fashioned kind. The vegan options were fewer but we were very happy with the choices.  I walked up to Revolucion Coffee & Juice  and revived myself with their cold pressed Nourish juice (pineapple+apple+chia). This is not only a coffee and juice shop but it is also a modern running store with a very cool vibe.  On to lunch at the friendly Senor Veggie along with a happy lunch crowd. There were so many options but I settled on a Grilled Veggie Pita sandwich with a spicy poblano cashew crema along with a side of the vegetable of the day (cilantro, lime roasted carrots). It was easy to see why Senor Veggie is a favorite among the locals and not just the vegan crowd. 

 Revlucion Coffe & Juice

Revlucion Coffe & Juice

 Senor Veggie

Senor Veggie

I then set off in search of vegan ice-cream and after a 5 mile hike via the famous River Walk, I arrived in the Pearl shopping district and headed straight to Lick Honest Ice-Creams.  I rewarded myself with two scoops (golfball size) one coconut strawberry basil and one chocolate, coconut & peanut butter.  This gave me the delicious energy burst I needed the head back down the river.

 Licks Honest Ice-Cream

Licks Honest Ice-Cream

I joined my husband and several colleagues for dinner at Bliss a high end chef owned restaurant in the Southtown district.  This was a fine dining experience and I am happy to say that they went out of their way to create a vegan dish of grilled seasonal vegetables served with delicious lentils.  There were a couple of vegetarians in our party and they loved the Asparagus Soup followed by the Vegetarian Enchilada.

 Vegan and vegetarian options at Bliss 

Vegan and vegetarian options at Bliss 

On our last day in town we headed back up to the Pearl district and had lunch at Green Vegetarian Cusine.  I had the portobello steak with caramelized onions and mashed potatoes and kale salad and my husband had the protein salad packed with greens and topped with falafel.  The food was delicious and very satisfying but we did leave room for a scoop of ice-cream at Lick since it was just across the street.  Luck us.

 Green Vegetarian Cusine

Green Vegetarian Cusine

 Making the most of airport food....

Making the most of airport food....

We headed to the airport later that day and once we got through security we realized that we should have ordered some take-out from Green Vegetarian Cusine. But we did have fun making do with the slim pickings at the airport and ended up with a delicious dish -- pieced together from a couple of places. Green salad topped with rice, black beans and guacamole with an apple for desert hit the spot. 

Being on the road and exploring new cities and flavors is always fun but I am happy to be back in my own kitchen preparing my favorite food, Big Beautiful Salads, sweet potatoes and steamed greens.