I am pleased as punch to be taking part in the the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s 2013 City Guide. It was right around this time last year that we were moving back to Austin, and the 2012 City Guide really helped me get my bearings, since Austin had grown by leaps and bounds since I last lived here. I’ve spent the past year exploring, and now I’m happy to share my insider knowledge!
It’s no secret that I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t spend a lot of time eating at vegetarian restaurants. I cook at home, or I eat whatever is vegetarian on the menu at a “normal” restaurant. It’s almost always easy to find a few tasty vegetarian options wherever you are, especially here in Austin… well, unless it’s a barbecue joint. Then you can just enjoy your potato salad and beer quietly while everyone else tears into their ribs. Not that that has ever happened to me….
But I digress. The following is a list of some of my favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurants in North Austin and thereabouts. Most of them aren’t exclusively vegetarian restaurants (I am married to an omnivore, after all), but they each have a plethora of veggie options on their menus, and they are sure to make your taste buds sing. Enjoy!
The Steeping Room, 1140 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 112
I first discovered the Steeping Room when a friend suggested we meet there for lunch. I was expecting a tea shop with sandwiches and such, but I was blown away by their offerings! Besides an extensive tea selection, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, including vegetable strata, a tasty daily curry (which is usually, though not always, vegetarian) and, yes, a variety of tea sandwiches. My favorite, though, is the Buddha Bowl, which includes a daily grain, beans, sweet potato, sautéed greens and tofu.
Asia Cafe, 8650 Spicewood Springs Rd, Suite 114A (inside Asia Market Austin)
This is the most authentic Chinese food I’ve been able to find since moving to Austin. Take that with a grain of salt, since I am a white girl and not even a particular fan of Chinese food, but this stuff is gooood.
There are lots of veggie options on the menu, although you’ll want to check to make sure the item you have your eye on is truly vegetarian. They do an amazing black and white mushroom soup with bok choy (#807), and the eggplant with garlic is great, too.
Curry in Hurry, 2121 W. Parmer Ln., Suite 114
Indian food is almost always a sure win when you’re looking for vegetarian options, and Curry in Hurry (there is no “a”, people, I checked!) is one of my favorites.
I like it for its extensive menu, which features three daily curries (if they have mutter paneer, get it!), and which also happens to be entirely vegetarian. The service and atmosphere leave something to be desired, so I’d recommend takeout — but the food is well worth it, and if you get a sampling of curries, rice and naan, you can feed an army (or a few people with lots of leftovers) for not very much money.
Spin Modern Thai, 14005 N. Hwy. 183, Suite 1000
Tucked away in a shopping center with Bed Bath and Beyond (and, seriously, it’s nearly impossible to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for), Spin Modern Thai is a delightful Thai fusion restaurant with only a couple of vegetarian options on the menu. But, those vegetarian options are amazingly delicious, which is why it made my list. The vegetarian clay pot is to die for — mushrooms, brussels sprouts and glass noodles are topped with an egg just as they finish cooking. So very, very delicious.
I can’t vouch for each of these independently, but I’ve been to most of them, and the ones I haven’t visited yet comprise my “to try” list. As you may have noticed, ethnic food is king in the world of good vegetarian cuisine. Embrace it!
Taste of Ethiopia, 1100 Grand Avenue Pkwy. (Pflugerville): I do love some good Ethiopian food! Try the Ultimate Combo for a sampler of their vegetarian dishes.
Swad, 9515 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 156: Described as a “vegetarian’s paradise,” Swad is authentic southern Indian cuisine. Get your dosas and idli here, but don’t expect “standard” Indian dishes like tikka masala. The food is spicy and wonderful, even if the atmosphere and service leave a little to be desired (takeout anyone?), but the best part is that the menu is 100% vegetarian.
How Do You Roll?, 10515 N. MoPac Expy., Suite A165: I’ve heard this place described as the “Chipotle of sushi,” and that’s probably apt. But, the upside for vegetarians is that you get to build your own roll, using lots of tasty veggies, without being confined to the lackluster vegetarian options available on the menus of most sushi joints. Plus it’s cheap.
Bombay Express, 13000 N. IH-35, Bldg. 12, Suite 216: This chaat spot is a favorite among vegetarians and omnivores alike, even though its menu is 100% vegetarian.
Madras Pavilion, 9025 Research Blvd., Suite 100: Another all-vegetarian Indian restaurant, this one gets rave reviews for its South Indian cuisine.