Gourmet Veggie Mama

Category Archives: Austin

Happy New Year!

… a day late and a dollar short, I know, I know. But I have a good excuse! Her name is Amelia.

 Amelia

This little cutie arrived on December 10, and let me tell you, this whole mom-of-two thing is not for sissies! We are all doing fine, though, and settling into our new routine (such as it is).

That said, I plan to be around more in the coming weeks… and I’m reinstating Cocktail Thursday!* I’m not really up to cooking much just yet — thank goodness for friends and family and frozen meals — but we’re getting there… so we’ll start with drinks and simple, make-ahead meals, yes? Alright then.

*Yep, a cocktail now and then is fine while breastfeeding.

All of that said, I am honored and pleasantly surprised to again be on the Austin Chronicle’s list of the Top 10 Austin Food Blogs. Check out the list — there are some great finds on there! There are several of my old favorites on there, and a couple of new ones that I’m eager to check out.

I’ll be back next week with a fun new cocktail — promise!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

You know what’s good? Brussels sprouts. I know, I know — they’re all the rage right now, but I have to say, I’m so glad they’ve been re-discovered and that people are actually doing them right!

Roasting is the way to go, hands-down. You’re not still cutting those little Xs in the bottom of your Brussels sprouts and boiling them are you? Roasting is so much easier, and so much tastier, too.

The hubby and I went out to dinner at Uchiko a little while ago, and, among the many dishes they wowed us with was a side of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts with sweet chili sauce. Since I love Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving and wanted to include them in our feast, I decided to try my hand at a similar recipe. Although ours didn’t come out as crispy (or, truth be told, as greasy*) as Uchiko’s, they were still awesome.

Roasted Brussels Spouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

* Not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing — they were utterly delicious.

I love the combination of soy sauce and sweet chili sauce on these, for a slightly Asian spin that was still perfectly at home with more traditional Thanksgiving foods. We had the rest of the sprouts (recipe testing, round 2) with a dinner of caramelized tofu with ramen noodles a couple nights ago, and it went great with that, too. Definitely a must-try!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs sweet chili sauce**
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the oil and soy sauce to coat them, and then spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, or until partially tender.
  3. Toss the sprouts and then raise the oven temperature to 400. Continue to roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until tender, crisp and browed, tossing every few minutes to ensure even browning.
  4. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and toss in a bowl with the sweet chili sauce. Serve immediately.
Notes
** Available at Asian groceries or the Asian foods section of some grocery stores.

 

Basil Ginger Cocktails

Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Priscilla Carruthers, AKA The Icebox Queen, who is a personal chef in Austin, Texas who specializes in healthy comfort food. She also writes an inspiring blog of the same name, which draws from her experiences as a chef as well as the local Austin food and wine scene and her “nomadic existence” all over Texas before settling in the capital city. I’m excited to test-drive a virgin spin on the delicious cocktail Priscilla has to offer us… and someday soon, the real thing. Those of us with basil overtaking our gardens this time of year can definitely appreciate this one!

I have the blackest of thumbs. Plants look at me and wilt. Nurseries close the blinds and turn out the lights when I pull into the parking lot. My dogs look at me with disdain when I try again, year after year, season after season, to grow another pot of herbs or a window garden with flowers. Even they can see the foreshadowing of my failure. People gift me with “easy to grow” plants, promising that, “No one can kill mint!,” and warning me to plant it in a pot to fight the spread. They shake their heads when they return to my house, realizing that plants taking over my garden would certainly beat the bare dirt and burnt up oregano that lives there now.

That is, until this time. This time, my mother didn’t just tell me what to do to have a garden, or send me home with a few plants. This time, she came with me to the nursery, and better yet, she came home with me and helped me plant them. And thanks to her, they live. They not only live, they thrive. Thanks to her fairy dusted green thumbs, I have more basil than I know what to do with. It’s starting to flower out there! I didn’t even know basil had flowers.

So this Basil Ginger Cocktail is dedicated to my mother’s verdant thumbs.

Basil Ginger Cocktails

If you don’t have as lush a garden as I do, (she giggles), store-bought basil works just as well, and it only takes a little. If you’d like this to be an adult beverage, I’d highly recommend Dripping Springs Vodka, or Tito’s; otherwise more club soda in place of the vodka would taste just as fine on a hot Austin day.

Basil Ginger Cocktail
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
Ginger Syrup:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
Drink:
  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp ginger syrup, or to taste
  • 1 oz vodka
  • club soda
  • ice
  • 1 lime wedge
Instructions
For ginger syrup:
  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil together in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add ginger, remove from heat, and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Once the syrup has the ginger strength you’d like, strain into a small jar or pitcher.
For the drink:
  1. In the bottle of a highball glass, muddle the basil with a splash of the lime juice and ginger syrup. (If you don’t have a dedicated muddler, try the other end of a wooden spoon.)
  2. Add the ice, vodka, lime, and syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with club soda.
  3. Give it a swirl and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy, and bask in a hot Texas summer with fresh herbs.

 

 

The Great Gatsby: Cocktail Edition!

I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Of course, everyone is excited about because there’s a new movie out (and, yes, I am planning to see it at my earliest opportunity), but I just love being transported back to the world of the Roaring 20s. And it’s just a fantastic piece of literature. But today, I’m talking about it from a purely nostalgic point of view (that is, if one can be nostalgic for a time period in which one was never actually alive).

If you’d like to get in character and pretend you’re partying on Jay Gatsby’s lawn, you’re in luck — that is, at least if you’re in Austin (or one of the other cities with a Sullivan’s*). Sullivan’s is hosting a Gatsby Gala tomorrow evening, complete with dining, dancing and 20s-era cocktails and dishes. Guests are encouraged to come in full 1920s style and enjoy some delicious food, including a few vegetarian options, like deviled eggs and oysters (yes, I think oysters are arguably vegetarian).

Deviled eggs -- image courtesy of Sullivan's Oysters -- image courtesy of Sullivan's

And the cocktails — Oh, the cocktails! You all know I’m a sucker for classic cocktails, and they’ll have a few delicious-sounding ones on tap for the gala. I’m pleased to share the recipes with you, courtesy of Sullivan’s. Cheers!

Cocktails -- image courtesy of Sullivan's

 

Daisitini
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Tanquerey Gin
  • ¾ oz St Germaine
  • ¾ oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • Lemon Twist
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a boston shaker.
  2. Shake 10-15 times and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 

Gatsby Collins
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ oz SKYY Moscato Grape Infusions
  • ½ oz Aperol
  • 2 oz lemon sour
  • 1 oz soda water
  • Orange twist
Instructions
  1. In an iced boston shaker, add Vodka, Aperol and lemon sour.
  2. Shake 5-10 times to combine, add soda water and strain into an ice-filled tall glass.

 

* I did not receive any compensation for this post. I just happen to think Sullivan’s has an awesome party planned and I wanted to share! Photos and recipes are all courtesy of Sullivan’s.

Austin Bakes for West: Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies!

When I first posted about fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, a number of you asked where you could place your order. Well, now I have an actual answer, and it’s for a great cause!

Austin Bakes for West

You may have heard (and if you live in Texas, you’ve certainly heard) about the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked West (comma) Texas last month. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, their pets and some (mostly first responders) sadly lost their lives. West has a special place in my heart. I’ve driven through this little town many, many times on the way to or from home in DFW and college in Austin, or between home in Austin and visiting in-laws and friends in DFW, and I always loved stopping for a kolache (cream cheese, please!) at the Czech Stop. It may not even be the best Czech bakery in town (West has a huge Czech population), but it sure is good, and it’s definitely convenient. One of my law school roommates, Amy, is from West, and I attended her wedding there a decade ago.* It’s a wonderful, friendly, tight-knit community, and it has been unimaginably devastated by the explosion.

*Sidenote: I am getting old.

We were just there, at the Czech Stop, on our way through last weekend. We stopped and got a half-dozen kolaches (please don’t ask how may of those I personally ate) for the road. We stood in a long line (much longer than usual) with various passers-through like us, as well as some firefighters from as far away as Calgary who were in town for the funerals, which had been held the previous day. It felt good to do a little something, to inject even a little money into this town’s struggling economy.

Now I can do a little bit more, and you can too. As we speak, I have a couple dozen fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies baking, and they’ll soon be on their way to a bake sale site.

Fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies

Austin Bakes for West is a city-wide bake sale benefiting recovery efforts in West. Please check the poster above for the site nearest you and come out and buy some cookies to help the folks of West out. And if fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies aren’t your thing (who ARE you?!), I won’t take it personally if you buy some of the plethora of delectable baked goods on offer from other area bloggers and bakers instead.

So, please come. And if you’re not in Austin, you can donate directly to Americare‘s relief efforts in West. Let’s help West get back on its feet!

It’s a Race for the Julep!

Note: This is the first of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Although many people’s minds are turning to margaritas with Cinco de Mayo coming up, it’s almost time for another big drinking day — the Kentucky Derby! I do love a good mint julep, so when Veronica Meewes of My Well-Fed Life (and my fellow AFBA member) offered to do a piece on the julep (so very intertwined with the Derby), I thought it was a fabulous idea. Read on for some great local spots (for the Austinites) and a couple of delicious recipes to make your own julep to sip while you watch the derby. Drink.well also happens to be one of my favorite local spots, so I’m pleased as punch to have the secrets behind a couple of their inventive twists on the julep. So, without further ado, may I introduce you to the lovely and talented Veronica Meewes?

Pineapple Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Pineapple Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

I’ve always been captivated by the Kentucky Derby.  An excuse to dress up, wear big hats, bet on horses with tongue-in-cheek names, and drink boozy, refreshing drinks? Umm.. yes, please!  You can bet my dress is already picked out with a hat to match for this weekend’s race.

But I’ve always wondered where the tradition of drinking mint juleps came from.  The combination of bourbon, mint, sugar, and water is so ingrained in Derby culture, it’s nearly impossible to hear the word “julep” and not think of the races!  The word “julep” itself is derived from the Persian word for rose water, but according to Wikipedia, “the origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitely known.”  But the first American julep sightings occurred in the late eighteenth century after Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky brought the beverage into popularity.

Now, in the course of two days each year, around 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.  And did you know they also sell ultra-premium mint juleps for $1,000 each??  Served in gold-plated cups with silver straws, these high rollers’ cocktails are made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps, and sugar from Australia.  (The proceeds are used to support organizations dedicated to retired horses.)

Thirsty yet?  Here are a couple places hosting Derby parties this Saturday, May 4th in Austin.  Want to host your own?  Scroll down for a several delicious julep variations from the mixologists of drink.well!

Derby Day Polo Benefit @ The Austin Polo Club

Maybe you didn’t even know there was a polo club in Austin?  I sure didn’t!  But this is the third year of this annual event, where you can watch two live polo matches before the Derby begins at 5:40pm.  General admission is $20, while VIP runs $50-75 (how VIP are you??)  Proceeds benefit the Texas Canine and Horse Rescue and the horses of the Longhorn and Aggie polo clubs.

Downtown Derby Day @ The Bonneville

Prize baskets will be given out for best dressed and best hat while bartenders pour juleps in flavors like ginger and blackberry, or a sweet tea collins, if you prefer!  Enjoy a hot brown sandwich while they screen The Run for the Roses before the races start.

Toast the Cure @ The Austin Children’s Museum

Tickets are $30 online and $40 at the door and include open bar, bites from local restaurants, and live music from Waterloo Revival and The Possum Posse.  All proceeds benefit diabetes research.

Cinco de Derby Brunch @ TenOak

Can’t decide which one to celebrate?  Or maybe only have one day to do it all?  Kill two birds with one stone: julep and bloody mary specials and a Cinco de Mayo menu.

Sunshine Camps Derby Fundraiser @ Star Bar

Tickets are $20 and include one “bet”– additional ones may be purchased for $5.  Dress to impress, as there will be prizes for that too.  All proceeds go to Austin’s Sunshine Camps.

drink.well’s Derby Day Party

If you’re in it for the drinks, this is where you need to be (I’ll be here!)  The award-winning staff will be dressed to the nines and shaking up creative cocktails as usual, such as pineapple and baker’s rack juleps (recipes below), Jabronis (a hybrid julep/Negroni), and Seelbachs, an aperitif named after the Louisville hotel where it was created.

Baker's Rack Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Baker’s Rack Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well

Baker’s Rack Julep
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Apple Brandy
  • ½ oz Cinnamon & Clove Infused Brown Sugar Syrup
  • 7-8 Mint Leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Muddle mint with the cinnamon-clove syrup.
  2. Add rye whiskey & apple brandy and crushed ice to the julep cup and swizzle until the cup is frosty. Top with additional crushed ice.
  3. Grated fresh nutmeg & cracked black pepper on top of the cup. Garnish with mint, cinnamon stick and, if you desire, a few slices of fresh apples.
Pineapple Julep
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Bols Genever
  • ½ oz Raspberry Syrup
  • 2 Barspoons Housemade Pineapple Preserves
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1 oz Sparkling Wine (we use McPherson Extra Dry)
Instructions
  1. Muddle the citrus with the preserves and syrup.
  2. Shake with the genever and strain into a julep cup.
  3. Top with a mound of crushed ice and then top with 1 oz of Sparkling Wine.
  4. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, fresh raspberries and mint.

Cocktails at FINO

I love love love FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar. It’s my new favorite restaurant in Austin, aside from Wink… maybe. The food and wine list stands out at Wink, but, since I tend to veer toward the tasting menu there, it definitely qualifies as a special-occasion restaurant. FINO, however, is my go-to date night pick. And the cocktails? Oh my, but they are amazing.

On our last visit there, I sampled two cocktails, and they both blew my mind. The first was dubbed the Brief Introduction, and it included Flor de Caña 4-year rum, Velvet Falernum, lime, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and grenadine.

Brief Introduction cocktail ~ Gourmet Veggie Mama

The layers of flavor — wow! When dining out, I often eschew the simpler flavors of a classic cocktail for a glass of wine with some complexity, but in this case, I didn’t have to make the decision. This cocktail was as multi-layered as a lovely wine, and I’d expect no less from the mixologists at FINO.

The hubby went with the Professional Courtesy (yes, we were all about formality), which included Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Amaro Ramazzotti, Bénédictine, Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur and orange bitters.

Professional Courtesy cocktail ~ FINO

Check out the giant ice cube! It was a very different drink from mine, but still lovely and complex. I think we both chose perfectly for our respective preferences.

To accompany dessert, instead of going with my classic choice of port or another dessert wine, I went with one of FINO’s “after-dinner cocktails.” Though I was a wee bit skeptical, I was not disappointed. I can’t recall the exact composition of the drink,* but I do remember that it starred a house-made coffee liqueur, and it was sublime with our dessert of house-made donuts with sugar and cardamom accompanied by coffee sorbet. I felt like I had died and gone to dessert heaven.

* Is anyone really surprised at this point?

After dinner cocktail

While I do love mixing it up in our home bar, it is nice to get out every so often and let the pros do the heavy lifting.

Cocktails at FINO

 

Cheers!

Antonelli’s and Jordan FTW!

I got to go to a wine and cheese tasting last night. It was amazing. Not only because I was sprung from the house on a weeknight to go do something grown-up,* but also because the wine and cheese, and especially the pairings, were amazing.

antonellis

* My undying thanks to the hubby for coming home early from work, feeding the little one dinner and putting her to bed… and not even acting like it was a big deal. He is a keeper.

The tasting was hosted by Antonelli’s, an awesome little cheese shop in Hyde Park, and the wines were provided (and mostly paired) by Jordan Winery. How did I get in on this awesome event? I got lucky… literally. The Austin Food Blogger Alliance opened this event to their members on a lottery basis, since there were a limited number of spots, and I was one of the lucky few.

I was psyched to see Elizabeth Van Huffel of Local Savour, Natalie Paramore of Food Fetish, Maggie Louise of Maggie Louise Bakes and Rob Moshein, The Austin Wine Guy (among others) at the event. I love being a part of the Austin food blogger community!

I had never had Jordan wines before last night, but I enjoyed them quite a lot. They pride their wines as more food-friendly than many California wines, and they seem to have hit the mark, judging in particular by how well the Cabernet Sauvignon — not typically seen as a cheese-friendly wine — played with the cheese selections.

cheese plate 2

And, oh, the cheese selections! Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? Jordan only makes two wines — Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The only white was a 2010 Chardonnay (its slightly older sister got some good press recently from California Chardonnay skeptic Jeremy Parzen), and it paired beautifully with a young (first of the season!) and creamy Ste Maure from one of my favorite local producers, Pure Luck Dairy, elevated further by the addition of a dab of lime marmalade.

The other three wines were all Cabernet Sauvignons (from 2009, 2008 and 2003), so we were treated to a vertical tasting. The 2009 paired nicely with Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk, a cheese I am still dreaming about today (and, we were told, one of the only U.S. cheeses currently exported to France). I didn’t try the salumi, obvs, so I missed out on the full impact of the pairing, but that’s cool.

Next up was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which, along with Onetik’s Ossau-Iraty (erotic cheese!) and a luscious strawberry jam from INNA Jam, was my favorite pairing of the evening. The fresh strawberry flavor really brought out the jaminess in the wine, and the cheese balanced it all out. Good stuff.

Last but not least came the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with an aged Cabot Clothbound and a sublime 74% dark chocolate. I loved the wine — it was probably my stand-alone favorite of the evening. I was not a particular fan of the cheese on its own, and I was on the fence about the pairing until I tried it with the chocolate — and it worked! Shazam.

So, many, many thanks to Antonelli’s, Jordan and AFBA for making such a wonderful evening possible! One of these days, I hope to make it to one of Antonelli’s cheese classes, and I will totally make the drive to Hyde Park for all of my fancy-cheese needs from here on out. Specifically, I need to put in my order for some Ste Maure and Red Hawk, STAT!

2013 Austin City Guide: Where to Buy Wine

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!

AFBA 2013 City Guide

 

Hi, have we met? I like wine. A lot. Back when I lived in Northern California, I really appreciated being close to California wine country. I did most of my wine-buying either at the wineries themselves (usually fueled by drunken tasting binges), through wine clubs (which I signed up for after drunken tasting binges) or at my favorite local wine merchant (perhaps after a drunken tasting). Naturally, I was anxious about moving back to Texas, where I was unsure what the wine-buying scene would be like. Fortunately, it has evolved quite a bit since I lived here as a college student… or I have evolved, or both. Either way, there are some great choices out there if you know where to look.

Sure, Spec’s or Twin Liquors will serve you just fine as long as you know what you’re looking for in a wine and don’t have anything too obscure or specific in mind. The same goes for Whole Foods and Central Market, each of which have remarkably good wine selections for grocery stores (especially true for the flagship downtown location of Whole Foods). But, I was in search of a great place to buy wine — somewhere with knowledgeable staff, a wide selection and an approachable Texas manner, of course. Here are a few gems that fit the bill.

Best Bets:

east end wines

East End Wines1209 Rosewood Ave.
In addition to a great, eclectic wine selection and staff who knows their stuff, this East Austin shop offers weekly wine tastings and classes, too. Housed in a quaint remodeled Victorian on the same block as Hillside Farmacy and Soma Vida, the shop also features a breezy back patio where you can enjoy your wine on a nice afternoon. The inventory is largely European, but they have a small but well-chosen selection of California and other West Coast wines, as well as offerings from New Zealand, Australia and other “New World” regions. The staff is friendly and free with their wine knowledge, in a non-pretentious, approachable way. They can also get down with their obscure California wine knowledge, so the wine geek in me is just a little bit in love. They convinced me to take home a couple of French wines based on my preferences, so we’ll see what happens. Definitely my personal favorite!

 

austin wine merchant

The Austin Wine Merchant, 512 W. 6th St. (between San Antonio and Nueces) 
This downtown Austin shop has been around for over two decades, and it’s clear why. The selection is vast, and the staff is helpful and friendly. Their clear focus is on European wine, which doesn’t exactly match my California-honed palate, but they also have a respectable selection of West Coast and other “New World” wines, including a carefully chosen suite of Texas wines. The store itself is rather warehouse-ish, but they also keep an urban garden and offer regular wine tastings — what’s not to love?

Honorable Mentions:

Urban Wine + Liquor, 200 Congress Ave.
A newcomer this year, Urban Wine + Liquor is a breezy, spacious shop (at least by downtown standards) located at Congress and 2nd Street, right in front of the Austonian. It’s convenient to downtown condos and hotels, which would make it a good business bet no matter what, but it also happens to have a helpful staff and a good selection of Texas and international wines. Again with the lack of West Coast selection, though! I shall have to learn to love European wines.

South Lamar Wine & Spirits, 2418 S. Lamar Blvd.
With super-friendly staff and a good selection of bang-for-buck kind of wines (and I am not talking about Yellow Tail, here), I have to include this store in my list, even though I get down to this part of town infrequently. If you’re looking for a specific wine that they don’t stock, just ask, and they’ll do their best to order it for you.

2013 Austin City Guide: Northside Vegetarian Eats

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!

AFBA 2013 City Guide

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!

My Favorites

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.

mushroom soup

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.

curry in hurry

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.

Other Options

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.

Swad9515 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.

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