Amanda Just shares her food adventures in Texas, breaking myths that you won’t find vegan or vegan-friendly places there
When I told friends that I’d be spending several weeks in Texas, most of them said something along the lines of “Good luck!” and “I’m sorry!” They were assuming that the Lone Star state would be void of vegan options, and I’m happy to say that all of those assumptions were false. Visiting mostly larger cities in Texas, I found plenty of amazing vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. Because I spent so much time in the second largest state in the US, I’ll have to break my recap up into two parts. This first edition will feature great food finds from Houston and San Antonio.
Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the country. With their boundaries spread so far and wide, you can safely plan on finding delicious vegan food around every corner. When I arrived in Houston, I referred to the Vegan Houston website and Facebook page for the must-eats in the city. Our first stop was Radical Eats.
Radical Eats evokes mixed emotions from the local vegan scene. RE used to be entirely vegan, but recently introduced animal products after they moved to their recent location. This is something I learned after eating there, and I can understand why some local vegans would feel sore about the change. I can say, though, that RE is very vegan-friendly and their staff are very knowledgeable on what’s vegan or how to tweak things to make them vegan, and were specific about vegan dishes not coming into contact with non-vegan dishes in the kitchen. So that’s a plus.
I ordered the Verde Enchiladas, which were stuffed with kale and artichoke crème and smothered with green salsa (my favorite of all the salsas). The flavor was amazing, the kale and artichoke crème stealing the spotlight. The two little enchiladas came with refried beans and Spanish rice, both of which were delicious, as well. The only thing I would have changed about this dish would be the portion-to-price ratio. For $13.50, I was expecting larger enchiladas (and after the first bite, I was wishing for larger enchiladas!).
One of Mr. Vegan Houston’s top picks for eats in the city was a specific dish at a specific place: the garlic tofu at Van Loc. Van Loc is not an all-vegan restaurant, but this modest little Vietnamese joint knows its way around some tofu! Breaded and deep fried, this is the tofu you introduce to people who either a) have never had tofu, or b) claim to hate tofu. Served with sautéed onions and jalapenos, the tofu comes on a bed of lettuces that they probably don’t expect most people to eat. Ask for the sweet chili sauce. Being a big veggie lover, I wish this dish came with more vegetables, but it definitely satisfies any fried and/or tofu craving you may have.
My #1 spot in Houston is Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine, an all-vegan Chinese buffet. I’ve been to plenty of vegan buffets in my day, and this one is hands down THE BEST. They have a great variety of offerings, from fried tofu to fresh veggies, noodles and rice dishes, miso soup and sushi (on the weekend). Every single thing I put on my plate was absolutely delicious. A part of me wished for a larger stomach, just so I could eat more!
San Antonio has three vegan restaurants: Vegeria Tex-Mex, newbie Senor Veggie, and Green Vegetarian, which has two locations.
I don’t have pictures from Vegeria, but my visit was pleasant. I went during their weekend brunch, which included about a dozen different offerings. Everything at Vegeria is vegan and gluten-free. My favorite dish was the cheesy quinoa grits. My friend loved the beet rice. The atmosphere is cute and cozy, the restaurant being inside a converted house. All the staff were friendly and they played a fun mix of music. Be sure to swing by their dessert case for a giant cookie!
Senor Veggie is the newest vegan restaurant on the block in San Antonio. My friend and I were not overly impressed with our entrees, but we loved the tofu that came with the lettuce wraps. We wished there was more than two pieces! Don’t hold back on the tofu, Senor Veggie!
Green Vegetarian reigns supreme in the arena of vegan eateries in San Antonio. I visited each location. During my first visit, I ordered the Cece’s Stir-fry, which included breaded and fried “popcorn” tofu, broccoli, and bell peppers, tossed in a rich and savory sesame mushroom sauce. Cilantro rice and exquisite kale salad on the side.
At the other Green Vegetarian location, I ordered the Protein Salad. Perhaps you’re thinking, “A salad?! Yawn.” I’m right there with you; I very rarely order salads at restaurants, but this one looked perfect for everything I was craving that day. And gosh, did it satisfy: roasted tofu (amazing texture), kale salad (they do it best!), chickpeas, fresh spinach, quinoa tabouli, and a housemade pecan hummus that would knock your socks off. Scoff as you may at ordering a salad, but this one is destined to please.
Stay tuned for my favorite eats from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and, the vegan mecca of Texas, Austin!