Plant-strong diets are on the rise as people add more nutrient-rich foods to their lifestyles and implement Meatless Mondays. Austin is a wonderful city for it, as we have so many tasty, plant-strong restaurants to choose from.
Thank you to High Note and Kerbey Lane Cafe for hosting me at no cost for the purposes of this article. All opinions are my own.
Follow the Rainbow
For the purposes of this article, plant-strong means adding more plant-based food into your routine. “Eat your colors,” as the poster at one of my featured restaurants, The Soup Peddler, states. January is a perfect time to reset and add healthier options into the rotation. I’m personally shifting toward more meatless, nutrient-dense meals.
If you’re getting tired of your healthier routine, then these places are perfect to get you back into it. None of them are too “crunchy,” and all of them leave you feeling satisfied.
Trust me, these plant-strong restaurants go beyond the plain salads, soggy tofu, and raw veggies that defined vegetarian food a couple of decades ago.
Some of these Austin restaurants are full-on vegan or vegetarian, but others have options for your carnivore cravings, too. I mean, we’re not about to ask any Austinite to give up their brisket or tacos al pastor, for crying out loud. We know better!
Instead, think of this list as us wanting to give you more choices. It would be a cool challenge to have one meatless day a week or even one meatless meal a day. Balance is a good thing!
1/ High Note
High Note has been on my radar for a while, but I only recently tried it out. I absolutely love the vegan and vegetarian options, and there are several!
The dish I’ll be returning for soon is the vegan broccolini sandwich. This surprisingly flavorful dish is filling and so good. It has broccolini, cashew “cheese,” toasted cashews, and seasonal greens on delicious, locally-sourced sourdough bread (that can be switched for gluten-free bread).
Popular plant-strong breakfast items are the superfoods oats and berries, and the edamole (avocado and edamame) toast that comes with an egg, but doesn’t have to. Lunch or dinner options include a falafel platter, veggie burger made with a falafel patty, and mozzarella melt.
This place is adorable and has a beautiful patio. Bonus points for a free parking lot! I have such a crush on High Note right now.
300 S. Lamar Blvd. – Website
2/ Bouldin Creek Cafe
Bouldin Creek Cafe has long been the gold standard in Austin for vegetarian- and vegan-friendly food. I love the seasonal bowls with lots of veggies, and often enjoy the fancy rice and quinoa.
The sandwiches and salads are satisfying, too. I love the Good Livin’ salad with an added scoop of chickpea chik’n salad, paired with the scrumptious vegan blueberry cornbread on the side.
The Farmer’s Plate is also popular, with sweet potato and pecan tamales, avocado mash, and beans. My absolute favorite brunch dish is the zucchini migas with a spicy “fire puree,” made with either tofu scramble or eggs.
1900 S. 1st St. – Website
Keep reading: 13 Spots That Serve Fresh and Healthy Food in Austin
3/ Casa de Luz
Austin’s long-standing macrobiotic (vegan), nonprofit restaurant, Casa de Luz, serves full meals that have lots of flavor and colors. Diners pay one price for a meal that includes several offerings and a drink. Dessert is optional for an additional charge.
While the menu changes daily, you can expect your meal to include soup, salad, and an entree that almost always includes some type of healthy grain, a bean-type dish, and some colorful veggies.
Casa de Luz exemplifies the “food is medicine” philosophy. You enter the Casa de Luz property through a shaded path, passing rooms where community events and Buen Camino yoga and movement classes are held, walking past outdoor tables and a playground for children. Inside, the kitchen is visible, and the tables are community tables.
Soup, salad, and drinks are self-serve, and the cooks themselves serve the entree plate to diners. You can even volunteer at Casa de Luz and earn a free meal. When you volunteer, you cook alongside the talented kitchen staff and learn how to prepare delicious, healthful food.
Everything is made fresh daily, and if the giant smiles on the staff members’ faces are any indication, then eating like this all the time must make you feel great! They even quickly and happily improvised a dish for me when the main dish was mushroom-based, because I don’t eat mushrooms.
1701 Toomey – Website
Keep reading: Top 10 Austin Restaurants When It MUST Be Gluten-free
4/ Forthright Cafe
After a terrible kitchen fire closed Forthright Cafe for several months, this reopened bright and airy spot is a nice choice for a weekday lunch or weekend brunch. The plant-strong restaurant is also open for dinner from Wednesday to Friday.
While not strictly vegetarian, Forthright always offers a good variety of loaded veggie bowls with ingredients like roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, fried Brussels sprouts, avocado, kale, and beets.
The avocado toast has made several foodie favorite lists in town, and there is a mushroom toast, too, along with anything-but-basic salads and a Beyond Burger veggie burger.
It’s always sad to see a local business go through something as devastating as a fire, so I’m thrilled to see Forthright reopened. This is a great time to support a local business!
35 Brazos St. – Website
5/ The Soup Peddler
Okay, I have been obsessed with The Soup Peddler for years. I go through phases of eating there several times a month. And at any given time, The Soup Peddler menu has a few vegan or vegetarian options.
One of my favorites is the green detox broth, made with blended kale, zucchini, broccoli, cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, coconut oil, and lemon. Yum! Ask for bread or oyster crackers and you have a fabulous meal.
The Mulligatawny is another super legit and heartier soup, and you can almost always get the veggie chili. The tomato basil is ideal for grilled cheese dipping!
Apart from soup, The Soup Peddler has several salad options and tasty grilled cheese sandos. It also offers wonderfully colorful, fresh smoothies and juices. Try a smoothie/juice special of the day for a discount. I’m partial to Moonage Mondays, when the Moonage Daydream with carrot, apple, lemon, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne is the special.
The Soup Peddler has expanded from a soup delivery-only business to a thriving bastion of good food and good health with six locations throughout Austin. The most recent location opened right downtown in the 2nd Street District on West 3rd Street.
Multiple locations – Website
Keep reading: 7 Amazing Soups to Enjoy in Austin
6/ Honest Mary’s
I haven’t personally tried Honest Mary’s yet, but my foodie friends I trust are all about this place! It’s the “fast-casual eatery” with fresh, healthy grain and veggie bowls that look divine. Honest Mary’s also has hormone- and antibiotic-free meat options you can add on.
I have my eye on the seasonal butternut spice bowl with Basmati rice, Ras El Hanout butternut squash, French green lentils, kale with lemon, crispy chickpeas, and green herb sauce. There are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free options for special dietary needs.
The original location is in the Arboretum, but this month a second location opened in Rosedale. It looks adorable and I hope to try it soon.
9828 Great Hills Trail #300 and 4800 Burnet Road C300 – Website
JuiceLand is another solid, plant-strong option that makes Austinites smile. The website says the business opened in 2011, though it seems like it’s always been part of the Austin scene. JuiceLand expanded quickly in Austin, as Austinites were clearly thirsty for it!
Austin has more than two dozen JuiceLand locations, growing into new markets in Dallas and Houston. No matter where you are, the cheerfully bright signs beckon you to this heavenly home of vegan goodness.
JuiceLand’s extensive juice, smoothie, lattes, tonic, and health shot menu is mind boggling. With so many choices, you’re sure to find one you love. However, did you know JuiceLand also has wonderful grab-and-go meals? It’s true!
For starters, you can make any smoothie a bowl! Sometimes you want to chew your food, you know? In addition, there are offerings such as vegan gyros, burritos, wraps, bowls, and salads.
Multiple locations – Website
Keep reading: How Austin’s Own JuiceLand Blends Freshness Every Day
8/ Counter Culture
This groovy little house on the east side specializes in vegan comfort food. I’m happy to report the soy-free, gluten-free mac n’ cheeze with broccoli and cashew cheeze is as crave-worthy as you want it to be. I love it!
Counter Culture is a great place to take the kids, as the food is similar to what they might eat elsewhere. Try the grilled cheeze sandwich, pizza, a lentil loaf, southern-baked or jerk seitan, a tempeh reuben, jackfruit BBQ quesadillas (with cashew cheeze), or a cold cutz sub sandwich.
I appreciate that the Counter Culture menu tells you which dishes are soy-free and gluten-free, too. There is usually even a Hatch green chile menu in season, and I’m here for it!
And, oh my pretties, the desserts are worth a visit in their own right. Let’s talk donut holes, ice cream, cashew cheesecake, brownie bites, and more.
2337 E. Cesar Chavez St. – Website
9/ Revolution Vegan Kitchen
This bustling vegan food truck in far south Austin’s Thicket food truck park knows what it’s doing when it comes to vegan comfort food. The burger specials with curly fries, Philly cheeze steak sandwiches, and jackfruit al pastor, barbacoa, or carnitas tacos have vegans from all over clamoring to eat here.
Start with the yummy notzarella sticks or mac n cheeze. Oh, and the burgers come with curly fries so you don’t leave feeling like you missed out.
7800 S. 1st St. – Facebook
10/ Pho Thai Son
Hallelujah, I found vegan pho! It’s chock-full of vegetables: baby bok choy, broccoli, carrots, straw mushrooms, snow peas, onions, and fried tofu in a vegan broth. I love the veggie dumplings, too, with lots of green veggies inside. Austin-based Pho Thai Son has three local locations and one in Kyle.
Many Asian restaurants have veggie options, but Pho Thai Son actually has a whole tab on its menu for veggie dishes. It doesn’t come across as an afterthought, but rather as a thoughtfully created menu with vegan and vegetarian choices every bit as special as their non-veg counterparts.
Multiple locations – Website
11/ Curcuma Kitchen
Curcuma’s website summarizes nicely: “Eat Plants. Drink Gold. Feel Good.” As with Honest Mary’s, I have not yet tried Curcuma. However, my IG feed has been blowing up with vividly colored, beautifully assembled bowls of what looks like pure energy. I have to include Curcuma, as the reviews are so positive.
Plus, you’ll find all of the super trendy, vegan golden mylk drinks, matcha lattes, and other superfood drinks your hipster heart desires. More than simply trendy, though, this adorable food truck is a modern twist on ancient Ayurvedic practices in nutrition.
Curcuma’s tagline, “Food with Intention,” refers to the owners’ intentional choices in every aspect of the business. All of the menu items are vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free, and often locally-sourced. The kitchari bowls look so yummy, and the gluten-free avocado toast, cashew ricotta toast, and spirulina pesto toast look fantastic.
There are even elixirs like fire cider, “pickle my fancy kimchi gut shot,” and chlora vida with chlorophyll and organic coconut water. My inner hippie needs a trip to Curcuma soon. Peace, love, everyone!
2324 E. Cesar Chavez – Website
12/ Austin Tea Xchange Cafe
Austin Tea Xchange Cafe is another charming spot I’ve been eyeing longingly on Instagram, as it looks so cozy and charming. Out in the Hill Country Galleria, it’s a tea shop with healthy food options, many of them vegan- or vegetarian-friendly. The teas look delicious, too. I can’t wait to try it.
13011 Shops Parkway (Hill Country Galleria) – Website
13/ Kerbey Lane Cafe
Is there anyone Kerbey Lane Cafe can’t feed? Not likely. This Austin stalwart has a few veggie options year-round, with seasonal options, too. Ask for the dedicated vegetarian menu to save time.
Kerbey Lane’s plant-strong dishes may not be as colorful as some of the others, but with so-Austin choices like local Credo cashew queso, a vegan BBQ sandwich with veggie chorizo, and veggie chili, I’m not hearing a lot of complaints.
Besides, the famous pancakes are vegetarian, huzzah! My friend gave me a hot tip for a good, but not too angelic special order: fries, vegan queso, veggie chile, and then add steamed broccoli. It’s the good-bad meal I know I’m going to try next time I go. Polishing my halo ALL the time is exhausting, after all.
With eight Austin locations, Kerbey Lane is bound to be in your neighborhood. Eat like you did in college, only better. Fun fact: Kerbey Lane is High Note’s parent company!
Multiple locations – Website
14/ Rebel Cheese
Not only does Rebel Cheese have a massive selection of vegan cheese, but it also has an adorable cafe with mouth-watering sandwiches, cheese boards, breakfast, soup, and salads.
2200 Aldrich – Website
Another way to easily incorporate more plant-strong food into your diet is through these local meal delivery companies.
I suggest saving this article to remind yourself of the wide variety of plant-strong and straight up vegan restaurants we’re fortunate to have in Austin. That way you’ll always have it when you need it. Plus, I’m eager to hear your favorites!
What are your plant-strong Austin picks?
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