ATXGuide

The Best Vegan Spots In Austin

Our favorite Austin spots for vegan burgers, Mexican food, pizza, and more.
The Best Vegan Spots In Austin image

photo credit: Holly Dirks

If you’re a vegan, you already know that the days of trying to make a meal out of french fries and side salads are long gone. Austin is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in America, and there are a ton of restaurants where you can get a handful of vegan dishes. But sometimes you don’t just want vegan-friendly, you want spots with options. For this guide, we’ve decided to focus on fully vegan restaurants—these are the places where you can close your eyes, stick your finger down, and be almost guaranteed to land on something animal-free and delicious (we don’t know how good your closed-eye aim is). 

And if you just want a few vegetarian-friendly restaurants, we’ve got a guide to that, too. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Burgers

South Congress

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunchVegans
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If we had to nominate one vegan burger to send to meat-eaters as proof that the impossible can be done, we would send a double Mission burger with cheese, special sauce, and grilled onions. It somehow defies the fundamental laws of burger physics—there’s a thick crust on a couple of thin, smashed patties topped with incredibly melty cheese, and it does it all without using any animal products. Find it at the brick-and-mortar on South Congress Avenue, or at the smaller trailer parked on the patio of Zed’s Ice Cream in East Austin. 

There are a lot of things we love about Community Vegan, a food truck on East 11th Street specializing in plant-based comfort foods. But the fact that the menu has not one, but two varieties of fried mushrooms gave us at least a couple of reasons to revisit. Start with a few bite-sized pieces of crispy lion’s mane or oyster mushrooms, then work your way through the menu of healthy-ish versions of comfort food favorites, like a cauliflower-based fried “chicken” sandwich. Head to Community Vegan before an evening of drinks at Nickel City across the street any night, or when you forgot to make a reservation for Paperboy two months ago and want a good spot to grab brunch in the area on the weekends. 

photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Vegan food in Austin leans pretty heavily into the world of food trucks and casual eateries. Which is why we were so surprised when we first tried Fabrik. This isn’t just one of the best vegan restaurants in town—it’s one of the best fine-dining restaurants as well. Ingredients like miso butter, caramelized yeast, and tamari caramel are used to impart rich and savory elements into dishes. And in many cases, they completely outshine their animal-based counterparts. Dining here requires a bit of a commitment—there’s no a la carte option. Instead, you’ll be buckling in for a five- or seven-course tasting menu with an optional wine pairing that we very much recommend. 

Parked outside of a bike shop on South Lamar, ATX Food Co is a trailer specializing in vegan tacos, soups, smoothies, and barbecue. And while you won’t confuse the black eye bean tempeh BBQ “brisket” for animal products, it’s rich and smoky enough to provide almost as much savory comfort on a cold day as anything from Terry Black’s Barbecue down the street. Plus, it comes without the line that precedes a barbecue meal, or the food coma that typically follows it. 

We mean this in the best possible way, but a pizza from Big Nonna’s reminds us of a fancy version of a Domino’s Pizza—at least in size, shape, and general composition. And that’s an impressive feat when you consider that the whole menu is entirely plant-based. The crust has a nice bit of crunch but remains soft and airy inside. And while the cheese doesn’t entirely nail the consistency or stretch of its dairy-based counterpart, it does actually melt and provide some creamy texture. The sauce tends to be a little less sweet than other pies we’re used to, so we like to balance it out with beet “pepperoni” or some pineapple to add a little bit of sugar back in. Order a pie to bring home and enjoy with some Netflix, or dine in at the small, bare-bones dining room in North Austin. 

The entry to Casa De Luz feels like something out of a fairytale. It’s set back a bit from the busy street outside, accessible by a long, brick walkway full of tall bamboo stalks and overhanging plants. The menu is defined more by fresh, seasonal produce than by any one cuisine—we’ve had mushroom tacos right next to bowls of butternut squash soup—and it’s all served cafeteria-style for about $15. It’s entirely vegan and generally tastes “healthy” in the sense that you kind of wish it had a little more salt. None of it will blow your mind, but you also won’t leave with the overwhelming desire to take a very long nap in Zilker Park down the street afterward. 

Bridging the gap between food trailers and fine dining, The Beer Plant is a medium-fancy gastropub with craft beer, cocktails, and upscale bar food, all with a vegan twist. That means you’ll find the requisite burgers, loaded fries, and “wings,” but made with beet-and-mushroom patties, cashew cheese, and cauliflower, respectively. It’s located in a pretty nondescript Tarrytown strip mall next to almost no other restaurants or bars, but once you step through the front doors, it’s cozy and intimate, with about 40 taps serving local beers and ciders to pair with your meal.

Mr. Natural is one of those “Old Austin” relics that’s been positioned on East Cesar Chavez since the late ‘80s and has amassed a devoted following for plant-based tacos, tamales, flautas, and even menudo. It’s primarily a vegetarian restaurant—with cheese and egg making occasional appearances—but just about every vegetarian item can be made vegan. The restaurant also manages to fit a bakery, juice bar, and a small holistic market into the space, meaning you can grab a smoothie and some empanadas on the way out. 

photo credit: Richard Casteel

$$$$Perfect For:VegetariansVegans
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Finding vegan sushi options in Austin isn’t unheard of—Uchi, Uchiko, and Lucky Robot all offer accommodating menus—but Nori is Austin’s first and only sushi restaurant with an entirely vegan menu. Ingredients like smoked carrots, marinated mushrooms, avocados, and cured tomatoes take the place of fish in most of the rolls, and while none of them will have you second-guessing what you just ate, they won’t leave you disappointed, either. Start with an order of shiitake gyoza topped with apricot gastrique, grab a couple of rolls to split, then order the nigiri sampler for a six-bite intro to what vegan sushi is all about. And if you want something a little heartier, there’s also ramen, yakisoba, and eggplant katsu curry. 

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