An Austin vegan guide? Forget what you may have heart about the Lone Star State. It may have been founded by lawless cowboys subsisting on meat and potatoes, but that’s certainly not the case anymore, especially in the capital city. Austin is a thriving metropolis of progressive free spirits, artists, and innovators, on the cutting edge of culture and technology. Naturally, that means that veganism is a big factor in the local food scene. No matter what restaurant you stumble in to, you’re bound to find at least one promising meatless option, if not a full assortment of vegan eats.
That said, why slum around for basic beans and rice when there’s a wealth of 100% vegan establishments to discover? Austin boasts well over 75 fully plant-based establishments, and counting, making it one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the entire world. Leave your skepticism at home but be sure to pack an appetite when you come to visit!
Comfort Food Classics
What kind of Austin vegan guide would this be if we didn’t mention comfort food? All the classics you’ve been craving since childhood are readily available from a wide variety of genres, at any time of day.
- Binge Kitchen operates as a take-out only spot, offering classic southern meals made with modern, upgraded ingredients. I’m talking about buttery simmered cabbage that practically melts in your mouth, crunchy fried okra that could convert a hater, and gooey mac and cheese, just for starters.
- The Vegan Yacht isn’t even a boat but has dropped anchor in South Austin after many years of roaming the streets as a food truck. Best known for their Freeto Burrito, a behemoth modeled after frito pie, stuffed with tempeh chili, salted corn chips, avocado, and vegan cheese.
- Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food cooks up the dishes that you wish your grandma would. Homemade fried “chicon” tossed with fiery jerk spices, hot water cornbread, and creamy refried black-eyed peas? You’ll want to make room for seconds.
- Counter Culture specializes in approachable, comforting classics like thick deli sandwiches and killer mac and cheese, but that’s not all. You can also find raw specialties like zucchini noodles and raw cheesecakes for healthier cravings, or on the flip side, strong mixed drinks if you’d rather re-tox than detox.
- Brunch Bird has taken nest inside RiverCity Market, thoroughly hidden without proper signage. Don’t miss the monster burgers piled high with legit (dairy-free!) blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms, paired with spuds slathered with an impossibly rich, savory gravy, or for the sweet tooth, stuffed French toast loaded with cream cheese and raspberry jam.
- Sunny’s Backyard is billed as a pub, mixing up craft cocktails alongside locally brewed beers, but they’re also slinging food fast and furious from the trailer parked out front. Consider the crispy wonton cheese sticks served with sriracha aioli, giant soft pretzels, and crispy fried banana peppers, just to get started.
Pictured above: Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food Jerk Fried Chickon
Fast Food for Instant Gratification
When you just want a good burger and fries without a big fuss, there’s more than just Beyond Meat or Impossible patties to choose from. Quick, convenient, and affordable, you can get your grub on in no time at theses spots.
- Project Pollo is on a mission to make affordable, accessible plant-based fast food for the masses. Unflinchingly targeting mainstream heavyweights, their fried chicken can genuinely hold up to scrutiny against conventional sandwiches.
- Arlo’s slings loaded burgers through several trailers situated strategically outside of bars and nearby college campuses for late-night cravings. Whenever other restaurants are closed, you can still count on Arlo’s to be there for you.
- Plow Burger keeps it simple with the classic fixing, wings, and fries. No frills, no surprises, no disappointments.
- The Corndog Guy makes excellent meatless hot dogs covered in a sheath of tender cornbread and topped with a wide range of fixings, but beyond that, I’m utterly smitten with the elote fries. It’s hard to beat a big pile of crispy waffle-cut fries smothered in hot sauce, crema, parm, and buttery corn kernels, after all.
- Revolution Vegan Kitchen wants to start a plant-based revolution with their wide range of tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and snacks. No matter what, you need a side of gooey notzarella sticks to dunk into tomato marinara sauce, ASAP.
- Nom Burgers stacks up beefy patties flanked by thick, soft pretzel buns. Juicy, messy, and just the right kind of greasy, no reluctant omnivore could call this rabbit food.
Pictured above: Vegan Jalapeno Corn Dog from The Corndog Guy
Whole Foods and Full Bellies
Salt-free, sugar-free, no-oil, or otherwise? Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of healthy options for anyone with more restrictive diets.
- Casa De Luz first opened their doors in 1991 and has been a pillar of the community ever since. Everyday there’s a new menu with one set meal, offered at a single flat rate. Macrobiotic principles dictate a balanced array of beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, all organic and gluten-free. Wash it all down with bottomless cups of kukicha or rooibos tea.
- ATX FOOD CO. may not have the most memorable name, but you won’t forget about your meal here. You’ll be bowl-ed over by these bountiful grain and salad bowls, each one as nutritious as it is delicious.
- Conscious Cravings has the game all wrapped up. Everything on the menu can be made into a wrap, featuring succulent seitan chimichurri, Indian-style chickpeas, pan-seared tofu, and more.
There’s a limit to how fancy we get in this town; you’d be right at home wearing jeans and a t-shirt to the nicest establishments around. As you might expect, there’s no “fine dining” to be found as a purely plant-based experience, but there are certainly some nicer places worthy of celebrations and notable occasions.
- The Beer Plant is Austin’s first plant-based gastropub, combining composed plates with craft beer, wine, and cocktails. My personal favorite is the Caesar salad which is big enough to act and an entrée. Little gem lettuce tossed with briny capers, dairy-free parmesan, and a giant fillet of fried seitan chicken makes for an irresistible combination.
- Rebel Cheese has won awards from mainstream media, competing with the best the state has to offer with their line of house made cultured cashew cheeses. Enjoy a full sampler of their funky, flavorful wheels or indulge in a deli-style sandwich, which you can pair with an array of carefully curated wines.
- Citizen Eatery has you covered for all your brunching needs with solid new American fare any day of the week, but the breakfast-centric menu is especially well-suited to weekend revelry. It’s the best thing to wake up to, whether you’re getting out of bed in the AM or PM.
- Bistro Vonish serves elevated cuisine from an unexpected low-key food truck. This chef-driven, plant-based menu pushes the envelope with creative seasonal staples, such as marinated mushrooms grilled over mesquite and pecan wood, or sweet potato arepas topped with tofu cream cheese and a mild jalapeño jam.
Coffee, Tea, or These?
Oat milk is everywhere these days, so you’ll find no lack of dairy-free lattes to help you wake up in a good mood. If you want to pair your cup of Joe with some plant-based eats, however, you’ll want to hit these hotspots featuring delectable vegan breakfast, brunch, lunch, and snack options, too.
- Fat Cats Austin prides themselves at serving only fair trade, organic coffee and tea alongside a variety of treats baked fresh daily. Grab a tender blueberry lemon muffin to pair with your iced matcha lemonade, or a hearty taco crumble, potato and chz empanada to go with a strong cup of cold brew. You’ll never get bored with the constantly evolving menu.
- Opera Café has always been vegan-friendly, but just recently converted to 100% vegan with support from the community! Connect to the free wi-fi to get some work done while you dig into their mostly Mediterranean-inspired wraps, sandwiches, and salads. For a unique drink, don’t miss their chagaccino frappe, which is a caffeine-free take on a blended iced Frappuccino.
- Dear Diary Coffeehouse brews up more than a quick up of coffee by providing a community space to support local artists. Stick around for regular writing, drawing, and crafting workshops while you drink coffees roasted in-house.
- Tellus Joe pours creative, colorful, and highly Instagrammable drinks that you won’t find anywhere else. Layering purple ube lattes with coconut charcoal whip or matcha over strawberry puree, the flavors are as bold as their looks. Don’t forget to grab a savory taco for breakfast, or sandwich for lunch, too.
Spice up your life with the culinary creations of the Tejano people. For a true taste of Texas, these are absolute must-visits.
- Lick It Up is a more recent addition to the food scene but has quickly expanded to three Austin locations. The menu consists of street food staples like tacos, gorditas, quesadillas, tortas, nachos, flautas, burgers, and burritos. The carne asada fries are an appetizer that eat like a main, absolutely smothering steak-cut fries with seasoned soy chunks, vegan queso, tomatoes, avocado sauce, and crema.
- Nissi VegMex throws down some of the best, most authentic meatless Mexican from its modest trailer parked on Austin’s east side. From birria tacos to unbeatable crispy “cheek’n” flautas, every single entrée on the menu is a sure-fire hit.
- The Vegan Nom is doing plant-based tacos right every day, but for those on a budget, their $2 migas tacos on Tuesdays are an absolute steal. Don’t forget that every order comes with free Lone Star beer, too.
Of the Asian Persuasion
Asians in Austin are the fastest growing demographic group, doubling roughly every 12 years. It’s no wonder there are some great plant-based eateries with Eastern roots.
- Plow Bao crosses cultural boundaries with innovative dim sum, bao, rice plates, and noodles. The crispy dairy-free cream cheese-filled crab rangoons get top billing as a regular staple, but the weekly specials are what keep things exciting. Mark my words: if the chili oil dumplings are available, run, don’t walk, and order at least three servings.
- Bodhi Viet is a Vietnamese vegan food truck staffed volunteers from a local Buddhist temple. This is the place to fill up on pho, banh mi, and boba for pennies on the dollar. Nothing on the menu is more than $7 so go ahead, splurge to get a taste of everything!
We All Scream for Dairy-Free Ice Cream
It’s hot in central Texas pretty much all year round, so there’s never a bad time to cool down with some frozen treats. The difficulty comes when choosing where to stop, since you can find dairy-free cups and cones all across the map.
- Sweet Ritual is a full-service vegan scoop shop preparing unique ice cream concoctions from scratch. The challenge for each visit is deciding whether you can forgo the decadent sundaes, cookie sandwiches, straight-up pints, or milkshakes.
- NadaMoo is best known for their coconut-based pints found in grocery stores nationwide, but locals are in for a real treat. Based here in Austin, Texas, you can taste your way through the full line of standard offerings or mix things up with limited edition seasonal treats.
- Milky Way Shakes only makes frosty blended beverages, as the name might suggest, but your sweet cravings will be fulfilled with just one sip. Taking inspiration from galactic sources, your kicked up classics are the Chocolate or Vanilla Eclipse, which both come adorned with a dark chocolate crescent moon, adorned with almonds and edible glitter.
- Antisocial Ice Cream isn’t actually “anti-social,” contrary to the name, just anti-dairy. Located steps away from picturesque Lake Travis, you can get a view with your scoops, whether you prefer cookie dough, maple pecan, or mint chip.
- Gati began life as part of Thai Fresh, but no restaurant could contain these coconut-based ice cream creations. Now with their own stand-alone shop, there are over 40 rotating flavor on offer more adventurous options like pandan, Thai tea, and black sticky rice horchata.
Pretty much every pizza parlor within city limits has an option to substitute vegan cheese, or at least omit the dairy-based topping, but we’re so spoiled for choices that there’s no need to bargain and beg with the waiter. We have numerous plant-based establishments that go well beyond the basics.
- Possum Pizza holds nothing back when crafting their off-the-wall slices, topping them with everything from vegan mac and cheese to plant-based shrimp alfredo. They’ve got all the basics, of course, but this is the place to get something new and exciting.
- Li’l Nonna’s fires up a thin crust pie that would make a true-blue New Yorker proud. Topped with incredible ooey, gooey homemade dairy-free mozzarella cheese, this is a staple that convert any omnivore.
- Big Nonna’s is the second, larger counterpart to the original, located up north to spread the pizza love across this fair city. More space means more room for different menu options, so you can also snag a milkshake or ice cream scoops to accompany your meal here.
Sweet Dreams Are Made of These
Thought we’d write an Austin vegan guide without dessert recs? A visit to any of these establishments will bake your day.
- Zucchini Kill Bakery makes tempting treats that will make you say, “I can’t believe it’s gluten-free!” The punk rock, female-led bakery uses no wheat, soy, or animal products in any of their cakes, cookies, or baked doughnuts. Even if you’re not local, you can order online for nationwide delivery.
- Capital City Bakery is perhaps best known for their fluffy cupcakes, but their sweet and savory kolaches are essential Texan eats. Sort of like a cross between a Danish pastry and stuffed bun, they’re a local delicacy popularized by Czech immigrants. If you can only try one, the jalapeño, meatless sausage, and vegan cheese kolache is your best bet, in my opinion.
- Skull and Cakebones is technically situated out in Dripping Springs, but it’s just a short drive south that separates you from the most tender, flaky, buttery croissants you’ve ever wrapped your lips around. Get them plain, stuffed with chocolate or almond paste, or made into a savory sandwich; you can’t go wrong. You can also find their frosted cupcakes for sale in some local markets, such as Wheatsville Food Coop.
More In-Depth Reviews of Vegan Food in Austin:
Can’t make up your mind with such a wealth of choices? Here are a few more detailed comparisons of my favorite places and other vegan guides:
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This guide to vegan restaurants in Austin, Texas was written by Hannah Kaminsky, a vegan blogger, cookbook author, and resident of Austin. Edited by Amanda Meth and Michelle Cehn. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. Videos by Gina House. Cover photo from Canva.com. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links that support our work at World of Vegan.