10 Reasons Why Austin Is the Best Vegan-Friendly City In Texas!

Some of the experiences I had while visiting Austin were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my review of the experience. Please know that whether I paid for it or it was provided free of charge, that what I share with you is my honest opinion! 

While Austin hasn’t cracked Happy Cow’s coveted list of the Top Ten Vegan Cities in the World just yet, this southern city is well on its way! With our move to Berlin fast approaching, it was time to head to Austin to visit family AND check out the city’s ever-growing vegan scene. In preparation for her future world travels, Violet decided to join us so she could share her dog-friendly adventures with you too!

Park Lane Guesthouse is quite simply THE place to stay in downtown Austin. Located in the heart of the SOCO District – trendy South Congress Avenue is made up of legendary night clubs, live music, hip boutiques, and vegan-friendly eateries. And don’t miss the world’s largest urban bat colony located beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. This veg-friendly bed & breakfast will have you comfy & relaxed before you know it & is walking distance to all SOCO has to offer. Members of the Green Hotel Association – the cottages & garden are 100% smoke-free; chemical & fragrance-free; include organic, fair-trade coffee & filtered water and a delicious vegan breakfast in your cabin or on the pool deck each morning! Shakti puts lots of love into the food she prepares. And includes freshly squeezed orange juice & vegan creamer to compliment the breakfast.

Our first morning, we feasted on soyrizo breakfast tacos made with avocado, local tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, mild salsa & almond cheese all wrapped in a jalapeño tortilla with a side of fresh melon & raspberries. The next morning was sunny & warm, so we ate our sweet polenta topped with roasted pecans, berries, maple syrup & vegan butter overlooking the pool & garden. Our final meal was also poolside and included savory tofu scramble with fresh spinach & local tomatoes, avocado toast served on rosemary-infused bread with a drizzle of oil, and bright end of season grapefruit that came from a sprouted seed Devkirn planted years ago! Each meal was just glorious!

Steve & I stayed in the romantic little Carriage House. Furnished with a King size wrought iron bed & antique clawfoot tub, it was cozy & sweet. Overlooking the serene garden and breathtaking natural pool, it is a paradise on earth. The garden is full of happy songbirds & a huge beautiful live oak tree that is between three and four hundred years old. The tree was there long ago, and according to Shakti, it will be there “long after we’re gone.” Shakti & her partner Devkirn, tired of the cold on the East Coast, landed in Austin with plans to buy land, build a brand new home, and retire. Instead, they drove down Park Lane, found this long-neglected property, and lovingly restored the home & garden to its current grandeur! Park Lane Guesthouse is proud to be the first U.S. veg-friendly hotel to be featured by Veggie-Hotels.com. Shakti & Devkirn have two darling little dogs, Layla and Olevia, who greeted us every morning and welcomed our little Violet into their magic garden! 

Located just a 12-minute walk from the Guesthouse is Austin’s trendy vegetarian restaurant Bouldin Creek Cafe. The menu is almost all vegan, and just about anything that isn’t can be made vegan. This busy & casual gathering spot not only serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner but also offers a wide array of yummy beverages. From locally roasted organic & fair trade coffee to dozens of hot teas & kombucha to beer, cider, wine & Sake! Built on the owner’s love of the creative spirit that resonates through Austin, they have created a unique and welcoming gathering space with a strong sense of community. One of Austin’s most inspiring photographers, Pooneh Ghana, is the current featured artist being showcased at the Cafe.

 It felt so good to wander around SoCo and sit outside on the Cafe’s dog-friendly patio. I had a delicious Greek Quinoa Bowl with organic tabbouleh, local tomatoes, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts, kale, hummus, cucumbers & organic spring greens. It was topped with garlic tahini dressing – the best dressing I’ve ever eaten! My burger-loving husband devoured his Veggie Royale burger. This award-winning housemade veg burger was served on grilled ciabatta with leaf lettuce, red onion, local tomatoes & an incredible basil aioli & a refreshing side of peanut lime slaw.

Our flight to Austin was the first time Violet traveled by plane with us. Needless to say, as dog-traveling novices, we experienced a few hick-ups throughout the trip. The most memorable was when she decided to do her typical three circles that preceded every elimination and pooped right in front of the airline’s check-in counter! While I take complete repsonsibility, there was no way we were passing on ordering drinks, and dessert that evening. They had been earned. Unlike many vegetarian restaurants, almost all of their desserts are vegan-friendly. Though it was hard to decide how to best end our meal, Steve & I decided to share the Taxi Driver. Perfect for sharing, the vegan Almond Espresso Brownie was topped with espresso chocolate sauce & vegan ice cream. It was amazing. If you have the chance to order only one item off their menu, it needs to be this! OMG!

The food was so good we came back with my non-vegan sister-in-law Barb and her daughter Leah the next day for lunch, and we were all thrilled with the menu again. My Broccoli Tofu Salad was a savory mix of stir-fried tofu cubes, broccoli, carrots, local tomatoes, sunflower seeds & sprouts & organic mixed greens…with the garlic tahini dressing again, of course, was as delicious as my meal the evening before. Steve was in the mood for their Vegan Nacho Pile-Up with melted Follow Your Heart Cheese – he had no problem cleaning his plate! What excited me most was seeing how much Barb and Leah enjoyed their meals. Leah could not stop raving about her choice. The Farmers Plate included three grilled sweet potato-pecan tamales, avocado, warm tortillas & housemade salsa with a side of organic red & black beans. I find so much joy in my omnivorous family & friends enjoying a vegan meal as much as she enjoyed hers!

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop is very conveniently located just across the street from Bouldin Creek Cafe. Offering primarily ovo-lacto baked goods, they do provide a small & delicious vegan menu. The options include at least a half dozen different cupcakes like the Wedding cake made with almond sponge cake and housemade raspberry jam, the Cowboy made with Valrhona chocolate cake filled with whipped peanut buttercream & topped with chocolate frosting & PB glaze, and the famous Cookie N’ Cream made with chocolate cake, bits of cream-filled chocolate cookies & topped with vanilla frosting. Wow, right?! I have been a vegan cupcake connoisseur for many years now, so I still do not know what came over me when I placed my order. But when I saw their vegan buttercream frosting smashed between two huge cookies…I could think of nothing else! Steve ordered the oatmeal, and I ordered the chocolate chip so we could try both. They were quickly the best cookie sammichs I’ve ever eaten! I would fly back to Austin to eat Sugar Mama’s cookie sammiches anytime!  

Most of us are familiar with TOMS’ one for one philosophy. For every pair of shoes you purchase, a new pair is sent to a child in need. What I didn’t realize is the founder, Blake Mycoskie, is a Texas native. Having grown up in Arlington, he attended Southern Methodist University for two years before dropping out to start his first business. But it was his trip to Argentina in 2006 that shaped his One for One business model. Once he returned, he and a group of interns started TOMS in a small apartment in Venice Beach, California. 

The TOMS store in Austin is located on South Congress & was TOMS’ second free-standing store to open nationwide. This lovely space is located in a renovated Victorian house surrounded by gardens, shade and plenty of chairs to sit and pass the afternoon away. There was nothing about this peaceful setting that reminded me of a typical retail experience. With dogs and kids welcome, it felt like I was sitting in a friend’s backyard. 

In addition to shoes, they also sell TOMS sunglasses. And with the purchase of a new pair of shades, you fund sight-saving surgery for someone in need. 

The small cafe serves lattes made with non-dairy milk and a vegan pastry or two. For every drink purchased, TOMS provides a child with a bottle of water. 

While not all shoes are vegan, they do offer dozens of vegan-friendly options. I found an adorable pair of flat sandals & a classic wedge that I love! The super friendly staff and their altruistic Purchase with a Purpose business model makes this a worthwhile stop while visiting Austin. 

Juice Austin is Austin’s healthy, vegan food truck located on Congress Avenue. The menu includes fresh juices, smoothies, granola bowls, salads, cleanses, shots & sandwiches. With the day heating up, the El Jefe root juice made of beets, apple, carrot, and ginger was perfect!

Conscious Cravings offers vegan wraps & salads, homemade sauces & dressings, housemade seitan, and fresh fruit smoothies. Conscious Cravings currently has two food trucks – one located right in SOCO – with plans to open a third truck in East Austin soon. Founder Rishi treated Steve and me to a delicious lunch, and we loved everything we tried! Steve went with the BBQ Seitan signature hot wrap with lettuce & onion, drizzled with a sweet, mild sauce on a spinach tortilla. He loved it so much and ate it so fast, I didn’t even get to try it! I chose the seitan with delicious chimichurri sauce – a tangy Argentinian sauce made with a base of cilantro & parsley. I skipped the wrap and had mine added to their quinoa-rice pilaf salad. Yum! The seitan & sauce were incredible and topped this huge salad of organic quinoa-rice pilaf, spinach, cucumbers, julienned carrots & grilled onions drizzled with a refreshing avocado sauce.

The food truck court was full of picnic tables & shade trees – thank goodness because Austin is hot & sunny! The only complaint I heard from locals was how challenging parking is in the city. So I was impressed by the size of the parking lot offered at Conscious Cravings’ SOCO location. Yet another delicious spot not to be missed on your next trip to Austin. 

The Tasty Spoon is a local gelato & coffee shop located in SOCO along the creek just down 1st Street from Conscious Cravings. Using the old school Italian approach, with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, they make handcrafted gelato that includes 6 or 7 non-dairy, vegan flavors. Hand-rolled by The Konery, the waffle kones are naturally egg & dairy-free and made without additives or preservatives. Fresh herbs, spices & natural extracts are baked into the kones, creating deliciously unique flavors. The adorable bungalow has a vast dog-friendly backyard full of games set up under a giant 120-year-old oak tree. The coffee is provided by the local coffee roaster, Third Coast Roasters, who offer fair trade, organic coffee imported directly from small farmer cooperatives. It is the perfect spot to grab a sweet treat and a bit of caffeine on a hot day!

Don’t miss the Before I die wall located in SOCO at 206 E Elizabeth Street. Inspired by the original wall that was created in 2011 by New Orleans artist Candy Chang, after she experienced the loss of a loved one. Stenciling the phrase “Before I die, I want to…” onto a painted wall, she invited the public to pick up the chalk and share their hopes. Since her original wall in New Orleans, it has been recreated over 400 times in more than 60 countries. It is beautiful to read others’ dreams and to share your own! 

 Capital City Bakery is one of my favorite Austin bakeries. This 100% vegan, made-from-scratch bakery is built on a love for food & communityAll of the baked goods are cholesterol-free, using locally sourced organic ingredients. I’ve had (and loved) their cupcakes and cookie sammiches, but my favorite treat is their frosted sugar cookies. They are soft, sweet, and perfectly iced! They are the best sugar cookies in Austin! 

Counter Culture is located just up the block from Capital City Bakery on Cesar Chavez. We have gotten in the habit over the years of eating here on our way to the airport. Established in July 2009 as a food truck, the delish vegan comfort food is now served in the brick & mortar restaurant. This friendly, informal atmosphere features meatless, dairy-free, and raw meals and whose goal is to use organic, fair trade & locally sourced ingredients. Its large outdoor patio provides the perfect amount of shade to make sitting outside enjoyable! So far, every meal I’ve had there has been delicious, including their desserts. 

Honorable Mentions include the new Car2Go car-sharing program that offers the Mercedes-Benz GLA & CLA models. It is currently available in 8 countries and 25 cities worldwide that include the US, Germany, Austria, Canada, China, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. No reservations are required. We rented the car just for the time we needed it and dropped it off in the designated areas throughout the city. Unlike Uber, there is never surge pricing, and unlike renting a car, there is no refueling required. Since SOCO is so walkable, we only needed the car to visit family out in the suburbs and to get to the airport. And each time we needed to car-share, there was something available within blocks of Park Lane Guesthouse.

Sweet Rituais a vegan ice cream shop that offers 13 in house flavors and lists all of the ingredients used. From coconut milk to nut butter bases, from seed to soy bases, you will find something there for everyone. Sadly, we ran out of time to visit but won’t miss it on our next visit!

We would love to hear about your adventures and your favorite Austin hot spots – please add that to the comments section below! Thanks for following my latest journey to Texas; I hope you love Austin as much as I do. Let’s explore the world together and as always…eat, drink, & be vegan!

Tags: Austin TX, Bouldin Creek Cafe, Capital City Bakery, Car2Go, Conscious Cravings, Counter Culture, green hotel association, Juice Austin, Park Lane Guesthouse, SOCO District, South Congress Avenue, Sugar Mama's Bakehouse, Sweet Ritual, The Konery, The Tasty Spoon, Third Coast Roasters, TOMS, urban bat colony, vegan Bed & Breakfast, vegan breakfast, Veggie Hotels

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