Austin Vegan Adventure

my new llama friend

This isn’t my first trip to Austin. However, my first trip was for a vegan bloggers conference, so most of my time spent here was for conference activities and not for exploring the city. I’m therefore treating this as my first visit.

I’m writing this up mostly for my own benefit, because to be honest, there is no lack of online resources for vegans visiting Austin. Lazy Smurf made a really useful guide that you can grab a copy of (in a cute postcard format) when you visit the all-vegan grocery store Rabbit Food. There are also a couple of really useful instagram accounts, like ATX vegans and Staci Leann.

Day 1

Our airbnb was in a neighborhood south of the river called Zilker. I learned that everything south of the river is considered south austin and everything north of the river is considered north austin. You can walk over the river since it’s rather narrow, and you can go to one of the bridges when it gets dark and maybe even see some bats! But I digress.

Day 1 started with a walk from our airbnb to find a place to eat dinner. Using the google maps walking directions, we were lucky enough to walk by a group of houses surrounding a mini farm with friendly donkeys!

the donkeys in Austin

If that doesn’t get a vacation off to a good start, I don’t know what does.

the donkeys in Austin

After prying myself away from their cuteness only for fear that I might be caught trespassing by a cowboy with a long-barreled gun pointed at me, we continued our journey to seek out dinner. The neighborhood to the east of Zilker is called Bouldin, which is home to Bouldin Creek Cafe.

Bouldin Creek Cafe

When approaching Bouldin Creek, I knew I had been here before. It was my last stop before heading the airport on my last visit. I remembered it from the artwork on the outside of the building, the front door covered in stickers, and the alphabet letter magnets inside that I remember writing vegan messages with.

It was a Sunday night, and there was a 15-20 minute wait for a table, which I thought was reasonable. Since it’s a vegetarian place, it says on the front of the menu to let your server know if you’re vegan. How nice is that!

I ordered a kale salad and a breakfast taco (because you can order breakfast all day)!!!

vegan kale salad at Bouldin Creek

I’m pretty sure that this breakfast taco is the best deal in all of Austin. It was less than $4 for this taco, and it was HUGE. It ended up being 2 meals with my salad.

vegan breakfast taco at Bouldin Creek

Between the Zilker and Bouldin neighborhoods, there are quite a few other vegan dinner options that I didn’t have a chance to try during my visit, but I did get to stop off at an ice cream place on the walk home called Lick.

Lick

cold brew coffee ice cream floats happy hour sign

Lick is a dairy ice cream shop that offers 4 vegan flavors each day. My flavor was okay, but I should’ve ordered 2 scoops because their scoops are really small. None of the waffle cones are vegan, but the cake cones are.

Whole Foods

There’s something comforting for me about going to Whole Foods Markets in different cities. I guess it’s how I feel about going to Starbucks when I’m in other countries. It’s something familiar. The Austin Whole Foods is really nice, and I stopped in to get gallons of water and snacks for the airbnb. Whole Foods is north of the river in downtown Austin.

Day 2

Today we rented a car so we could hit up some of the places that are further out of the way. We ate lunch at Counter Culture since it wasn’t too far from the car rental place.

Counter Culture

I recommend sitting on the patio if you’re here on a nice day. This is an all-vegan place so order anything! I ordered the mac n cheese from the kids menu, and David ordered the “tuna melt” which was a chickpea salad melt. Both were delicious!

lunch at counter culture

Another nice thing about Counter Culture is that it’s only about a block from Capital City Bakery.

Capital City Bakery

I came to Capital City Bakery last time I was in Austin but it was SUPER busy then because of the vegan food bloggers conference, so it’s been so nice to go here when it’s not crowded. Capital City Bakery is an all-vegan bakery that’s super cute outside and in! It looks like it’s in a house, but it’s painted a cute teal color. And the decor inside is adorbs.

capital city bakery decor

capital city bakery cupcakes

I ordered the carrot and pumpkin cupcake, and david ordered the tiramisu cupcake. Sorry that the picture isn’t great, but we got them to go so we could eat them at the zoo. I like my cupcakes with a side of llama drool.

capital city bakery cupcakes

The Austin Zoo

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of shitty vegan goes to a zoo? I know. I would have said the same thing. I haven’t been to a zoo in 20 years because of that. BUT, this zoo is different.

Pros:

  • they don’t breed
  • all of their animals have been rescued (each animal has a sign that tells the story of where they came from)
  • they educate the visitors on how wrong it is to try to own exotic pets
  • there are signs posted all over with a phone number to call if you see any asshole kids teasing or being mean to the animals

a sign at the Austin Zoo

Cons:

  • some of the animals are in spaces that are too small
  • animals like big cats are being held captive (but I predict if they were set free, they’d be shot because I’m sure at least 25% of the texan population are gun owners)

The highlights of my visit were seeing 2 lemurs licking eachother and feeding the llamas. (Don’t forget to buy food at the entrance if you want to feed the goats and llamas.)

llama at the Austin Zoo

The only other time I’ve seen llamas is at the Stanford Inn, but they don’t let you feed them.

llama at the Austin Zoo

The ostrich, on the other hand, scared the crap out of me. It was my first time ever seeing an ostrich in real life. Are they all scary? Or just ones that are trapped in cages?

ostrich at the Austin Zoo

The Beer Plant

The Beer Plant is an all-vegan gastropub in an up and coming vegan plaza. This is just my theory of course, but when I asked them about the vegan sign outside the otherwise-boring-strip-mall plaza, I was told that the owner of the entire plaza is an animal rights activist and even lets the cat adoption center that’s in that same plaza stay there rent-free!

the sign outside the Beer Plant plaza

And Rabbit Food Grocery is in the process of relocating to that mall as well, so I’m guessing by a year from now, it will be an all-vegan mall. Here’s hoping anyway.

I ordered a gyro (which was the first one I’ve ever had)! And the waitress taught me to pronounce it yeerow.

gyro from the Beer Plant

David ordered what I wanted to order but I’m on a special diet where I can’t have fried food (just in time for vacation - thanks body): the country chicken and gravy.

country chicken and gravy from the Beer Plant

Mount Bonnell

This is lovely place to watch the sunset and see the river from high up. It’s a short climb, and there are stairs to make it easier, but I still took 2 breaks on the way up because I’m out of shape okay?! Okay?! Don’t judge me!

Are we even in Austin anymore?

I think we drove for 20 minutes to get to the next stop. I’m guessing we were in north austin, but it was very very north. I wanted to do some kawaii dish shopping at a store called FIT. It’s kind of like Daiso, but it has things Daiso doesn’t have like a rilakkuma mug and a hello kitty sushi maker and a sentimental circus travel mug. Needless to say, I bought all 3 of those things, and they were having a 50% off sale!!! I hope that doesn’t mean they were closing.

Then we went to an arcade called pinballz. My favorite pinball games were The Addam’s Family and Batman. There were a surprising number of drunk dudes here considering it was a Monday night, but whatever. Some peoples livers are just stronger than others. Haha.

Sweet Ritual

Sweet Ritual

I’m so sorry that I didn’t take a picture of my ice cream cone. For the .01% of you who may not know, Sweet Ritual is an all-vegan ice cream parlour. I got the peanut butter cup ice cream, and it was SO GOOD.

They also have this super awesome old school sticker machine where the proceeds are donated to charities.

sticker machine at Sweet Ritual

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Cats in Austin are so friendly that they walk into your car when your door is open and demand to be driven somewhere. Do I look like your lyft driver Mr. Cat?

friendliest stray cat in Austin

Day 3

Treasures City Thrift

I walked here after dropping off the rental car because it’s in the Holly neighborhood which is in north austin just east of the rental car place. I love this thrift store. They have a cool pirate-themed logo, they seem to be very community conscious, and their prices are way more affordable than goodwill. I found a black dress that hides all the parts of my body that need to be hidden, and it has a bow. So, it meets all requirements.

Then I walked to the Vegan Nom for lunch.

The Vegan Nom

I wasn’t sure I was at the right place when I got to the vegan nom because the sign outside says Rockin Vegan Tacos. After further investigation (aka. asking the employee), I learn that Rockin Vegan Tacos is their slogan.

Vegan Nom is an all-vegan taco truck, but it stays parked at the same location all the time time and has some really cute art on the walls.

artwork at The Vegan Nom

And the tacos are very affordable.

Capital City Bakery

I had to go again. It was right across the street from the Vegan Nom. I had no choice!

capital city bakery pies

Besides, this coconut cream pie couldn’t live without me. It was love at first sight.

capital city bakery coconut cream pie

Day 4

Blue Cat Cafe

outside of the blue cat cafe

I’ve never been to a cat cafe before this one. I guess it’s because I’m not really a cat person. You’d never guess that about me based on my cat purse, but I prefer dogs. I want to be loved, not just tolerated. This is the look of someone who is just barely tolerating me.

indifferent cat at the blue cat cafe

One of my favorite things are vegan restaurants that have cute names for their menu items. My favorite restaurant in San Francisco (Shizen) does that with their specialty sushi rolls. They’re all named after the game clue. At this all-vegan cat cafe, all the drinks have cute feline names like caramel meowcchiato and pumpkitten spice latte. I ordered the peppurrmint hot cocoa. The drinks are enormous, so I recommend getting one to share. I also ordered the hummus and veggie plate.

hummus veggie plate at the blue cat cafe

This was hands-down the worst food I had in Austin. The hummus tasted so bad. I don’t think I’ve ever had worse hummus in all my life. And the dill dip had chunks of tofu, like they were just too lazy to blend it all the way. And I also found a cat hair in my dip. Maybe that’s normal for cat cafes. I’ve never been to one, so I have no point of comparison. But, let’s just say, I’m not planning to go back anytime soon. Haha.

ModCloth

modcloth

From the cat cafe, we walked to ModCloth. I’ve previously only seen ModCloth clothes online, so I was excited to see the clothes in person and try them on. It turns out that the store actually fits the clothes to your exact body and then mails you your perfect items. Sadly, I didn’t find any dresses I liked since they only had an inkling of the clothes that they have on their website.

HOPE gallery

From ModCloth, we walked to HOPE gallery. I came here last time I was in Austin with Kimmy, but since the art is constantly changing, I wanted to come back to see the updated version.

Cool Beans

Cool Beans is an all-vegan taco truck located in north austin. It’s right next door to a bar called the Spider House.

Spider House

The staff at Cool Beans really lived up to their name. So super nice! And the tacos were reallllllly good! We took ours to the park across the street and had a picnic under the shade of a tree.

tacos from Cool Beans

Steel City Pops

outside Steel City Pops

A block from Cool Beans is Steel City Pops. All of their fruit popsicles are vegan, and a few of their creamy flavors are vegan as well (the menu is clearly labeled). I got the passionfruit popsicle, and I just happened to be wearing my popsicle shirt to match!

me with my passionfruit popsicle at Steel City Pops

Wheatsville

A few buildings down from Steel City Pops is Wheatsville Co-op. This is a good place to buy groceries or snacks. Almost everything in their bakery display case was vegan, and they had some good vegan items in their deli area, like eggless salad. Since it’s almost easter, they have a decent selection of vegan easter candy as well.

After Wheatsville, I tried to do some shopping at a vintage store and at Buffalo Exchange which are all within a couple of blocks of there, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so we went back to the airbnb to chill for a bit.

Juiceland

A few blocks from our airbnb in Zilker is a small hippy place called Juiceland. I’m pretty sure everything there was vegan. They mostly just had juices, but there were also salads and kale chips. I got a cold-pressed juice to drink while we walked to see the bats.

juiceland

Bats

You know you’re in the right place when you see the bat sculpture at the corner.

bat art

I tried to see the bats come out from under the bridge last time I was in Austin with Kimmy, but didn’t have much luck. This time totally made up for that time. When bats are flying are super fast, they just look like birds to me. I don’t know that I would ever be able to tell the difference.

bats in austin

Plow Burger

When I arrived at Plow Burger, I thought my lyft driver had made a mistake. I was in front of a bar called Buzz Mill (which I kept reading as buzzkill). But after a moment, I saw the food truck parked in the side with a sign that says to order inside the bar. The menu has 3 burger options and some sides. The patty they use on their burgers is the beyond burger, which I’m not a huge fan of because I think it tastes like meat, but I think people who have had meat within the past 20 years like it.

plow burger

I was lucky to discover that they sold Zucchini Kill baked goods there so I was able to try their S’mores cupcake without going to their brick and mortar bakery. I love how they use the Iron Maiden font for the flavor on their label.

zucchini kill cupcake

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