Vegan food isn't just for vegans anymore, folks. What used to be viewed as an extreme diet for hippies and tree huggers is finally, thankfully, being embraced and respected in popular culture. But with veganism's newfound popularity, it can be hard sorting out the vegan restaurants that are worth your time—especially in a city like Austin. That's why I've broken down the best vegan spots in Austin for every occasion.
Best Greasy Food: Arlo's
Nothing completes a night out like a greasy burger and fries. That's what makes Arlo's location, in the front yard of Austin's only vegan gay bar, Cheer Up Charlie's, so perfect. Arlo's serves up bacon cheeseburgers, chicken tacos, and loaded chili cheese tots till the wee hours of the morning—all vegan, of course.
Best Vegetarian: Bouldin Creek Café
Bouldin Creek Café, an all-vegetarian restaurant, is an Austin staple. Their quirky decor and and inventive dishes emulate Austin, drawing vegheads and meat eaters alike.#SpoonTip: if you're looking for an epic breakfast, try The Renedict. Trust me.
Best Experience: Casa de Luz
Casa de Luz isn't a restaurant so much as a community celebrating health and freedom. They have a set menu every day and serve up 100% organic, vegan, gluten-free, nutrient-rich meals that will leave you feeling better than when you came in. Their cafeteria is nestled behind an entrance that will lead you past tiny courtyards, fountains, gorgeous string lights, and classrooms. If you're down to find your zen and make some new friends at your communal table, this is where you want to eat your next meal.
Best Dessert: Sweet Ritual
Sweet Ritual is an innovative ice cream shop offering ice cream bases like coconut, almond, cashew, peanut, sunbutter, or soy and coconut mix. They have 16 rotating flavors daily, including seasonal flavors like cashew fig and my all-time favorite, unicorn poop. Not to mention their crazy toppings like activated charcoal, lavender simple syrup, and edible glitter—it's almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Best Smoothies: JuiceLand
Yet another Austin favorite, JuiceLand serves up incredible juices, smoothies, and grab-and-go vegan meals. They have tons of locations and the vibe of the shop varies from each one, but the coolest one by far is on Barton Springs Road. It's surrounded by greenery, has an eccentric outdoor seating area, and possibly has the steepest driveway in the world. That last part it could do without, but hey, it adds character.
Best Tacos: Vegan Nom
When I say best tacos, I don't mean best vegan tacos—I mean best tacos. The moment you taste a taco from The Vegan Nom, you'll forget all about the meat and cheese you thought tacos needed. With rotating daily $2 taco specials and a featured taco every month, you'll never get tired of eating your veggies.
Best BBQ: BBQ Revolution
You read that right. BBQ Revolution is the greatest vegan BBQ in town, proving that vegans can still eat whatever cuisine their hearts desire. They provide all the BBQ classics: brisket, ribs, coleslaw, mac and cheese, baked beans, and of course, a piece of white bread on the side.
Best All Around: Counter Culture
Counter Culture is the vegan mecca of Austin. They are a 100% vegan restaurant with a retro vibe and incredible dishes for whatever mood you're in, be it pancake breakfast, Tex-Mex, or raw pad thai. If you're ever eating out with a vegan, this is the place to dine; the boundless options are sure to make their day. And you can't go wrong with any of them...especially not the pesto rawvioli.