You wouldn’t exactly associate Texas with vegan food, after all, it is the home of BBQ, chicken-fried steak, tacos and a wide variation of Tex-Mex all smoothered in a load of cheese. However, as I discovered, you can find a few places that not only serve up vegan food but do a very good job of it. Here are my top vegan eats in Texas and New Orleans (I couldn’t miss out New Orleans as the food I had there was really tasty).
Whole Foods, Austin
Despite protests from the partner about why, when we were in the fabulous city of Austin, we had to traipse halfway across town to visit a store of which we have many in London, we did head there one day for lunch. And what a joy it was (if you can say that about a rather pricey healthy supermarket). For a start, it was absolutely huge. Then the salad bar was huge and there was a juice bar, sushi bar, pulled pork bar (for my partner) and even a normal bar where you could sit and have one of the many tasty craft beers from the region. And for someone in my position where it’s often difficult to find healthy vegan options, this was a delight. It was worth the visit as the store in Austin is a flagship and also the HQ of the whole of Whole Foods (who knew it). I went for a tasty selection from the salad bar and sat outside in the garden to tuck in.
Casa De Luz, Austin
Based just outside the city centre of Austin, Casa De Luz is a community centre and culinary delight that serves a daily healthy vegan menu of starter, salad and main for just 12 dollars. It was just what we needed after a dip in Barton Springs. Their menus vary from day to day and are put together with care and attention. We started off with a delicious soup and salad dressed in a delicious ground almond vinaigrette which I really want to get the recipe for. This was followed by what I can only describe as a mixture of satisfying mouthfuls on a plate. It was also all gluten free so got the thumbs up from the partner. As the woman who we recommended it to us said, you came away feeling full but pleasantly so, thanks to a mixture of light flavours and wholesome food.
The Rum House, New Orleans
This rather large restaurant which prides itself on a fusion of tacos and Caribbean food also does a pretty mean guacamole. I really wasn’t expecting much as I had to re-order my meal because it was pretty loud inside, the waitress didn’t understand my accent or the idea of #veganism. But when she eventually came out with what was a mound of creamy, delectable mango and avocado dip all was forgiven. My only disappointment after that was I couldn’t finish it.
Picnics, in the car
Not the most glamorous of locations to eat but sometimes munching in the car while driving right across Texas (a 9-hour journey was our longest) was the only way to do it. And to be honest, it was good sometimes to have a break from dining out, which was reflected in our choice of food. A veggie platter with hummus, apples, a few Kind bars and water. Not exactly a diet that will put hairs on your chest but it sustained us and gave our tummies a rest from the heavy TexMex options.
The Starlight Theatre, Terlingua Ghost Town
If you think Texas is all glamorous city skylines and cowboy ranches then you’re wrong – head east and you’ll encounter one of the most beautiful places in the world – Big Bend National State Park. Larger than Rhode island, this natural landscape is packed full of trails to explore and views that will take your breath away. We weren’t there long enough in my opinion and stayed overnight close by in a small town called Terlingua (which means three languages apparently) where we headed to the famous Starlight Theatre. Now I didn’t think much of it from the write up but was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere, entertainment on “tutu Tuesday” and the exceptional vegan tacos. Essentially, it was tacos packed full of salad, guacamole and salsa but it tasted so fresh. Definitely a highlight of the holiday in more ways than one.
Green Vegetarian Cuisine, San Antonio
With a riverwalk brought to life by cafes and colourful parasols, the famous Alamo and plenty of museums, San Antonio is a great city to visit. Head south and you’ll come across the Blue Star Arts Complex, which is full of boutiques and art galleries. Go the other way and you’ll find the converted old Pearl Brewery where you can sip on a tasty cocktail or two while people watching. It’s here that you’ll also come across Green Vegetarian Cuisine, a 100 percent veggie restaurant that has been going for more than 20 years now. We spent our last night here and were not disappointed by the fare on offer. Honestly, it was so good to have more than one choice on the menu (and if that sometimes). I went for the protein salad (Kale salad, fresh spinach, chickpeas, quinoa tabouli, flaxseed, pecan hummus, carrots, tomato, avocado, and roasted tofu) and the partner decided to go for the raw deal wrap (Pecan hummus, celery, bell pepper, carrots, cranberries, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, all wrapped in a collard green) with sweet potato fries, slaw and quinoa taboli. Both were equally delicious and a lighter way to enjoy our final night in the USA. If you’re struggling for ideas of what to eat, it’s worth taking a look at their menu.