It isn’t just the omnivores who have a dilemma.
Picture this: it’s Friday night. Not in the mood to go out on sixth street again, you make casual dinner plans with a new friend. But where to go? An arsenal of restaurants in mind, you give them a call, only to find… they’re vegetarian. Oh, the horror! You might be dragged to a place where nothing is cooked over 115 degrees, and similarly, they have visions of eating iceberg salad while you chow down on a sirloin. Fear not, for Austin has a multitude of restaurants to satisfy both veggie and meat-eater. Easy to afford on a college student budget, here are my current faves:
Torchy’s Tacos. In a place where tacos equal fear of lard and other animal ingredients, Torchy’s offers two imaginative and truly vegetarian taco options. By far the favorite, the fried avocado taco is served with vegetarian refried beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, jack cheese, and poblano ranch sauce- a perfect marriage of spicy, creamy, and crunchy flavors. They offer up a creative taco of the month, and in good weather, their South Austin Trailerpark location on S.1st street is a fun date to go on.
P. Terry’s. A locally operated burger joint that opened in 2006, P. Terry’s offers a veggie burger that is not frozen, but handmade from brown rice, crimini mushrooms, black beans, oats, onions, and cheese. For the meat-eaters, they offer a patty made from Black Angus beef that is raised on an all-vegetarian diet, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. Paired with locally grown tomatoes and hand-cut french fries fried in non-hydrogenated oil, P. Terry’s offers up a fantastically fresh-tasting burger at a great price.
Tarka Indian Kitchen. Tarka, meaning spices or seasoning, is the creation of the folks behind the famed Clay Pit restaurant. While it doesn’t have the rustic feel of the Clay Pit, Tarka has a bright ambiance and great food for a fraction of the cost. Vegetarians certainly don’t miss out on flavor here. The basmati rice, which comes with every meal, is cooked to perfection and subtly spiced with traditional Indian spices- you will occasionally find a whole cinnamon stick in there! Tarka offers a whopping six vegetarian options, including well-known dishes such as Channa Masala (chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce) and Aloo Ghobi (potatoes and cauliflower with north Indian spices.)
Avoid the steakhouses and the raw food restaurants, know that nearly every food stand and restaurant in Austin has some kind of vegetarian option that is actually decent; and you, dear reader, will know true balance.