Restaurant, Vegan

Via 313

A little group of us wanted pizza last Saturday night so we opted for somewhere new.  VIA 313 is a Detroit Style Pizzeria with two sit-down restaurants locations and one food truck in the Austin area.  We went to the newest location off of Guadalupe in the North Campus area.  I have to admit I have never even heard of “Detroit Style” pizza before, but it quickly became a winner in our books!

The location we went to had an open dinning area with a bar along the back wall.  There was a mixture of high top round tables that can sit 2-3 people, 2 long community style tables and I believe I saw a couple of normal tables at the opposite end of the restaurant.  We arrived around 6:30pm and found a place to park in the attached garage pretty quickly.  We could tell they were already getting busy inside and we did have to wait about 20mins for a table (which wasn’t bad because they originally told us 30-40mins).  While we waited we enjoyed a beer from the bar.   They also offer to-go orders and the line for pick up was pretty impressive.  I could tell pretty quickly why they were so busy because it smelled amazing inside!  (Pictures below were taken on a different visit when not so busy.  2:30pm on a Sunday.  Yes, we went again the next day for lunch, it’s that good!)

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Bar area with Take out

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Beers on Tap

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Community table

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Rear seating area

Once we were seated, we met our waitress and she was very knowledgeable.  She asked us if we had ever been here before and if anyone had any food allergies.  I explained it was our first time and that I was vegan.  She took a minute to go over the menu and explained what Detroit Style pizza was.  Basically it is a thicker, fluffy crust and they put the cheese directly on the crust and then the sauce and toppings on top of that.  Then she showed me what options I had and what was her favorite choices.  They have vegan cheese which was “Follow Your Heart” brand (way better than Diaya in my opinion) and pretty much any pizza could be made vegan by adding or taking off certain toppings.  They also had a couple of vegan starters which were white bean humus and, her recommendation, the roasted broccoli and cauliflower.  My husband and our friend (both Omni) ordered starters but I wasn’t starving so I passed this time.  Then she did inform us that the pizzas would take around 30-40 mins to cook and rechecked with me to make sure I didn’t want something while we waited.

So after waiting about an hour before our actual pizzas came (from the time we arrived), we made a note to get there earlier so that we could actually be eating a little earlier.  Either way, the wait was definitely worth it 110%!  We each ordered the 8×10 inch, square, personal sized pizzas.  My  husband was concerned that it might not be enough to fill him up, but he was wrong.  When the pizzas came they looked and smelled fantastic.  It was like heaven when I took my first bite!  I ordered the Herbivore ($12, with an extra $3 for the vegan cheese) and switched out the onions for pineapples.  The crust was so good and having the cheese right on it made it taste even better.  The red sauce was really tasty too;  it had a very distinct, homemade taste.  The only thing I would have done differently was asked for a side of the red sauce to use for dipping!  My husband and his friend loved their pizzas as well and no one could finish their plates!  The four little squares are very deceiving and are very filling!  We each had to go boxes for tomorrow!  Yum!

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The Herbivore, with pineapple instead of onions.  Sorry I took a couple bites before I remembered to take a picture!  It was too good to wait!

Overall, Via 313 is the best pizza I have had in a very long time.  Out of all the places in Austin that I have had vegan pizza at (Conan’s and Blaze Pizza are the most recent) this place blew them all out of the water!  And my Omni company also agreed that it was the best pizza they have had period.  Price wise it was very comparable to Conan’s.  It cost us $37 for two pizzas (one with vegan cheese and one with extra toppings) as well as one caesar salad.  We will definitely be coming back and I highly recommend them for any group of eaters!

 

 

 

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Restaurant, Vegan

Tacos and Tequila Brunch

Tacos and Tequila (or TnT) is a Southwest style scratch restaurant/bar, located off of 5th and Pressler street in downtown Austin.  The atmosphere is very Austin; laid back, open dinning area with a full bar and patio area.  TnT has a full menu during the week featuring street tacos, burritos, wraps and an extensive Tequila menu.  On Saturday and Sunday mid-morning (10-3pm) they offer an all you can eat brunch.  The brunch is $22 a person and includes two mimosas (original, pineapple, or pomegranate). While this is not to be considered a vegan restaurant, it is very vegan friendly.

The service was amazing for this buffet style brunch.  The staff was very knowledgeable about how their foods were prepared and were extremely accommodating.  There honestly were not a lot of vegan choices right on the buffet, but our awesome waitress made sure to go over everything with me and also spoke with her manager to see how they could accommodate me.  The manager personally came to our table and informed me that she had asked the chef to make me a couple veggie skewers as well as some black beans without the cheese.   They also told me that they would only charge me for a child’s portion since I would not be having the full buffet, and with that, even extended the two free mimosas as well (normally the buffet is $22 a person but mine came to only $7)!

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I had the Pineapple mimosa, veggie skewers, black beans, sweet corn cakes, mixed fruit, guacamole with pico on flour tortillas with chipotle salsa. There were also vegan waffles and some other sides like cucumber salad that were available but I did not try. (I was literally too full after several tacos and sweet corn cakes!)

We had taken a friend there for his birthday because that was where he wanted to go.  It wound up being a good place for both vegans and omnivores to eat.  I didn’t leave hungry and the mimosas were a nice touch.  I’m glad that the restaurant was so accommodating to my needs and only charged me the $7 child’s buffet price.  (It was worth it for that, but it would have been on the expensive side if it had been full priced.)  My omni husband and his friend loved the full buffet and for what they offered, was well worth the price.  I would recommend this buffet to any mixed group that wants to have a great brunch in the middle of downtown Austin!

 

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Restaurant, Vegan

Doggie Style

In the heart of Austin, TX a foodie is guaranteed one thing, and that is an awesome selection of food trucks.  A vegan foodie can even get in on this action with a wide variety of foods all served out of little box trucks, trailers, or even a short bus!  The newest of these food trucks is a place called Doggie Style, located in south Austin off of 1st and Live Oak.  They serve out of this world, you would never have guessed it wasn’t meat, fully loaded, vegan hot dogs.

There isn’t too much to talk about when it comes to the ambiance of this “restaurant”.  Their truck is located on a shared dirt lot with about 5 other food trucks and there is a shaded area with several picnic tables to sit at.  I have to say in the summer time, when it is over 100 degrees with the heat index, sitting with the A/C in your car maybe a better choice.  We roughed it and sat at one of the tables at our last visit.  I can imagine in the cooler months, this little corner will be hopping with hungry hot doggers!  Even though the parking lot is small, there is also street parking for those busier times.

They offer a menu of about 6 different styles of loaded dogs.  From the “Improv“($5) being the classic or plain Jane to the “Walking Taco” ($6) which has coney sauce, queso, green onions and Fritos!  Weekly they also offer a “special dog” and the “It’s Always Sunny Dog” ($6) was on special when we came.  It was a vegan hot dog, loaded with grilled onions, peppers and banana peppers, topped with a vegan cheddar sauce all on a homemade poppy-seed bun.  I added a side of crinkle cut french fries ($3 as a side or $2 with a hot dog) to complete my fabulous lunch.  I only had to wait maybe 5-10 mins  before they called out that my order was ready to pick up at the window (this was at about 1:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday).  They offer the normal array of condiments like ketchup, mustard, and even Sriracha hot sauce and you can have the dogs for there or to go.  Along with the hot dogs they offer appetizers called “Teasers” such as chips and queso, loaded fires, and nachos (which I have yet to try)!

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Doggie Style started as a KickStarter back in May of 2016.  They needed to raise $6000 dollars to help with the cost of various things like equipment and permits.  Austin has such a great vegan community and well just awesome people in general, that it wasn’t hard for them to meet and surpass their goal in a very short amount of time.  Now they are up and running and open to serve the hungry vegan (and non-vegan) community 6 days a week.  I would highly, highly recommend giving them a try.  I’ve tried other store-bought, imposter dogs, and none of them can measure up to what Chef Dustin has created!  Enjoy!

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Restaurant, Vegan

Welcome to my first restaurant review!

I’ve been thinking about adding a new category to my blog where I can review the restaurants that I have eaten at.  These reviews will primarily be about all the tasty vegan foods I have found in and around Austin, TX.  I hope to also add reviews about places I visit out-of-town as well!  I am very new to “reviewing” anything really, but everyone loves food and I love being able to tell people about how awesome a vegan lifestyle can be.  I will cover everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and most importantly desserts!  I hope to include pictures of what I had as well as links to the restaurants websites when available.  So here goes nothing!

Last night while trying to pick a place to eat, I suggested to my husband that we should try something new.  Sometimes we have a tendency of going to the same places and even though they are always good, they become less exciting the more frequently we eat there.  I had seen many posts on Facebook from my vegan friends around town about an Ethiopian restaurant called Taste of Ethiopia in Pflugerville, TX (which is on the north-east side of I-35, about 20 mins out of Northwest Austin where we live).  All the pictures I had seen them post of the food looked amazing and I really like trying International foods. Plus, they have a 4.5 star rating on Yelp and with over 500 reviewers, I felt like we couldn’t go wrong.

They are not strictly vegan, so it is a place for everyone to eat.  The restaurant itself was pretty easy to find and had plenty of parking on the weekend because the other businesses around them were closed.  I loved the atmosphere and the quaint feeling of the small, 8 table, inner section of the restaurant.  We were asked if we would like to sit inside or on the patio.  We chose a small table by the window inside.  The hostesses/waitress/busser was very sweet and even though she had broken English she made us feel welcomed and excited to be there.  All the tables had Mesobs on them which are large, shallow bowls made out of straw, with colorful lids on top.  The only way I could describe the lids is that they resembled sombreros made out of colorful straw.  She removed the lid as we sat down and waited for our waiter.

As far as we could tell there was only one waiter.  It took him a second to get over to us because there were about four other tables he was looking over.  Once he did come over he was extremely friendly and asked us if it was our first time here.  I told him it was and that I was vegan and had heard so many good things about the vegan options here.  He said that he was sure I would be pleasantly surprised and explained that anything on the menu that was listed as vegetarian could be made vegan.  After going over the menu and taking our drink order and he gave us a moment to decide on our meals.

We had already looked at the menu before we came so we knew what we wanted to order when he came back.  I ordered The Sampler (priced at $21.95), which was a small taste of each of the vegan foods they offered.  On the menu The Sampler is listed in serving sizes of 2-5.  I asked if they offered a serving for one, but he said two was the smallest.  I didn’t care though because I wanted to be able to try a little bit of everything since I had never had this type of food before.  My husband ordered a beef dish called Siga Tibbs (priced at $11.95) which was beef tips mixed with spices and an array of vegetables.

The plating style here is family style.  This is where the Mesobs came into place.  Our waiter explained that both of our meals would be served together on the same platter but he reassured me that the meat portion would not touch my food and he even offered me my own platter if I wanted.  I told him it would be ok for them to be on the same platter.

We waited maybe 15 minutes and then a tray stand was placed next to our table and shortly after our waiter came out to serve us.  The very first thing he put down was a large tray that fit perfectly in our Mesob and lining the tray was a thin, almost crepe looking item called Injera bread.  In taste, it is similar to sourdough bread and we learned it is also gluten-free.  On the tray next to us he had several little bowls full of all sorts of wonderful smelling foods.  The tray that our injera bread was on had a small, raised section on it that he filled with my husbands beef tips.  Then, going all around the tray he places two small portions of the five different vegan offerings which included:  Gomen (seasoned collard greens), Fesolia (seasoned vegetable stew with green beans and carrots), Yemisisr (a lentil type stew with amazing spices and vegetables (this was my favorite, it reminded me of Sloppy Joes!)), Tikil Gomen (a steamed and seasoned cabbage with other mixed vegetables) and finally Ater Kik (a spilt pea stew with herbs and spices).

After everything was plated so beautifully, there was a small basket of rolled up pieces of Injera bread placed next to us and this was the most fun part of the meal.  The Injera bread is equivalent to American silverware!  Our waiter explained to us that you tear off a small piece of the bread and use it to scoop up your food!  My husband was all about this since he grew up in South America where eating with your hands was an everyday thing.  And even though eating with my hands was frowned upon when I was little, I dug right in with no reserve!  I have to admit, we did take a moment to look around to see if others were eating in the same fashion and we didn’t see a single fork anywhere (although silverware is available upon request).

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The food was amazing!  My husband loved his beef tips (I took his word on this, even though I wouldn’t want to try them).  I slowly made my way around the tray to try a little bit of everything and it was all good.  There were even small servings of salad with a vinegar based dressing to eat as well.  My husband also tried all of my food and loved all of it; so much so that I had to tell him to back off!  We were worried that his meal plus my meal (that was made for two) would be too much food, but instead it wound up being just enough.  We did run out of Injera but just continued to eat with our hands anyways.  I’m pretty sure we could have gotten more, as other tables around us did, but it was just too good to stop and wait for a refill.

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As you can see, you can pretty much eat everything that is placed in front of you.  Our waiter checked on us many times throughout our meal and made sure we had plenty of napkins too.  He was very thrilled to hear that we enjoyed the food so much.  We told him we would make sure to bring some friends next time and my husband was going to tell people at work about it too.

I would definitely come and eat here again.  The food was so rich and flavorful and the service was great too.  If you are bring people for the first time, I would probably mention the lack of utensils just in case they are not as adventurous.  Honestly though, by the time the food comes to the table, you don’t think about anything else but getting it into your mouth, so it shouldn’t be an issue!

I hope you enjoyed my very first food/restaurant review.  Please feel free to leave comments about what you enjoyed, if you have ever been or plan on visiting the mentioned restaurant or if there is anything else you would like to learn about for future blogs!

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