Vegetarian and Vegan Spots in Austin

Mr. Natural Cafe and Whole Wheat Bakery

1901 E. Cesar Chavez, 477-5228

Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm

Abandon any preconceptions of Tex-Mex (chili-cheese swamped enchiladas) and treat your tum to a meal at Mr. Natural. Both a health food grocery and 100% vegetarian restaurant, Mr. Natural is not your usual Mexican food restaurant. Their logo on the sign outside is the horn of plenty with veggies spilling out, appropriate to the inspired, healthy cuisine served within the tinted, shoe-polish-painted windows. The restaurant side is laid out cafeteria-style, though you can also order dishes off the menu. The lunch special ($5.99) lets you pile your mini tray with a choice from three or more salads, a main dish, and two sides. Don't miss the cucumber salad, tossed with onions and tomatoes in a light vinaigrette, the perfect cool accompaniment to the complex flavors in the main and side dishes like napolitos, enchiladas verdes, and soya guisada. Their understandably popular migas, made either with eggs or tofu, come sautéed with crispy homemade corn tortilla strips in a tangy, spicy ranchero sauce. Rice and beans aren't an afterthought here; both the refried and black beans are richly seasoned and the brown rice is highlighted with green beans, peas, and carrots. Under the Specials section of the menu are dishes more commonly made with meat, but that here come with wheat gluten, tofu, or T.V.P. (textured vegetable protein).

A little less than half the space in Mr. Natural is devoted to a grocery space with a wall of books on nutrition and vegetarian cooking, three aisles of vitamins, bulk and bottled herbs, and other vegetarian cookery staples. There's also a cooler stocked with bags of Mr. Natural's creative tamales (like tofu and sunflower seed) for the freezer and natural drinks for the road. This place is busy, and is run accordingly. The sharp people behind the counter keep an eagle eye on everything and everyone. You're in good hands here.

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