Second Helpings: Vegetarian

Veggie Heaven
Veggie Heaven (Photo By John Anderson)

Casa de Luz1701 Toomey Rd., 476-2535

Daily, 11:30am-2pm, 6-8pm

Meals $9 (includes beverage, tax, and tip) except Saturday-Sunday brunches, $11

Casa de Luz is a peaceful oasis in the middle of a busy city. Follow the walkway through herbs and flowers to the inviting airy dining room for food that is organic, in season, vegan, and all natural. Each meal includes soup, a whole grain, beans or legumes, some kind of steamed greens, a cooked vegetable, a garden salad, and a pickle.

Wheatsville Deli

3101 Guadalupe, 478-2667

Daily, 9am-9pm

Fresh as the produce on aisle one, Wheatsville's deli offers sandwiches, spreads, smoothies, salads, and soups for those on the go. The pre-made deli case selections change daily and never taste tired. Some dishes are seasonal; others, such as ginger tempeh pasta salad, are almost always available. For sandwich bread, choose from oniony focaccia, soft whole-wheat kaiser, the hippie bun, or dark pumpernickel.

Veggie Heaven

1914-A Guadalupe, 457-1013

Monday-Friday, 11am-9pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-9pm

Veggie Heaven is a gift from the gods, providing Taiwanese-style vegetarian and vegan food at moderate prices. The visually stunning menu features color pictures of each of the 48 dishes. The food is excellent, the service hip and happening, and the aura comforting. Tangerine Mushrooms ($6.95) are a generous serving of flash-fried and crusted mushrooms paired with broccoli crowns tossed with a spicy tangerine sauce. Cathay Fajitas ($6.95) are a take on the classic Chinese moo-shi pancakes, stuffed with delicately fried tofu strips, cabbage, sprouts, onions and garlic, carrots, and zucchini.

Mr. Natural Cafe and Whole Wheat Bakery

1901 E. Cesar Chavez, 477-5228

Monday-Saturday, 9am-7pm

Abandon preconceptions of Tex-Mex (chili-cheese swamped enchiladas) and treat yourself to a meal at Mr. Natural, both a health-food grocery and 100% vegetarian restaurant. The lunch special lets you pile your mini tray with a choice of three or more salads, a main dish, and two sides. Don't miss the cucumber salad, the perfect cool accompaniment to dishes like napolitos, enchiladas verdes, and soya guisada. Migas, made either with eggs or tofu, come sautéed with crispy homemade corn tortilla strips in a tangy, spicy ranchero sauce.

Mother's Cafe & Garden

4215 Duval, 451-3994

Daily, 10am-10pm; Saturday-Sunday brunch, 10am-3pm

Located in the heart of Hyde Park, Mother's has been a welcoming vegetarian refuge since 1979. The completely vegetarian menu is a mix of Southern and Tex-Mex, and includes a selection of soups and salads, BBQ tofu, chile rellenos, ravioli marinara, the Bueno Burger, a fat avocado sandwich, and the Peasant's Meal (brown rice, a choice from the daily bean selection, and a salad).

Bouldin Creek Coffee House and Cafe

1501 S. First, 416-1601

Monday-Friday, 7am-midnight; Saturday-Sunday, 9am-midnight

The purple and lime-green Bouldin Creek Coffee House and Cafe, located within a stone's throw of the creek, provides good, fundamental fare that is hearty and filling, good for you, and cheap. There is breakfast served all day, salads, and sandwiches. No meat in sight, but eggs are a recurring theme and cheese is available. Many items are vegan, or can be prepared in that fashion.

West Lynn Cafe

1100 West Lynn, 482-0950

Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm; Friday, 11:30am-10:30pm; Saturday, 11am-10:30pm; Sunday, 11am-9:30pm; Saturday-Sunday brunch 11am-3pm

For years, West Lynn Cafe has been one of Austin's premier purveyors of vegetarian cuisine. With an extensive, all-vegetarian "international" menu, West Lynn offers a moderately priced, refined vegetarian cuisine that showcases Italian, Southwest, Thai, Indian, and Russian vegetarian specialties.

Madras Pavilion

9025 Research Blvd., #100, 719-5575

Monday-Friday, 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-9:30pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11:30am-10pm (buffet, 11:30am-3:30pm)

Madras Pavilion features authentic vegetarian South Indian cuisine. The superb lunch buffet includes lentil soup, steamed rice cakes (iddly), and crisp fried lentil donuts (medhu vada) to be dipped in tamarind broth, raita, or five different chutneys. There are five differently spiced vegetable dishes served with white and tamarind rices and chappati and papad breads. Each diner receives a prepared-to-order dosa, a huge, thin rice crepe filled with a zesty potato and vegetable spread. The dinner menu offers a wide selection of reasonably priced appetizers, vegetable curries, dosai, and uthappam (large, light, pizza-like bread with various toppings).

Vegetable Garden

707-B W. 24th, 469-0086

Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm

This is the latest incarnation of the little dining room attached to Momoko Bubble Tea Room. Airily minimalist, it is decorated with blond woods, paper lamps, bamboo shades, and glass sculpture. Along with the vast selection of superior bubble teas, the light lunch menu (served 11am-5pm) offers a list of 43 Japanese combinations for $5.95-$6.95, including 16 vegetarian options composed of a lovely miso soup or salad and two sushi-style rolls, each with 6-8 pieces. Vegetarian ingredients include cucumber, seaweed, spicy silken tofu, and avocado.

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