austin, part 1: tacos, sweet tacos

no breakfast tacos

So…they were so sick of being asked for breakfast tacos that it was worth it to purchase and power this neon “No breakfast tacos” sign? Welcome to Austin.

And welcome to my Austin taco post. So many tacos that my rest-of-Austin post will have to wait. Not a taco fan, you say? Well, darlin’, you just haven’t explored “taco” to its fullest. That’s like saying you don’t like sandwiches.

I traveled to Austin with Jess and Janessa, to do some location scouting for Vida Vegan, and I promise you I shall return. Austin is much like Portland in that it’s a young, somewhat liberal bubble of a city. I didn’t really hear any Texas accents, save for at the airport. And I’m guessing it’s the easiest place to eat vegan in Texas. And eat we did.

vivo sign

Our first stop was Vivo, where we met up with a childhood friend of Janessa’s. Gold stars and check-plus for this one.

vivo puffy taco

Ladies and gentlemen, my first Austin taco. Also my first puffy taco. We all chose different fillings; I got one with guacamole filling and one with grilled tofu. The guac one was tough to eat taco-style so I ended up using a knife and fork…but it still tasted so good. The grilled tofu one stood as my favorite taco of the trip.

Oh, I’m sorry, through my rambling and raving I didn’t hear you ask what a puffy taco was! It’s the best thing ever. Super fresh corn tortillas are lightly fried in oil so they puff up. So it’s not a hard shell. There’s a delicacy to it. You might also note from the photo (shot in sadly low light), this is no Taco Bell taco. What we found throughout our trip was a simplicity in taco ingredients, fresh and light.

vivo cucumber margarita

Austin can also make a mean margarita. This is Jess’s cucumber margarita. Slightly sweeter than expected but still refreshing. And friggin’ huge. vivo prickly pear margarita

And the margarita ordered by everyone else at the table: prickly pear! How gorgeous is that? Tangy and smooth and also friggin’ huge. Maybe it was the fact that I’d been up since 4 am or maybe it was the warm, dry Texas air, but even eating as much as I did, this thing got to me.

vivo chips guac

Not that these chips and salsa and guacamole weren’t also stars, but something’s got to go last. We were also convinced these are the best chips ever chipped. If you like spicy, ask for a side of their chipotle sauce, which is just chipotles and oil.

gueros menu

Next stop, Guero’s! We found this place mostly by random searching and thanks to Quentin Tarantino. It wasn’t gold stars; as #jadedvegans we weren’t wowed by the food. But it was a comfortable patio, with friendly staff and…

gueros vegan menu

…a nice half-page vegan menu. The print at the top might be too small to read, but it says “Many items on our regular menu can be vegan…” Even if there were no separate vegan menu, just this phrase instills so much confidence in the servers and chefs. Thanks, Guero’s.

gueros salsa

The complimentary chips and salsa. Bagged chips (with their volume I guess they’d have to be or have a dedicated full-time chip fryer), but super appreciate the three salsas. I’m pretty sure we left three empty cups. If we’d read the menu a little more closely we’d have noticed our unlimited refills at the salsa bar.

gueros guac

And a Texas-size portion of guacamole, for cheap. This would also completely disappear. This is my kind of quacamole, so much better than the squishy stuff.

gueros margarita

Our Happy Hour $4 frozen margaritas. A tasty little bugger. Janessa said she dreamed about this margarita last night.

gueros michele

My plain-Jane vegetable tacos. Squash and zucchini and onion…which would then be topped with salsa and quacamole. The potatoes are pretty much just fried, not too seasoned. And I got black beans, which were served in a thin sauce. I confess, I did not finish my beans—otherwise, my plate was clean!

gueros jess

Jess’s soyrizo taco.

gueros janessa

And Janessa’s enchiladas, one with black bean and one with spinach & mushrrom.

vegan nom menu

We scheduled a meet-up at the Vegan Nom taco cart, to see friends old and new. (Hi Joanna Vaught, Blissful Chef, Lazy Smurf, and Red Hot Vegans!) It was super dark, so the photos were all crap. But the three of us each got a different taco (mine was the Jalisco, with fakey chicken, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro—normally comes with vegan cheese but I declined), and they were without a doubt the spiciest tacos of the trip. The cart has a little fenced-off BYOB area with some tables and chairs, and is apparently in the cool part of town. Super close by was Sweet Ritual, an ice cream joint where we met up with team Food for Lovers and I enjoyed the hell out of a peanut butter smores sundae.

thunderbird tacodeli

And get this: One morning we stopped by Thunderbird for coffee, and they had Tacodeli breakfast tacos to go. We also got breakfast tacos at Wheatsville Co-op (more from them in the next post), but this is much more notable. Coffee shops get daily deliveries of muffins and bagels all the time. I guess in Austin, you don’t want to be that place without the breakfast tacos (or you have to buy yourself a neon sign).

Want more? Check out Part 2—the non-taco post—here.

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