Austin 2012 City Guide: Northside Vegetarian
Me and my fellow foodies of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance are putting together the 2012 City Guide of all our favorite places in Austin. This is my first time contributing and I’m excited to share some of my favorite bites. Be on the lookout for my upcoming post on the Austin Persian food scene in the next few days.
I’m not a vegetarian. I tried to become one a few years ago and quickly realized that I do really enjoy meat from time to time. However, I am pretty conscious about from where my meat comes so I often choose a vegetarian option when dining out. I’m usually dining with those who think that every meal must include meat, so I appreciate restaurants that have a wide variety of options for all tastes. Here are a few I recommend.
The Steeping Room
My favorite is The Steeping Room (11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Ste. 112, Austin, TX 78758). This little cafe tucked in the Domain has something for everyone. From vegetarian to carnivore to vegan to gluten-free, any preferences or dietary restrictions can be accommodated deliciously. Plus they have a large selection of loose tea and some of the best desserts in Austin. Try their Deep Chocolate Caramel Cake and be prepared to share. It’s sinfully good. Beyond the wonderful food, the service at The Steeping Room always surpasses most restaurants in Austin. The waitstaff are friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. There is always a manager around making sure things run smoothly. The decor is calm and bright and the staff carry that through your experience.
Here are a few of my favorite vegetarian dishes they have:
You must start with some tea.
If they have tomato coconut soup available get it, trust me on this.
The Mediterranean platter. Great as an appetizer, snack, or meal.
Goat cheese, arugula, and olive tapenade tea sandwiches with a cashew caesar salad. This is my favorite caesar salad in Austin and guess what? It’s vegan!
My usual: Grilled seasonal veggie sandwich with goat cheese spread on ciabatta, with the cashew caesar, of course.
Photos courtesy of Sara Nezamabadi
Bombay Bistro (10710 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78759) is my favorite Indian Restaurant on the northside. It’s in the HEB shopping center on the southeast corner of Braker and 183. I usually go for the lunch buffet where you get a lot of really good food for not a whole lot ($8.95). Service has always been great. I have to say I love their raita on everything. The naan is both crispy and chewy and is fresh. The saag paneer has a wonderful creaminess and is a popular item. I really like the aloo gobhi and the Shabnam curry with lots of mushrooms and green peas. They use good basmati rice and cook it properly. As a rice snob, I’m super picky about this and appreciate restaurants who take their rice seriously. When you leave they have candied fennel seeds instead of mints; a little touch that seals the deal on a great meal.
Tino’s Greek Cafe
Greek food is akin to traditional southern comfort food to me. It makes me happy. I recently tried Tino’s Greek Cafe (6 locations, 4 in north Austin) and was pleasantly surprised. There’s not a lot of Greek options in town, especially good ones, and Tino’s is good. They had a wide variety of traditional Greek fare and good amount of vegetarian options. I went for lunch and had the vegetarian platter with dolmathes, tzadziki, spanakopita, moussaka, and falafel. The dolmathes and falafel dipped in the tzadziki was my favorite part. I liked the moussaka, but it didn’t blow me away and the spanakopita could have used a bit more seasoning, but overall it was a great lunch, especially for $6.99. For the carnivores, the gyro meat was really good and I might have to go back and get the gyro next time.