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Totally Rad

It's almost beside the point that the food at this new restaurant is all-vegan.

To see how Radical Eats makes those delicious fried avocado tacos, take a look through our slideshow.

Sunday brunches at Radical Eats are a sensationally mad affair. It's $12 for an all-you-can-eat buffet of vegan and gluten-free food — which is normally quite pricy in restaurants and stores — and the crush of people happy to have their gluten-free cake and eat it too is a sight to behold.

The small space off Fulton housing Radical Eats used to be a popular taqueria. And on mornings like this, it's easy to see that the spirit of the taqueria still thrives: Migas are scooped in bright yellow spoonfuls from one chafing dish, while plump tamales are doled out from another. Neither contains actual eggs or lard, but they're wolfed down by diners as if they were the real thing. In fact, one of Radical Eats's unofficial slogans is: "Don't tell anyone it's vegan."

The fried avocado tacos are the star of the show.
Troy Fields
The fried avocado tacos are the star of the show.

Location Info

Map

Radical Eats

507 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Restaurant > Tex-Mex

Region: Montrose

Details

11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Chips and queso: $5
Tamale plate: $8
Torta: $5.50
Enchilada plate: $8.50
Jalapeño poppers: $5
Fried avocado tacos: $8
All-you-can-eat Sunday brunch: $12
Bottomless aguas frescas: $3


READ MORE
BLOG POST: Totally Rad: Mexican Food Goes Vegan at Radical Eats
SLIDESHOW: Radical Eats: Vegan Food Has Never Tasted So Good


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And you'd be hard-pressed here to tell, as most of the dishes celebrate their vegetable-based origins instead of trying to mimic meat. As a result, the food is deliciously vibrant — it's easy to taste the spinach, the mushrooms, the Hatch chiles, the avocados, the okra and the other farmers' market-fresh ingredients that Radical Eats uses in its cooking, because they aren't masked by an excess of textured-vegetable protein or other meat substitutes.

My dining companion that morning was a recovering vegetarian, one who's firmly back aboard the Omnivore Express, and he wasn't too thrilled that I'd taken him to a vegan/gluten-free restaurant for brunch.

"I bet they won't even have pancakes," he muttered in the car as we pulled up. As fate would have it, Radical Eats didn't only have pancakes, it had chocolate chip pancakes. And, as a special surprise (and the only gluten-based item on the menu that day), it had excellent French toast as well, made with Slow Dough bread and served with bright agave syup. My dining partner was gobsmacked.

I get the sense that most people who see the vast brunch buffet and taste Radical Eats's food are similarly surprised by the breadth and depth of its offerings. People piled crazily on top of one another at the buffet table that morning, filling their plates over and over again until the food was gone.

The restaurant often runs out of food by 1 p.m., and suggests you get there early. I would heed this advice, as it gets busy fast. We piled atop one another in the restaurant, too: The small space still has the same layout as it did when it was a taqueria, but it lends the dining room a homespun vibe and the sense that you're eating with your extended family, or chowing down in the mess hall at camp.

In fact, being at Radical Eats feels a little like you've escaped Houston for the day — even though it's two exits north of downtown off I-45 — with its plain-Jane vegetable garden out back and dusty, bumpy roads that lead you to its welcoming front door.
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"I can't believe this. I just can't believe this," my friend Jody kept repeating as we walked into Radical Eats one sunny Wednesday afternoon. The cafe was unusually quiet, and owner Staci Davis — whose bright presence usually greets guests — was nowhere to be seen. It was the first day of the new season of Urban Harvest's City Hall Farmers Market, and Davis was revisiting her roots back at the market. For a very long time, you could only get Radical Eats's famous vegan tamales at Urban Harvest markets, which is where Davis first got her start.

That's also how most people, including my friend, know Davis. To be able to finally eat Davis's food in an actual sit-down restaurant is a thing of awe for many, Jody among them. She was surprised to learn that Radical Eats had a storefront, and that the menu has been vastly expanded to include a whole host of other vegan and gluten-free offerings. We launched straight into the menu, as Jody — who specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods — cheerfully examined all of the offerings.

Minutes later, we were sitting at a shockingly pink table slurping freshly-made aguas frescas from wide-mouthed Bell jars. Jody had poured herself a watermelon from the selection of bottomless drinks that sit, iced down, on the counter near the cash register. I was contentedly slurping up a lemonade that wasn't quite as sweet as previous incarnations here, but was refreshing nevertheless. The drinks are always bottomless here, and if you bring champagne during brunch, Radical Eats will even do a set-up for you. The place is in the process of obtaining a liquor license, though, and hopes to add a full biergarten out back alongside its garden in the fall months.

We'd ordered chips and queso that day, an appetizer that's simultaneously easy and difficult for a vegan, gluten-free restaurant to concoct: corn chips fried in vegetable oil is the easy part. The bowl of melted "cheese" is the hard part. In fact, the tapioca flour-based queso is the only thing I've had so far here that tastes vegan, desperately in need of salt and some brightening acid. Jody agreed, demurring on how difficult it can be to find replacement ingredients in vegan/gluten-free baking as well. Much experimentation is required to achieve the correct texture and consistency, let alone taste, when creating substitutes.

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9 comments
gluten free foods restaurants
gluten free foods restaurants

If you can't determine menus about a restaurant or café before leaving your house, then telephone ahead. Perhaps make certain you have a couple of choices in the area, just in case a 'gluten free' restaurant is just claiming the certification to increase patrons, but knows zero about gluten free. Trust me, it happens more than you might think.

Michelle Gunnett
Michelle Gunnett

Staci's food is amazing! The avocado tacos are heavenly. Haven't tried the queso yet, so can't comment but if you want to try something truly cheesy get the Mac 'n Cheese. If it's not on the menu, it's sold prepackaged at Antidote Coffee and Black Hole Coffee. The restaurant is easy to get to from I-45 and Patton, just north of downtown.

Bigrob
Bigrob

Tried it on a whim and liked it...didnt think i would like anything off the menu, but the okra tacos were pretty damn delish.

Their websites states they are in the "Heights", and I was shocked to find this place in the hood I grew up in. Heights location - no, Heights prices - yes.

Glad to see they have a sunday brunch option at a reasonable price...look forward to returning soon.

eatTX
eatTX

Do they have a liquor license and if not are they BYOB?

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Alright, I'm going to try this place, but I am very skeptical that it will be any good. The only vegetarian thing I ever recommend is the felafel at Zabak's. I'll be sure and do a write up on it when i'm done.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

They are BYOB for now, as mentioned in the review: "The place is in the process of obtaining a liquor license, though, and hopes to add a full biergarten out back alongside its garden in the fall months." So bring that beer and enjoy! :)

 
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