Earlier this week, we featured some stunning vegan donuts from local vegan and gluten-free baker Jodycakes. Even in a carnivorous city like Houston, eating vegan can be done -- and done surprisingly well.
Jodycakes isn't the only vegan baker in town; Sinfull Bakery's vegan cookies and other sweet treats are sold in grocery stores and coffee shops throughout the city, making it easy to pick up a snack if you're on the run or suddenly craving sugar.
Also easy to pick up around town are the pre-packaged vegan meals from Radical Eats, which are sold at farmers' markets and coffee shops like Antidote and Black Hole; just heat and eat. Luckily, Radical Eats also has its own standalone restaurant now, serving vegan tamales, tacos and tortas at lunch and dinner and a wickedly good vegan brunch on Sundays.
But Radical Eats is far from alone.
Cafe TH doesn't bill itself as vegetarian or vegan, but offers excellent vegan Vietnamese food nevertheless. Its coconut milk-thickened vegan curry has swayed every carnivore I've introduced to the stuff, and even landed on my list of 100 Favorite Dishes (as did the vegan fried avocado taco from Radical Eats). Cafe TH also offers a vegan pho and vegan eggrolls, both of which are lighter in taste yet still full of flavor.
Another vegan favorite is the curious, cult-owned Loving Hut, way out on Westheimer. Get past the fact that it's operated by the mysterious Supreme Master and you'll find that the vegan Chinese, Japanese and Thai food it serves -- while frozen and shipped in from Taiwan -- is deceptively good. And if you liked your meal, Loving Hut has a convenient case with frozen dinners and fresh desserts that you can buy to take home.
At Pepper Tree, you can indulge in more vegan dishes of the pan-Asian persuasion, sans the cult atmosphere. Owners Happy and Mike Tsai make comfort food favorites like General Tso's chicken, pan-fried dumplings and beef with broccoli out of substitutes like textured vegetable protein with such skill that you're hard-pressed to tell it's not meat.
The oddly apostrophe'd Field of Green's does serve some fish at its restaurant, but is primarily vegan nevertheless. A helpful system on its menu of New American and California cuisine denotes which of its many dishes are vegan, which are gluten-free, and some that are both.
Although I've never personally been to Pine Forest Garden, my vegan friends assure me that it's one of the best vegan restaurants in town (reviews seem to bear that out, too). Like Pepper Tree and Loving Hut, it focuses on Asian food, but with more of an emphasis on traditional Chinese ingredients like bean curd and bok choy.
Pizza is something that's difficult to enjoy while vegan: Sure, the toppings are okay, but what about the cheese? What about the pizza dough? At zpizza, both problems are solved. None of the pizza dough features any dairy, and vegan cheese from Daiya is available upon request. The cheese is far creamier and meltier than traditional mozzarella, but you won't hear me complaining about that.
Even food trucks are going vegan these days, as evidenced by the popular Green Seed Vegan truck that's often seen along Westheimer or parked near the Menil. Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry started their truck after being frustrated with the lack of good vegan options on-the-go. The duo make everything from burgers to smoothies -- all of it vegan, and all of it raw.
Raw is also the keyword at Pat Greer's Kitchen, the godmother of raw and vegan purveyors in Houston. Greer founded Houston's Central City Co-op and has been cooking raw and vegan food for more than 20 years, selling her food at farmers' markets and from her own base of operations on West Clay. She makes everything from desserts to dressings, pizzas to party foods. Greer's vegan meals can also be found at My Fit Foods, like her popular portobello pizza.
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Snap Kitchen, a competitor of My Fit Foods, carries its own vegan meals, too -- even if it doesn't always mark them as such. (And of the two, I personally prefer Snap's meals.) For breakfast, grab one of their oatmeals or mueslis. For lunch, a red and green salad or a vegan green curry. You can even get a cauliflower "steak" or spicy sambal tofu for dinner.
And that's just scratching the surface of what's available to vegans in Houston. After all, the best source of vegan meals isn't necessarily a restaurant; it's usually your grocery store. Just start in the produce section...