Via 313

🐮🐮🐮🐮Lions, Tigers and Pizza, OH MY!. . . . You really must taste the Detroit Style Pie!!!    The Motor City has brought forth to Texas another creation to complement the automobile and Motown sound.  Via 313 is to Pizza what FORD is to the automobile and Berry Gordy is to music.  Finally carnivores and vegans alike can enjoy a slice of pizza, not only in harmony but in utter cheese filled bliss.

The vegan turned me on to Via 313 because she was a fan of the vegan offering that she tasted at the original trailer on East 6th Street.  I must admit that I had a sneaking suspicion that the non-vegan option was going to taste like shoe leather and seriously lack the properties that make up a quality slice of pie.  Let me be the first to say that I WAS WRONG.  Via 313 is Heaven on a plate covered with the creamiest of melted cheese, tangiest sauce, and spicy pepperoni that this Carnivore has ever enjoyed.  Perhaps even more impressive is the crispy crust that, while it holds the toppings and cheese perfectly, seems to melt in your mouth the moment that you close your lips after each glorious bite.  To say it is the best pizza I have ever eaten is an understatement.

Last night’s visit to the 45th street brick and mortar location was spectacular.   We treated the vegan’s Grand Parents to our favorite pizza joint and they were blown away.  I even caught Grandma slicing off the edges of the crust with a knife and fork because she enjoyed the “pizza bones” so much that she couldn’t help herself.  I don’t mind telling you that watching a “sweet old lady” of nearly 80 years enjoy a slice of pizza with a smile from ear to ear was, in my opinion, priceless.

fullsizerenderIn honor of this review, my pizza selection was The Carnivore.  I normally just order the original pepperoni pie but have to say that I will forever choose The Carnivore going forward.  The ham and bacon complement the two types of pepperoni so well that I found it difficult to save a piece to bring home to enjoy as my Sunday morning breakfast.  On a side note, I recommend the broccoli and cauliflower appetizer.  This vegan friendly dish is one that even the most ardent of carnivores can support.  Via 313 scores 4 cow faces from this carnivore.  I can’t wait to return.

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fullsizerender-1I’m not entirely sure how to follow my carnivorous companion’s review but I’ll give it a shot. My favorite food growing up was pizza and when I decided to become vegan in 2006 I figured that I had to say goodbye to that chapter of my life.  And honestly I did for a while.  Sure there were “options” but none were satisfactory.  That’s when I turned to tacos.

Now days there are plenty of dairy-free cheeses on the market and they are leaps and bounds from those humble beginnings.  Even so, Via 313 takes it to the next level.  Not only is the crust amazing as my grandmother raved, the toppings are just as intriguing.  First the cheese, listed as “dairy free” on the menu is melty and tastes like Follow Your Heart pizzeria blend; however, I have never confirmed the brand. Also, you may think that I would only have vegetable options but you would be incorrect.  Besides the typical mushroom and black olives that I normally would order, Via 313 now offers a tempeh “sausage” that is delicious and makes a vegan feel less like the odd woman out even in a “Keep Austin Weird” culture.

That said, we did go for the broccoli and cauliflower appetizer and you should too!

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It should also be mentioned that our guests ordered the omnivore which was a nice middle ground for the rest of the world who aren’t nearly as dichotomous as we are.  They loved it and said next time they came to town it wouldn’t be primarily to visit their favorite granddaughter!  This is why I must grant this meal a full five rutabagas.

Santa Catarina

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Who knew there was such delicious food in Cedar Park? And vegan-friendly? Tex-Mex is one of my favorite types of food but is often dangerous as it has hidden ingredients such as lard and dairy. Santa Catarina is very gracious though and outlines a “vegetarian” option for each type of meal – fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, etc.  (This is their dinner menu) My favorite food since living in Texas is tacos so I had to go with that!                                                                               img_5871There were two options – mushroom or guacamole tacos. I wanted to try both so I asked if I could have one of each.  Our waitress was very sweet and allowed it.  She was great the entire time, keeping our chips and salsa full as well as our waters.  She also wrote everything down which makes me feel better including the fact that I said no dairy – cheese, sour cream, etc.

I was delighted with this meal and ate way too much.  One thing that is common with vegetarian “options” is that the chef under seasons the food.  Vegetables don’t come with much natural seasoning so they need a little extra.  These vegetables were delicious!  Also the waitress tried to take the blame for my being too full!  I give this restaurant four rutabagas based on taste, service and surprise!  I look forward to returning soon.

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It was a dark and stormy night.  The fog covered the city like a damp blanket and caused shadows to creep eerily from the dimly lit street lamps that dotted the cityscape.  Ok!  None of that is true but I’ve always been a fan of purple prose.  This past Sunday evening found Kellie and I hankerin for Mexican food but not too excited about leaving the burbs for a plethora of choices.    We ended up at Santa Catarina in Cedar Park.  I have eaten there before but only solo, as I didn’t think there were options for the Vegan.  Boy was I wrong.  She loved it.

I had the Tacos De Carne (chicken) and thoroughly enjoyed my meal.   I have tried the pork and beef previously but recommend the chicken.  It is packed with flavor and is enough food that you won’t leave hungry but not enough that you are miserable afterward.  Of course, if you fill up on chips and salsa before the meal, that is your own fault.

While the food is tasty, the very best part of the meal was the attentive service and kind consideration that our waitress provided.  Her name was Evelia, and could not have been better.  She knocked it out of the park with regard to being helpful and understanding of the Vegan’s needs and dietary restrictions.  The professional and hospitable service, coupled with a quality Mexican meal rates 3 cow faces from this happy carnivore.  I will be back with and without the Vegan in tow.   Knowing that this hidden gem is merely a couple miles away from my front door is a definite plus!

Lick Honest Ice Creams

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img_5866Let’s face it, few things go better on a hot Texas day than ice cream.  In fact, it’s ALWAYS a good time for ice cream.  Of course, when there is a vegan in your midst, you can’t just walk into Dairy Queen and enjoy a wholesome cone of the glorious goodness that is heavy cream, sugar and milk fat.  That would be rude and dismissive of their delicate sensibilities!  Truthfully, I’ve done that too but for the sake of this post, we set out to find a quality exception to the milky goodness that is ice cream as we know it.  The exceptional exception is LICK.

Lick is an artisan ice cream shop that prides itself on using only pure, wholesome ingredients in their ice cream.  The quality ingredients are evident in the taste and texture of the tasty treats that are spooned out into cups and cones, and devoured by tongues and spoons alike.  For this 31 flavor lovin carnivore, the Caramel Salt Lick is the way to go!   I have sampled many flavors at Lick – to include some of the swanky Vegan selections – but I always come back to the Caramel Salt Lick.  It is truly my favorite and the one I whole heartedly recommend.   The only negative that I can post is that the itty bitty scoops could be larger.  I know, I know, Anthony and Chad ( co founders) would simply suggest increasing the number of scoops from the respectable two,  to three or four.  But in order to really satisfy my cravings, it would take a half gallon or more.  And if I did that, the Vegan would just be embarrassed.

The experience at Lick is a quality one due to excellent ice cream, quality carnivorous and veganesque options and helpful staff.  So helpful in fact that they seem willing to hand out as many samples as you are wanting to try.  Lick scores a solid three cow faces from this dairy lovin’ Carnivore.  And I cannot wait to return.  Hmmm,  I bet I could get a gallon to go. . . .

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Full disclosure – I am not a huge ice cream fan like my partner in crime over there.  I like it okay but am more of a cookie girl.  That said, he is correct in that the best time and place for ice cream is on a hot Texas day.  And this place just happens to rock.
I love the fact that they always have vegan options clearly marked.
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Of course I would also love for them to have more options but in the meantime, as the small cup includes two scoops, I always choose one of each.
The Chocolate Coconut & Peanut Butter is the regular flavor and never disappoints.  It’s like a cold and creamy peanut butter cup. The other available flavor this round was Peaches & Coconut Cream.  It was lovely and sweet; however not much peach flavor.  Luckily I didn’t mind.
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I give Lick three rutabagas out of five.  If they had more options for me I would probably up that to four. It does make me happy to have somewhere fun to go with my ice cream fanatic carnivore.  Plus they give us a punch card to earn free ice cream!

Foxhole Culinary Tavern

🍠🍠🍠img_5839The Foxhole, as we like to call it, is a neighborhood tavern that has nothing officially vegan on the menu.  Luckily Larry frequents the place often and felt comfortable asking the staff if they could accommodate me.  I was so happy he asked because they were happy to oblige.  They created a pasta primavera (pictured above) that tasted amazing.  It has a sauce that they assured me is vegan – they knew about the dairy and eggs.  This particular version had green beans, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and asparagus.  I ate the whole thing with a lovely pinot noir.  I gave this 3 rutabagas because I truly enjoyed the meal and will return; however I wish this was an offering on their regular menu and also it would be lovely if they actually had a vegan protein of sorts to round out the dish.  That said vegans, I still recommend it.
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img_0939I’ve frequented the Foxhole for a little over a year now.  It’s a quality restaurant with a great wait staff and creative dishes on the menu.  Their bar is a quality one with a good beer and bourbon selection. While I have had a stellar steak and a fantastic burger at Foxhole, my favorite dish on the menu is the Venison Chili.  It’s a seasonal item and was recently brought back for the Fall menu.  When I saw it was an option on Friday night, I leaped at the chance to enjoy it again.  I wasn’t disappointed!  It was as tasty as ever, if not a tad too spicy for my liking.  That said, I highly recommend giving it a try.

While the food at Foxhole is quality and rarely disappoints, there is something more to the dining experience that Kellie and I enjoyed.  When we explained to the wait staff that Kellie is a Vegan, they quickly referenced the items on the menu that, with some modification, would meet her dining needs.  More importantly, they also offered to have the chef prepare a special “off menu selection” if nothing represented on the menu was piquing her interest.  They did so without any condescension or aggravation.  And Kellie’s meal was quite tasty.  She even let me try it since I was paying.

As this blog is about more than merely the taste of the food, the experience that Kellie and I enjoyed was also more than simply a good meal.   The quality food, attentive wait staff and welcoming atmosphere earns a total of 4 happy cows from this carnivore.