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18 Jan

The Best Healthy Restaurants In Austin

Fresas4

There’s a joke among Austin locals that, until 10 years ago, no matter what restaurant you were in, your food came with a side of corn chips. These days, you’re just as likely to find avocado toast on a menu as you are queso dip. And, as good citizens of Texas’s “healthy city,” Austinites will never turn down a fun night out, but they probably won’t miss a day sweating it out on the yoga mat either. While visitors are steered (with good reason) towards BBQ, Tex Mex, and tequila, locals frequent a growing number of un-self consciously health-conscious establishments. From the iconic food trailer parks to Design Sponge-worthy interiors, these places focus on fresh, local ingredients and vibrant food, delivered with little dogma and always a good playlist.

PHOTO BY @ANNAEATSATX
PHOTO BY @ANNAEATSATX

Veracruz All Natural

There is no shortage of taco trucks in Austin, but Veracruz’s three locations stand out among the pack, and they have the lines to prove it. Breakfast tacos—made with Vital Farms eggs and fillings like nopal cactus, bacon, chorizo, and fresh veggies—on soft homemade tortillas are the main event here, but don’t miss the chicken mole taco or the homemade hot sauces. The South Austin location is behind Radio Coffee & Beer, serving some of the best cold brew in town, perfectly spicy, not-too-sweet house-made chai, and a rotating selection of local beers.

PHOTO BY HENRY HARGREAVES.
PHOTO BY HENRY HARGREAVES.

Elizabeth Street Cafe

Morning, noon, or night, you cannot go wrong at this modern Vietnamese joint. At breakfast, beautiful waitstaff in bright, floral prints serve up French patisserie and homemade jams, sticky rice piled with herb salad and poached eggs, and the ultimate healthyish hangover cure: chicken rice soup with jalapeños. Come back at lunch and dinner to try Niman Ranch beef pho, light bowls of bún, and thoughtful house specialties like carpaccio with shishito peppers and marinated mushrooms, ginger-chili dumplings, and inventive fresh spring rolls. Tisanes, strong Vietnamese coffee, and housemade vinegar sodas pair just as nicely as the smartly small, French list of by-the-glass wines.

PHOTO BY WYNN MYERS.
PHOTO BY WYNN MYERS.

Fresas

Fresas made its name as a to-go-only chicken al carbon spot. Half or whole chickens are split and charred over wood fired grills, served with homemade tortillas, rice and beans, grilled jalapeños, and spicy salsas. Their dine-in location in South Austin offers an expanded menu including wood-fired vegetables, loaded queso, and a Chimichurri-marinated skirt steak that rivals the signature chicken. Take refuge from the heat under the ancient oak trees with a hibiscus agua fresca, or get your food to go and take it to the hill at nearby Butler Park to watch the moon rise over downtown.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PICNIK.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PICNIK.

Picnik

Picnik may have been put on the map by the CrossFit scene, but it didn’t take long for the rest of us to follow suit. Everything’s free of gluten, soy, corn, and peanuts, and it’s vegan and Paleo friendly too. The original trailer on South Lamar focuses on bone broths and simple fare. Head to the brick-and-mortar on Burnet for a more extensive all-day menu from cassava-banana pancakes to kale-studded guacamole scooped up with crispy almond-flour tortilla chips. Carnivores can add pasture-raised meats and wild-catch seafood to just about every dish. Food is cooked in either coconut oil or avocado oil and seasoned with pink Himalayan sea salt, so, rest assured, each bite is working for you.

PHOTO BY CURCUMA
PHOTO BY CURCUMA

Curcuma

For butter-free butter coffee (made with raw cacao coconut butter) and creamy golden mylk, head over to this vegan food truck in the heart of the East Side. Line up with the post-yoga crew for hydrating, iced aloe beet elixir and bowls of kitchari—a nourishing blend of quinoa and mung beans topped with spinach, avocado, pickled onions, and housemade chutney. After your meal, order a frozen watermelon chia pop to keep you cool while you cruise the neighborhood.

PHOTO BY CHRIS HATCHER FROM FIELD GUIDE FILMS.
PHOTO BY CHRIS HATCHER FROM FIELD GUIDE FILMS.

Sweet Ritual

Though this non-dairy ice cream shop is a bit of a hike north of city center, it’s well worth the trip. Seasonal flavors rotate through the stellar menu of 13 house varieties like chocolate olive oil, toasted coconut, cubano coffee, and unicorn poop (a coconut-milk base with rainbow sprinkles, skittles, and beet juice folded in). Try the vanilla soft serve (soy and coconut milk mix) that got the owners—vets of the dairy ice cream world—started back in 2011. Of course, gluten-free cones are available.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CASEY WILLSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CASEY WILLSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

JuiceLand

This Austin institution has outlets all around the city, so you’re never too far from an Xtra Holla Pain Yo (carrot, orange, lime, cilantro, turmeric, jalapeno, himalayan sea salt, and habanero juice) or a Moontower smoothie (almond milk, banana, cacao, brown rice protein, and date). Fridges are stocked with grab-and-go salads and ready-made juices. While you wait for your order, stock up on house-made raw crackers and other healthy snacks.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JUICE SOCIETY.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JUICE SOCIETY.

Juice Society

Juiceland may have been around the longest, but they aren’t the only game in town. Juice Society—formerly a delivery-only business—has opened their first store in South Austin, offering more of a millennial vibe to the liquid nutrition scene. Much of the produce used in their organic, cold pressed line, comes from a small farm purchased by 20-something founder Danielle Sobel in 2016. 100% organic ginger shots, Sunpotion powders, and HuKitchen “primal” chocolate bars round out a menu of minimalist juices, cold brew coffee, and smoothie bowls piled with fresh fruit and granola.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAFE NO SE.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAFE NO SE.

Cafe No Se

Take a break from SoCo vintage and boutique shopping at this airy, all-day cafe inside newcomer, South Congress Hotel. Stylishly disheveled hotel guests and locals relax on the sunken sidewalk patio around tables filled with playful interpretations of trendy staples—kale salad is topped with crispy puffed rice, yellowfin poke has a Mediterranean bent with juicy Castelvetrano olives and slices of grapefruit, and the obligatory avocado toast is hearty and dressed up with spicy cress, harissa carrots, and a soft boiled egg. The menu transitions easily into dinner with a no-nonsense cheeseburger, entree-worthy salads, and tart cocktails.

PHOTO BY LOGAN CRABLE.
PHOTO BY LOGAN CRABLE.

The Can’t Miss Shop: Take Heart

Nina Gordon’s tiny shop in East Austin deserves a solid hour of your time. You’ll want to smell every natural candle and body scent on the shelf and pick up each thoughtfully selected object—hand-carved olive wood knives, jewel-toned glass salt dishes, handmade children’s toys, heavy linen tea towels, and earthy, minimalist ceramics from local artists. Books and cards tend toward cheeky humor and the stylishly spiritual. If Nina or her mother happens to be behind the counter, you’ll get to hear the back story behind each carefully curated treasure. You can find a gift for just about anyone you know here and one for yourself while you’re at it.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WHITE HORSE SALOON
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WHITE HORSE SALOON

The Activity: The White Horse Honkey Tonk

It wouldn’t be a trip to Texas without a little honky tonk. The White Horse Honkey Tonk is the perfect mix of cowboy cool and hipster dive with live music every night and some of the best people (and dance floor) watching in town. Go early on Friday and Saturday nights for free two stepping lessons so you can join the crowd on the packed dance floor later. If you want to skip the beer-sloshed scene at The White Horse, you can catch some of the best old-time two steppers in their shiniest duds over at The Broken Spoke. There are dance lessons here too, but, if you miss those, don’t worry. If you’re lucky, a nice old cowboy will ask you to dance, then he’ll politely spin you around the room while teaching you the basic steps.

From Bon Appétit

Hannah Kim
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