Whenever I think of Austin, I always think of Tom Green’s character, Barry, in Road Trip. “Austin, Massachussets?”…”Unleash the fury Mitch!” That and South by Southwest were pretty much all I thought about the city until I visited there last weekend. Texas may be known for its BBQ, but there’s a growing plant-based movement in Austin. I had one of the better lunches of my life there, and it just happened to be at an entirely raw food restaurant.
I’ve been to some raw places before here in LA, and while some are alright, my general feelings about them have been that they try too hard to compensate for not serving cooked dishes by adding all kinds of raw “cheeze” and stuff to try to imitate cooked food as much as possible, instead of showcasing the flavor of the uncooked produce. The result is usually strangely textured, heavy-feeling dishes.
This was definitely not the case at Beets Cafe in Austin. I went with my parents and some friends who have been getting into plant-based eating out in Texas, and we decided to try almost everything on the menu. Apologies in advance for these photos below, but we were so hungry and the food looked so good that I completely forgot to take photos BEFORE we started eating. Stupid Jeff. I really do wish I had photos of these dishes before we devoured them because they were presented beautifully.
Most of the dishes had kind of a Tex-Mex bent to them, and it worked out really well. Highlights of the meal were the zucchini hummus, nori rolls, chalupas, a curry carrot soup, some raw spicy chips, and some kind of enchilada, which was the special for the day. All of them were light, beautiful looking, and unbelievably delicious. Big slices of portobello mushrooms, sprouted lentils, fresh guacamole – all of it worked together perfectly for a nutrient-dense beautifully prepared meal. We were amazed with what they were able to do with all raw ingredients, particularly with the chips and the pizza crust. Here are some photos:
The best part of the meal was definitely the dessert. They brought us out a series of raw cheesecakes (lemon, chocolate, and mocha) that looked exactly like regular cheesecake and tasted just as good…I thought even better. And let me tell you, we demolished these cheesecakes, and I’m not really a dessert guy. Not a crumb was left on the plate. And yet, we didn’t feel bloated and weighed down, nor did we go into a food coma immediately after the meal. I have absolutely no idea how they made these things (I think avocado was involved somehow), but I’m going to figure out how to make them and try to create one myself. I learned my lesson from the previous course and remembered to take pictures beforehand, so check out how awesome these look:
I’m definitely heading back there next time I’m in Austin. The chef wasn’t there, but apparently she gives “cooking” lessons so I may try to take a class from her one of these days. Here’s the website, check it out if you’re ever in town: