Houston is fat. Well, at least that is the stigma that we Houstonian’s have been carrying around for a few years. Once labeled “The Fattest City in America” (Yes, we love steak. And barbecue. And more steak) but believe it or not, Houston has been working on shaking that negative image. Take a look around the Inner Loop, and you will see fit, healthy people running, jogging and eating more than just burgers and fries. Houston boasts a vast array of healthy dining options. And while for some, the words “tofu” and “meatless” equate to “tasteless”, this is definitely not the case in these tried-and-true local vegetarian spots. While these are by no means all options, they are definitely some of my faves. Here is a break-down of spots to grab a meatless meal by neighborhood:
Cricket’s Creamery – Nestled between the quaint shops along historic 19th street in the quiet and pedestrian-friendly Heights neighborhood, Cricket’s Creamery has long been a go-to spot for people looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with delicious, homemade ice cream. Buuuut , since this is an article about healthy eating, we will have to come back to that another time. The Creamery offers a simple menu of healthy breakfast and lunch dishes that are friendly on the wallet (and the waistline). For breakfast the must-try is John’s Breakfast Sandwich—a perfectly cooked egg (or egg white) sandwich on multigrain bread with veggie sausage. For lunch, they offer an excellent selection of salads (half or full), as well as soups and meatless sandwiches. Don’t miss their awesome black bean burger and custom espresso drinks.
Green Seed Vegan – Houston’s popular raw and vegan food truck finally got a home base in the Museum District. This vegan eatery specializes in healthy, unprocessed meals and custom-blended juices with a constantly changing menu highlighting seasonal veggies. Their sandwiches are creative, with a portabella panini, and “Lil Red BBQ” which showcases barbecued jackfruit and caramelized onions. Craving something sweet? Green Seed Vegan offers vegan ice cream (their butterfinger ice cream shake with cacao nibs is to die for). We are happy this vegan food truck grew roots.
Field of Greens – Offering a wide assortment of vegetarian, vegan, raw, and even macrobiotic dining options, Field of Greens never fails to disappoint those that live in or near the Upper Kirby area. The menu boasts an array of meatless alternatives like a B.L.T. (with tempeh “bacon”) as well as tofu quiche, gluten free pasta with veggies and pesto, as well as an assortment of soups, salads, juices, and even a kids menu. All sandwiches are served on flourless Eziekiel bread as well. Field of Greens even offers a selection of raw dishes, including a “Rainbow Platter” with seaweed, tabouli, and daikon radishes. Finish up your meal with a slice of chocolate tofu pie or apple crumble with soy ice cream.
Phoenicia Market – This popular Houston grocer has expanded to open their Downtown market near Discovery Green. Although they do serve meat, I am consistently impressed with their vegetarian offerings. The build-your-own salad bar offers the usual items, but really stands out with delicious dried fruits, roasted nuts, and an assortment of fun-to-try cheeses (ever had Armenian string cheese?). They also offer prepared side dishes like orzo pasta salad, vegetarian grape leaves, tabouli and of course hummus with their warm pita (you can see it coming out on a conveyor belt). They also offer an incredible spread of pastries, muffins and baklava, all made in house. Definitely a great spot to grab lunch and pick up a few things for dinner as well if you work or live in any of the fabulous lofts or condos in downtown!
This is a tough one, as there are far too many choices to pick just one in the chic Montrose neighborhood. Honorable mention goes to the Hobbit Café (a staple among locals since the 70’s) as well as Baba Yega, but my hat goes off to Pat Greer’s Kitchen. This take-away only spot features plant-based foods that not only taste good, but that are good for you! Entrées include “Falalalafals” with Texas pecans, sunflower seeds, herbs and veggies dehydrated and served with a delicious zucchini hummus, “Sloppy Moes” with pecans and fresh RAW tomato sauce, as well as create-your-own salads. The crème-de-la-crème is their awesome desserts, including RAWsome Pecan Pie, Apple Pie, and even a Peanut Butter Banana Pie with cashews. Perfect for a lunch on the go.
Backstreet Café – It doesn’t matter if you are an herbivore, carnivore or anywhere in between, this restaurant is one you can’t skip in Houston. Set in a vintage River Oaks house, the outdoor patio and garden at Backstreet quite possible make the meal. While they offer a traditional menu, they also have a complete vegetarian menu with a few vegan dishes and some gluten free items. The menu features everything from a green flat bread with goat cheese, to sautéed vegetable corn enchiladas, with a corn pudding that is out of this world. Other stand out dishes are their “green gazpacho” and scalloped celery root and potato. Grab a glass of wine and hit the patio here!