If you've been to Houston, you know that there are two main loops around the city.... the "beltway" on the outside and the 610 loop on the inside. Pretty much everything cool in this city occurs inside 610 (sorry to you outside the loopers!). Believe it or not, Houston is actually a pretty easy place to eat out for vegans, you just need to do your homework and have a bit of patience. I'll help you out with the homework part. Here is my top ten list of places to eat inside the 610 loop.
1. Mo Mong - A hip Montrose hang out for "Asian fusion" cuisine, Mo Mong has several vegan tofu and noodle dishes. By far my favorite is the tofu luc lac which I order pretty much every time I'm there.
2. Madras - There are a plethora of Indian restaurants in the Houston area, many with vegan options, but Madras remains my favorite for vegetarian south Indian cuisine (think: dosas!). Just be sure to tell them you don't eat dairy. Not a place to go for ambiance, but great, spicy food.
3. Field of Greens - A mostly vegetarian cafe with plenty of salads, sandwiches, and dinner plates; many of which are vegan or can be made vegan. I'm a fan of the California club and the macrobiotic platter.
4. Late Night Pie - This pizza joint used to be located in a garage until recently (how cool is that?). While waiting for our pizza I always get in a game of pac-man. They aren't stingy on the toppings and the crust is excellent.
5. Rickshaw Bambu - In the mood for veggie sushi? Rickshaw is one of my favorites because of their use of soy paper for the vegetarian roll. They also have vegetable nigiri, inari (for those who like it), sweet potato fries, and a coconut curry tofu side that always hits the spot.
6. Thai Cottage - There are numerous Thai restaurants I enjoy inside the loop, but Thai Cottage delivers delicious food at the right price. The bamboo shoots in the tofu vegetable curry make it a hit for me. They also have locations outside the loop.
7. Cafe Brasil - A popular hangout for the university crowd with a wonderful outdoor seating area. The Brasil chef salad is a star, especially when you can add grilled tofu on the nights they have it. Plus they also serve my favorite ginger brew. (please excuse the cell phone photo!)
8. Tafia - The only upscale restaurant on my list, Tafia uses local, organic ingredients in many of their dishes and always has one vegan item (tofu with portobello) on the menu. I usually opt to get a salad and a sampling of a few of their veggie side dishes like swiss chard with garlic confit or roasted carrots with dukkah spices. A great place for special occasions.
9. Pepper Tree - A 95% vegan eatery with an excellent buffet (on the weekends they include sushi). I sometimes overeat on the fried foods here, but they also have a wonderful salad bar selection. Vegan dessert too!
10. Niko Niko's - This is the place for Greek fast food in the city. They have plenty of outside seating to enjoy their falafel pita (minus the tzatziki) with a side of hummus. Or try the veggie kebob.
Anyone else who lives or has been to Houston have their favorites inside the loop? Be sure to list them in the comments! A great resource for a more complete list of Houston restaurants, both inside and outside the loop, is at the blog vegan Houston.