Chili sin carne
3 San Antonio restaurants serving delicious Tex-Mex without the meat
Tex-Mex is a San Antonio staple. You can’t turn a corner or ramble down the River Walk without spotting an establishment touting tacos, tostadas, or tamales. But when meat is off the menu, be it for weight loss, Lent, or a lifestyle choice, what is someone craving empanadas and enchiladas to do? Hit up the city’s meat-free joints, obviously.
The city’s oldest vegan Tex-Mex joint opened back in 2011 inside a bookstore before expanding to its current location on Nogalitos Street in 2015. The original shop on Broadway, called simply Vegeria, may be closed, but the classic family recipes live on in their Collins Gardens shop, where hand-woven blankets, prayer candles, and a giant Jarritos bottle form a charming backdrop to the vegan fare.
Not only is the entire menu sin carne, but it’s all gluten free, too. That means flautas de camote, mole poblano, and award-winning mushroom chicharrón street tacos for all. Nachos are a big deal here, going far beyond bean and “cheese.” The picadillo substitutes traditional ground beef for local soy beans, and La Luchadora is inspired by global flavors, adding kimchi and quinoa to the mix.
If you are planning a dinner party, we recommend you order tamales by the dozen. But don’t forget to eat underneath the canopy of papel picado on the patio the next time. Bring a bottle of wine or a six pack of Modelo, too. Vegan and BYOB? What’s not to love?
Another local favorite with the vegan crowd, Señor Veggie is a hopping little restaurant packed to the gills at lunchtime and on Saturdays. It started as a catering company back in 2012 before moving into its current brick-and-mortar location in the Lavaca Historic District. Here, customers can enjoy plant-based fare in a colorful, light filled dining room or on the cute open deck.
Naturally, you’ll find all the Tex-Mex faves like enchiladas verdes and street tacos, but the Southtown restaurant’s menu branches off from the expected with eclectic offerings including bowls (we can’t get enough of the Macaroni con Queso with a cashew cheese sauce and almond parmesan topping), buffalo tofu hoagies, and fresh, hand-cut fries. Housemade baked goods make sure each meal hits the sweet spot.
Oh, and while you are here, don’t forget that it’s all about the sauce. Chef Jose Alfredo Cruz is a trained saucier, and like Viva Vegeria, you can bring your own booze.
The newest addition to San Antonio’s Tex-Mex scene has only been open for two and a half years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it together. It’s a restaurant, bar, and venue, so you can sip on a bar favorite like a Tequila Piña while digging into the eatery's famous fish tacos, fried empanadas, or cult favorite Juan’s Burrito, all while listening in on some live music on the expansive patio.
The woman-owned and operated space is a sort of community hub, and the ownership supports various social justice causes. And though you won’t find any bold banners advertising its veganism, there’s no meat or dairy in this kitchen. It’s good food that just happens to be vegan. We can’t get enough.