In this edition of “From the Sustainability Office,” we invited our sustainability interns to contribute to “Where We’re Eating” by each recommending a Houston restaurant, food truck, or farmers market vendor that specializes in local, organic, and/or veg-friendly foods!
“Luckily, you don’t have to travel far to reach this culinary gem. Ripe Cuisine, in nifty food truck form, visits Rice every week at the campus farmer’s market. If it’s not Tuesday, you can easily find their location through their website, ripe-cuisine.com. This all-vegan food truck features house-made classics like the Bistro Burger, a lentil-mushroom patty complete with goodies like cashew chevre and a locally-sourced bun, and the Caprese Melt, a sandwich of basil pesto and cashew mozzarella. If you’re enthusiastic enough to visit them on Saturday morning at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market, Ripe Cuisine also rolls out a brunch menu featuring organic doughnuts. The best part about Ripe Cuisine, aside from their delicious food, is the extent to which they incorporate organic and local ingredients. This little stop is definitely an excellent place to go for a tasty, healthy, and environmentally conscious meal.” - Gennifer Geer, Sustainability Intern.
“If you are ever craving a healthy, locally produced meal, I suggest you head into Rice Village and visit Local Foods! With two other locations in Upper Kirby and Tanglewood, Local Foods is a restaurant that pulls its ingredients from local farmers and producers. On their website, they even list the regional places that supply them with produce, including Atkinson’s Farms and Knopp Branch Farm. Using their locally sourced ingredients, Local Foods creates a wide array of soups, salads, and sandwiches. A meal here will leave you feeling satisfied and good about yourself as the chefs work hard to provide healthy food without sacrificing the delicious taste. And, if you aren’t craving a big meal, Local Foods also has a number of delicious sides you can always pick from. As a vegetarian, I’d recommend ordering the Garden Sammie sandwich, but from other friends, I have heard that their meat options are delicious as well. So, next Saturday when the servery is closed for dinner, take a walk to Rice Village and try out Local Foods!” - Neha Goel, Sustainability Intern.
“When your parents roll into town or you just really want to treat yourself, I would strongly advise you visit Oxheart in Houston’s Warehouse District. Oxheart was consistently ranked in the top 3 restaurants in Houston since its opening in 2011, which can be intimidating but worth tackling — and well worth the $75 pre-fixe menu. What’s really cool about Oxheart (and why I bring it to your attention here) is they offer two menus each night, one garden and one tasting. So, all you vegetarians out there can enjoy six courses of incredibly satisfying and complex contemporary American veggies! Whatever menu you choose, all the produce is sourced and inspired by the local climate and multiculturalism of Houston.” - Geneva Vest, Sustainability Intern.
“Specializing in Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine, this Chinatown gem serves an entirely vegetarian/vegan menu. The first time I went, I was overwhelmed by the options. Usually, the vegetarian options at a restaurant are very few or limited in scope. At Quan Yin, however, there are multiple options in soups, fried rices, noodles, stir fries, spring rolls, and much more. They are especially famous for their mock meats. Going beyond just deliciously flavored tofu, their 'oyster' tastes different from their 'beef' which tastes different from their 'chicken.' It is clear they have given much time and effort to mastering every dish uniquely. The sweet and sour 'pork' is easily my favorite dish. When friends and I go, we usually order a bunch of dishes and eat family-style. It is common for us to order multiple dishes of the 'pork' since it goes quickly. I’ve never left hungry from Quan Yin. The biggest surprise about this place actually is the price. Hugely portioned, delicious, vegetarian food sounds like it might be expensive, but Quan Yin is a go-to option because it is very reasonably priced. I recommend this place to all my friends— both vegetarian and omnivore — and it is truly my favorite place in Houston.” - Ben Johnson, Sustainability Intern.
Baba Yega Cafe
“Baba Yega Cafe is in the heart of Montrose, offering cozy and eclectic vibes since 1975. Their website lists ten different local purveyors of produce, meat, and dairy, including Plant it Forward farms and Slow Dough Bread Co. There is quality and thoughtfulness behind the meals, as well as yummy vegan and vegetarian menus. If you enjoy buffet style dining, Baba Yega also offers a Sunday Brunch. Although a bit pricey at $25, you can also check out the back patio’s garden or book the brunch for a family and friend occasion in the private dining room. It’s nice to visit a piece of Houston history while savoring a satisfying meal.” - Sophia Erhard, Sustainability Intern.
GUUDBELLY Vegan Tamales & Stuffs
“GUUDBELLY is a farmers market vendor that specializes in homemade, local, gluten-free, organic, vegan tamales. As a someone who is both Hispanic and vegan, finding tamales that I could eat was a challenge. Luckily, I found GUUDBELLY’s tamales, and my whole world was changed. GUUDBELLY has by far the best tamales I’ve ever eaten in my entire life — sorry, mom! My personal favorite is the Creamy Spicy Mash tamales topped with their Benedict sauce. They are called GUUDBELLY for a reason — because they are so dang good! You can find them at the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market every Saturday morning, or you can get them delivered straight to your door by pre-ordering online.” - Veronica Johnson, Sustainability Intern.
Shri Balaji Bhavan
“Eating a vegetarian diet in Houston is easy, thanks in part to our city’s incredible selection of Indian restaurants. Shri Balaji Bhavan, located at 5655 Hillcroft in a neighborhood packed with south Asian restaurants, offers inexpensive, 100% vegetarian Udipi cuisine from south India. First-timers will want to be sure to order a masala dosa, which is similar to a huge crepe or pancake (albeit thinner and crispier) and stuffed with a filling of spicy potatoes. A personal favorite of mine is the padpi chaat (pictured), which is a delicious savory street food with a combination of soothing and spicy flavors. The menu is broad but contains little-supporting detail, so just explore and ask for help if you need it — especially if you’re not accustomed to spicy food.” - Richard Johnson, Sustainability Director.
Green Vegetarian Cuisine
“I literally could not believe that my BBQ sandwich did not contain meat. I was convinced that it was the only item on the menu that wasn't vegetarian.” - Ansley Jones ‘16, former Sustainability Intern.
“Green Vegetarian Cuisine is one of my favorite restaurants in Houston, located near Bellaire. The entire menu is 100% vegetarian, but anything can be made vegan by requesting. Not to mention, all their cupcakes are vegan! I’d recommend getting the vegan nachos — they are amazing, especially topped with the serrano ranch dressing.” - Veronica Johnson, Sustainability Intern.
“My favorite dish at Green Vegetarian Cuisine is the deluxe chalupa plate (pictured), featuring two huge chalupas, with rice and guacamole on the side. I usually can’t escape without ordering a vegan chocolate pecan brownie for dessert - yum! - Richard Johnson, Sustainability Director.