The Beer Plant: Vegan Food Even a Die-Hard Carnivore Will Love
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
WHERE: The Beer Plant
3110 Windsor Road Austin, Texas 78703
CROWD: Mixture of hipsters and young professionals.
VIBE: Elegant Austin bistro meets cozy English pub.
DRINK/DISH TO TRY: El Jardinero tacos, 512 Pecan Porter Coconut Ice Cream, and the Carmina Prosecco
6:00pm – I have finally arrived at my destination. If it hadn’t been for the full side parking lot in the eerie pink and green 1980’s shopping center, I might not have found this unique Austin gem. With exception of the words “The Beer Plant” in small white letters across the front of a green awning, amidst yoga and Pilates studios, the Tarrytown chapter of Austin Pets’ Alive, and a quirky liquor store, it would have been easy to drive right by. I am a very curious if the gorgeous pictures I have seen on the website will live up to my expectations. I guess we shall see…
6:05pm – As I cross the quiet green-tiled breezeway to the front of the restaurant I notice there are already people waiting outside – always a good sign, especially a vegan restaurant. The Beer Plant only opened a couple of weeks ago so word must have traveled fast. I enter the restaurant and am transported from the awkward, dated shopping center into a warm, dark, luxurious pub environment. Past the small waiting area and hostess stand, a gorgeous custom bar wraps from the front of the building all the way to the entrance of the kitchen along the right wall, beginning with cocktails and wines and moving into a solid selection of craft beers (all vegan, by the way). The dining room consists of several beautiful wood plank tables and chairs over a stained concrete floor and beneath a black tin tiled ceiling for that coveted speakeasy vibe. The place is packed and the conversation is almost deafening, but in a good way. It is obvious everyone here is thoroughly enjoying themselves.
6:10pm – I take a seat at the bar – very comfortable – and order a glass of the Carmina Prosecco ($10 a glass), and begin to peruse the menu. The beer selection consists of 31 extremely unique craft beers ranging from a Flyin’ Hawaiian Pineapple Double IPA for the adventurous, to a delicious Live Oak Pilz. For those who like to “drink local” the large majority of the beers are from breweries in the Austin and surrounding areas, while others hail anywhere from Colorado to Belgium. If beer isn’t your style have no fear. Not only is there a brilliant craft cocktail bar – they will be serving a line of botanical cocktails, as well, beginning in November – but, there is a very respectable wine list curated by local spirits expert and author Francois Pointeau.
6:15pm – My appetizer has arrived – the Oven Roasted Jewel Yams with Smoked Paprika and Pesto Sauce ($7), as recommended by the waitress behind the bar. It is not exactly what I expected – the yams are delicious, but definitely need a fork to eat with, and the pesto “sauce” is more of a pesto-esque paste which requires a knife to spread onto the yams. While the pesto is not what I traditionally am accustomed to, it is quite unique with a heavy black pepper note making it slightly spicy at the end. The portion is decent and definitely enough for two people to share. While I am eating I notice that all of the staff is also in great spirits, laughing and joking with one another lending another layer to the relaxed joviality of the establishment.
6:30pm – My entre arrives – the El Jardinero taco plate ($11) featuring quinoa chorizo with seared garbanzo bean tempeh, corn tortillas, shredded romaine, pico de gallo, sliced avocado, black bean puree, and queso. Now I truly see why this place is packed! The food is extraordinary vegan cuisine. The black bean puree is heavenly, smooth and velvety and decadent – the best black beans I’ve ever had! The tacos are beautifully presented and, if I were blindfolded, I would have sworn there was shredded pork on them. I keep thinking to myself, “If this is the way all vegan food tasted, I might consider being vegan!”
6:45pm – Owners Ray and Sarah McMackin have stopped by to introduce themselves. Ray has told me some of the many traits of The Beer Plant, which make it so beautifully unique. Both vegan themselves, they had set out to fill a void in the Austin gastro-pub scene which usually caters to the current culinary trends which often are laden with pork. They wanted a place where they could go and enjoy a great beer and still be able to eat a delicious plant-based meal. As aforementioned, even the beer is vegan here. The music you hear is actually old vinyl spinning on an actual record player up by the front of the bar. Want something non-alcoholic? They also have locally brewed hyacinth kombucha and nitro cold-brewed coffee on tap (both extraordinary – I would stop in just for a glass of each). Under the supervision of Chef Lou Mustachio, there is only one menu item that is not made in-house and that is the 512 Pecan Porter Coconut Ice Cream, which is created by locally-owned vegan ice cream company Sweet Ritual, and is served with a vegan chocolate brownie (to DIE for!). For now The Beer Plant is only open from 5pm until midnight until November when they intend on extending their hours to lunch and brunch and will be taking over the exterior breezeway for an outdoor patio. They also have a gluten-free and a kid’s menu upon request.
7:15pm – I finish my second glass of prosecco and make my exit. It has been a truly lovely dining experience and has opened my skeptical eyes to the vast possibilities in vegan dining. While a bit on the pricey side if you’re pinching pennies, this is the perfect spot for a romantic date or special occasion, or simply kicking off your weekend with a decadently healthy start. Original, yet familiar, The Beer Plant will definitely become an Austin destination for foodies around the world.
Review originally published in 2017 by Viva Lifestyle Magazine.