Possum Park is a vegan enclave that has coalesced around a shared courtyard of picnic tables and canopied patio dining sets. Made up of four food trucks, a camper trailer and one brick-and-mortar bakery, the density of vegan food options at Possum Park is making this offbeat community an Austin destination.
Find Possum Park at 701 E. 53rd St.
Chef Craig Vanis’ ambition is to elevate vegan cuisine, and he has been extraordinarily successful with his food trailer, Bistro Vonish. Vanis, a vegan himself, left a lucrative career as an oilfield engineer to attend culinary school and pursue a career as a chef. His dream: to open a “date-quality” vegan restaurant in Austin. The result is the Bistro Vonish trailer, with outdoor tables and elegant cuisine. Southern-fried oyster mushrooms on carrot-habanero puree, sweet potato arepas with cream cheese and jalapeño jam, black garlic bruschetta with roasted tomato and sage and pan-seared mac and cheese are a few of the current offerings. The changing menu is always based on local, seasonal ingredients prepared with culinary expertise. Bistro Vonish is open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and business is so good they have been steadily expanding their hours.
Zucchini Kill Bakery
There is just so much to love about this bakery. From their ridiculously cool sense of humor and punk rock aesthetic to the professionalism of their products, the ladies running this business are in it to blow the competition away. All of Zucchini Kill’s baked goods, which include cupcakes, “cream coffins,” cookies, brownies, donuts and Swiss cake rolls, are free of gluten, soy and animal products. In addition, the ingredients they use are top-of-the-line, from Earth Balance shortening to fair trade chocolate and organic vanilla. Their ever-changing array of cupcake flavors is thrilling: basil blueberry, pistachio velvet, black forest cherry, creamsicle and s’mores are a few that have graced the display case lately. Yet, the basics are never neglected; chocolate and vanilla treats are always available and are, like everything else, delicious.
Wasota Vegan Paradise
Wasota is sufficiently different enough from Bistro Vonish to be a perfect complement. In this trailer, Lawrence Eguakun prepares traditional West African and Nigerian food, selling hearty plates that are nutritious and filling. Staples of this cuisine are black-eyed peas, spinach, plantains, rice, green beans and peppers, and Eguakun is a master at preparing them. The savory and spicy flavors are served up piping hot, and the fried plantains and fritters are crispy and irresistible. Beyond the traditional options, a veggie burger and other sandwiches are available, though it is often the Nigerian dishes — and Eguakun’s homemade pepper sauce — that keep people coming back for more.
It is astonishing that such a tiny camper trailer can hold so many desirable items. This little business sells chic ladies clothing, soy candles, jewelry, beauty products and gifts, all of which are manufactured without harm to animals. Their clothes are made from natural and artificial fibers, including rayon and Eucalyptus fiber, and they run the gamut from buttery-soft tees to velvet and lace dresses. Hemlock’s prices are beyond reasonable; they range from “bargain” to “steal.” Hot products include vegan nail polish, faux leather boots and vests and bamboo “take-out” utensil sets (which include a reusable bamboo straw and straw-cleaning brush).
A go-to spot for vegans looking for the joy of fried chicken, Sundazeat Possum Park offers deep-fried seitan served in avariety of ways: in a basket with dipping sauces, á la chicken nuggets; in a scrumptious sandwich with romaine, tomato, red onion and pickles; doused with Buffalo Sauce, like chicken wings; or on top of a fresh spinach and romaine salad. The crunchy, housemade seitan is first-rate, and the dipping sauces are crave-worthy: vegan ranch, peach ’n’ sour, spicy lemon pepper, BBQ, habanero and buffalo. Sundaze also makes fresh-cut french fries that rival any in town. And, for non-vegan customers, Sundaze also offers classic, unforgettable fried chicken. Online update: Sundaze only offers fried chicken at their South Austin location on Clawson Rd.
Franny's Southern Comfort Food
Franny’s offers Creole and Cajun-style vegan comfort food, specializing in red beans and rice, gumbo, smoky greens, grits, cornbread, po-boys, potato salad, muffulettas and homemade vegan “meats” including fried Chick’n, Cajun “sausages” (including Boudin), barbecue tofu and Franny’s newest creation, vegan corndogs. Franny’s also makes what are possibly the most delicious sweet potatoes in Austin — crispy, pan-fried chunks of creamy perfection topped with a signature hot sauce. Cajun cooking is, in some ways, a natural candidate for vegan interpretation since its spices and flavorings are what make it so heartwarming and unmistakable. The southern comfort doesn’t stop at the entrees, however; Franny’s also makes an idyllic chocolate-pecan sheet cake.
By KM Thornberry • Photography by Nathan Beels