It’s hard out there for taco-loving vegetarians. Texas’s culinary culture is often informed by the state’s Northern Mexican and cattle-ranching past and present. Tacos filled with barbacoa, lengua, al pastor, and fajita are seemingly everywhere. But there are other options. Mexican cuisine is rich with vegetarian dishes and tacos, and demand for such options is growing. Here are three high-caliber vegetarian tacos—none made with soy protein substitutes.
La Vibra Tacos
Popular in Mexico City, the costra taco typically has a shell of griddled cheese in place of a tortilla (“costra” can mean “crust”), but stylistic interpretations have spread across Texas over the past few years. At La Vibra Tacos, which a group of local investors with Mexico City ties opened last January in the Heights, the costra de rajas features charred and sliced poblanos rolled up in a crunchy Gouda casing and served on a house-made flour tortilla that can be wrapped around the whole thing. Top it all with a drizzle of tart tamarind salsa. 506 Yale, 713-389-5783.
Located in a gas station in the Near Riverside district, Mariachi’s Dine-in is as dedicated to its plant-based offerings as it is to the house-made chorizo, although this wasn’t exactly the case when it opened in July 2018. The first menu had a blurb instructing “vegan mariachis” to ask the cashier about options, recalls owner Ashley Miller. The demand was so high that chef Angel Fuentes created a separate vegan menu. The substantial grilled veggies taco features nopales, poblanos, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and a guajillo chile salsa. 301 S. Sylvania Ave., 682-760-9606.
The best-selling item at Resident Taqueria, in Lake Highlands, is the caramelized cauliflower taco, which was inspired by chef-owner Andrew Savoie’s time at New York restaurant Jean-Georges, where the roasted vegetable was served with caper-raisin sauce. “Tasting endless amounts of caramelized cauliflower, I became addicted to the flavor,” Savoie says. His taco also includes pepitas, crispy kale, and dollops of robust lemon-epazote aioli. 9661 Audelia Rd., 972-685-5280.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Vegging Out.” Subscribe today.