While so many of us are redoubling efforts to support small businesses in this particularly fraught moment in time, some of those small businesses are actually doing the same. Literally starting from the ground up, sourcing from local farmers is part of the puzzle that those in the dining room don’t see, but when it goes missing, it’s obvious when the bigger picture doesn’t look right. An essential, core element of the community, Counter Culture is weathering the storm of the pandemic without ever losing sight of that crucial aspect, among many others.
To discuss Counter Culture without mentioning their outreach and impact across all of Austin would do a terrible disservice to all that it stands for. Food is a form of activism here as a way of positive reinforcement, making environmentally-sound, cruelty-free options an easy choice. Inclusivity has been part of that compassionate approach from day one, which means that there’s something for everyone at the table, offered at affordable prices that still allow employees a living wage. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, if not an impossible compromise to strike between ethics and business, which makes the past decade of success all the more inspiring. If every meal is a battle, they’re winning this war.
At the end of the day, it’s the food that keeps customers coming back, after all. Approachable, comforting classics are menu mainstays, but that’s not all. You can also find raw specialties like zucchini noodles and raw cheesecakes for healthier cravings, or on the flip side, strong mixed drinks if you’d rather re-tox than detox.
Sandwiches are the stuff of deli dreams, layered with thick, hand crafted and cured seitan pastrami, or sweet apple jam with “bacun”. Though few people would rave about a green salad, the BLTA salad deserves such praise, sharply dressed in creamy ranch with lavish piles of buttery avocado, smoked tempeh, and hemp Parmesan. Show up for happy hour to get a smart discount on their crowd-pleasing buffalo mac & cheese balls, or the towering plate of east side nachos that could feed an army.
Visitors should put it at the top of their itinerary and plant-based residents should be regulars. Counter Culture is the kind of cornerstone establishment that any city, big or small, would be lucky to host.