I think one of the things that takes a restaurant beyond good is the willingness of the staff to accommodate. Obviously, for chain restaurants where things are frozen in boxes, this is difficult. Luckily, Austin is replete with independently owned businesses that make a name for themselves by catering to all palates.
Sagra is an unassuming little trattoria just down San Antonio St from the glut of fast-food restaurants abutting the University of Texas campus, but it is miles away in class. Like Taverna, Sagra has $1 mimosas and bellinis during weekend brunch. Unlike Taverna, there’s not a two-hour wait each weekend behind hungover frat dudes and well-dressed alternative lifestylers.
The atmosphere is cheerful and welcoming, and they have plenty of outdoor seating if you want to bring your furry friend. Last time I was there, we were immediately greeted by the owner of the restaurant. We mentioned that we were vegan, and he brought us their vegan menu. There were a few mistakes on it (some of the entrees were still listed with meat on them), but he assured us that everything would come out vegan and the menus needed to be fixed.
We ordered two cocktails from the extensive drink menu and were not disappointed. The drinks were strong, sweet, and delicious. We were also brought a sort of bean pate to tide us over until our bruschetta arrived. It was incredible, especially with some balsamic added.
The bruschetta (listed above) was adapted to be vegan, and made with fresh vegetables from Sagra’s garden (anything locally sourced is an A+ in my book). It was heavenly: the perfect mix of fresh, bold, summer flavors like red onion, fresh tomato, and basil.
After another round of cocktails, we received our entree. We decided to share a vegan pizza.
Vegan pizza is always a toss-up. It can be really difficult to find a good one. Making it with Daiya cheese or other dairy alternatives can be dicey, because the faux-cheese can overwhelm the rest of the flavors. Sagra’s pizza is made with pistachio cheese, dropped in small globs over the pizza. It was the perfect amount- the little globs made for a great explosion of flavor when you tasted them that didn’t overwhelm the rest of the dish.
We left Sagra that day sated and plump (probably slightly tipsy as well.) My mom declared it the best restaurant she’s ever eaten at in Austin- high praise coming from her, as we’ve eaten at some great places together. All in all, Sagra is a great choice for a date night or Sunday brunch when you don’t want the crowds. The service is impeccable and the food superb.
1610 San Antonio Street Austin, TX 78701