East Austin vegan Mexican truck Nissi VegMex opened a new physical restaurant in the Wooten neighborhood earlier this spring. The 9012 Research Boulevard, Unit C-6 restaurant debuted on April 29.
The menu is all about vegan Mexican street food, spanning tacos, burritos, flautas, chalupas, as well as nachos, and burgers. The base of the dishes range from carne asada, picadillo, fajitas, al pastor, chicharron, and not-chicken. There are even gluten-free birria tacos served with a side of dipping consomé, as well as bottled salsas.
The fillings are made with a special soy bean mix created by owners Sergio and Karen Tamez. They make sure to create meat-like textures, like pork, beef, and chicken, and use the same plant-based marinades typically used for meats anyway for flavors.
The Tamezes wanted to open a vegan truck because they became vegan themselves in 2016, and it was difficult finding familiar foods that were plant-based. “We tried to eat current vegan food at the time and it was something different from what we were used to,” Sergio tells Eater, so they were cooking their own meals anyway. Then, “we decided we wanted to share what we have to the rest of our community here,” he says. They opened Nissi as a food truck in September 2018 at the music venue and food truck space Kenny Dorham’s Backyard.
The name “Nissi” stems from the Old Testament, which was a nickname for God that means the God who opens paths” The Tamezes, who are Christian, see their truck, as being one of the first vegan Mexican food businesses in the city, which made way for others. “The vegan community can now find a mini-strip of vegan food on East 11th,” Sergio says.
The couple decided to open a physical restaurant because it would be. more comfortable for customers and themselves. “We wanted to provide a better service,” Sergio says.
The East Austin truck is currently temporarily closed, and Sergio is unsure if they will reopen. It depends on staffing and being able to maintain the quality of the food. They’re open to eventually expanding in southeast Austin maybe in five years.