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SAN DIEGO'S HEALTHIEST RESTAURANTS

16 PLACES

UPDATED JAN 12, 2020

In San Diego, there are tons of healthy options for every kind of eater. From vegan and vegetarian to gluten-free and paleo, all of these spots are making it easy for you to eat well.

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ERICA FRIEDMAN

FITT SAN-DIEGO CONTRIBUTOR

EVE Encinitas is a vegan’s paradise. Nestled on Highway 101, the local favorite serves fresh and hearty buddha bowls, salads, smoothies, local kombucha, and cold-pressed juices in a relaxed zen-like space. Loaded with flavor, the Instagram-worthy options are chock-full of veggies and poppin’ with color. Feeling adventurous? Go for Machu Picchu, loaded with red quinoa, Peruvian purple potatoes, corn, pichuberries, white beans, pickled beets, wakame chuka (a seaweed salad), and red Aji sauce.

No matter what you’re craving, GOODONYA Organic has you covered. The down-to-earth spot in Encinitas and Kearny Mesa (Cafe 160) serves locally-sourced organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and non-GMO options. With everything from out-of-this-world lattes (made with housemade cashew milk) and smoothies (with GOODONYA Protein blend) to wraps and burritos, making a decision may be the hardest part of your day. Fitt Tip: the cozy spot has limited seating, so have a buddy snag a table while you order.

Del Mar’s Flower Child is a cheerful, colorful cafe with an all-day menu of fresh salads, bowls, and wraps. The Bohemian-styled space features a big open kitchen, plenty of patio seating, and chic decor. Fuel up for a busy day with the hearty (and vegan-friendly) Mother Earth bowl, topped with grass-fed steak or sustainable salmon. With a mix of grains, sweet potato, portobello mushroom, avocado, broccoli pesto, hemp seed, and red pepper miso, the dish is a delicious mix of flavors and veggies. Hydrate at the lemonade and iced tea station, with flavors that change on a seasonal basis.

There’s a lot to love about this place. A ton of fresh and wholesome food at an affordable price. The order-at-the-counter casual vibe. And the fact you can eat at one of Urban Plates’ three locations in San Diego and have a ton of options. Hop on one line to order a hand-tossed salad, with optional grilled free-range protein add. Or pop over to line number two for soup, sandwich, or plate — a sizable portion of sustainable protein with two healthy sides like summer squash or sesame broccolini. And for gluten-free eaters — take a peek at the allergen chart for a full breakdown of ingredients and safe eats.

Parakeet Café has been brightening up La Jolla’s foodie scene for a while now, and the cozy spot does not disappoint. Owned by neighboring Juice Crafters, the cafe offers an all-day breakfast menu with a variety of toasts, scrambles, waffles, and coffee, with unique eats you won’t find anywhere else. Matcha waffles, anyone? Or how about almond butter toast slathered with homemade preserved fruit and organic berries? Yeah, that sounds pretty delicious too. Grab a pal and [object Object] — and starting December 2018, you can flock to their Little Italy location too.

An afternoon spent at La Jolla’s Trilogy Sanctuary is heavenly. The rooftop yoga studio, gluten-free vegan cafe, and retail boutique are always bustling with activity and positive vibes. Order at the counter and take a seat on one of the deck’s cushy couches to soak up the sun and watch aerialists in action. This is truly the go-to spot for anyone looking for flavorful healthy food, Wi-Fi, and a relaxing afternoon. Fitt Tip: Trilogy hosts an Open Mic Night on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. Bring a song, a guitar, some poetry, or just yourself!

A full-service farm-to-table eatery from chef Brian Malarkey, Green Acre is the perfect spot for a healthy business meeting. The Campus Point location is a bit tricky to find amongst all of the biotech hubs, but it’s worth the search. The on-site gardens, outdoor patio, and menu make it worth the trek. Craving a burger? Go for Black Bean, a house-made patty with smoked cheddar, avocado, and quinoa. When in doubt add the fried egg, too. Fitt Tip: if you work in the area, show your badge for 30% off your tab.

If you are looking for a healthy, filling, out-of-the-box sandwich, Del Mar and UTC’s Mendocino Farms is the spot (note: they’re headed to Carlsbad summer 2019, too). But first things first — samples. Take advantage of the extra bites before placing your order. And when it comes time for the final sandwich decision, Mendocino makes it easy for gluten-free and vegan eaters. Come hungry for the Green Goddess Turkey Avocado Toast. With shaved turkey, avocado, wild rice and toasted sesame, vegan Green Goddess dressing, sprouts, and pickled radishes, Mendocino takes avocado toast to a whole other level. Eat both halves plus a side and you’re a real champ.

At True Food, they only serve real food (read: wholesome meals made with clean ingredients). Their menu changes with seasons and follows Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory approach to eating, so you can expect gut-friendly, antioxidant creations featuring only the good stuff. And if you need some kitchen inspo, they’ve got you there, too, with an open-concept space that looks like you wish yours did: bright colors, prepped produce, and shiny counters. Check ‘em out in Fashion Valley Mall or La Jolla.

Tender Greens is simple and delicious. Adding a healthy twist to the comfort foods you know and love, every dish is made with high-quality ingredients. Order at the counter, then watch the team create your dish en route to the checkout. With sandwiches, salads, soups, and plates (protein and two sides), there are several mix-and-match options to fill you up at each of the four locations. Sweet tooth? Don’t pass up the baked goods by the register. The freshly baked cookies are worth the splurge.

The bright, calming space in Little Italy is a must-visit for vegan eaters. The 100% plant-based menu is easily labeled and designed to boost your confidence, mood, and overall well-being. And with dish names like Sharing (nachos), Dazzling (kale caesar), Grateful (community bowl), and Fabulous (raw Mexican lasagna), you’ll leave your meal feeling full, grateful, and ready to tackle the day.

If you’re looking for a healthy take on your favorite Mexican foods, Tocaya Organica in the East Village is your one-stop shop. With organic tacos, bowls, burritos, and salads on the menu, this modern Mexican joint serves only fresh, 100% hormone-free meats. Plus, they have great vegan options as well, like the Venice Beach bowl, which is made up of roasted cauliflower, sweet potato bravas, lentils, pickled onions, and cilantro-curry salsa. Stop in and try their guacamole served with plantain chips as well for a delicious twist on the already-delicious classic.

For a true taste of SoCal comfort food, look no further than Lemonade, a fast-casual eatery serving up seasonal, chef-made meals in a friendly and bright space. Founded by former fine dining foodie, this local staple has you covered no matter if you’re in the mood for a crunch Kale Farro salad, are hankering for their Red Miso Beef, or want to sit back with a savory soup. The love for Lemonade has expanded all over our sunny state, but head to Hillcrest or La Jolla to get your fix in San Diego. Fitt Tip: say yes to the vegan s’mores brownie.

It’s not every day you find a restaurant that specializes in South American-inspired eats, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at this Normal Heights hub. Dishing out a delicious and complex assortment of unique, organic ingredients and flavor combinations, this is where we go for a quality, farm-to-table meal we can feel good about indulging in. Even better, they implement environmentally sustainable and regenerative practices, so you’ll be doing the Earth a solid, too.

With the idea of making a convenient NYC deli healthier and more appealing, Freshii was born. Offering bowls, burritos, wraps, salads, soups, smoothies, and juices, this joint is keen on making nutritious foods easily accessible for today’s swarms of healthy eaters. Located in both PB and downtown, Freshii is constantly changing its menu—every 90 days, actually—so you’ll never get bored of their fresh taste.

Plant Power Fast Food might just be the future of fast food. The 100% plant-based eatery in Ocean Beach, Encinitas, and on San Diego State's campus is the healthy and clean alternative to neighboring fast food joints. With a buffalo “chicken” sandwich, “Chicken” and Waffles, and The Wake & “Bacon” burger, even your meat-loving friends will be asking for seconds. And wash it down with a Kombucha Float!

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