UPDATED JUL 14, 2020
Thanks to the endless options for great vegan and vegetarian food in San Diego, there’s no reason not to jump on the plant-lover bandwagon. Whether you’re a hardcore vegan vet, just cutting down your meat intake, or simply in the mood for something different, there are tons of eateries in the city to explore.
It’s not uncommon to hear echoes of “I am whole” or “I am content” while sitting at Café Gratitude's bright, calm communal table in Little Italy. These affirmations of positivity happen to be the name of the dishes on the menu, and after one bite of food here, chances are you will feel content. While you're there, keep on the lookout for singer Jason Mraz. Little-known fact: he owns an avocado farm in San Diego County and is a partner with Café Gratitude!
Peace Pies in Ocean Beach is the perfect spot for new vegans craving their old favorites or for anybody looking for some good ol’ comfort food. The restaurant veganized everything from cheesecake to quesadillas, and it’s all so good that even your pickiest friends won’t miss the cheese or meat. Our recommendation? Try the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla followed by a slice of their classic strawberry cheesecake. Fitt Tip: you can also find them at area farmers' markets, so check their website for locations, times, and days.
Thanks to unfinished wooden walls, communal tables, succulents, and an extensive local beer list, Grains on Adams Ave. is a modern vegan’s dream come true. And while they’ve got awesome entrée options like a jackfruit “pork” banh mi, the appetizers steal the show here. The deep-fried mushroom calamari and buffalo cauliflower apps go perfectly with a round of beers and a few friends — vegan or not.
Nestled on Highway 101 in Encinitas with another spot in Oceanside, EVE has been serving tasty vegan cuisine and happy vibes since opening in 2016. You’ll find superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices, local kombucha, Instagram-worthy buddha bowls, and a relaxed space to grab a bite and hang with pals. For an extra flavorful dish, order the popular Legendary Hero, a buddha bowl with braised kale, Brussels sprouts, beets, hemp seed, brown rice, and more.
Veganic Thai Café is a cozy spot in University Heights serving killer vegan dishes with Thai flare. Locals swear by Veganic’s mock “duck” in any of their dishes, but be sure to order it with the Drunken Noodles at least once. They’ve also got pumpkin curry and fried bananas with vegan ice cream, because there’s always room for dessert, right?
Head to South Park and you’ll find the one-of-a-kind, heavy-metal-music-playing, craft-cocktail-serving, vegan food restaurant, KINDRED. Enjoy your Fried and Pickled (fried pickles and buffalo cauliflower) or Wizard Bowl (kale salad with all the garnishes) with a side of Metallica under The Beast (the mythical wolf/snake/skull totem on the wall).
The Clairemont Mesa/Kearny Mesa neighborhood screams Asian cuisine hot spot and Sipz Vegetarian Fuzion Café is one of the best Asian eateries in town, serving up hearty portions of your favorite Chinese, Japanese, and Thai meals that hold strong to veggie roots. Our favorites include Pad Thai (get it with the “chikn” option) and the Caterpillar sushi roll (think mushrooms, yams, and avocado). Fitt Tip: they don’t serve sushi rolls until after 5pm, but make sure to check out their weekly happy hour from 3-6pm.
Plumeria in University Heights is proof vegetarian food can be upscale. From the mint-infused water to the perfectly-blended jasmine and brown rice, no detail is left behind at this health-conscious restaurant. Plus, Plumeria is green in more ways than one. You can place a to-go order, and they’ll take $1 off if you bring your own containers!
Ranchos Cocina proudly serves traditional Mexican dishes, but they’re famous for their vegan and vegetarian options that go far beyond your classic bean and cheese burritos. We’re talking vegan “carne" asada burritos, sweet potato quesadillas, and possibly the best mole sauce we’ve ever tasted. You really can’t go wrong with anything at Ranchos, which makes this North Park spot the perfect place to take a crew of vegans and non-vegans alike.
The make-your-own food combinations at Flower Child in Del Mar appear endless. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by creating your own meal, you can always choose one of the pre-made entrée items, like the Vegan Poke or the popular Mother Earth bowl — a hearty creation featuring ancient grains, veggies, and a house-made vinaigrette. Whatever you decide, just be sure to order a side of the Red Chili Glazed Sweet Potatoes. We promise you won’t regret it.
Plant Power Fast Food turns everything you knew about fast food right on its head. So long junky burgers. This joint serves cruelty-free meals sans dairy, artificial ingredients, and GMOs. Swing by for a selection of plant-based salads, burgers, handhelds, and grab-n-go items that are second to none (hello walnut and sunflower burger patties). And their commitment to the planet doesn’t stop there because all meals come served in 100% biodegradable materials. So, you have more than one reason to feel good about this healthy eats haven.
The meals at Veggilish dive into simple, straightforward, and seriously delicious territory. The fully customizable menu allows you to build the bowl of your dreams. We're talking whole grains, seasonal veggies, organic protein sources, and house-made dressings and sauces. Plus, their downtown locale acts as the perfect spot for a quick lunch between meetings or a healthy stop before catching a Padres game. Make sure to chase down your meal with a Solti juice or house-brewed hibiscus iced tea.
This Mission Beach hot spot has a little bit of everything. Order up some tapas to snack on and share with your friends, or try one of their drool-worthy bowls for lunch. We'd be hard-pressed to pick our favorite dish here, but the signature Soulshine Tacos made with blue corn tortillas, Indian spiced lentils, tomatillo sauce, and cashew crema? Let's just say they're a no-brainer.
Like many San Diego restaurants, Tocaya Organica was founded in LA and quickly moved down the coast before making a new home for itself in San Diego. Lucky for us, this SoCal chain is all about fresh ingredients, big flavors, and killer aesthetics. While their focus is primarily vegan Mexican food, you’ll also find an entire menu of cheese and meat options that you can add to any dish. But we suggest ordering one of their massive burritos with a side of the guacamole and plantain chips — the pomegranate seeds in the guac are unexpectedly awesome.
Get the latest news on San Diego’s fitness scene.