24 Spots in San Diego Every Vegan And Vegetarian Should Know

24 Spots in San Diego Every Vegan And Vegetarian Should Know

The stigma against plant-based diets has officially become a thing of the past. And thanks to the endless options for great vegan, vegetarian, and plant-lover-friendly food in San Diego, there’s pretty much no reason not to jump on the bandwagon (even if it’s just one day per week).

Whether you’re a hardcore vegan vet, just cutting down your meat intake, or simply not in the mood for something that once moo’d, you’ll be just fine in SD.

  • Café Gratitude

    San Diego
    image via Jessica L. | Yelp

    It’s not uncommon to hear echoes of “I am Whole” or “I am Content” as you sit at a communal table in the bright, calm space that is Café Gratitude in Little Italy. These affirmations of positivity happen to be the name of the dishes on the menu, but the folks behind the food guarantee that you’ll feel that way upon leaving (just kidding — they don’t actually guarantee that… but you will). Also, keep on the lookout for the one and only Jason Mraz while you’re there. Little-known fact: he owns an avocado farm in San Diego County and is a partner in Café Gratitude!

  • Peace Pies

    image via @laurenannholden | Instagram

    Peace Pies in Ocean Beach and Encinitas is the perfect spot for new vegans craving their old favorites or for anybody looking for some good ol’ comfort food. They’ve veganized everything from cheesecake to quesadillas, and it’s all so good even your pickiest friends won’t be able to complain about the lack of cheese or meat. If you’re a first-timer, you can’t leave without a slice of the strawberry cheesecake — it’s a classic. But the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla is one of the best vegan meals in town. Fitt Tip: you can also find them at area farmers markets, so check their website locations, times, and days.

  • Grains

    image via Grains | Yelp

    Thanks to its unfinished wood walls, communal tables, succulents, and an extensive local beer list, Grains on Adams Ave. is a hipster vegan’s dream come true. And while they’ve got awesome entrée options like a jackfruit “pork” banh mi, the appetizers are the real stars of the menu here. The deep-fried mushroom calamari and buffalo cauliflower apps go perfectly with a round of beers and a few friends (vegan or not).

  • Starry Lane Bakery

    San Diego
    image via Loke P. | Yelp

    Need a sweet treat that isn’t going to wreck your diet or a birthday cake for your friend who seems to be allergic to everything? Starry Lane in Hillcrest has got you covered with an extensive menu of cookies, cakes, and other baked goods that are made fresh daily and completely allergen-free. Whatever you stop by in search of, do not leave without trying one of Grandma’s Favorites — oatmeal cookies that are amazing.

  • EVE Encinitas

    Vegan San Diego
    image via @partywithplants | Instagram

    Nestled on Highway 101 in Encinitas, EVE has been serving tasty vegan cuisine and happy vibes since opening its doors. 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. Feeling epic? Order the popular Legendary Hero, a buddha bowl with braised kale, brussel sprouts, beets, hemp seed, brown rice, and more. And heck, add jackfruit for that extra pop of color.

  • Veganic Thai Cafe

    San Diego Vegan Restaurant
    image via @vallady | Instagram

    Veganic Thai Cafe is a cozy spot in University Heights that’s serving killer vegan dishes with a 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 (#fall) and fried bananas with vegan ice cream, because there’s always room for dessert, right?

  • Green Door Cafe

    image via Green Door Cafe | Facebook

    Think mac n’ cheese is decidedly un-vegan? Well, think again — the folks over at Green Door Cafe in La Jolla have made a vegan mac n’ cheese dish that’s so good, you may never go back to the Kraft stuff again. Plus, it comes with three side dishes, including house-made kale chips that’ll knock your organic cotton socks right off. If you’re looking for something a little heartier, try the Bombay Bomb burger, which is made from 30 different nutrient-packed ingredients.

  • KINDRED

    Kindred
    image via lorenzocapeles

    Think all vegans are earthy hippie types who sit in drum circles and drink wheatgrass shots? Then, you’d be wrong. In South Park, you’ll find (possibly the only) heavy metal music playing, craft cocktail serving vegan food restaurant, KINDRED. As you enjoy your Fried and Pickled (fried pickles and buffalo cauliflower) or Wizard Bowl (kale salad with all the garnishes) under The Beast (the mythical wolf/snake/skull totem on the wall), you’ll wonder if this place is a dream. Trust us — you’ll be back more than a few times.

  • Trilogy Sanctuary

    Trilogy Sanctuary
    image via Trilogy Sanctuary

    Imagine sitting on a roof deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean while fit yogis swing from aerial yoga hammocks nearby and happy shoppers peruse a boutique full of Fair Trade and Mother Earth-friendly clothes and gifts. Now, imagine enjoying this environment while eating buckwheat breakfast crepes or stacks of pancakes topped with strawberries, bananas, coconut cream, and chocolate. You’ve just transported yourself to Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla. Trilogy was created as a space to nurture balance and inspire people to lead a healthy life — and yoga + buckwheat crepes seems like the best way.

  • Donna Jean

    Donna Jean San Diego
    image via @krystal_marie_sd | Instagram

    They’ll be the first to say it: Donna Jean on Fifth Ave. is not a “health food” restaurant. They are simply dedicated to serving craveable meals made with the best quality, plant-based ingredients. That dedication shows in dishes like the Harissa Strozzapreti with spicy beer cheese and the Salisbury Tempeh, both of which are completely meat-free and seriously decadent. Not to mention, the patio at this Bankers Hill hot spot is the perfect place to split a plate of Nashville Hot Shrooms with a sweetie.

  • The Purple Mint

    image via H.F. | Yelp

    Sometimes it can feel like Thai places are a dime a dozen in San Diego, but the vegan and vegetarian food options at The Purple Mint are money. While this isn’t an exclusively plant-based eatery, the Purple Mint is known for its meat alternatives in unexpected (and awesome) dishes like Kung Pao “chicken” and spicy “shrimp”. Between the avocado spring rolls and mason jar lighting, this place has “California cool” down to a T.

  • Sipz Vegetarian Fuzion Café

    Sipz Vegetarian Fuzion Cafe
    image via Sipz Vegetarian Fusion Café

    The Clairemont Mesa/Kearny Mesa neighborhood is known as a hot spot for Asian cuisine. And Sipz Vegetarian Fuzion Café does the neighbors right with hearty portions of your favorite Chinese, Japanese, and Thai meals while holding strong to their 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 and their weekly happy hour (3-6pm daily) is on point!

  • Plumeria

    San Diego
    image via Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant | Yelp

    Plumeria in University Heights is proof that vegetarian food can be upscale. If you need a date idea, this Thai restaurant has the perfect plates. From the mint-infused water to the perfectly-blended jasmine and brown rice with every order, no attention to detail is left behind. 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!

  • Lotus Cafe

    San Diego Healthy Restaurants
    image via Julie G. | Yelp

    Head north to Encinitas for some casual and comfortable vegetarian fare at Lotus Cafe. Their doors and juice bar has been open since 2009, so you could say they have a good thing going. Grab a green juice, huevos rancheros, or an acai bowl for breakfast then head out to catch some world-class surfing just a block away. We know you’ll be hungry after your board meeting, so head back for a sandwich or salad to refuel. And they’re open until 9pm, so technically you could have your dinner there as well. We won’t tell anyone.

  • Jyoti-Bihanga

    San Diego Vegetarian
    image via @jyotibihanga | Instagram

    Jyoti-Bihanga is a tiny restaurant in Normal Heights that is decidedly un-cool. With old-school furniture and house plants that’ll remind you of your grandmother’s, this place is as charming as it gets. And their food is even better. Most people go for the “Neatloaf” that made this place famous with locals, but they stay for the vegan Chocolate Moussecake. They also offer an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet on Sundays that includes vegan whole wheat blueberry pancakes, French toast, and tofu scramble.

  • Civico 1845

    Civico 1845
    image via @elliewhoelse

    Civico 1845 is new Italian cooking in the heart of Little Italy. In addition to the traditional house-made pasta and classic meat sauces, they also have an entire section of their menu that is dedicated to vegan meals. Instead of trying to fool you with any assortment of the fake meat options (thanks for that), they opt for ravioli full of wild mushrooms and eggplant parmesan. Buon appetito!

  • Nomad Donuts

    image via Nomad Donuts | Facebook

    Specialty donut shops are all the rage. And Nomad Donuts is at the top of the list. In fact, their donuts are so in demand that they just opened a new spot in North Park to serve all your donut needs. You’ll find the classics, like vanilla, chocolate, and maple donuts. But there’s also vegan options like strawberry jam mango guava, key lime prickly pear, and blueberry lavender available on a rotating menu. You know what they say, a donut a day keeps the doctor away! (Don’t quote us on that.)

  • Rancho Cocina

    Healthy San Diego Restuarants
    image via @allaboardtheltrain | Instagram

    Rancho Cocina serves a full menu of traditional Mexican dishes, but they’re famous for their vegan and vegetarian options that go way beyond bean and cheese burritos. We’re talking vegan “carne asada” burritos, sweet potato quesadillas, and the best dang mole sauce you’ve ever had. You can’t really go wrong with anything at Rancho, which makes this North Park spot the perfect place to take a crew of vegans and non-vegans alike.

  • Flower Child

    Flower Child San Diego
    image via @kimicoyo | Instagram

    The mix n’ match menu at Flower Child in Del Mar gives you ultimate control over your meal, so you can go full-fledged vegan one day and opt for a meatier option the next. The combinations are endless, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can always choose one of their pre-made entrée items, like the Vegan Poke or the super popular Mother Earth bowl — a hearty creation featuring ancient grains, veggies, microgreens, and a house-made vinaigrette. Whatever you decide to get, just be sure to order a side of the Red Chili Glazed Sweet Potatoes (you won’t regret it).

  • Evolution Fast Food

    San Diego Healthy Take Out
    image via @nattyisahappyfatty_ | Instagram

    Healthy fast food? That seems like an oxymoron. And it is, with the exception of Evolution Fast Food in Hillcrest. Our favorite part? The build-a-burger option. Choose from a tempeh or black bean burger and top it with anything from Swiss cheese to guacamole (or maybe both). While we wouldn’t recommend going around and trusting every fast food company’s advertisements and claims, this one is legit: delicious, vegan, fast food.

  • Plant Power Fast Food

    best plant based fast food
    image via @plantpowerfastfood | Instagram

    If you prefer your food cruelty-free and sans dairy, artificial ingredients, and GMOs, then Plant Power Fast Food is about to be your new go-to. 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, cashew hummus, and kaleslaw). And their commitment to the planet doesn’t stop there — all of their menu items are served in 100% biodegradable materials. So you have more than one reason to feel good about this healthy eats haven in Encinitas and Ocean Beach.

  • Veggilish

    San Diego Restaurants
    image via Veggilish

    The meals at Veggilish is simple, straightforward, and seriously delicious. The fully-customizable menu allows you to build the bowl of your dreams from whole grains, seasonal veggies, organic protein sources, and house-made dressings and sauces. And their downtown location is the perfect spot for a quick lunch between meetings or a healthy stop on your way to a Padres game. Be sure to chase it down with a Solti juice or house-brewed hibiscus iced tea.

  • Naked Cafe

    San Diego Restaurants
    image via @dianarm4 | Instagram

    While being naked in public is generally frowned upon, you might be tempted after eating the healthy fare at Naked Cafe. Why? The food is so good for you that it’ll make you look better naked! Whether you’re in Solana Beach, Point Loma, Carlsbad, or Encinitas you can count on the awesome (clothed) staff at Naked to have the perfect suggestion for your grumbling belly. No matter your selection, we recommend getting one Fuzzy Monkey pancake for the table.

  • Soulshine

    soulshine mission beach
    image via @soulshinemb | Instagram

    At this Mission Beach hot spot, they’ve got a little bit of everything. Order up some tapas to snack on and share with your friends. Or, try out one of their drool-worthy salads or bowls for lunch. Whatever you do, don’t sleep on their signature Soulshine Tacos, they feature tumeric and black pepper tortillas, Indian spiced lentils, kale, diablo sauce, avocado, and cashew crema.