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The Plot
Kelly Bone

San Diego's Essential Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants

Find 23 fantastic meatless menus

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The Plot
| Kelly Bone

From vegetable-stuffed lumpias to buttery croissants without the butter, vegan food has a captured a larger share of the market than ever before and its popularity just keeps growing. A broader audience is interested in mindful and meatless eating, whether driven by care for animal welfare, their health, or the environment, and the vegetarian and vegan restaurants of San Diego are delivering the taste and talent to keep up with demand. Here are 23 spots to find satisfying meatless meals.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Plot

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1733 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054
(442) 266-8200
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Founded by San Diego power couple Jessica and Davin Waite, The Plot offers dishes built on vegetables that still satisfy even the staunchest omnivore. The Oceanside restaurant recently welcomed new chef Ryan Orlando and added to a menu that features fantastic lion mane mushroom-based crab cakes and one of the best shepherd’s pies in San Diego.

The Plot
Kelly Bone

2. Cultivated Greens

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890 Palomar Airport Rd
Carlsbad, CA 92011

There are some who say lumpias are life. Some of these people are vegan and they know to get their fix at Cultivated Greens. The team serves Filipino classics like tofu sisig and pancit and other San Diego favorites including a surf and turf burrito and mushroom birria tacos. There Windmill Food Hall location is currently closes but keep an eye on their social media for pop-up locations across the county.

Cultivated Greens
Kelly Bone

3. Modern Times Far West Lounge

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470 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 452-4304
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San Diego’s native vegan brewers debuted their restaurant concept to Encinitas in 2018. While the events of 2020 pared down the menu, all the beer buddies remain. Keep it light with a pint of Fruitlands sour gose and Secret Society Fries — kennebec fries smothered in vegan cheese, thousand island, grilled onions and pickles — or go big with a Black House oatmeal coffee stout and a Double Deluxe burger layered with shallot jam and smoky seitan on a vegan buttered brioche bun.

Modern Times Far West Lounge
Kelly Bone

4. Loving Hut

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9928 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92131
(858) 578-8885
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Undergoing a long remodel that left many worried they were closed for good, Loving Hut Mira Mesa reopened their doors just in time to close them again due to COVID-19. As one of the only vegan restaurants in Mira Mesa, they survived on take-out until reopening for dine-in during the summer of 2021. While the global chain is based in Asia, each Loving Hut location is locally owned and the menu reflects resident tastes. Meals here are best when cultures mingle. Try the  traditional pho, a steaming clear broth with rice noodles, tofu, and mushrooms, with their famous crinkle cut Texas Fries smothered in onions, jalapeno, chili powder, vegan cheddar cheese, and a glob of sour cream that acts a lot like aioli.

Loving Hut
Kelly Bone

5. Rollin' Roots

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8665 Miralani Dr
San Diego, CA 92126

Undeniably delicious loaded fries and stuffed sandwiches roll out of the kitchen inside of the Serpentine Cider tasting room. Operated by Rollin’ Roots, the popular vegan food truck that specializes in deep fried oyster mushroom “chicken” and pulled oat “beef”, this permanent location pairs the food with plenty of open air seating and good drinks to go around. 

Rollin’ Roots
Bree Steffen

6. Sattvik Foods

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8650 Miramar Rd B
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 568-1306
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Complex spices thread throughout each of Kanta Jina’s dishes at Sattvik Foods. Daily thalis hold seasonal curries like Corn Methi Malai (fenugreek and corn curry) and Achari Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower). The generous chaat menu (Indian street food and snacks) includes housemade samosas smothered in chutney and delicate shells of pani puri with herbaceous water, chickpeas, and potatoes.

Sattvik Foods
Kelly Bone

7. Green Door Cafe

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7644 Girard Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 291-8886

Tucked between La Jolla storefronts, a long hall leads into the cozy covered patio of Green Door Cafe. Here Martin Hall whips organic vegetables into trembling soups and sandwiches that showcase seasonality, from the popular Bombay Burger to the loaded Full Tank Spicy Hummus sandwich. Even the side salad accompanying most dishes is boldly crafted with seasoned cabbage, delicate pea tendrils, and a scattering of roasted fennel, sesame, and sunflower seeds.

Green Door Cafe
Kelly Bone

8. The Yasai: Plant-Based Japanese Experience

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4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 771-7254
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While San Diego has experienced a boom in vegan sushi, The Yasai sits clearly on top. Enjoy simple dishes like house-cured tomato nigiri or go big with spicy “no-shrimp” stuffed sushi rolls finished with fermented eryngii mushroom and candied jalapeño. Owner Junya Watanabe made his name in San Diego on ramen and his fiery vegan versions here are not to be missed.

The Yasai
Kelly Bone

9. The Purple Mint Vegan Bistro

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6171 Mission Gorge Rd #118
San Diego, CA 92120
(619) 280-3388
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A Grantville strip mall holds a dining room alive with leafy plants and a calming water feature. The mostly Vietnamese menu at Purple Mint Bistro includes cubed “filet mignon” sizzling in a cast iron pan, the popular double delight crispy egg-less rolls wrapped in rice paper, and eggplant and tofu drenched in sweet and sour sauce.

10. Soulshine Vegan Cafe

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3864 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 886-7252
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Flanked by the bay and Pacific Ocean, Soulshine brings a fully vegan menu to the Mission Beach neighborhood. The kitchen focuses on breakfast and lunch with bites like the herb biscuit sandwich stuffed with vegan egg and eggplant bacon or the baby kale salad with strawberries and crumbled cheese.

Soulshine
Kelly Bone

11. Maya's Cookies

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4760 Mission Gorge Pl
San Diego, CA 92120
(858) 265-9957
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Renowned nationally for her cookies, the lucky folks in San Diego can purchase Maya’s Cookies directly from the bakery. Favorites include the Chocolate Chip S’mores and Brown Sugar Butterscotch which are available individually or as boxed sets. The bakery also offers Oatly soft-serve with an array of toppings and a mini chocolate chip cookie topping each frozen swirl.

Maya’s Cookies
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12. Grossmont Center

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5500 Grossmont Center Dr
La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 465-2900
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A powerhouse for San Diego vegan dining, the food court in Grossmont Center sports four fully vegan stalls. Enjoy vegan adobada tacos from El Veganito with a fully loaded burger or wings from Veg’n Out. Or keep things fresh with coconut ceviche from Mariscos NoMar. Be sure to save room from dessert, like a guava cream cheese galette or double chocolate marble brownie from Split Bakehouse.

13. Grains

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2201 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 269-5999
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Siblings Napatr and Katiya follow their own muse. Grain’s menu fuses the complexity of Thai flavors with international favorites, resulting in dishes like the Drunken Angel, a swirl of spicy serrano and garlic sauced angel hair pasta with tofu and fresh peppercorn, popcorn cauliflower “chicken”, and salt and pepper king mushroom “calamari.”

Grains
Kelly Bone

14. Plumeria

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4661 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 269-9989
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When the daughter of Pimwara “Patty” Thongchua, owner The Thai Joint, went vegetarian she invited everyone to dine on their meat and fish sauce-free creations. Plumeria’s menu is filled with all the familiar Thai-American favorite, from pad thai to panang, veganized except for the occasional egg or dairy milk. The mock duck larb is a standout starter, with lime and soy sauce soaked seitan tossed with onions, chilies, cilantro, and a dusting of roasted rice powder.

Plumeria
Kelly Bone

15. Thanh Tinh Chay Restaurant

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4591 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
(619) 326-8992

This instantly-popular vegetarian spot in Little Saigon prepares many Vietnamese dishes that are rarely offered without meat. Here traditional-style bún huế comes beefless and steamed bánh bèo come topped with crispy root vegetables and tofu. The recently-revamped menu focuses on organic produce and now offers nine vegan banh mis, from BBQ “pork” (Heo Quay) to a tofu loaf with black pepper sauce (Chả Lụa).

 Nhà Hàng Chay Hoa Từ Bi Tâm
Kelly Bone

16. Plant Power Fast Food

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2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 450-6845
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A fast food industry disruptor, San Diego-based Plant Power Fast Food now boasts nine locations from San Diego to Sacramento with no hint of slowing down. Popular for the Big Zach (a vegan take on the Big Mac) the menu offers a gamut of burgers, from a classic topped with lettuce and tomato to the Rambler burger fat with onion rings and dripping with BBQ sauce. Other favorites include the strawberry shake, buffalo wings (with arguably the best vegan ranch in San Diego), and a croissant sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich.

Plant Power
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17. Veganic Thai Cafe

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1417 Suit A, University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 230-5540
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One of the few vegan Thai restaurants to go beyond rice noodles and stir-fries, Veganic specializes in uncommon vegan dishes like Three Flavor Fish, seaweed wrapped soy cutlets drenched in a sweet and sour chili-tamarind sauce. That said, their coconut curries and mock duck pad see ew are some of the best in the city.

Veganic
Kelly Bone

18. Hazel & Jade Bakery

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3852 Fourth Ave #100
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-2001
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This compact Hillcrest bakery turns out accomplished vegan versions of classic pastries,, from almond croissants to chocolate brioche knots. If you spot the croissant muffin, crowned with caramelized sugar and seasonal fruit, be sure to order it.

Hazel & Jade
Kelly Bone

19. Peace Pies

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4230 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 223-2880
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Food processors work triple time at Peace Pies in OB and Encinitas, whose kitchen committed to zero waste long before it became a buzzword. As San Diego’s premier raw food restaurant, chef and owner J.P. Alfred concocts classic dishes like avocado toast with truffle salt and unexpected treats like their raw sunflower seed crust pizza. 

Peace Pies
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20. Donna Jean

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2949 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-5500
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Scratch-made sauces and seasonal vegetables fill the plates of chef Roy Elam’d at Donna Jean. Organic wheat or chickpea flour socca crusts carry crushed tomatoes and fermented Scratch House “cheese” on pizzas, the centerpiece of the menu. Classic dishes, like the smoky “mac and cheese” and a Caesar salad with sun gold tomatoes and the briny crisp of sea beans, are equally worthy of praise. 

Donna Jean
Kelly Bone

21. WorldBeat Cafe

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2100 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 558-3728
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One of San Diego’s oldest vegetarian restaurants went fully vegan during the winter of 2020. Centered in the heart of Balboa Park, One World Beat Cafe offers an array of vegetable-based soul food. Enjoy dishes like Jamaican Veggie Patties filled with spicy cabbage or jerk tofu or fill up with a plate of Louisiana Creole Gumbo with collard greens and salad.

WorldBeat Cafe
Yelp

22. Kindred

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1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 546-9653
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Purple orchids and sherry floats dress the cocktails at this top-notch bar that also happens to be one of San Diego’s vest vegan restaurants. Forever famous for their smothered seitan skewers and crispy tempeh with maple-glazed carrots, the restaurant is always innovating new dishes. Don’t miss the stellar brunch, with must-order buttermilk biscuits and banh mi french toast sticks, and keep your eyes peeled for their next project, Mothership, coming to South Park towards the end of 2021.

Kindred
Kelly Bone

23. Spoiled Vegans Cafe

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440 16th St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 320-8366
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While currently operating as takeout only, the East Village’s Spoiled Vegans Cafe keeps bellies full when the weekend comes. The breakfast cafe offers a wide selection of vegan egg sandwiches, from the simple “ham” and cheese to a chimichurri spinach with a sausage patty stuffed in a sourdough English muffin. But the iconic dish here is the Let Go Of My Diego, a vegan apple sage sausage battered and “waffled” on a stick with a maple-mustard dipping sauce.

Spoiled Vegans Cafe
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1. The Plot

1733 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
The Plot
Kelly Bone

Founded by San Diego power couple Jessica and Davin Waite, The Plot offers dishes built on vegetables that still satisfy even the staunchest omnivore. The Oceanside restaurant recently welcomed new chef Ryan Orlando and added to a menu that features fantastic lion mane mushroom-based crab cakes and one of the best shepherd’s pies in San Diego.

1733 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054

2. Cultivated Greens

890 Palomar Airport Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011
Cultivated Greens
Kelly Bone

There are some who say lumpias are life. Some of these people are vegan and they know to get their fix at Cultivated Greens. The team serves Filipino classics like tofu sisig and pancit and other San Diego favorites including a surf and turf burrito and mushroom birria tacos. There Windmill Food Hall location is currently closes but keep an eye on their social media for pop-up locations across the county.

890 Palomar Airport Rd
Carlsbad, CA 92011

3. Modern Times Far West Lounge

470 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
Modern Times Far West Lounge
Kelly Bone

San Diego’s native vegan brewers debuted their restaurant concept to Encinitas in 2018. While the events of 2020 pared down the menu, all the beer buddies remain. Keep it light with a pint of Fruitlands sour gose and Secret Society Fries — kennebec fries smothered in vegan cheese, thousand island, grilled onions and pickles — or go big with a Black House oatmeal coffee stout and a Double Deluxe burger layered with shallot jam and smoky seitan on a vegan buttered brioche bun.

470 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024

4. Loving Hut

9928 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92131
Loving Hut
Kelly Bone

Undergoing a long remodel that left many worried they were closed for good, Loving Hut Mira Mesa reopened their doors just in time to close them again due to COVID-19. As one of the only vegan restaurants in Mira Mesa, they survived on take-out until reopening for dine-in during the summer of 2021. While the global chain is based in Asia, each Loving Hut location is locally owned and the menu reflects resident tastes. Meals here are best when cultures mingle. Try the  traditional pho, a steaming clear broth with rice noodles, tofu, and mushrooms, with their famous crinkle cut Texas Fries smothered in onions, jalapeno, chili powder, vegan cheddar cheese, and a glob of sour cream that acts a lot like aioli.

9928 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92131

5. Rollin' Roots

8665 Miralani Dr, San Diego, CA 92126
Rollin’ Roots
Bree Steffen

Undeniably delicious loaded fries and stuffed sandwiches roll out of the kitchen inside of the Serpentine Cider tasting room. Operated by Rollin’ Roots, the popular vegan food truck that specializes in deep fried oyster mushroom “chicken” and pulled oat “beef”, this permanent location pairs the food with plenty of open air seating and good drinks to go around. 

8665 Miralani Dr
San Diego, CA 92126

6. Sattvik Foods

8650 Miramar Rd B, San Diego, CA 92126
Sattvik Foods
Kelly Bone

Complex spices thread throughout each of Kanta Jina’s dishes at Sattvik Foods. Daily thalis hold seasonal curries like Corn Methi Malai (fenugreek and corn curry) and Achari Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower). The generous chaat menu (Indian street food and snacks) includes housemade samosas smothered in chutney and delicate shells of pani puri with herbaceous water, chickpeas, and potatoes.

8650 Miramar Rd B
San Diego, CA 92126

7. Green Door Cafe

7644 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Green Door Cafe
Kelly Bone

Tucked between La Jolla storefronts, a long hall leads into the cozy covered patio of Green Door Cafe. Here Martin Hall whips organic vegetables into trembling soups and sandwiches that showcase seasonality, from the popular Bombay Burger to the loaded Full Tank Spicy Hummus sandwich. Even the side salad accompanying most dishes is boldly crafted with seasoned cabbage, delicate pea tendrils, and a scattering of roasted fennel, sesame, and sunflower seeds.

7644 Girard Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037

8. The Yasai: Plant-Based Japanese Experience

4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
The Yasai
Kelly Bone

While San Diego has experienced a boom in vegan sushi, The Yasai sits clearly on top. Enjoy simple dishes like house-cured tomato nigiri or go big with spicy “no-shrimp” stuffed sushi rolls finished with fermented eryngii mushroom and candied jalapeño. Owner Junya Watanabe made his name in San Diego on ramen and his fiery vegan versions here are not to be missed.

4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111

9. The Purple Mint Vegan Bistro

6171 Mission Gorge Rd #118, San Diego, CA 92120

A Grantville strip mall holds a dining room alive with leafy plants and a calming water feature. The mostly Vietnamese menu at Purple Mint Bistro includes cubed “filet mignon” sizzling in a cast iron pan, the popular double delight crispy egg-less rolls wrapped in rice paper, and eggplant and tofu drenched in sweet and sour sauce.

6171 Mission Gorge Rd #118
San Diego, CA 92120

10. Soulshine Vegan Cafe

3864 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
Soulshine
Kelly Bone

Flanked by the bay and Pacific Ocean, Soulshine brings a fully vegan menu to the Mission Beach neighborhood. The kitchen focuses on breakfast and lunch with bites like the herb biscuit sandwich stuffed with vegan egg and eggplant bacon or the baby kale salad with strawberries and crumbled cheese.

3864 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

11. Maya's Cookies

4760 Mission Gorge Pl, San Diego, CA 92120
Maya’s Cookies
Facebook

Renowned nationally for her cookies, the lucky folks in San Diego can purchase Maya’s Cookies directly from the bakery. Favorites include the Chocolate Chip S’mores and Brown Sugar Butterscotch which are available individually or as boxed sets. The bakery also offers Oatly soft-serve with an array of toppings and a mini chocolate chip cookie topping each frozen swirl.

4760 Mission Gorge Pl
San Diego, CA 92120

12. Grossmont Center

5500 Grossmont Center Dr, La Mesa, CA 91942

A powerhouse for San Diego vegan dining, the food court in Grossmont Center sports four fully vegan stalls. Enjoy vegan adobada tacos from El Veganito with a fully loaded burger or wings from Veg’n Out. Or keep things fresh with coconut ceviche from Mariscos NoMar. Be sure to save room from dessert, like a guava cream cheese galette or double chocolate marble brownie from Split Bakehouse.

5500 Grossmont Center Dr
La Mesa, CA 91942

13. Grains

2201 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
Grains
Kelly Bone

Siblings Napatr and Katiya follow their own muse. Grain’s menu fuses the complexity of Thai flavors with international favorites, resulting in dishes like the Drunken Angel, a swirl of spicy serrano and garlic sauced angel hair pasta with tofu and fresh peppercorn, popcorn cauliflower “chicken”, and salt and pepper king mushroom “calamari.”

2201 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

14. Plumeria

4661 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
Plumeria
Kelly Bone

When the daughter of Pimwara “Patty” Thongchua, owner The Thai Joint, went vegetarian she invited everyone to dine on their meat and fish sauce-free creations. Plumeria’s menu is filled with all the familiar Thai-American favorite, from pad thai to panang, veganized except for the occasional egg or dairy milk. The mock duck larb is a standout starter, with lime and soy sauce soaked seitan tossed with onions, chilies, cilantro, and a dusting of roasted rice powder.

4661 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116

15. Thanh Tinh Chay Restaurant

4591 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
 Nhà Hàng Chay Hoa Từ Bi Tâm
Kelly Bone

This instantly-popular vegetarian spot in Little Saigon prepares many Vietnamese dishes that are rarely offered without meat. Here traditional-style bún huế comes beefless and steamed bánh bèo come topped with crispy root vegetables and tofu. The recently-revamped menu focuses on organic produce and now offers nine vegan banh mis, from BBQ “pork” (Heo Quay) to a tofu loaf with black pepper sauce (Chả Lụa).

4591 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

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16. Plant Power Fast Food

2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107
Plant Power
Facebook

A fast food industry disruptor, San Diego-based Plant Power Fast Food now boasts nine locations from San Diego to Sacramento with no hint of slowing down. Popular for the Big Zach (a vegan take on the Big Mac) the menu offers a gamut of burgers, from a classic topped with lettuce and tomato to the Rambler burger fat with onion rings and dripping with BBQ sauce. Other favorites include the strawberry shake, buffalo wings (with arguably the best vegan ranch in San Diego), and a croissant sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich.

2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd
San Diego, CA 92107

17. Veganic Thai Cafe

1417 Suit A, University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Veganic
Kelly Bone

One of the few vegan Thai restaurants to go beyond rice noodles and stir-fries, Veganic specializes in uncommon vegan dishes like Three Flavor Fish, seaweed wrapped soy cutlets drenched in a sweet and sour chili-tamarind sauce. That said, their coconut curries and mock duck pad see ew are some of the best in the city.

1417 Suit A, University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

18. Hazel & Jade Bakery

3852 Fourth Ave #100, San Diego, CA 92103
Hazel & Jade
Kelly Bone

This compact Hillcrest bakery turns out accomplished vegan versions of classic pastries,, from almond croissants to chocolate brioche knots. If you spot the croissant muffin, crowned with caramelized sugar and seasonal fruit, be sure to order it.

3852 Fourth Ave #100
San Diego, CA 92103

19. Peace Pies

4230 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107
Peace Pies
Facebook

Food processors work triple time at Peace Pies in OB and Encinitas, whose kitchen committed to zero waste long before it became a buzzword. As San Diego’s premier raw food restaurant, chef and owner J.P. Alfred concocts classic dishes like avocado toast with truffle salt and unexpected treats like their raw sunflower seed crust pizza. 

4230 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107

20. Donna Jean

2949 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Donna Jean
Kelly Bone

Scratch-made sauces and seasonal vegetables fill the plates of chef Roy Elam’d at Donna Jean. Organic wheat or chickpea flour socca crusts carry crushed tomatoes and fermented Scratch House “cheese” on pizzas, the centerpiece of the menu. Classic dishes, like the smoky “mac and cheese” and a Caesar salad with sun gold tomatoes and the briny crisp of sea beans, are equally worthy of praise. 

2949 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

21. WorldBeat Cafe

2100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
WorldBeat Cafe
Yelp

One of San Diego’s oldest vegetarian restaurants went fully vegan during the winter of 2020. Centered in the heart of Balboa Park, One World Beat Cafe offers an array of vegetable-based soul food. Enjoy dishes like Jamaican Veggie Patties filled with spicy cabbage or jerk tofu or fill up with a plate of Louisiana Creole Gumbo with collard greens and salad.

2100 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101