These days vegan burgers are a big business. From the Beyond Star at Carl’s Jr to the Impossible Whopper at Burger King, veggie burgers are increasingly accessible. New vegan burgers capture the nostalgic sizzle of the backyard barbecue, while others improve upon the whole food diet for a new America. Packing vegetables into a familiar handheld form eases the choices many are making for health, ethical, or environmental reasons. Collected here are 20 satisfying vegan burgers in San Diego to fit everyone’s taste — from long-time vegans to reluctant carnivores abiding by doctors orders.Read More
20 Vegan Burgers To Try in San Diego
Meatless burgers for everyone
Bagby Beer Co.
Chef Robert Gaffney incorporated ample vegan options into the menu at Bagby Beer Co., on the airy edge of Oceanside. Americana becomes plant-based on the Anything is Possible Burger—an Impossible patty with vegan American cheese, iceberg, house made pickles, red onion, and tomato dripping with chef’s vegan sauce on a whole grain bun.
Modern Times Far West Lounge
Encinitas sunlight streams into Modern Times’ Far West Lounge. This San Diego based vegan brewery serves the perfect accompaniment to their 30 beers on tap—The Double Burger. Two blackened Beyond Meat patties are stacked with roasted tomatoes, shallot jam, and coconut cheese with a scattering of smoked mushrooms that permeate everything.
Wooden alcoves lush with palm fronds and dream interpretation books hold diners waiting for the eclectic Beyond Meat burgers served at Eve Encinitas. Stand outs include the Jamaica Me Crazy, a cajun spice patty topped with caramelized plantains, mango salsa, and Cuban mojo sauce. Popular for their flatbreads, Eve pulls similar flavors into the Pizza Burger topped with house-made vegan mozzarella dripping with marinara, olives, and arugula.
Never one to take the easy road, Mendocino Farms’ chef Jeremy Bringardner infused the Impossible burger with a “Mendo” identity. The Impossible Burger Queen blends chorizo spices, fresh cilantro, garlic, and onions into the plant-based meat. Topped with melted tomato cayenne Chao cheese, a smoky lime-spiked thousand island sauce, juicy tomatoes, and celery and mustard seed pickled bread & butter pickles, the burger is finished with the crunch of red onion and butter lettuce against a toasted vegan brioche bun.
A global empire of custards and burgers that arguably offers the best vegetarian burger of any chain restaurant, Shake Shack recently jumped into the shallow end of the vegan burger pool with the Veggie Shack. A scratch-made patty of roasted beets, brown rice, and black beans topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard vegan mayo. (Hold the cheese and swap for the gluten free bun to be vegan.) The Veggie Shack is available at select locations, including the UTC mall.
Green Door Cafe
The monochromatic presentation hides the complexity of chef Martin Hall’s signature Bombay Bomb Burger at Green Door Cafe. With hints of Indian curry, the burger travels through the subcontinent on a wheat bun with an upper layer of tart apple mayo and a base of chipotle spread. It is served with paprika potatoes and a thoughtful side salad in this secret garden of La Jolla.
The Oasis Cafe
The Oasis Cafe is a San Diego sleeper tucked into a business park off the 15 freeway. With special attention to depth of flavor, many of chef/owner Ramzi Madbak’s dishes can be made vegan through substitutions, not omissions, so everyone can enjoy a well-designed meal. His veganized California Burger comes with a smashed Beyond Meat patty under vegan smoked gouda or pepper jack with toum (garlic aioli), sliced avocado, and crispy ribbons of vegan bacon.
Native Foods Cafe
With three locations in San Diego, it’s easy to find Native Foods’ protein-packed, house-made seitan burgers. Guest favorites include the Poppin’ Jalapeno Burger—double patties smothered in vegan American cheese, pimento spread, green goddess dressing, crispy onions, and pickled jalapeños. The menu also includes classic compositions like the BBQ Brisket Burger topped with slices of brisket-style seitan over vegan smoked gouda, ranch slaw, and BBQ sauce all soaked up by a crown of onion rings.
The Trails Eatery
Bursting with quintessential breakfast dishes, the menu at The Trails Eatery also includes the retro Hippie Burger. Stacey Poon-Kinney’s scratch-made black bean and quinoa patty seems to levitate like a UFO over tomatoes and feathery sprouts with hunks of avocado. (Hold the aioli and cheese to make it vegan.) The kitchen takes kindly to diners with allergies, offering this burger on its fluffy vegan and gluten-free bun.
Backyard Kitchen & Tap
On the western end of Pacific Beach, Backyard Kitchen and Tap captures the neighborhood’s blend of casual beach days and lively nightlife. The inclusive menu highlights The Vegan Burger—a plant-based chipotle-spiced Impossible patty is spread with guacamole and spiced hummus under a layer of crispy onions.
Alongside Scottish brews and house-baked breads, Peter Soutowood’s Fourpenny House offers a modest vegan menu—including new pub favorite, the Vegan Burger. The house-made bun is stuffed with a fired Beyond Meat patty and topped with roasted tomatillo salsa, house pickles, tomato, and garlic spread.
Though steaming bowls of pho and cool summer rolls dominate the menu at Loving Hut on El Cajon Blvd., the American dishes do not pander to timid tastes. The house-made mushroom patty of the Loving Hut Burger comes smothered in thick oyster mushroom sauce, cupped by iceberg lettuce with tomatoes, pickles, onions, and more sauteed mushrooms. Served with a pile of fries, this is one of the best veggie burger bargains in the city.
Plant Power Fast Food
The native son of San Diego, Plant Power has its eye on disrupting the norms of fast food with vegan convenience. Menu includes options like the Classic Burger, the Bacon Cheeseburger the California classic combo of grilled onions and secret sauce. All can be had with a “beefy” or black bean patty. Stand outs include The Rambler—smothered in Follow Your Heart American cheese, BBQ sauce, and a pile of onion rings.
Regularly appearing at the Hillcrest and North Park Farmers Markets, Grant Plummer’s flat top grill smokes with seasoned Beyond Meat burgers and onions. The menu always offers two classic burgers along with an ever changing “Burger of the Week.” Past BoW favorites have included The Western, with vegan American cheese, crispy vegan bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, and chipotle ranch, and The Funk, with garlic aioli, arugula, and smokey vegan cheese finished with a thick layer of cherry & shallot compote spiked with Modern Times’ Gravity Hammer.
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Chinatown Bar & Grill
Bill Lutzius, formerly of the iconic dive bar Aero Club, dreamed of a bigger space loaded with bar food favorites. In 2018 he debuted the two story Chinatown Bar and Grill on University Ave in City Heights. The Veggie Burger offers a quarter pound seasoned Beyond Meat burger grilled with shredded lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles on a pretzel bun (by request) that pairs perfectly with the $5 Jameson shots that are always on special.
When the burger pop-up run by Mariah and Jordan Brownwood found a permanent home in Ocean Beach, they amplified the popular black bean and quinoa patty into the Vegan Royal. Sandwiched between rounds of deep-fried eggplant and a crunchy slaw of pickled beets, carrots, cucumber, and jicama, the burger is finished with Veganaise stacked in a whole wheat Sadie Rose bakery bun.
Evolution Fast Food
Celebrating its 10th anniversary as San Diego’s original vegan drive-through, Evolution Fast Food offers one of the most unique veggie patties in the city. The ground tempeh and mushroom base is seasoned with a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions and served on a thick Sadie Rose bakery bun. Available as a basic hamburger, it also comes dressed in toppings like pesto and vegan mozzarella or bathed in the slow burn of chipotle sauce and jalapeño.
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Patrons of Panama 66 lounge at high top tables on the edge of the San Diego Art Museum’s sculpture court. The Mushroom Lentil Patty, once a staple at sister restaurant Tiger!Tiger!, has found a new home in Balboa Park. Fried in a panko crust, the patty comes sandwiched between planks of focaccia, with pickled cucumbers and onions, a smear of chipotle tahini, and sprigs of cilantro over ruffled leaves of butter lettuce.
A labor of love by chef Travis Clifford, Fernside’s Vegan Burger was built to be enjoyed. The husky beet and chickpea patty is fried crisp without the mush of so many legume-based burgers. Topped with a smash of avocado, lettuce, and tomato with a smear of vegan “fern sauce” and served on a perfectly proportioned focaccia bun with waffle fries.
Cafe Gratitude San Diego
Cafe Gratitude’s “Magical” burger is right at home on a menu that crosses health (fresh-pressed juices) with comfort (deep-fried coconut calamari). The patty comes loaded with a little bit of everything: beets, mushrooms, oats, quinoa, brown rice, black beans and so on. Spread with cashew-macadamia cheddar, shredded lettuce, and heirloom tomatoes, the burger is served with fries and a pulpy, house-made chipotle ketchup.