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admin | to meditate in silence | 16.06.2014
In San Francisco you could eat at a different vegan restaurant every night for weeks before exhausting them all. Greens is not only our favourite vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco, it’s our favourite vegetarian restaurant anywhere in the world.
Then there’s the food—the dishes are fairly simple, allowing the quality of the seasonal ingredients to shine through.
Greens is an expensive, special occasion place (mains are around $23) but it’s worth every penny. Another special occasion place is gourmet vegan restaurant Millennium, by far the best vegan restaurant we’ve ever been to. The wilted spinach and frisee salad with smoked tofu, roasted new potatoes, spring onions, olives, almonds, and sangiovese vinaigrette was amazing—substantial and very flavourful.
Millennium are famous for their desserts, which leave you amazed that they’ve been made without dairy. Like Greens, Millennium is pricey (mains are around $24) but they have a Sunday to Wednesday Frugal Foodie Menu which is a good deal at $42 for three courses with wine pairing for an extra $13.
What did tempt us back to Mexican was Gracias Madre, an entirely vegan, organic Mexican restaurant that gave us the opportunity to try dishes we couldn’t find meat-free south of the border. Gracias Madre is pricey for a Mexican restaurant (starters $7-9, mains $13-16) but the portions are huge. We had the vegetable tofu curry soup with soba noodles ($11), agadashi tofu, and some sushi rolls. There are also plenty of cheap Indian restaurants in the Tenderloin which all have vegetarian options (we liked Lahore Karahi and heard good things about Chutney). Thai Idea is a small vegetarian Thai restaurant that is surprisingly stylish considering its location in the sketchy Tenderloin neighbourhood.
At around $10 a dish it’s not the cheapest cafe type place but the quality is high and it’s cheaper than eating in a restaurant.
There are lots of Ethiopian restaurants in the Bay Area and they are all vegetarian friendly. Like most Ethiopian restaurants this informal modern cafe offers a veggie sampler—at $15 it was more than enough for the two of us.
We tried three veggie burgers in San Francisco including Plant and Umami Burger, and we enjoyed them all but Roam was our favourite.
Roam Artisan Burgers is located at 1785 Union Street in the Marina and they have another branch at 1923 Fillmore Street in Lower Pacific Heights. Saigon Sandwiches is a tiny hole in the wall takeaway joint in the Tenderloin with a small menu of banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches, including a tofu option. Another cheap Vietnamese place in the Tenderloin, Pho 2000 is as you’d expect is a great place to go for rice noodle soup. We also ate a Mexican Indian fusion burrito from Curry Up Now, a hearty combo of rice, chickpeas, vegan samosa, chutneys and pico de gallo. Ferry Building – Go on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturday mornings for the farmer’s market or any day to visit the gourmet shops like Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. Betelnut – This Asian fusion restaurant in the Marina is based on Asian side street beer houses, or pejiu wu that serve fresh “street food”.
Split Pea Seduction – This popular takeaway lunch place downtown has a daily changing menu which always features at least one vegetarian soup, salad, sandwich and crostata (pastry).
The rest of the Bay Area is just as vegetarian friendly as San Francisco and we found some good options just a short BART ride away.
Encuentro, Oakland – A vegetarian wine bar that offers a creative selection of small plates from local, organic ingredients. Cheeseboard Pizza Collective, Berkeley – A popular, casual pizza place that offers one pizza that’s always vegetarian and changes each day. Cinnaholic, Berkeley – For a decadent vegan treat head here for cinnamon rolls like you’ve never tasted before.
As you can see there are a huge amount of vegetarian and vegan tasty eats in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We’ve created a map marking all the vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco that we have mentioned in this post.
Bonus Tip: We used Yelp a lot in San Francisco where it seems that every restaurant and cafe is extensively reviewed by users. Wow looks like veggie heaven visiting in February, we got a fantastic deals with Tour America taking in Las Vegas also cannot wait.
Sticking to a strict vegan diet can be challenging, but living in a city full of unique options makes it a little bit easier. Herbivore is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant with two locations in NoPa and the Mission District.
A San Francisco institution, Greens is a vegetarian restaurant with several vegan friendly options founded by the San Francisco Zen Center. Located close to Union Square, Millenium is an upscale vegan restaurant offering a variety of menu options including a Chef's Five Course Tasting Menu, a Three Course Prix Fixe Menu, a Season Harvest Menu (available Thurs-Sat. Hella Vegan Eats is known for creating unique vegan dishes, such as the pot sticker burrito, vegan fried chicken and waffle sandwich, and its kimchi burrito.
The Slanted Door San Francisco CA - The Slanted Door seats 150 people in the dining room and 20 at the bar.
Readers Poll Winner 2004 - Best New Restaurant "Well now everyone's in agreement Town Hall also captured both the best chef's & the best pastry chef's categories in our critic's awards.
Mezes is usually translated from Greek to English as "appetizers ", but this translation does not do justice to the fundamental role Mezes plays in Greek tradition. Click on any restaurant name to see detailed description and profile information, menus, pictures, videos and more. Gracias Madre in the Mission serves organic vegetarian cuisine, including an exceptional Caesar salad. So as a vegetarian trying to find a restaurant for a mixed group of friends, I find myself going to the same restaurants over and over again because anything else might just provide bland afterthoughts.
Since early 2009, the post the reader referred to, vegetables have moved to the top of the plate. As meat-based products get more expensive, restaurants are looking more to grains and produce to either round out the plate, or to compose the plate. In the last couple years, the already health-conscious Northern California consumer has put even more emphasis on local and sustainable products.

And then the technology: Chefs are using sous vide, new-fangled grills and  even open fires to give vegetables a deeper, more satisfying flavor.
This type of innovation is taking place at “mainstream” restaurants; with each passing month the vegetable offerings seem to get better, and more complex and thoughtful. Also several innovative vegetarian restaurants have recently opened, including Gather in Berkeley, where the vegetarian charcuterie plate surpasses the meat-based one. Encuentro in Oakland offers such foods as a peppered portobello sandwich with caramelized fennel and onions with smoked pecan cheese.
However, my favorite new vegetarian place is the Mexican-inspired vegan restaurant Gracias Madre where you can get a spicy enchilada with mole cooled with a cashew cream and a traditional-tasting posole in an ancho chile broth that so rich you’d swear was liberally seasoned with pork. About Inside Scoop Inside Scoop SF is a one-stop source for the latest restaurant coverage in the Bay Area and beyond, by the San Francisco Chronicle staff. We tried the soft chunky vegan almond cookie, the Adobe smoothie (celery, pear, carrot) and wheat grass shot. Organic Vegan Summer Salad with Tofu, Veggies and Coconut oilThis delicious salad is easy and very nutritious.
Rose Water Syrup - Ayurveda Summer drinkDuring summer it is advised to drink cooling liquids.
Organic Vegan Kheer - Popular Indian Rice DessertThe original Indian dessert is with milk and sugar. I’ve said that previously about Chiang Mai in Thailand which certainly is an excellent budget option, but on our third visit to San Francisco in July we were reminded what a gourmet heaven it is. You can find vegetarian restaurants that specialise in Thai, Mexican, and Japanese, as well as some of the best gourmet vegetarian restaurants in the world. First, there’s the location—a large, bright space overlooking the boats and seals in the Marina and the Golden Gate Bridge just beyond. The salads in San Francisco are the best we’ve had in the world, and Greens is no exception—on our latest visit we started with a wilted spinach salad with creamy goats cheese, beets and walnuts, along with moist yellow finn potato griddle cakes.
The staff are unpretentious but know their stuff, and are happy to help you navigate the menu and wine list.
You don’t find this level of quality in many vegetarian restaurants around the world so we always take advantage when we can. We had their signature Chocolate Almond Midnight, a decadent triple layer of almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, and white chocolate mousse, served with raspberry sauce. In the past we’ve enjoyed the not very authentic but delicious giant burritos at places like Papalote.
It’s a small, simple place with an extensive menu, and it’s great not having to worry about fish broth or any other hidden ingredients. It was all good and healthy, but as portions are huge we couldn’t order as much variety as we would have liked. The rice and lentil pancakes were huge and tasty with lots of different fillings on offer but I still think the classic masala dosa (with spiced potato, $8.50) can’t be beaten.
We had pad thai and massaman curry, and both were packed full of vegetables and tofu, and beautifully presented. Their menu is not entirely vegetarian but there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and everything is organic and uses fresh, local produce. They have a number of other locations including Terminal 2 at the airport (it’s the only time we have ever enjoyed a meal at an airport). We heard the best were in Oakland but we ran out of time and went to Moya in SOMA instead, and were really happy with our first Ethiopian restaurant experience.
Four stews and two salads are served family style on a large injera, the spongy, slightly sour Ethiopian flatbread.
They use sustainable meats for their burgers and also offer an organic house made veggie burger. Fries are $2.99, and they have artisan house made sodas in interesting flavours like seasonal blackberry and caramelised pineapple. The tofu is fried in a tasty sauce and served with shredded carrot, onion, coriander, and chiles on crispy French bread—delicious! 30 trucks offer a huge variety of gourmet eats including Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Malay, Nepali, Mexican, Korean, and more.
Old World Food Truck makes European Jewish soul food and we enjoyed their cheese and potato pierogi, small soft dumplings topped with caraway sour cream, pepper relish, and fried onion.
It has a small vegan menu (ask for it) and they are also happy to adapt other items on the menu for you. They only have one vegetarian burger but the Earth burger made from mushrooms and edamame and topped with truffled ricotta, cipollini onions and slow roasted tomatoes was really good.
We had the delicious fresh corn, onion, zucchini, feta, and mozzarella with garlic olive oil, cilantro, and a wedge of lime. It’s a pleasure to spend time in a city where vegetarian food is both easily found and taken to the next level, and where local, organic, sustainable and artisanal are words used to describe almost everything we ate. Click on the blue markers for more information about the vegetarian restaurants and the red ones for the veggie-friendly places. The app is particularly handy as you can just type “vegetarian restaurant” or “sandwich” and it’ll tell you the nearest places to you with comprehensive reviews and menus. The food looks so great that I feel I should go on a foodie trip to all the places that you guys recommended. There are a variety of vegan-friendly restaurants in San Francisco that serve quality meals with traditional dishes while others add a creative and unique spin items, such as doughnuts, sushi and even Twinkies.
This restaurant offers international menu items varying from Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, Greek and Chinese influences. A popular item on the menu is the Quesadillas de Calabaza filled with butternut squash and carmelized onions. The menu changes daily under the guidance of renowned executive chef Annie Somerville with inspiration from Californian, Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian cuisine. These delicious treats are served throughout different shops in San Francisco including Philz Coffee and a Pepple's Donut kiosk located in the Ferry Building.
It also created a stir online with a vegan doughnut burger (pictured above) that went viral.
Because reviews so often focus on the meat side of the menu, there’s no knowing if that single vegetarian entree on the menu is worth eating — or if the vegetarian-sounding side dishes (that we often resort to) are great or actually contain meat.
Part of the reason is consumer demand, part is economics and political and some is technology.

For example, Plum in Oakland features beet boudin noir that’s as delicious as its meat-based counterpart. They serve delicious organic smoothies, organic wheat grass juices and offer a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian friendly sandwiches and bagels.
The owner Sam is originally from Palestine which explains their very tasteful looking hummus! One of them is Dita von Teese’ s favorite vintage shop and if you want a great dress for a great price then definitely check it out after your visit to Cole’s!
If you widen the net to vegetarian-friendly restaurants it’d take you years to sample all the excellent meat-free food that the city has to offer. We always book a window seat at sunset and although this July it was too foggy, on a clear day the sunset is spectacular. For mains we had fire roasted poblano chill stuffed with quinoa, white corn, grilled onions, goats cheese and fresh tomato salsa, and farro risotto oozing with vegetables and grana padano cheese. When they heard it was our anniversary they even brought us a complimentary glass of sparkling rose.
Our favourite main was the arborio and pistachio crusted eggplant napoleon—a tomato and leek tagine with roasted eggplant, zucchini, butter beans, artichoke, and tofu-sage cheese, Israeli couscous, cardamom-chile zhug, and radiccio and frisee salad. On this visit, after seven months in Mexico we didn’t really feel like eating more Mexican food. We loved the pozole, a traditional hominy stew with a nicely spicy red ancho chile broth, tortilla strips and avocado, which we’d never been able to try in Mexico. I wish they offered set meals like they did at vegetarian restaurants in Japan for a fully balanced shojin ryori meal. Their choice of unusual toppings sets them apart and there are plenty of vegetarian combos or you can create your own. It’s very popular so get there early (it starts at 5pm) as queues are often long and it can get chilly down by the waterfront. We had a steamed gua bao with crispy miso cured tofu, baby choy sum (a leafy green), and garlic-tofu mayo served on a soft fluffy bun. The service was great and everything we ate was tasty and creative, not your usual Chinese.
It was expensive though at $12 without fries or salad and we found the sweet potato fries too sweet.
We had a grilled aubergine and goats cheese sandwich with salsa verde, mint, and capers, and a squash bread pudding panzanella salad.
If you are a vegetarian we’d definitely recommend you visit, but take a fat wallet as although you can find cheap eats some of the best places are worth the splurge.
Not 100% vegetarian but the chef there Sean Baker is obsessed with veggies and veritable cookery.
The wine list is one of the best in San Francisco, paired with extraordinary views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Prices range from $2-3 and Flavors include Mexican hot chocolate, salt caramel, glazed, sprinkled glaze, poppyseed, lemon, chocolate, sprinkled chocolate, green apple, pumpkin pie spice and many more.
Regular locations for food truck are Heart of the City's Farmers Market, Mission Community Farmer's Market and Dear Mom bar. The most popular item on the menu is the Cha-Ya Roll, which is a sushi roll stuffed with carrots, yams, avocado, asparagus, fried tempura and topped off with a sweet sauce. The root vegetable is cooked with black Thai rice and formed into a salami-like roll, then sliced, grilled on a plancha and served with caramelized Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi sauerkraut.
We gave it our best shot but we still have many more restaurants we want to try (we’re happy for the excuse to return). Dessert was a rich flourless chocolate torte, perfectly paired with salted caramel ice cream and crunchy cocoa nibs. There was so much going on in this dish that every mouthful was a flavour sensation, and it somehow all worked harmoniously. The sweet potato and caramelised onion quesadillas were also excellent and we were impressed by the chipotle “nacho cheese” sauce made from cashews on our papas al horno, roast potatoes.
The dino kale salad is healthy and satisfying with dino kale, red quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, toasted almonds, and arugula, all tossed in a lemon cumin vinaigrette. The rainbow salad is a tasty mix of different noodles and vegetables, and the mixed fried plate included delicious light Burmese fried tofu, samosas, and Burmese falafel with spicy tamarind sauce. The sampler included misir wot (red lentils), kik alicha (yellow peas), gomen (collard greens), and atkilti wot (mixed vegetables). Our favourite was the Tejano with pepper jack, jalapeno relish, avocado, tomato, crunchy white corn strips and herb ranch.
It was packed full of tofu, vegetables and noodles, and was especially good once we’d added chile sauce and herbs. The stand outs were the kale salad with asian pears, cucumbers, avocado, and lime-mustard dressing, and the black pepper egg noodles which we had with mushrooms and green beans instead of boar. We have great food in this town, and it was once vegetarian friendly — but it’s a lot less so now.
While this list isn’t comprehensive we’ve included our favourites which will provide more than enough options for most visitors to the city, ranging from cheap eats to special treats. As always it was all delicious and flavourful, and manages to feel both comforting and healthy. Their Plant burger is vegetarian and very good, made from lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgur wheat (although we prefer the one at Roam below), and they have main dishes like their good spicy red thai curry. If you had to choose just one go for the misir wot, but it’d be a shame to miss out on the sampler. The French & Fries is also fun with truffle parmesan fries, gruyere, avocado, caramelised onions, watercress, and mustard.
And it has a population who loves to eat, and who cares about the quality of the ingredients they are consuming. Even if you don’t make it to Off the Grid it’s worth tracking The Chairman down around the city. Add to that a sizeable vegetarian community and world class chefs who cook creatively without meat, and it really is a vegetarian paradise.

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