While the vegan food scene in San Francisco is by no means paltry, as a Bay Area native, I feel I have the right to throw down the gauntlet: Los Angeles, New York, Portland – heck, even Philly – are outdoing San Francisco by a long shot. And I’m not sure why. Clearly, there’s a long history of vegetarian eating in San Francisco, but it seems the city hasn’t gotten the memo that vegan food is the future.
Perhaps it’s the fault of the tech influx that may be more into biohacking with Soylent, but whatever it is, the city would be wise to lead the charge rather than play catch-up. That said, as someone who visits home at least once a month from L.A., I do have a few favorite places to recommend. I’ve included a couple of East Bay spots as well, because frankly, some of the best vegan food in the Bay Area is made in Berkeley and Oakland.
Here are some of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area:
Nourish Cafe serves simple, fresh, healthy food at several locations.I love the bibimbap bowl, as well as the smoothies, “Un-Tuna” sandwiches and desserts like almond cake with raspberry jam.
Ask vegans what their favorite restaurant in SF is, and you’re likely to get Shizen as the answer. This trendy spot in the Mission doesn’t accept reservations and is open only for dinner, but it’s worth the wait for some of the most creative sushi in the country. Rolls like the Colonel’s Pipe (smoked beets, cashews, creamy tofu, asparagus, sweet mustard and orange zest) and the Plot Twist (tempura-fried roll with sweet potato, smoked bean curd, mango, tomato, onion, yuzu, shiso, and jalapeño) are only a couple of the menu’s many highlights.
The Butcher’s Son
The best vegan junk food in the Bay can be found at The Butcher’s Son in Berkeley, which serves up just about every rich combination you can imagine, including donut stuffed pancakes, steak and egg hoagies, Buffalo bacon ranch fried chicken, and bacon patty melts. This is the perfect place to take a meat eater who says they could “never be vegan” – the restaurant is intent on proving that anything you can eat can be made unrecognizably and deliciously vegan.
Millennium is one of the best upscale vegan spots in the Bay Area. It has a fantastic date ambiance, and while this Oakland spot has a lively brunch, you’ll definitely want to try the seasonal fruit cocktails, the tasting trio dessert platter and entrees like the pumpkin seed and chard tamale and spring onion au vin for dinner.
we went to #lovinghutsf and had some delicious hotbar options on the way to the march. steamed kale, lemongrass tofu and noodles. not pictured are the eggless egg rolls 🌱 #veganlunch #veganfoodshare #whatveganseat #plantbased #plantstrong #plantpower #plantbuilt #planteater #crueltyfree #noanimalsharmed #steamedkale #lemongrasstofu #friednoodles #veganfastfood #foodgram #yummy #womensmarchsf
This unpretentious vegan spot serves up delicious Asian fusion and more in 35+ countries around the world. With noodle bowls, curries and even burgers, you’ll find something for everyone on this menu.
It is frozen! The weather is calling for hearty quesadillas. A 💯 % plant and love based. Warm homemade corn tortillas filled with warm and spicy sweet potato puree and spicy nacho cashew cheese! 📷by @greeneroommedia #veganfood #vegan #vegansf #sfvegan #sanfrancisco #missiondistrict #missionsf #quesadillas #plantbased #sacredcommerce #sacredcommunity #grateful
While I don’t think the Gracias Madre in S.F. is on the same level as the one in Los Angeles, it’s still a solid bet, with a more casual vibe and a similar menu. Communal tables and savory classics like mole enchiladas and butternut squash quesadillas abound at this vegan Mexican spot with huge portions.
In my experience, vegan Chinese food is almost always a great bet. The history of Buddhist cuisine means the vegan meat is centuries in the making (and is often plant-based, as opposed to chemically processed). Enjoy Vegetarian makes it easy to find tons of traditional dishes, like veggie chicken chow mein and Kung Pao tofu, but also offers more adventurous dishes, like Veggie Shark’s Fin Soup and Black Mushroom, Veggie Abalone and Sea Slugs with Lettuce.
If you’d like some vegan junk food in S.F. proper, head to this vegan deli with a mission to make classic American food taste “guiltlessly delicious.” Breakfast sandwiches, grilled cheeses, donuts, croissants and more fast-food classics can all be found here.
Thai Idea Vegetarian
@moniquedwilliams loved our feel good food and so will you! . . . #thaiideavegetarian #mythai #vegan #vegetarian #vegancommunity #vegantravel #bestofvegan #govegan #photography #veganism #vegansofig #wholefoods #plantbased #friendsnotfood #vlogger #veganfeature #sanfrancisco #sanfran #citybythebay #feelgoodfood #feelgood #happy
Thai Idea Vegetarian in the Tenderloin is another casual vegan Thai place. Yelpers especially love the samosas, spicy catfish and panang curry with “shrimp” and avocado.
Strawberry black pepper cheese cake. . . . . . #vegan #glutenfree #Glutenfreevegan #plantbased #berkeley #gilmandistrict #whatveganseat #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #govegan #Familybusiness #veganlifestyle #compassion #kindness #eastbay #smallbusiness #veganfoodshare #veganforlife #veganrestaurant #glutenfreerestaurant #vegancheesecake
This Berkeley spot is vegan and gluten-free. Try the house-made daily cheese or charcuterie plate for happy hour or the shiitake bacon waffle (cashew chèvre with a potato cashew cream drizzle) and seasonal polenta scramble for brunch. The Mix it Up Lunch might be the best value; you can choose any one item for $10, two for $18 or three for $25.
i always love @veganburg, but their new creation Rasa Sayang Burg brought my love to another level! . ———————————————— this mouthwatering set is created in conjunction with hari raya puasa, lagi shiok (extremely pleasurable)! the burger is made up of a really fluffy bun, crispy mocked chicken patty (made from wheat) with the texture surprisingly resembles the meat, interesting vegan sunny-side up egg that tasted just like an egg (beancurd egg whites & mung bean yolk) and oh-so-spicy sedap homemade sambal, onions and cucumber. this is a MUST eat burger! . just when you think this is it, get their coconut fries, rose bandung (made with soymilk) and chendol ice cream to complete the meal! i’m super in love with the coconut fries because the tangy vegan mayonnaise goes so well with the crispy fries and fragrant toasted coconut. check them out soon before promotion ends! . Veganburg 44 jalan eunos, singapore 419502 daily 11:30am to 10pm . ————————————————— #RasaSayangBurg #VeganBurg #harirayapuasa2018 #sgfoodies #foodiesg #foodporn #sgrestaurant #vegan #igsg #sgig #sgfaves #mayasfavouritefoodsg #ididsomethingbad #taylorswift #veganburger #plantbased #burger #plantbaseddiet #eunos #iphonex #eeeeeats #eatwithfriends #healthyfastfood #sgfoodblogger #sgfood #vscofood #singapore #instafood #newintown #trendingnow
Another excellent place for vegan fast food, Veganburg claims to be the world’s first 100% plant-based burger joint. Guests line up to order the BBQ burger, seaweed fries and Creamy Shrooms burger.
The Flying Falafel
At this vegan falafel spot you can eat falafel as it was intended to be eaten: with a huge array of vegan toppings.
Golden Era Vegan
Last night's birthday celebration for @digiyesica at #goldeneraveganrestaurant with @vulcanvegan, @beelissfulwishes, and @evesfca. 🎉 Papaya salad, mushu rolls, bird's nest noodles, miso kale, sweet & sour soy, pho, and cheesecake & cake for dessert. 😋 Happy Birthday, Yesica! 🍰 #vegan #veganfoodshare #vegansofig #sfvegans
Another dependable Thai crowd-pleaser, Golden Era Vegan has a large and enticing menu that’s unpretentious. Order the rainbow salad, garden vermicelli or curried okra.