Welcome, compassionate eaters and culinary explorers! As we all know, the vegan movement is surging not just in the heart of big cities like New York and Los Angeles but also in beautiful coastal communities. And if there’s one sunny locale that’s riding the crest of this wave, it’s San Diego.
The city has always been a foodie’s paradise, but now it’s a haven for vegans, too. Why focus on San Diego? Imagine dining al fresco while overlooking the Pacific, eating food that not only satisfies your taste buds but also aligns with your values. If you’re planning to visit or even if you’re lucky enough to call this city home, you need to know where to find the best vegan offerings.
Below, you’ll find the ultimate guide to the 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in San Diego for 2023. These culinary gems range from fast-casual spots to high-end dining experiences, each bringing its unique flavor palette that caters to vegans and the vegan-curious alike. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
Step into Kindred, and you might think you’ve wandered into a Gothic cathedral. With its dark, ornate décor, this restaurant offers more than just food; it offers an experience. And let’s not forget the bar that serves up some of the most artful cocktails you’ve ever seen, each with its vegan twist.
Their menu includes delicacies like the “Seitan BBQ Skewers” and the sumptuous “Deathless” burger, featuring a house-made patty. Every dish is a fusion of comfort and creativity, appealing to both your ethical conscience and your stomach.
Happy Hour and More
What sets Kindred apart further is their popular Happy Hour. Drop by between 4-6 PM, and you’ll find a plethora of vegan appetizers and drinks that will have you singing praises, quite fitting for a place that feels like a vegan cathedral.
2. Sipz Fusion Cafe
Who says vegan means giving up sushi or spicy curries? Sipz Fusion Cafe challenges such assumptions with an all-vegan menu drawing from Japanese, Korean, and Thai cuisines. The dishes are so flavorful you’ll forget they’re meat-free.
What to Try
- Dynamite Roll: A sushi roll with a spicy “tuna” kick
- Spicy Basil: A Thai-inspired dish with your choice of vegan protein
- Boba Tea: Dairy-free milk teas with chewy tapioca pearls
Affordable and Family-Friendly
The best part about Sipz Fusion is that it doesn’t break the bank. With generous portion sizes, it’s a perfect venue for family dinners where everyone can find something to their liking.
3. Evolution Fast Food
Imagine a world where you can grab a fast, plant-based meal without even getting out of your car. Evolution Fast Food makes that dream a reality. As San Diego’s first vegan drive-thru, it offers fast-food favorites with a plant-based twist.
This spot serves up mouth-watering vegan burgers, “chicken” tenders, and shakes made with almond milk. Want fries with that? Opt for the sweet potato fries. They’re a crowd-pleaser and a healthier alternative to traditional fries.
If you’re a local running errands or a tourist exploring the city, Evolution Fast Food offers a convenient option to stay true to your vegan lifestyle while enjoying familiar tastes.
4. Trilogy Sanctuary
Located on a rooftop in La Jolla, Trilogy Sanctuary is more than just a restaurant. It’s a wellness center with aerial yoga classes and a vibrant community space. But let’s talk about that view—panoramic vistas of the ocean while you dine on 100% organic, vegan food.
Try the “Kale Ceasar” salad, a combination of kale, house-made vegan parm, and avocado, or delve into the “Trilogy Cheeze Burger,” a nut-based patty that will satiate any comfort-food cravings.
A Well-rounded Experience
If you’re looking to mix dining with other wellness activities, they also offer a calendar full of community events. So, you can have your vegan cake and eat it too—literally.
5. Plant Power Fast Food
If you’re looking for vegan fast food but want to try something new, Plant Power Fast Food offers just that. Their mission is to bring affordable vegan options to the masses, and boy, do they deliver.
Whether it’s the “Big Zac,” their answer to the Big Mac, or the scrumptious “Buffalo ‘66” wrap with crispy fried “chicken,” there’s something for everyone.
Locations and Accessibility
With multiple locations in San Diego, including Ocean Beach and Encinitas, Plant Power makes it easy for you to get your vegan fast-food fix no matter where you are in the city.
6. Civico 1845
The Gaslamp Quarter’s Civico 1845 brings a touch of Italy to the San Diego vegan scene. Offering a full vegan menu alongside their traditional offerings, it’s the perfect place for mixed groups.
You can’t go wrong with their “Ravioli di Spinaci e Ricotta,” ravioli stuffed with vegan ricotta and spinach. Or indulge in the decadent vegan tiramisu for dessert.
A Fine Dining Experience
The elegant ambiance and wine pairings elevate your dining experience, making it ideal for special occasions or romantic evenings.
7. Donna Jean
Nestled in the Bankers Hill area, Donna Jean serves up vegan food inspired by southern cuisine. This is where comfort food meets ethical eating.
- The “Blackened Tempeh” is a revelation, with a smoky flavor that pairs well with their house-made sauces.
- The “Mac & Cheese,” rich and creamy, is a comfort food delight you won’t want to miss.
With an outdoor patio complete with a pizza oven, it’s a great place to relax and soak in the San Diego sunshine.
8. Peace Pies
Peace Pies offers something truly unique—raw vegan dishes that are also gluten-free. From the pies to the entrees, everything is uncooked, preserving the natural flavors and nutrients of the ingredients.
What to Order
Their “Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla” is legendary. With cashew cheese and seasonal mushrooms, it’s a hit even among non-vegans.
In addition to being health-conscious, they are also eco-conscious. All of their to-go containers are compostable, aligning perfectly with their ethical ethos.
9. Anthem Vegan
Located in North Park, Anthem Vegan offers a wide range of dishes, from loaded nachos to vegan Philly cheesesteaks. This is hearty fare that even meat lovers can get behind.
The Brunch Menu
If you’re a brunch enthusiast, their weekend menu features classics like “chicken” and waffles, making it the perfect spot for late-morning indulgence.
With a laid-back atmosphere and frequent live music, it’s an excellent spot for casual dining or meeting up with friends.
10. Grains: Vegan Café with a Twist
Grains take a minimalist approach to vegan cuisine, focusing on whole grains and plant-based ingredients. The ambiance is equally understated, making for a serene dining experience.
From their “Spicy Seitan Stir Fry” to their “Vegan Alfredo,” the dishes at Grains are well-executed and burst with flavor.
This café is a bit on the smaller side, making it perfect for intimate meals or deep conversations.
Are there any vegan fine-dining options for special occasions in San Diego?
While this guide mainly focuses on casual and mid-range eateries, San Diego does offer some fine-dining vegan experiences as well. Restaurants like Mille Fleurs and George’s at the Cove offer vegan menus upon request. These are ideal for special occasions or romantic dinners where you’re looking for an elevated dining experience.
Are there vegan food trucks that I should look out for?
Yes, San Diego has a burgeoning food truck scene, and vegan options are part of this exciting trend. Trucks like “Veg’n Out” and “SoulShine Vegan” offer a variety of plant-based meals on the go. They frequently update their locations on social media, so be sure to follow your favorite trucks to know where they’ll be parked.
What about vegan desserts? Where can I find those?
Vegan desserts are abundant in San Diego! Many of the vegan restaurants listed in the guide offer a range of desserts, from cheesecakes to cookies. Additionally, specialized vegan bakeries like “Maya’s Cookies” and “Loving Vegan Market & Cuisine” offer a range of sweet treats that are entirely plant-based.
I’m gluten-free. Are there vegan restaurants that cater to that?
Absolutely! Many vegan restaurants in San Diego offer gluten-free options or have dishes that can be modified to be gluten-free. Peace Pies, for instance, serves an entirely gluten-free and raw menu. Other restaurants like Sipz Fusion Cafe and Plant Power Fast Food also mark gluten-free options on their menus.
Do these vegan restaurants also offer takeout and delivery?
Most vegan restaurants in San Diego have adapted to the growing demand for takeout and delivery, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Platforms like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash often feature these restaurants, allowing you to enjoy San Diego’s vegan cuisine from the comfort of your home. Always check the restaurant’s website or give them a call to confirm their latest takeout and delivery options.
San Diego has evolved into a vegan culinary hotspot, with options that cater to every palate, occasion, and lifestyle. As the city continues to welcome more plant-based eateries, you’re bound to find places that make you feel right at home—or transport you to new, delicious worlds.