Best Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco
San Francisco is a cozy, cloudy hub teeming with tech culture, catered lunches, and inclines so steep they’ll make even the most hardened marathoner pant. It’s also home to the oldest and most vibrant Chinatowns in the United States
and some of the most significant food innovators in the nation. While California as a whole is known for its laid-back vibe and abundant plant-based alternatives, San Francisco, in particular, is brimming with vegan restaurants and culinary diversity.
Non-meat eaters are currently enjoying a golden era (pun intended) in San Francisco, with more restaurants than ever before attempting to lure the vegan or merely vegan-curious to the table with promises of improved health, environmental friendliness … or just plain, old delicious food. San Francisco is home to vegan chains like VeganBurg, Next Level Burger, Loving Hut, and Project Juice, of course. Still, the city’s local restaurants are where you can find the best and most original vegan dishes.
Vegan Restaurants in San Francisco
Harvest (500 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94110) – Discover the delicious flavours of Brooklyn at this restaurant situated on the bottom floor of the Williamsburg Hotel in the SOMA District. Serve vegan cocktails from their “The Beast” menu and enjoy the generous portions of vegan comfort food in an industrial loft.
This is the place to go for a guilt-free meal, especially on Thursdays and Sundays, when they serve 2-for-1 burgers and sides. Zucca (777 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110) – The San Francisco outpost of the Zucca vegan chain brings California culture to the Bay Area and offers an extensive menu of delicious vegan items. Menu items include Cali bowls, grain bowls, gluten-free pizza, and sushi rolls.
Angelina Vegan is one of San Francisco’s most well-known and well-loved vegan restaurants. Located in the Castro district, Angelina Vegan serves up tasty vegan and gluten-free food, specializing in most vegetables and grains cooked in many different ways. It’s friendly and welcoming to vegans of all shapes, sizes, and colours, and the patrons are usually looking for just a quick bite after a night out. There’s a good chance Angelina Vegan will be on the list of your favourite San Francisco vegan restaurants.
Why Are There So Many Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco?
Because San Francisco is the second-largest city in the USA with the most humans, many of the city’s residents are interested in animal-free cuisine. You can see the evidence in the number of competing options for vegans and carnivores alike and the diversity of the crowd frequented the city’s vegan establishments.
There are many reasons why San Francisco is such a vegan haven. Of course, vegan restaurants in the City by the Bay have a long tradition. Places like Cronut King, Boulder Kitchen, Crossroads (which was voted “Best Vegan Restaurant in San Francisco” by Vegan Food Critic and renowned restaurateur Michael Mina), and 99 Ranch are among those that put the city on the vegan map long before mega-chains like Beyond Burger, Kuli Kuli, and Tofurky entered the scene. Plus, those from-scratch favourites can be found in San Francisco and its neighbouring communities in Oakland and Berkeley. Vegans in the Bay Area now have no shortage of restaurants to explore.
The Best Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco
Chef Robert Crandall has been serving delicious vegan fare in San Francisco since 2005 at her pop-up Back Alley Kitchen and the permanent Lardo, and she’s well known for her innovative vegetarian and vegan plates like vegan bucatini with fennel, asparagus, and pine nuts. Her acclaimed vegetarian catering company turns out an amazing array of plant-based meals for every occasion.
For vegetarians, including vegans, to eat well in San Francisco, thanks to limited options, vegetarian and vegan dishes tend to be better than comparable non-vegetarian options. If you’re a fan of vegan ramen or fish tacos, though, it’s hard to beat the options in the city. Luckily, vegan restaurants abound. Here are a few of our favourites. Ichicoro – Go for the raw noodles with an eggy bun and dashi broth, stay for the veggies.
Inspired by Japan’s beloved udon noodle, chef Lexy Licina and a small team of co-chefs make the perfect bowl of noodles and sauce. Both a vegan and meat-eater, I was surprised by the pure unprocessed deliciousness of the dough. It’s chewy, eggy, and the delicious, salty sauce contrasts with the rich wheat taste of the noodles.
Vegetables, tofu, and dairy alternatives are all delicious in their own right, but when you serve them as complex and visually striking dishes, they take on an entirely new meaning. The following vegan restaurants all serve innovative and tasty vegetarian meals, but they are mostly vegetarian.
Thus, the superior dining experience you receive in each establishment must be commensurate with the vast knowledge and devotion that each team of talented chefs brings to the table. What you receive is a remarkable cuisine, at every price point, that you'll almost certainly never find anywhere else. San Francisco is home to some of the most revered eateries in the world.
In a city of hundreds of vegan eateries, Slurp Shop’s BBQ SoHo vegan burger is a standout: a quarter-pound patty seasoned with za’atar and pine nuts, served on a bun with pickles and peppers. It comes with vegan cheese and fries on the side. The Beanery source Facebook/The Beanery For decades.
The Beanery was the unofficial vegan option in San Francisco, famous for their American comfort food – think sausage, ham, and eggs – made with their own nut-milk cheeses, peanut butter, and mayonnaise, much like L.A.’s Vegetarian Sausage House. However, the restaurant also offers many veganized versions of the classics.
The Best Vegan Dishes in San Francisco
This three-star Michelin restaurant is fast becoming the hippest (and most expensive) of all San Francisco haunts. Before heading to Chef’s Table, prepare to be blown away by the sheer amount of great, exceptional, beautiful, delicious dishes that result from such a small staff. It’s quite the shock.
We can only hope that The Mentue is their “Buckaroo Stew.” This New York-based chain is less known for its vegan options and more for its stunning panoramic views of the city and delicious Mediterranean-inspired fare. The Meatball Sandwich is our favourite, as is the signature rice bowl. At its most recent San Francisco location, this gem set a new standard in the industry when it offered 100% plant-based meat products in its restaurants.
Many vegan dishes are based on fermented vegetables like tempeh, grains like quinoa, and soy-based meat alternatives like seitan. Still, a wide variety of new restaurants in the Bay Area are introducing restaurants focusing on locally grown ingredients, like vegetables, fruits, and vegetables, to the meat-free culinary scene.
Whether you’re looking for simple food that won’t offend anybody at your next big dinner party or the perfect vegetarian dish to take to the park with you to eat while your kids have a playground, San Francisco has no shortage of great vegan food in a city where the only boundaries are your palate.
Gochujang Fried Tofu Bar St. Tavern – The chef of this San Francisco tapas restaurant makes excellent soy-based tofu—just 1/2 pound and crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside. El Farolito is known for its specialty chicharrones: crispy-fried pork skins.
But don’t miss out on the chicharrones as an appetizer: they’re fried like potato chips, smothered in an addictive cotija cheese sauce, and served with queso Oaxaca. If you’re hungry, go ahead and order one; you won’t regret it. Pho 68 – If you’ve ever had Pho 68, then you know that the high-quality fresh beef and vegetable broth are the secrets to this restaurant’s success.
Where To Find The Best Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco?
A quick perusal of the various write-ups for vegan-friendly San Francisco restaurants and foodies will yield a huge variety of opinionated reviewers and reviews of the city’s vegan fare. Many of these restaurants will have their fans and detractors, and it’s probably wise to do your own homework (and a little research) before leaving the house for a meal.
Project Juice – Not familiar with Project Juice? It’s the first and probably the best bunch, with restaurants located in the Financial District, Cow Hollow, and Union Square. And don’t let their corporate name fool you. They’re a vegan company founded by organic food expert Robert Edwards in 2010.
As far as vegan restaurants are concerned, Plant Power Grill is one of the best places to be in San Francisco. Not only is the West Coast's largest vegan-only restaurant, but Plant Power Grill also boasts a sizable menu of soy-based “meat” and “chicken” substitutes.
Order a tofu slider, which includes two deep-fried strips of tofu, or go vegetarian with the Spicy Asian Tofu Salad. For something with a bit more pizazz, order a seared ahi sandwich or grilled skirt steak, two dishes that will have you licking your plate and begging for seconds. In addition to healthy plant-based entrees, plant-based eats like quinoa cakes, bone broth, and cold-pressed juices are also available. Plant Power Grill | 21 E. California Blvd.
Why is San Francisco a Great Destination for Vegans?
Plenty of other vegan-friendly cities can take the top spot when it comes to vegan foods. Still, there’s something to be said about the diversity of a vibrant city like San Francisco, making vegan eating feel like part of the city’s cultural tradition rather than a travel gimmick.
San Francisco’s vegan scene draws inspiration from the Bay Area’s long history as the United States’ food capital, and chefs have developed a palate for dishes that are as unique and ambitious as the city itself.
Whether you’re planning a vegan or vegetarian vacation or just looking for good food to enjoy while you’re there, here’s where to go: Veg Cafe is a charming café on Divisadero Street in the Mission district that carries a wide range of vegan and vegetarian foods.
The culinary scene in San Francisco is as diverse as the city itself. Vegan junk food favourites like Veggie Grill, The Counter and North Italia, to the classier establishments, like Foragers, Blue Bottle, Maialino, Mr. Balfour, and many more, make this a great city for vegans who want to eat well.
San Francisco is a foodie mecca, after all. There’s no reason to hide your cheese. Even green-minded restaurants with strict vegan options like Atelier Crenn, Inn at the Presidio, and Daniel Patterson’s Maude make room for dairy and meat. If you feel like you’re in the United Kingdom, then order the smashed avocado with gruyere, basil, smoked paprika and chickpea mash at Succotash. Or try the fried rice with sweet potato, peanut and sesame tofu at Bar Crenn.
Niche-cities are always great places to try unique food, and San Francisco is no exception. People from all walks of life flock here, the perfect environment for vegan/vegetarian cuisine to thrive. “Over the years, the food landscape of San Francisco has evolved from a predominantly hippie-friendly scene to an increasingly global scene, and now to a multifaceted city,” food writer Amanda Arnold told Vegan Parenting.
Best Vegan Restaurants in San Francisco Every Bay Area restaurant needs to be open on Yelp, so don't take this guide as an endorsement of each and everyone listed, but rather as a way to whet your palate before you make your next trip to the city. Maybe you'll end up choosing a new favourite.
Vegan Guide to San Francisco
San Francisco has always been a California-set kind of city, and this fact becomes a lot more apparent during its culinary revival in recent years. With a ton of fresh produce from local farmers' markets, and a vegan boom in the booming tech industry, vegan restaurants have become a part of every day and are actually starting to thrive.
Tini Caffe is a Chinese and Italian spot in the Inner Richmond that sources its pasta and dairy products from Cal-Ital Farms, the only Italian dairy farm in the Bay Area that uses composted cow milk. It also sources fresh ingredients from Cal-Ital Farms’ CSA and more than 50 nearby farmers.
These fruits and veggies make their way into a menu of dishes featuring pasta and other Italian fares, as well as vegan pizza. Kimchi Korean Kitchen’s online menu states its kitchen sources ingredients from Cal-Ital Farms. Next time you eat in, make sure you order a dish with tofu, gyoza, or kimchi. Cal-Ital’s garlicky mushrooms and house-made sauerkraut get a starring role on Kimchi Korean Kitchen’s menu of Korean-inspired dishes.
Luckily, our own “vegan guide” doesn’t have to do a lot of the work for you for the uninitiated: We’ve compiled a list of our favourite San Francisco spots serving up everything from vegan tacos to vegan ice cream (but keep it virtuous). The Honey House 2751 Cole Valley Blvd – Honey House is for people who miss the exotic, flavorful foods of the world the way it was.
With an impressive collection of dishes from the Far East and Southeast, plus some Northern California fare (including Pacific Rim-influenced poke bowls), this bright, beautifully decorated restaurant is a gem in San Francisco’s backyard. The Sun Tart Cafe 2422 Divisadero St. – The Sun Tart Cafe is a specialty pastry shop in San Francisco’s Bayview District.
How Many Vegan Places Are There To Eat In San Francisco?
The San Francisco Vegan Guide estimates 15 non-vegan restaurants in the city dedicated to serving vegan cuisine. The 15 non-vegan restaurants that the San Francisco Vegan Guide estimates is the total number of vegan restaurants in San Francisco are: Vegan Capitol Hill is the neighbourhood that is home to all the vegan places in the city, with some local favourites like
- Kate’s Kitchen,
- Ghee Indian Kitchen,
- Hungry Mother and countless other options.
But there’s a lot more to vegan SF than these “famous” spots. Even though we often say that San Francisco is a “California melting pot” of cultures, the city has actually been trying to promote that melting-pot aspect and has been doing a great job of it.
A super handy list of vegan and vegetarian places in the Bay Area can be found here. But even if you include all the vegan spots in the city that aren’t listed here, you’re still looking at well over two dozen restaurants.
While there’s plenty of stuff that’s safe to eat, there are also several communities (like vegan food bloggers) that have the option of eating at a safe house (aka vegan restaurant), as well as vegan-approved restaurants that ensure a great dining experience for those who aren’t easily conned into eating something filled with cheese or fish.
We were hoping to round up the best vegan restaurants around the Bay Area and present them to you in one convenient spot. Unfortunately, we realized that each spot really deserves its own spot on the map as we started to do so.
Our recommendation for vegan-friendly restaurants is for diners to take advantage of all the options. Though some are clearly better than others (more on that below), we think there is something for everyone. After all, there’s no reason anyone open-minded to vegan food shouldn’t try it, regardless of their personal dietary preference. After all, nobody can accuse vegetarians of being closed-minded, right?
What Makes A Good Vegan Restaurant?
A good vegan restaurant is fully committed to being vegan. From the very beginning, vegan restaurants have focused on using fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients. This helps to ensure a quality, fresh, healthy, and nutrient-dense vegan diet, and it helps a restaurant’s food taste better. While vegan restaurants can often boast an impressive plant-based menu, they can’t just rely on good taste to entice the curious customer.
A vegan restaurant must always offer a variety of dishes to choose from and be consistent in its offerings. As we’ve noted before, vegans need more than just good taste. We need more than just good food, too. We need that familiar taste that vegans crave, like a hearty chickpea stew.
It goes without saying that any place with vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options is a good choice, but it’s the final goal of vegan cuisine that determines the restaurant’s status. Not everyone is able or willing to give up animal protein completely, so restaurants must produce recipes that satisfy a range of palates.
A combination of ingredients and techniques in the final dish can provide something for everyone — indeed, the rising popularity of Indian food, a cuisine that includes lentils, chickpeas, and chickpea flour, has enabled vegans to access more recipes that adhere to the nutritional guidelines of a plant-based diet.
It’s no secret that Americans have taken to eating less meat, dairy, and eggs, in favour of all things plant-based. However, the divide is still wide: most restaurants are eager to attract meat-eaters, so restaurant-goers can’t always rely on restaurants to offer the best vegan options. Here are a few tips for getting the most vegan-friendly food in San Francisco.
When it comes to San Francisco, vegan options can definitely be found at non-vegan restaurants. But some eateries are more open to alternative ingredients and preparation methods than others. What does this mean for your dining experience? In San Francisco, the key to vegan-friendly cuisine is commitment.
With such a wealth of restaurants to choose from, San Francisco’s culinary scene has one major challenge in common with its Bay Area neighbours: accessibility. As someone who loves to eat and knows where my food comes from, the vast majority of vegan options in San Francisco are typically only accessible via a quick search on Yelp.
Given its commitment to the environment and the growing vegan community in the city, I can only hope this will change and that we’ll see the same restaurant scene come to San Francisco that we have in Portland, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
I trust you enjoyed reading the article on the Best Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco. Would you mind staying tuned? There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
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