San Francisco is America’s number three city in terms of how many vegetarian restaurants it has (Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, are numbers one and two).
Great Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in San Francisco
The many vegetarian and vegan restaurants in San Francisco do a good job of reflecting the West Coast’s commitment to eating habits that are humane, ethical, and easier on the planet. But omnivores need not steer clear—these 10 vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco serve food that’s equally as good as the city’s meat-cooking kitchens.
Greens is the most elegant of all the vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco. People come here for special occasions, and also just for a lovely midweek bite. (Somehow it manages to be as upscale and refined as it is homey and comfortable.) The views over the water are incredible—you’re at Fort Mason, after all—and on clear days you can see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Service and food are both totally on point; breakfasts are much loved and the inspired dinner options include pappardelle with hedgehog mushrooms, porcini jus, and Meyer lemon gremolata. Whatever she concocts, chef Annie Somerville is dedicated to using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
You’ve never seen vegan Mexican fare done this stylish. Gracias Madre (which means “thank you mother,” a nod to the restaurant’s deep devotion to Planet Earth) is in the Mission District, near the city’s more traditional Mexican eateries. But Gracias Madre is different—this is one of the most notable vegan restaurants in San Francisco, not only because of its organic, seasonal ingredients or its big menu of stews, salads, antojitos and more, but also because the food is truly delicious and the vibe is loving and gracious.
Entrees are warm and hearty; options include a traditional hominy stew in a spicy red ancho broth, as well as tortas, salads, and enchiladas. Wash everything down with a fresh tropical smoothie.
Ananda Fuara is a small, peaceful cafe whose name means “the fountain of delight.” The name was given by spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy, and the restaurant centers around his beneficent and humane teachings. The dining room is popular and busy, thanks in part to the fact that it’s on Market Street near all the major theaters. Patrons get large portions, fresh flavors, and the option to choose brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
One of the more creative vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco, your meal at Ananda could be a Neatloaf (made from grains, eggs, ricotta, tofu, and spices); tofu and broccoli in a peanut-ginger sauce; the teriyaki “mushroom beyond” burger; or a wild mushroom benedict. There’s also a lovely collection of loose teas—and don’t forego the vegan chocolate cake.
It’s tough to find vegan restaurants in San Francisco that serve sushi, but that’s exactly what Shizen does. Here, classic techniques meet seasonal ingredients—and not a shred of fish. The emphasis is on responsible dining, and the setting is elegant and trendy, with calm zen touches. Food comes out on plates made into beautiful, delicate displays. Start with garlic edamame or a tofu-based poke, then continue on with ramen, lily flower curry, or shiitake mushroom sushi.
The menu uses fun names for its sushi rolls: the “Proud Peacock” is made with cucumber, avocado, shiitake eggplant, and tofu, while “Plot Twist” is a tempura-fried concoction that weaves in sweet potato, bean curd, mango, and yuzu.
For delicious pan-Asian vegan food in the Mission, head to Indochine, a small, attractive restaurant with mood lighting and a focus on fare that spares the animals. Its short, eclectic menu includes staples like French fries and spring rolls, but also natto and oshinko rolls, sizzling teriyaki “chicken,” savory noodles, rice-filled clay pots, hot soups, and substantial burgers. Finish your meal with Vietnamese coffee and a banana split.
Thai Idea is your typical authentic Thai restaurant—except for the fact that everything here is vegan. It occupies a casual but nicely designed space on Polk. Service is lovely, flavors are bold and delicious, ingredients are fresh, and presentations are festive. Start with the wing bomb crispy “chicken” and homemade sauce, or the firecracker balls, which are “ahi” rolls deep-fried with mustard and spicy sauce.
There are soups, salads, fried rice, and noodles—try the pad kee mow, which is fried with chili garlic, onions, and bell pepper. Also worth trying: the massaman curry with potatoes, onions, and peanuts, as well as the “chicken” vindaloo curry. It all goes great with Thai iced tea in tall glasses.
If you’re looking for vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco, you could do far worse than the Mission District’s Cha-Ya, which offers tasty Japanese dishes in a straightforward space. Start with the harumaki—fried spring rolls with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and atsuage tofu in a sweet-and-sour sauce. The hangetsu (a deep-fried portobello stack) satisfies meaty cravings. There’s also a vegan sukiyaki hot pot that warms you up with Napa cabbage, kabocha, silver noodles, vegetables, and tofu in soy-based broth, as well as rice bowls, sushi, sake, and beer. Note that Cha-Ya accepts cash only, so stop at the ATM beforehand.
The Flying Falafel
Get your falafel fix at one of the only Middle Eastern vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco. The Flying Falafel offers reasonable prices and quick, friendly service in the Mid-Market area. Order at the counter to enjoy tasty, juicy falafel (the Flying Falafel Pocket comes with either sesame or spicy falafel balls), along with pita, hummus, and dolmas. For dessert, choose between cinnamon baklava, vegan cheesecake, or an organic milkshake made with fair-trade bananas—it comes whipped up with cinnamon, vanilla, and pecans.
Vegetarians craving a burger should head right over to fun VeganBurg in the Haight. This is a
small restaurant with great style serving up fast-food-inspired grub—except that it’s all good for you and the planet. Everything on the short but colorful menu is, as the name promises, 100 percent plant-based.
As far as burgers go, there’s a Hawaiian teriyaki burger, a “Tangy Tartar,” and much more. On the side, order seaweed fries, “chick’n” tenders with ranch, or the “rainbowl” salad, along with housemade lemonade or iced tea.
Loving Hut is an international chain with two of its welcoming vegan restaurants in San Francisco—one in the Sunset District, and one in the downstairs food court of Union Square’s Westfield Mall. Each of these outlets serves delicious pan-Asian food in very casual environs; these are quick vegan eats at affordable prices.
Every menu option is hearty, flavorful, and satisfying—choose from curries, pho, many kinds of noodles, spicy tofu, orange sesame bites, stir-fried vegetables, and much more. There’s also a full Western menu for those who are more in the mood for spaghetti, pizza, or a burger. Whatever you get, order a Thai iced tea to go with.
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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.