You won’t miss the meat.
1/11 ● Thrillist
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The Yasai showcases vegan nigiri, specialty sushi and rolls, custardy tofu chawanmushi, and ramen.
Photo: THEY YASAI.
📍 Kearny Mesa and Little Italy
To replicate the texture and flavor of conventional sushi, vegetables are fermented, torched, grilled, smoked, boiled, fried, or a combination thereof, depending on the type—each vegetable requires a different treatment.
Impossible Meats make appearances in the ramen—the flavorful broth incorporates the plant-based proteins, as does a pretzel slider and a few sushi items.
Karaage, gyoza, and a few salads round out an eclectic and innovative menu.
Fill up on Asian-inspired dishes interpreted through a plant-based lens.
Photo: THE PURPLE MINT VEGETARIAN BISTRO.
Spring rolls, mock duck lettuce wraps, and crispy wontons are familiar starters, or opt for a soothing bowl of pho or Hue-style spicy noodle soup to warm you up.
Zingy, bright orange “chicken” has a satisfying crunch, black rice pasta fulfills your carb cravings, and the yam and sweet potato curry has a deep, soulful flavor perfect for dipping French bread (you can also choose rice or noodles on the side).
📍 University Heights
Warm mixed woods, dark iron accents, and soft lighting give Grains a rustic, comfortable feeling that carries over into their Thai-inspired dishes.
Popcorn “chicken”, garlic potato wedges, and Holy Shiitake, battered and fried shiitake mushroom strips are must-try starters, and from there the choices get even more difficult.
Tom kah is creamy with hits of lime, lemongrass, and galangal; there’s organic, non-GMO five spice tofu and jackfruit filling the pulled “pork” banh mi; and Drunken Angel stir fries angel hair pasta, mushrooms, tofu, and vegetables, topping it with a long cluster of aromatic green peppercorns.
Don’t miss the specials board—if Kung Pao “chicken” is on it, order that too.
is one of San Diego’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, recently marking 32 years in business.
📍 Normal Heights
Jyoti-Bihanga, operated by followers of Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, is one of San Diego’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, recently marking 32 years in business.
It’s also one of the best bargains—most items on the extensive menu of apps, wraps, soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees come in at $10 or less.
Top choice with customers is the Neatloaf, a grain, ricotta, egg, and soy “meatloaf” that comes as an entree with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy; as a sandwich on nine-grain bread, or by the slice.
A vegan Neatloaf, sans dairy and egg, is available in all its iterations as well.
Leave room for dessert—if chocolate mousse cake or apple pie a la mode doesn’t appeal, there are daily specials on the menu board.
Think Vega-nachos with blue corn chips smothered in quinoa chili, cashew cheezy sauce, ...
Trilogy Sanctuary is a yoga studio, wellness community, and café serving gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, 100% organic vegan food.
House-made red corn tortillas hold quinrizo (quinoa “chorizo”), avocado, eggplant bacon, pico, and spicy almond sauce for Two Perfect Tacos, while Mac & Cheez, a rich, gooey casserole of brown rice elbow macaroni smothered in rosemary cashew cheeze sauce, pesto, and eggplant bacon, and baked in a cast iron skillet is every bit as satisfying as the conventional dairy version.
Impossible products appear in a Cali-style chorizo burrito, the Classic Munchwrap...
Photo: MODERN TIMES FAR WEST LOUNGE.
You love their beer, now try their vegan takes on traditional bar food.
Impossible products appear in a Cali-style chorizo burrito, the Classic Munchwrap, a plant-based riff on the fast food staple, and single or double burgers.
Other pub faves include crispy Brussels, loaded “asada” fries, and chilled soba salad, plus a sweet apple crisp cheesecake.
Wash it all down with a beer tasting or pint from their considerable tap list.
Beautifully crafted bowls are popular, with names inspired by some of the animals that they’ve rescued.
Photo: NOW CAFE.
📍 Mission Beach
NoW Cafe, and its sister restaurant, NoW Sushi, are part of the No Worries Movement, a nonprofit dedicated to improving animal welfare and reducing animal cruelty globally and with the goal to establish a sanctuary for animals in need.
Indulge in Mermaid, made with dragon fruit, matcha, coconut charcoal sorbet, mango puree, granola, banana, assorted berries, grapes, coconut shreds, hemp seeds, and agave, or Mena, with acai sorbet, granola, cucumber, strawberries, grapes, kiwi, hemp seeds, and agave.
If you’re more into the savory side, choose an avo smash on rosemary sage toast, or a focaccia panini piled with veggies and vegan cheese.
Whatever you order, do not leave without a piece of dreamy Cosmic Coconut Cream Pie.
Photo: PEACE PIES.
📍 Ocean Beach
You can’t get much healthier than Peace Pies for their raw, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free dishes.
The Mediterranean Sampler is a good place to start—sprouted almond, pea, and lentil falafel is served with cucumber dill sauce, cashew hummus, and veggies, providing a filling punch of plant proteins, or go for a simple sunseed toast topped with avocado, truffle salt, and fresh herbs.
Intriguing entrees include the Luna Tuna Wrap—a coconut tortilla loaded with sunflower seed “tuna” pate, tomatoes, pickles, and sprouts under a drizzle of agave mustard sauce, and Loving Lasagna, with zucchini noodles layered with hemp seed pesto, cashew alfredo, and marinated veggies, smothered in marinara and cashew parmesan.
The chic ambiance and diverse menu aren’t the only things to love about Oceanside’s The Plot.
Photo: THE PLOT.
It’s also the city’s only zero-waste restaurant, where all but less than 1% of the produce and dry goods are utilized, as compared with a 4–10% industry average.
Even the stems from romaine lettuce aren’t wasted—the owner’s pet giant tortoise takes care of those.
Using plant-based proteins made nearly exclusively in-house (the exception is their organic tofu from San Diego Soy Dairy), including an imitation crӓb using San Diego’s Mindful Mushroom’s lion’s mane mushrooms.
Standouts include the customer favorite Chronic, a tempura fried roll stuffed with crӓb, spicy tüna, and avocado, drizzled with sweet and spicy citrus and mayo; chickën and waffles, made with “maple love;” and rib-sticking shepherd’s pie.
The perfect stop after a hike or for an impromptu picnic.
Photo: ONE WORLDBEAT CAFE.
📍 Balboa Park
Balboa Park’s organic cafe is the perfect stop after a hike or for an impromptu picnic.
The all-vegan menu features international dishes like African coconut peanut curry, a jerk rasta burger, and Costa Chica chile, plus fresh-pressed juices, salads, and raw kombucha on tap.
From modern takes in the Arts District to ambitious tasting menus on the Westside, get your dose of French fare at these top spots.